The Magazine of Early American Datasets (MEAD)

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From 1754-1772, Washington marketed his crop on the consignment system. He shipped his tobacco to British 'factors' who would sell it for him on the British market, often for re-export to continental Europe. With his tobacco (and at other times during the year), Washington would send correspondence including a list of items he wished his factors to purchase for him with the tobacco revenues and ship to Virginia. The factors would attempt to fulfill Washington's purchase requests, based on product availability and their knowledge of his tastes and willingness to spend. After deducting shipping costs, insurance charges, duties and tariffs, etc., as well as the factors' own fees, Washington's revenues typically were less than the expense of his requested purchases. Usually, the factors would fulfill all (or nearly all) of Washington's purchase request, lending him large sums of money in the process. Although terms varied, five percent annual interest commencing six months after purchase were not uncommon. Along with Washington's purchased goods, the factors would send correspondence detailing what they purchased and how much they spent, as well as other information relevant to fulfilling his purchase order. We refer to this return correspondence as the 'shipping receipts.' Some of the information contained therein form the basis of this data set. The available shipping receipts spanned 1754 through 1772, but none were available for 1755, 1756, or 1769. Overall, there were 27 receipts, in total, in 16 years.

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Date of this Version

Summer 8-1-2016


All data came from Founders Online ( correspondence between George Washington and Robert Cary & Co. All items are digitized transcriptions of the original documents available in print as The Papers of George Washington ed. W. W. Abbot. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1988.

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Date Posted: 09 September 2016