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Unsettled business conditions

Union or Secession
  • Merchants discuss unsettled business conditions
Writing on December 29, 1860, Baltimore tobacco merchant John P. Pleasants advised Benjamin Franklin Gravely, in Henry County, to settle his debts promptly.
Related documents:
  • "The Panick has destroyed business"
  • "Less hopeful than we were"
  • "We are now short of Cash"
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Merchants discuss unsettled business conditions

John P. Pleasants and Sons to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, December 29, 1860, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.

Baltimore mercantile house John P. Pleasants and Sons advised Benjamin Franklin Gravely, a Henry County merchant, that because of the country's unsettled political situation Gravely should not delay in making his scheduled payment to the Baltimore merchants. To settle debts at long distances, merchants and others used bank drafts, similar to modern checks, but in unsettled economic times the banks discounted the drafts, or accepted them at less than face value. Pleasants hoped that the situation would improve, writing that "We cannot reconcile our selves to the belief that matters can long remain in their present unsettled condition." Many Virginia merchants and tobacco dealers had longstanding business relationships, such as that between Pleasants and Gravely, with firms outside the South.

Letter from the Baltimore mercantile house of John P. Pleasants and Sons to Henry County merchant Benjamin Franklin Gravely, December 29, 1860. Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.
Balto. 29th Decb 1860
Mr. B. F. Gravely
Leatherwood
Va.
Dear Sir
We have your letter of the 25th inst.—The earlier time—say 5th Jany—would suit us much better than the 10th, if you can then manage to obtain the discot. & remit—Inasmuch, as the banks have not had an opportunity to discot. drafts on Tobacco Commission houses for a long time past we think that you will not meet with any difficulty in getting the money on the 5th inst.—
Do not send on the Smoking Tobacco until you hear from us—Capt. Sessions would want it, if it were here & we do not think that he could, at present, make satisfactory arrangements for the payment of it—We cannot reconcile our selves to the belief that matters can long remain in their present unsettled condition
We trust that your apprehensions about collections may not be realized
Yours Very Truly
John P. Pleasants & Sons