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.