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1793. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XII (1790-1794) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XII (1790-1794).
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TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Philadelphia, 20 January, 1793.
I have been favored with your letter of the 6th instant, congratulatory on my re-election to the chair of government. A mind must be insensible indeed, not to be gratefully impressed by so distinguished and honorable a testimony of public approbation and confidence; and as I suffered my name to be contemplated on this occasion, it is more than probable that I should, for a moment, have experienced chagrin, if my re-election had not been by a pretty respectable vote.1 But to say I feel pleasure from the prospect of commencing another tour of duty would be a departure from truth; for, however it might savor of affectation in the opinion of the world (who, by the by, can only guess at my sentiments, as it never has been troubled with them), my particular and confidential friends well know, that it was after a long and painful conflict in my own breast, that I was withheld, (by considerations which are not necessary to be mentioned,) from requesting in time, that no vote might be thrown away upon me, it being my fixed determination to return to the walks of private life at the end of my term.
I am sorry to be informed by your letter, that death has snatched from us my old acquaintance and friend Colonel Bassett. The manner of it adds to the regret.1 We shall all follow; some sooner and some later; and, from accounts, my poor nephew is likely to be amongst the first.
Mrs. Washington joins me in wishing you the return of many new and happy years. With very great esteem and regard, I am always your affectionate servant.
TO CHARLES CARROLL, OF CARROLLTON.
Philadelphia, 23 January, 1793.
The western Indians having proposed to us a conference at Auglaise, not far distant from Detroit, in the ensuing spring, I am now about to proceed to nominate three commissioners to meet and treat with them on the subject of peace. What may be the issue of the conference it is difficult to foresee; but it is extremely essential, that, whatever it be, it should carry with it the perfect confidence of our citizens, that every endeavor will have been used to obtain peace, which their interests would permit. For this reason it is necessary, that characters be appointed, who are known to our citizens for their talents and integrity, and whose situation in life places them clear of every suspicion of a wish to prolong the war; or say rather, whose interest in common with that of their country is clearly to produce peace. Characters, uniting these desiderata, do not abound. Some of them too are in offices inconsistent with the appointment now in question, and others under impediments of health or other circumstances, so as to circumscribe the choice within a small circle. Desirous in the first instance, that you should be in this commission, I have mentioned these difficulties to show you, in the event of your declining, how serious they are, and to induce you to come forward and perform this important service to your country, a service with which its prosperity and tranquillity are intimately connected.
It will be necessary to set out from this place about the 1st of May. The route will be by the North River and Niagara. It will be safe, and the measures for your comfortable transportation and subsistence taken as effectually as circumstances will admit. Will you then permit me, Sir, to nominate you as one of the commissioners, with a certain reliance on your acceptance? Your answer to this by the first post will oblige, dear Sir, &c.1
TO GEORGE AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Philadelphia, 27 January, 1793.
My dear George,
I do not write to you often, because I have no business to write upon,—because all the news I could communicate is contained in the papers which I forward every week—because I conceive it unnecessary to repeat the assurances of sincere regard and friendship, I have always professed for you—or the disposition I feel to render every service in my power to you and yours;—and lastly, because I conceive the more undisturbed you are, the better it is for you.
It has given your friends much pain to find that change of air has not been productive of that favorable change in your health which was the wish of them all. But the will of Heaven is not to be controverted or scrutinized by the children of this world. It therefore becometh the creatures of it to submit to the will of the Creator, whether it be to prolong or to shorten the number of our days, to bless them with health, or afflict them with pain.
My fervent wishes attend you, in which I am heartily joined by your Aunt, and these are extended with equal sincerity to Fanny and the children.
I am always your affectionate Uncle.
TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.
Philadelphia, 31 January, 1793.
I have had under consideration Mr. Hallet’s plans for the Capitol, which undoubtedly have a great deal of merit. Doctor Thornton has also given me a view of his. These last come forward under some very advantageous circumstances—The grandeur, simplicity, and beauty of the exterior; the propriety with which the apartments are distributed, and œconomy in the whole mass of the structure, will I doubt not give it a preference in your eyes, as it has done in mine, and those of several others whom I have consulted, and who are deemed men of skill in architecture. I have therefore thought it better to give the Doctor time to finish his plan and for this purpose to delay ’till your next meeting a final decision. Some difficulty arises with respect to Mr. Hallet, who you know was in some degree led into his plan by ideas we all expressed to him. This ought not to induce us to prefer it to a better; but while he is liberally rewarded for the time and labor he has expended on it, his feelings should be saved and soothed as much as possible.
I leave it to yourselves how best to prepare him for the possibility that the Doctor’s plan may be preferred to his. Some ground for this will be furnished you by the occasion you probably will have for recourse to him as to the interior of the apartments, and the taking him into service at a fixed allowance, and I understand that his necessities render it material that he should know what his allowance is to be. I am, &c.
TO THE MARCHIONESS DE LAFAYETTE.
Philadelphia, 31 January, 1793.
If I had words that could convey to you an adequate idea of my feelings on the present situation of the Marquis de Lafayette, this letter would appear to you in a different garb. The sole object in writing to you now is, to inform you that I have deposited in the hands of Mr. Nicholas Van Staphorst, of Amsterdam, two thousand three hundred and ten guilders, Holland currency, equal to two hundred guineas, subject to your orders.
This sum is, I am certain, the least I am indebted for services rendered to me by the Marquis de Lafayette, of which I never yet have received the account. I could add much, but it is best perhaps that I should say little on this subject. Your goodness will supply my deficiency.
The uncertainty of your situation, after all the inquiries I have made, has occasioned a delay in this address and remittance; and even now the measure adopted is more the effect of a desire to find where you are, than from any knowledge I have obtained of your residence.
At all times and under all circumstances, you and yours will possess the affectionate regards of him, who has the honor to be, &c.1
TO FRANCES WASHINGTON.2
Philadelphia, 24 February, 1793.
My dear Fanny,
To you, who so well know the affectionate regard I had for our departed friend, it is unnecessary to describe the sorrow with which I was afflicted at the news of his death, although it was an event I had expected many weeks before it happened. To express this sorrow with the force I feel it, would answer no other purpose than to revive in your breast that poignancy of anguish, which by this time I hope is abated.
The object of this letter is to convey to your mind the warmest assurances of my love, friendship, and disposition to serve you. These also I profess to have, in an eminent degree, for your children.
What plan you have contemplated, or whether, in so short a time, you have contemplated any, is unknown to me; and therefore I add, that the one which strikes me most favorably, by being best calculated to promote the interest of yourself and children, is to return to your old habitation at Mount Vernon. You can go to no place where you will be more welcome, nor to any, where you can live at less expense or trouble. Matters at Mount Vernon are now so arranged, as to be under the care of responsible persons, and so they may continue; which would ease you of that anxiety, which the care of so large a family otherwise would naturally involve you in. It is unnecessary to observe to you, that housekeeping, under any circumstances and with the best economy, is expensive; and, where provision for it is to be made, will be found, I fear, beyond your means.
You might bring my niece, Harriot Washington, with you for a companion, whose conduct I hear with pleasure has given much satisfaction to my sister. I shall, under my present view of things, be at Mount Vernon about the 1st of April, for perhaps a fortnight; but your aunt and family will not, I expect, be there before the middle of July. My affectionate regards attend you and your children; and I shall always be your sincere friend.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON AND HENRY KNOX.
27 February, 1793.
As the day is near at hand, when the Presidentelect is to take the oath of qualification, and no mode is pointed out by the Constitution or law; I could wish that you, Mr. Jefferson (Genl. Knox, or Colo. Hamilton) and Mr. Randolph could meet to-morrow morning, at any place which you may fix between yourselves; and communicate to me the result of your opinions as to time, place and manner of qualification.
P. S. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Randolph have suggested the idea of meeting at the War office at nine o’clock to-morrow morning; if this is convenient and agreeable to you you will be there accordingly—If otherwise you will be so good as to let me know.1
TO DAVID STUART.
Philadelphia, 3 March, 1793.
The official Letter from the Commissioners to me, dated the eighth of last month, promising their sentiments on the subject of compensation so soon as a meeting was had with Mr. Johnson, prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your private letter of the same date and on the same subject until now,—nor shall I do more than slightly touch on it until I receive the further sentiments of the Board thereupon.
It may not be amiss, however, in this friendly and confidential manner, previously to regret that the expectations of the Commissioners, and the opinions of those who were consulted on the compensation proper to be made them for past and future services should accord so little. It is to be observed (as was mentioned in my last) that the Law authorizing the appointment contemplates no pay;—justice, however, requires it—and therefore, such as it was conceived wou’d meet the concurrence of the public was allotted.1 In similar cases it rarely happens, if ever, that high, if any salaries are allowed—instance the Directors of the Potomac Company, of the Canal Navigations of this State, the Bank, &c, &c. I do not quote these cases, however, to prove that salaries ought not to be allowed, in the case of the Commissioners of the Federal District, for the past,—and compensation for their future services; but only to shew the necessity of their being as low as could comport with justice. With respect to your ideas of a future allowance, I am bold in assuring you, that no fixed salary in the United States (however they have been reprobated for their extravagance) from the Chief Magistrate to the Door Keeper of the House of Representatives, is equal to One thousand Dollars clear of expences. The reasons are too obvious to stand in need of enumeration; and I must candidly declare that I see little use for a Superintendent, if more will be requir’d of the Commissioners than either to form or to adopt plans, give the great out-lines thereof in instruction, and leave the detail, and execution to the Superintendent; who ought as I have declared in a Letter to you dated the 30 of November last, to be always on the spot—(unless the duties of the trust should take him away to facilitate the objects of it). Under this idea, could it suit any person better than yourself to visit the Federal City, once every three or four months—suppose every two months—when you have an Estate opposite to it, which has a claim to a share of your attention? As to the suspicion which may arise, if you serve for daily pay, that your sessions will be prolonged by it, they are not worth regarding. The malevolence of man is not to be avoided—but instead of touching the subject only, in the manner I proposed, I find I am enlarging upon it, and therefore will change it.
Mr. Jefferson is at a loss to discover what could have proceeded from him to Mr. Ellicott, that should have occasioned any discontent in the mind of the latter with the Commissioners, and having shewn me the only Letter which (he says) he has written to him for many months I see nothing therein on which to found the conjecture contained in the latter part of your Letter of the 8 of February. * * *
TO BURWELL BASSETT.
Philadelphia, 4 March, 1793.
Your letter of the 18th ultimo, and its enclosure, came duly to hand. Expected as the death of my departed relation and friend was, I could not but feel sensibly when the news of it arrived; and I take the present occasion to offer you my condolence on your own late loss of your father and my friend, for whom, when alive, I had the sincerest regard.
I wish some other person, competent and more active than I can be, had been placed as an executor of the will of my nephew. All the aid I can give by advice, in the management of the estate and whatever may respect it, would have been afforded without being named in it. More cannot be done by me from that circumstance, for my situation will preclude me from qualifying as an executor, and from incurring any responsibility in the management of the estate.
The time for proving the will, and qualifying as an executrix, must depend upon your sister. I expect to be at Mount Vernon about the first week in April, and will make a point of it, if public duties do not forbid it, to be in the county on the court-day of that month, which I think happens on the 15th day of it; provided she chooses to be up then, either temporarily or permanently; and with much pleasure and satisfaction to myself will give her every aid in my power to arrange the business of the estate. My returning thither again will depend upon circumstances, which are not always under my control, and probably will not admit it before July or August. With these things be pleased to bring Fanny acquainted. Offer my love to her and the children, my respects and good wishes to Mrs. Bassett, and be assured of the esteem and regard with which I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 13 March, 1793.
The returned draft of a letter to Mr. Gouverneur Morris accords with my sentiments,1 taking it for granted that the words “we suppose this will rather overpay the instalments and interest due on the loans of eighteen, six, and ten millions,” mean all that could be demanded by the French government to the close of last year; this being the idea I have entertained of the payments and engagements.
If it has not been done in a former letter, it would be agreeable to me, that Mr. Morris should be instructed to neglect no favorable opportunity of expressing, informally, the sentiments and wishes of this country respecting the Marquis de Lafayette; and I pray you to commit to paper, in answer to the enclosed letter from Madame de Lafayette to me, all the consolation I can with propriety give, consistent with my public character and the national policy, circumstanced as things are. My last and only letter to her is herewith sent, that you may see what has been written heretofore. I am, &c.1
TO FRANCES WASHINGTON.
Philadelphia, 17 March, 1793.
My dear Fanny,
I have duly received your letter, dated Hanover, March 5th, and was happy to hear, that yourself and the children were well. It is not by any means a wish of mine, that you should come to Mount Vernon next month, on account of my short visit to that place. It was merely on your own account, and that of the estate, that I suggested the measure; more indeed for consideration, than by way of advice; for either of your brothers, or Mr. John Dandridge, can speak to the latter with more propriety than I am able to do, as they know in what time and in what manner the will of our departed friend ought to be proved, and the execution of the trust entered upon.
My last to you, enclosing the copy of a letter, which I had previously written to your brother Burwell, would have conveyed to you fully my ideas on this subject; and to that communication I now beg leave to refer you.
The offer of a residence at Mount Vernon was made to you with my whole heart; but it is with you, nevertheless, to consider whether any other plan will comport better with the views, which my nephew had, or with such as you may have entertained for your own ease, for the education of your children, or for the interest of the estate. And your decision thereon will be perfectly agreeable to me; for I can assure you with much truth I have no wish in the case, beyond that of seeing you settled to your entire satisfaction; the means for doing which, either in Alexandria or elsewhere, you have no doubt considered and calculated. With the best economy, I conceive it must be expensive to purchase furniture and keep a house.
The carriage which I sent to Mount Vernon for your use, I never intended to reclaim, and therefore now making you a more formal present of it, it may be sent for whenever it suits your convenience, and be considered as your own, and I shall, when I see you, request that Fayette may be given up to me, either at that time, or as soon after as he is old enough to go to school. This will relieve you of that portion of attention, which his education would otherwise call for.
It is to be feared, that your overseer in Fairfax is neither the best of that description, nor the honestest of men. A month or more ago, Mr. Whiting informed me, that this said overseer had one, if not two horses of his own on the plantation, fed no doubt, (whatever his declarations to the contrary might be,) at your expense. I immediately directed Mr. Whiting to go to him, and in my name to order the horse, or horses, (if more than one,) to be sent away instantly, unless he could show a written permission for their being kept on the place; and to inform him, moreover, if they were to be found on it when I came home, I would not only send the horses off, but himself along with them. Since then, some suspicions have also been entertained of his not dealing fairly by the wheat under his care, which was for market. Such is the villainy of these sort of people, when they have it in their power, as they conceive, to cheat with impunity. What has been done in either of these cases, I remain unadvised; as poor Whiting, by a letter which I received from Doctor Craik, dated the 6th instant, was then confined to his bed by a more violent return of his old disorder (spitting blood) than ever. Since that date, I have heard nothing from thence, which is presumptive evidence, that he is not able to write himself; and of this there is the evidence also of the Doctor’s letter, pronouncing his case critical and dangerous; the effect of these to be avoided by extreme care only.
From what Mr. Bassett said to Mr. Whiting, respecting the materials for the building, which had been begun at your place, I directed him to have them put away securely, and to let your carpenters work along with mine, keeping an account of the time, that I might allow you the usual hire. There they may remain, unless you have other employment for them, as I have work on hand that requires despatch; and I would, to facilitate the execution thereof, hire others if I do not retain these.
Your aunt joins me in every affectionate regard for you and the children, and in best wishes for the friends among whom you are. At all times, and under all circumstances, I shall always remain, your sincere friend.
TO THE SECRETARIES OF STATE, OF THE TREASURY, OF WAR AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.
United States, 21st March, 1793.
The treaty, which is agreed to be held on or about the 1st of June next at the Lower Sandusky of Lake Erie, being of great moment to the interests and peace of this country, and likely to be attended with difficulties arising from circumstances (not unknown to you,) of a peculiar and embarrassing nature, it is indispensably necessary that our rights under the treaties, which have been entered into with the Six Nations—the several tribes of Indians now in hostility with us,—and the claims of others, should be carefully investigated and well ascertained, that the commissioners, who are appointed to hold it, may be well informed and clearly instructed on all the points that are likely to be discussed, thereby knowing what they are to insist upon, with or without compensation, and the amount of the compensation if any, and what for the sake of peace they may yield.
You are not to learn from me the different views, which our citizens entertain of the war we are engaged in with the Indians, and how much these different opinions add to the delicacy and embarrassments alluded to above, nor the criticisms, which more than probable will be made on the subject, if the proposed treaty should be unsuccessful.
Induced by these motives, and desirous that time may be allowed for a full and deliberate consideration of the subject before the departure of the commissioners, it is my desire that you will on the 25th of this month meet together at the war office (or at such other time and place as you may agree upon) where the principal documents are, with whatever papers you may respectively be possessed of on the subject and such others as I shall cause to be laid before you, and then and there decide on all the points, which you shall conceive necessary for the information and instruction of the commissioners, and having drawn them into form, to revise the same, and have them ready in a finished state for my perusal and consideration when I return, together with a digest of such references as shall be adjudged necessary for the commissioners to take with them.
And as it has been suggested to me, that the Society of Quakers are desirous of sending a deputation from their body to be present at the aforesaid treaty, which, if done with pure motives, and a disposition accordant with the sentiments entertained by government respecting boundary, may be a mean of facilitating the good work of peace, you will consider how far, if they are approved characters, they ought to be recognised in the instructions to the commissioners, and how proper it may be for them to participate therein, or be made acquainted therewith. I am, &c.1
TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.
Philadelphia, 23 March, 1793.
My dear Sir,
Closely engaged in the business incident to my office during the session of Congress, and as closely employed since in making arrangements for carrying into effect the laws then passed, and in discharging other public duties, I have not till this moment found myself enough at leisure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23d to July; and, being now on the eve of setting out for Mount Vernon,1 I shall be able to do but little more than barely acknowledge the receipt of it, and of your favors of the 23d of January and the 8th of February, both of which have reached my hands within these few days.
Even if I had time, it might not be proper for me to reply particularly to the several parts of your letters, especially to that of the 23d July. I shall therefore content myself at present, my dear Sir, with making a few general observations on the existing state of things, and rely upon your being assured, that, however concise my letter may be, it does not become so from any diminution of my regard for you.
If it can be esteemed a happiness to live in an age productive of great and interesting events, we of the present age are very highly favored. The rapidity of national revolutions appear no less astonishing, than their magnitude. In what they will terminate is known only to the Great Ruler of events; and, confiding in his wisdom and goodness, we may safely trust the issue to him, without perplexing ourselves to seek for that, which is beyond human ken; only taking care to perform the parts assigned us, in a way that reason and our own consciences approve of.
All our late accounts from Europe hold up the expectation of a general war in that quarter. For the sake of humanity I hope such an event will not take place; but, if it should, I trust that we shall have too just a sense of our own interest to originate any cause, that may involve us in it. And I ardently wish we may not be forced into it by the conduct of other nations. If we are permitted to improve without interruption the great advantages, which nature and circumstances have placed within our reach, many years will not revolve before we may be ranked, not only among the most respectable, but among the happiest people on this globe. Our advances to these points are more rapid, than the most sanguine among us ever predicted. A spirit of improvement displays itself in every quarter, and principally in objects of the greatest public utility, such as opening the inland navigation, which is extensive and various beyond conception, improving the old roads and making new ones, building bridges and houses, and, in short, pursuing those things, which seem eminently calculated to promote the advantage and accommodation of the people at large. Besides these, the enterprises of individuals show at once what are the happy effects of personal exertions in a country, where equal laws and equal rights prevail.
For myself, you see me again entering upon the arduous duties of an important office, to which the unanimous voice of my country has once more called me. To you, who know my love of retirement and domestic life, it is unnecessary to say, that, in accepting this re-appointment, I relinquish those personal enjoyments to which I am peculiarly attached. The motives, which induced my acceptance, are the same which have ever ruled my decision, when the public desire, or, (as my countrymen are pleased to denominate it, the public good,) was placed in the scale against my personal enjoyment or private interest. The latter I have ever considered as subservient to the former; and perhaps in no instance of my life have I been more sensible of the sacrifice than in the present; for at my age the love of retirement grows every day more and more powerful, and the death of my nephew, the poor Major, will, I apprehend, cause my private concerns to suffer very much. This melancholy event took place on the 5th of last month, at Colonel Bassett’s, where he had gone, hoping to benefit from a change of air and situation. Although it had been long expected, and indeed to me of late appeared inevitable, yet I have felt it very keenly.
You will receive from Mr. Jefferson every official communication necessary for your conduct, together with laws, public papers, &c. He will also inform you, that the steps which you took in consequence of Mr. Barclay’s death met my entire approbation.1
I set out with intimating, that my letter would be very short, but upon looking back I find it can hardly be said to have that fault; and, lest it should partake of another at least as bad, I shall close it with assuring you that you have the best wishes, for your health and happiness, of your sincere friend and affectionate servant.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 12 April, 1793.
Your letter of the 7th was brought to me by the last post. War having actually commenced between France and Great Britain, it behoves the government of this country to use every means in its power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with either of those powers, by endeavoring to maintain a strict neutrality. I therefore require, that you will give the subject mature consideration, that such measures as shall be deemed most likely to effect this desirable purpose may be adopted without delay; for I have understood, that vessels are already designated privateers, and are preparing accordingly.
Such other measures as may be necessary for us to pursue against events, which it may not be in our power to avoid or control, you will also think of, and lay them before me at my arrival in Philadelphia; for which place I shall set out to-morrow, but will leave it to the advices, which I may receive to-night by the post, to determine whether it is to be by the most direct route, or by the one I proposed to have come, that is, by Reading, the canals between the rivers of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Carlisle, &c., &c.1 With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
TO THE SECRETARIES AND ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
Philadelphia, 18 April, 1793.
The posture of affairs in Europe, particularly between France and Great Britain, places the United States in a delicate situation, and requires much consideration, of the measures which will be proper for them to observe in the war between those powers. With a view to forming a general plan of conduct for the executive, I have stated and enclosed sundry questions, to be considered preparatory to a meeting at my house to-morrow, where I shall expect to see you at 9 o’clock, and to receive the result of your reflections thereon. I am, &c.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY THE PRESIDENT.
Philadelphia, 18 April, 1793.
I. Shall a proclamation issue for the purpose of preventing interferences of the citizens of the United States in the war between France and Great Britain, &c.? Shall it contain a declaration of neutrality or not? What shall it contain?
II. Shall a minister from the Republic of France be received?
III. If received, shall it be absolutely or with qualifications; and, if with qualifications, of what kind?
IV. Are the United States obliged by good faith to consider the treaties heretofore made with France as applying to the present situation of the parties? May they either renounce them, or hold them suspended till the government of France shall be established?
V. If they have the right, is it expedient to do either, and which?
VI. If they have an option, would it be a breach of neutrality to consider the treaties still in operation?
VII. If the treaties are to be considered as now in operation, is the guarantee in the treaty of alliance applicable to a defensive war only, or to war either offensive or defensive?
VIII. Does the war in which France is engaged appear to be offensive or defensive on her part? Or of a mixed and equivocal character?
IX. If of a mixed and equivocal character, does the guarantee in any event apply to such a war?
X. What is the effect of a guarantee such as that to be found in the treaty of alliance between the United States and France?
XI. Does any article in either of the treaties prevent ships of war, other than privateers, of the powers opposed to France from coming into the ports of the United States to act as convoys to their own merchantmen? Or does it lay any other restraint upon them more than would apply to the ships of war of France?
XII. Should the future regent of France send a minister to the United States, ought he to be received?
XIII. Is it necessary or advisable to call together the two Houses of Congress, with a view to the present posture of European affairs? If it is, what should be the particular object of such a call?1
PROCLAMATION OF NEUTRALITY.
Whereas it appears, that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands, on the one part, and France on the other; and the duty and interest of the United States require, that they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial towards the belligerent powers;
I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid towards those powers respectively, and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever, which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.
And I do hereby also make known, that whosoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations, by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles, which are deemed contraband by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States against such punishment or forfeiture; and further, that I have given instructions to those officers, to whom it belongs, to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons, who shall within the cognizance of the courts of the United States violate the law of nations with respect to the powers at war, or any of them.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 22d day of April, 1793, and of the independence of the United States of America the seventeenth.
TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN.
Philadelphia, 22 April, 1793.
* * * * * *
The favorable wishes which your Lordship has expressed for the prosperity of this young and rising country, cannot but be gratefully received by all its citizens and every lover of it. One mean to the contribution of which, and its happiness, is very judiciously portrayed in the following words of your letter, “To be little heard of in the great world of politics.” These words, I can assure your Lordship, are expressive of my sentiments on this head; and I believe it is the sincere wish of United America to have nothing to do with the political intrigues, or the squabbles, of European nations; but, on the contrary, to exchange commodities and live in peace and amity with all the inhabitants of the earth. And this I am persuaded they will do, if rightly it can be done. To administer justice to, and receive it from, every power with whom they are connected will, I hope, be always found the most prominent feature in the administration of this country; and I flatter myself that nothing short of imperious necessity can occasion a breach with any of them. Under such a system, if we are allowed to pursue it, the agriculture and mechanical arts, the wealth and population of these States will increase with that degree of rapidity as to baffle all calculation, and must surpass any idea your Lordship can hitherto have entertained on the occasion.
To evince that our views, whether realized or not, are expanded, I take the liberty of sending you the plan of a new city, situated about the centre of the Union of these States, which is designated for the permanent seat of the government. And we are at this moment deeply engaged and far advanced in extending the inland navigation of the River Potomac, on which it stands, and the branches thereof, through a tract of as rich country for four hundreds of miles, as any in the world. Nor is this a solitary instance of attempts of the kind, although it is the only one which is near completion, and in partial use. Several other very important ones are commenced, and little doubt is entertained, that in ten years, if left undisturbed, we shall open a communication by water with all the lakes northward and westward of us, with which we have territorial connexion; and inland navigation in a very few years more from Rhode Island to Georgia inclusively; partly by cuts between the great bays and sounds, and partly between the islands and sand-banks and the main from Albemarle Sound to the River St. Mary’s. To these may also be added the erection of bridges over considerable rivers, and the commencement of turnpike roads, as further indications of improvements in hand.
The family of Fairfax in Virginia, of whom you speak, is also related to me by several marriages before it came to this country, (as I am informed,) and since; and what remain of the old stock are near neighbors to my estate of Mount Vernon. The late Lord (Thomas), with whom I was perfectly acquainted, lived at the distance of sixty miles from me, after he had removed from Belvoir, the seat of his kinsman, which adjoins my estate just mentioned, and is going to be inhabited by a young member of the family as soon as the house, which was some years ago burnt down, can be rebuilt. With great esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Sunday Noon, 15 May, 1793.
Before you despatch the circular letter, of which you enclosed me a copy, to the several collectors, I would speak to you respecting a particular clause in it.1
In the conversation you may have with a certain gentleman2 to-day, I pray you to intimate to him gently and delicately, that, if the letters or papers, which he has to present, are (knowingly to him) of a nature which relates to public matters, and not particularly addressed to me, or if he has any verbal communications to make of a similar kind, I had rather they should come through the proper channel. Add thereto, generally, that the peculiar situation of European affairs at this moment, my good wishes for his nation aggregately, my regard for those of it in particular, with whom I have had the honor of an acquaintance, my anxious desire to keep this country in peace, and the delicacy of my situation, render a circumspect conduct indispensably necessary on my part. I do not, however, mean by this, that I am to withhold from him such civilities as are common to others. Those more marked, notwithstanding our former acquaintance, would excite speculations, which had better be avoided; and if the characters similarly circumstanced, could be introduced by any other than himself, especially on Tuesday next, in the public room, when it is presumed the officers of the French frigate will be presented, it would unquestionably be better. But how this can be brought about, as they are strangers, without embarrassment, as the F. M.1 is shy on the occasion, I do not at this moment see; for it may not escape observation, as every movement is watched, if the head of any department should appear prompt in this business, in the existing state of things. I am, &c.
TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Philadelphia, 6 May, 1793.
On Saturday last your favor of the 29th ultimo was handed to me. My visit to Mourt Vernon, (intended to be short when I set out,) was curtailed by the declaration of war by France against Great Britain and Holland; for I foresaw, in the moment information of that event came to me at that place, the necessity for announcing the disposition of this country towards the belligerent powers, and the propriety of restraining, as far as a proclamation would do it, our citizens from taking part in the contest. This proclamation, I presume, must have reached you soon after the date of your letter.1
It gives me inexpressible pain to receive such frequent and distressing accounts from the western frontiers of this Union, occasioned by Indian hostilities; more especially as our hands are tied to defensive measures, and little if any thing more to be expected from the proposed negotiation of peace with the hostile tribes, to be assembled at Sandusky, (though perhaps it is best for me to be silent on this head,) than in case of failure to let the good people of these States see, that the executive has left nothing unessayed to accomplish this desirable end; to remove those suspicions, which have been unjustly entertained, that peace is not its object; and to evince to them, that the difficulties which it has had to encounter, (from causes which at present can only be guessed), has been greater than was apprehended; and lastly, if the sword is to decide, that the arm of government may be enabled to strike home.
I come now to a more difficult part of your letter.2 As a public character, I can say nothing on the subject of it. As a private man, I am unwilling to say much. Give advice I shall not. All I can do, then, towards complying with your request is to declare, that, if the case which you have suggested was mine, I should ponder well before I resolved; not only for private considerations, but on public grounds. The latter, because, being the first magistrate of a respectable State, much speculation would be excited by such a measure, and the consequences thereof not seen into at the first glance. As it might respect myself only, because it would appear a boundless ocean I was about to embark on, from whence no land is to be seen. In other words, because the affairs of [France] would seem to me to be in the highest paroxysm of disorder; not so much from the pressure of foreign enemies, (for in the cause of liberty this ought to be fuel to the fire of a patriot soldier, and to increase his ardor,) but because those in whose hands the government is intrusted are ready to tear each other to pieces, and will more than probably prove the worst foes the country has. To all which may be added the probability of the scarcity of bread, from the peculiar circumstances of the contending parties, and which, if it should happen, would accelerate a crisis of sad confusion, and possibly of entire change in the political system.
The enclosed came under cover to me by one of the late arrivals. If the date of it is as old as the one to me, which accompanied it, it can contain nothing new. Although no name will appear to this letter, I beg it may be committed to the flames as soon as it is read. I need not add, because you must know it, that I am always yours.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Philadelphia, 7 May, 1793.
As I perceive there has been some misconception, respecting the building of vessels in our ports, which vessels may be converted into armed ones; and as I understand from the attorney-general there is to be a meeting to-day or to-morrow of the gentlemen on another occasion, I wish to have that part of your circular letter, which respects this matter, reconsidered by them before it goes out.
I am not disposed to adopt any measure, which may check ship-building in this country; nor am I satisfied that we should too promptly adopt measures in the first instance, that are not indispensably necessary. To take fair and supportable ground I conceive to be our best policy, and it is all that can be required of us by the powers at war; leaving the rest to be managed according to circumstances and the advantages to be derived from them. I am, &c.
Quere—Is it not expedient that the District Attornies should be written to, requiring their attention to the observance of the injunctions of the Proclamation?
TO M. TERNANT.
Philadelphia, [23?] May, 1793.
The first intimation, which I received of your mission to the United States in the capacity you lately filled, gave me pleasure. I anticipated on your part a conduct, which, while it was calculated to promote the objects of your duty, would, in its manner, be pleasing to the government and citizens of this country. My anticipations have not been disappointed. Uniformly attentive to the advancement of the interests confided to your care, (notwithstanding the agitations and vicissitudes experienced in the government of your country,) the tenor of your official and private conduct throughout the course of your mission has appeared to me deserving of approbation, and has acquired to you a new title to my regard.
I give you this private and personal mark of my satisfaction and esteem in remembrance of your services as an officer in the army of the United States, and in consideration of the peculiar and extraordinary circumstances under which you have acted. With sentiments of attachment and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 1 June, 1793.
To call upon Mr. Hammond without further delay, for the result of the reference to his court concerning the surrender of the western posts, or to await the decision of the trial at Richmond on the subject of British debts before it be done, is a question on which my mind has balanced for some time.
If your own judgment is not clear in favor of one or the other, it is my desire, as the heads of the departments are now together, that you would take their opinions thereupon and act accordingly.
I am, Sir, &c.1
TO FRANCES WASHINGTON.
Philadelphia, 10 June, 1793.
My dear Fanny:
Your Aunt has lately received a Letter from you, to which an answer was given about a week ago.
As this answer, so far as it respected the renting of the Estate in Berkeley, of which you are possessed, was dictated by me, in a hurry, I will now give you my ideas more at large on that subject; altho’ they will still appear, from my immersion in other business, to carry with them strong marks of indignation.
The will of my deceased Nephew, if I have sufficient recollection of it, directs a second plantation to be settled in Berkeley County. This may and I think ought to be done in conformity therewith; and in so doing it might be well to include some, if not all the hands which are in Fairfax County, as well to comply with the dictates of the Will, as because there are too many at the latter place to be employed to good profit—the Farm being small, poor and worn. As a mere small grain, or grass farm, it might be turned to good account, if an industrious man, who would work constantly himself, was fixed on it, with a negro fellow and boy only; with an allowance of four plough horses, two ploughs and a yoke of oxen, with other stock proportioned thereto. This force would be adequate to the cultivation of the whole of that Farm, in small grain and grass; and might raise as much (and ought to do no more) Indian Corn as would suffice for themselves. And if you found it more convenient, the old woman there, for whom I presume no hire could be obtained, with such young children as have no mothers living and others that cou’d not be well disposed of—might be placed there; and would be at hand to receive your own attentions.
The force I have mentioned would be able to put in as much small grain annually, as the size of the Farm would admit, to be kept in proper order; and in case you should do what you have talked of doing for the sake of your children’s education—that is, to live in Alexandria, would furnish you with poultry, pigs, lambs, &c., which, if always to be bought from the Butcher and others, would be more expensive than you at present have any conception of.
I have not sufficient knowledge of the Estate in Berkeley to give any other advice respecting it, than merely to say that renting it instead of keeping it in your own hands, has a preference in my mind for many reasons, which might be assigned; and as the Will enjoins a division of the Land, I should suppose the negroes had better be allotted to each parcel, and rented therewith. But of this you, with the advice of your friends on the spot, must be a better judge than I am. Among these George S. Washington, who has already acted the part you are about to do, will be able to give you useful information, as by this time he may have perceived the good, or felt the inconveniences of the measures he pursued. It would, however, seem best to me, that the lands and negroes should go together, in the manner already mentioned. The latter might hire for more singly, but then the trouble of collecting would also be greater; nor could there be the same attention paid to them as when together, and under the immediate eye of your brother-in-law.
You will readily see the necessity of insisting upon ample security for the performance of whatever agreement you may enter into; for the Land, negroes and stock thereon will be none, because they are your own already; and as the transaction is important, and will be interesting to yourself and the children, I advise you to pay a Lawyer of note to draw the articles, rather than hazard an imperfect instrument, which may be turned to your disadvantage hereafter.
Besides the usual covenants to compel payments when they become due, there ought to be a clause making all sums in arrear to carry interest. This will be some compensation for the want of punctuality, but forfeiture of the Lease, in case of non-performance of the conditions, should be strongly expressed, as it will be the principle hold you will have on the Tenant. Reservation of woodland, limitation with respect to clearing, restraint upon selling or disposing of any timber or wood except for the purposes of the plantations, and prevention of all sorts of abuse; keeping the Houses, fences and meadows in order; care of the negroes in sickness and in health; clothing them properly, and feeding them as negroes usually are;—are all matters which should be noticed in the Instrument. Nor ought there to be any transfer of the Lease, or re-hire of the negroes without your consent first had and obtained in writing.
The number of years for which you would part with the Estate deserves consideration, and a consultation of circumstances, of which you can judge as well or better than I. My own opinion, however, is, that it ought not to go for more than five or seven; for less than three, I presume no good tenant would take it. The Horses, cattle and other stock, together with the implements of the Farm, you might either sell, or let go with the places at the valuation of two, or more judicious and impartial men, to be returned in equal numbers, and in the specific articles of equal value, when the places are surrendered, paying in the mean while a regular annual interest on the aggregate valuation as above.
The peculiar situation of our public affairs is such, and likely to remain such, that I see no prospect of my being able to leave the Seat of Government but for a mere flying visit home; which I am more than ever called upon to do, as, by a letter received on Saturday, it appears that Mr. Whiting is in a confirmed consumption, and so much reduced as to be scarcely able to mount a horse. What I am to do under a circumstance of this kind, I really know not; not being able, in the short time I have had to reflect upon this disagreeable event, to call to mind a single character (if to be obtained) that would answer my purposes.
I shall strive hard to be at Mount Vernon by the first of next month, but to say positively I shall accomplish it, is more than I dare do. My stay there cannot exceed, if it should amount to ten days.
I request you to remember me in the most affectionate manner to my Brother, Sister and the rest of the family; my love to the Children—compliments to Mrs. Warner Washington and family if you should see them. In all which your Aunt, Nelly &c. join me. With much truth I am, your sincere friend and affte. relation.
TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Philadelphia, 14 June, 1793.
By the Gazettes of to-day, I perceive a Vessel is just arrived in this Port from New Orleans, on board of which are several of our citizens; who, having passed down the Mississippi, are now on their return to the Ohio, their place of residence.
It is of great importance that this Government should be fully informed of the Spanish force in the Floridas, the number of their Posts, and the strength and situation of each, together with such other circumstances as would enable it to adopt correspondent measures in case we should, in spite of our endeavors to avoid it, get embroiled in a dispute with that Nation. It would be too improvident, might be too late, and certainly would be disgraceful, to have this information to obtain when our plans ought to be formed. I desire therefore, that you would cause in as unsuspected a manner as the case will admit, the above persons to be examined touching the above points, and what number of Troops have lately arrived at New Orleans; and commit the result to Paper. Were they to be examined separately, advantages might follow by comparing their accounts. I point you to the above as one source only of information; my desire to obtain a knowledge of these facts, lead me to request with equal earnestness, that you would improve every other to ascertain them with certainty. No reasonable expence should be spared to accomplish objects of such magnitude in times so critical.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Philadelphia, 20 June, 1793.
I have received and paid attention to your report of the 15th instant. The result is, that the loan of two millions of florins ought, in my opinion, to be urged without delay, if it can be obtained within the limitations of the law. The further proposal of borrowing three millions of florins in addition, I shall, (seeing no inconvenience that will arise from the delay,) take a few days longer to consider; as some reasons occur against as well as for the measure, in the present unsettled state of credit, and military and other operations in Europe.1
In the mean time it would contribute to my understanding of the subject better, if you was to let me know how the whole sum borrowed under the acts of the 4th and 12th of August, 1790, (instead of the sums which have been transferred to the United States,) has been applied; and whether the two hundred thousand dollars, “first instalment to the Bank of the United States,” is a legal charge, under those acts or any other, in the account A. referred to in the report; also, whether the two hundred and eighty-four thousand nine hundred and one dollars and eighty-nine cents, expended in the purchase of the public debt, does not appear in the report of the commissioners of the sinking fund, or some other report made to Congress last session, as appertaining more properly to the surplus revenue.
I ask these questions for information; because, if the answer should be in the affirmative, the difference will be very material, and, when added to the balance of five hundred and sixty-five thousand four hundred and eighty-four dollars and twenty-eight cents, as per your statement A, would, with the two millions of florins negotiating, cover all the ascertained demands upon the United States for the years 1793 and 1794, exclusive of what may be required for the sinking fund; for which you have made no specific appropriation whereby to form an estimate of the aggregate sum required. I am, &c.1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 30 June, 1793.
The enclosed letter from the governor of New York, covering a communication to him from the consul of the French Republic at that place, respecting the continuance of a British letter of marque in the harbor of New York, reached my hands by the post of last evening; and I now transmit it to you, that it may be taken into consideration by yourself and the other heads of the departments, as soon as may be after this letter gets to your hands. If you should be unanimous in your opinions, as to the measures which ought to be pursued by the government, in the case now communicated, you, or the Secretary at War, to whose department it belongs, will transmit in my name the result of your deliberations on the subject to the governor of New York for his information, and to be communicated by him to the French consul at that place.
But, in case there should be a difference of sentiment among the gentlemen on the matter, I must request that the several opinions may be sent to me for my consideration, and the governor of New York informed, that a decision will be had in the case as soon as I return to the seat of government, which I expect will be about the 10th of next month, notwithstanding the death of my manager, and the consequent derangement of my concerns, would make my presence here for a longer time, at this important season, almost indispensable. But I know the urgency and delicacy of our public affairs at present will not permit me to be longer absent. I must therefore submit with the best grace I can to the loss and inconvenience, which my private affairs will sustain from the want of my personal attention, or that of a confidential character, the obtaining of whom I have no prospect at present. I am, &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 11 July, 1793.
After I had read the papers, (which were put into my hands by you,) requiring “instant attention,” and before a messenger could reach your office, you had left town.
What is to be done in the case of the Little Sarah now at Chester? Is the minister of the French Republic to set the acts of this government at defiance with impunity? And then threaten the executive with an appeal to the people? What must the world think of such conduct, and of the government of the United States in submitting to it?
These are serious questions. Circumstances press for decision, and, as you have had time to consider them, (upon me they come unexpectedly,) I wish to know your opinion upon them, even before to-morrow, for the vessel may then be gone. I am, &c.1
TO BURGES BALL.
Philadelphia, 21 July, 1793.
I have, in due course of post, been favored with your letter of the 11th inst.
I thank you for the prompt compliance with my request—as I do Mr. Fitzhugh also for the ready belief he yielded that I would do nothing unfriendly, or ungenteel in the case you were desired to mention to him.
Before the receipt of your letter I had dispatched Howell Lewis (who was first to go to Fredericksburgh for purposes of his own) to Mount Vernon; but had I known at the time that his brother Lawrence would have undertaken the business, I should have thought him (on account of his age) the most eligible, and would have preferred him accordingly; for, possibly, if he had chosen to continue there, his conduct might have been found such, as to supercede the necessity of employing any other; because, as I could place entire confidence in his integrity, and presume I may do so in his sobriety, industry, care and œconomy, with strict attention to the conduct of the overseers, and to the plans marked out for their government, my business might progress as well under his auspice, as under that of any other I am likely to get; for a married man would not only be inconvenient for me, but (by keeping a separate house) would add considerably to my expences. Whereas a single man whether at my first (if from his walk of life he should be entitled to it) or at my second table, would with respect to his board be not more than a drop in the bucket.
But after all, is not Lawrence Lewis on the point of matrimony? Report says so, and if truly, it would be an effectual bar to a permanent establishment in my business, as I never again will have two women in my house when I am there myself. * * *
TO WILLIAM TILGHMAN.
Philadelphia, 21 July, 1793.
The death of my late manager, Mr. Anthony Whiting, making it necessary for me to look out for some person to supply his place, I take the advantage of your polite tender of your services which you have heretofore been so obliging as to make me, to beg your assistance in obtaining and conveying to me information of such characters in your part of the country, as are qualified to fill that station, and who can be obtained for that purpose.
Altho’ my affairs at Mount Vernon suffer much at present for want of a manager, yet I have thought it better to bear this temporary evil, than to engage one immediately who might not have all the necessary qualifications for that place. I have directed my enquiries for a manager to different parts of the country; but I think there is a greater probability that a person may be found in the best farming counties on the Eastern shore of Maryland to answer my purposes, than in almost any other quarter; for there seems to be more large Estates cultivated altogether in the farming system there, than in other parts of the Country; and that reclaiming Swamps, raising grass, Ditching, Hedging, &c., are the greatest pursuits on my Estate.
It is hardly possible, and indeed it is not necessary here to point out minutely all the qualifications required in, or duties expected from, a man of the character wanted. The leading points in such a person must be a compleat knowledge of the farming business in its various branches; an ability to plan and direct generally the business of four or five large farms, adjoining each other, but under separate overseers; and a sufficient acquaintance with business and accounts to enable him to buy and sell, with discretion and judgment, such things as may be wanted for the use of the Estate, and to be disposed of from it; and to keep an account of the same. An experience of many years can alone give the first qualification mentioned; and a residence of some years in a part of the country where the labor is done by negroes, and having had the management of pretty extensive business in that line, can only give the second. For the third, it is not necessary that a man should be a complete Clerk, or particularly conversant in mercantile transactions. Perfect honesty, sobriety and industry are indispensable. In fine, if I could [find] a man as well qualified for my purposes as the late Mr. Whiting (whom I presume you know, as he managed an Estate of Genl. Cadwalader’s in your neighborhood for some years) I should esteem myself very fortunate. A single man would suit me much better than one with a family—indeed is almost indispensable, as he would live at the mansion house; and I should like the age between 35 and 45, as that period seems most likely to unite experience with activity.
The names of the following persons in your quarter have been mentioned to me as well qualified to manage a large Estate, vizt. William Pierce [Pearce], who has done, and still continues to do business for Mr. Ringgold, recommended by Mr. Ringgold himself.
Owen Craw, said to have been a manager for Mr. Chew for some years, and now rents land and negroes from him.
James Cannon, said to have been an overseer, and in some measure a manager for Mr. Chew. But I would here observe, that a man may be a good farmer and an excellent overseer for a single plantation, who would be wholly unequal to the duties of a manager.
Brisco, on an Estate of the deceased Mr. Chew of Herring-bay, in Cecil County, which, I am informed, he means to quit. This person is rather out of your neighborhood; but it is possible you may know or hear something of him. From Mr. Jacob Hollingworth of Elkton—I have his character.
I have understood also, that Mr. Lloyd’s manager, of the name of Bryant, intends leaving him. If this should be the case, and he can be well recommended by Mr. Lloyd, I confess I should feel a predilection for him, because I know Mr. Lloyd is considered as one of the largest and best farmers in the country, and so good a manager himself, that he would not employ a man who did not fully understand his business. But it must be remembered, that I speak of this person merely as having heard that he intended leaving Mr. Lloyd, and was well qualified for my purposes; for I would not, upon any consideration, have a measure taken in my behalf that would look like drawing a man from the service of another, to whom he was engaged, with a view of taking him into mine.
I have now, Sir, given you a pretty full detail of my wants and wishes on this subject, and shall feel obliged by any information you may give me relative to it; as well as for the mention of the terms upon which persons of the character before described, are employed upon large Estates on the Eastern shore, and for what they may be induced to go to Virginia. The Estate for which I want a manager lies about nine miles below Alexandria on the river Potowmac—and 12 from the Federal City. I am, &c.
TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Philadelphia, 21 July, 1793.
I should have thanked you at an earlier period for your obliging letter of the 14th ultimo, had it not come to my hands a day or two only before I set out for Mount Vernon, and at a time when I was much hurried, and indeed, very much perplexed with the disputes, memorials, and what not, with which the government were pestered by one or the other of the petulant representatives of the powers at war, and because, since my return to this city, nine days ago, I have been more than ever overwhelmed with their complaints. In a word, the trouble they give is hardly to be described.1
My journey to and from Mount Vernon was sudden and rapid, and as short as I could make it. It was occasioned by the unexpected death of Mr. Whiting, my manager, at a critical season for the business with which he was intrusted. Where to supply his place I know not; of course my concerns at Mount Vernon are left as a body without a head; but this by the by.
The communications in your letter were pleasing and grateful; for, although I have done no public act with which my mind upbraids me, yet it is highly satisfactory to learn, that the things which I do, of an interesting tendency to the peace and happiness of this country, are generally approved by my fellow citizens. But, were the case otherwise, I should not be less inclined to know the sense of the people upon every matter of great public concern; for, as I have no wish superior to that of promoting the happiness and welfare of this country, so, consequently, it is only for me to know the means to accomplish the end, if it be within the compass of my powers.
That there are in this, as well as in all other countries, discontented characters, I well know; as also that these characters are actuated by very different views; some good, from an opinion that the measures of the general government are impure; some bad, and, if I might be allowed to use so harsh an expression, diabolical, inasmuch as they are not only meant to impede the measures of that government generally, but more especially, (as a great mean towards the accomplishment of it,) to destroy the confidence, which it is necessary for the people to place, (until they have unequivocal proof of demerit,) in their public servants. For in this light I consider myself, whilst I am an occupant of office; and, if they were to go further and call me their slave, during this period, I would not dispute the point.
But in what will this abuse terminate? The result, as it respects myself, I care not; for I have a consolation within, that no earthly efforts can deprive me of, and that is, that neither ambitious nor interested motives have influenced my conduct. The arrows of malevolence, therefore, however barbed and well pointed, never can reach the most vulnerable part of me; though, whilst I am up as a mark, they will be continually aimed. The publications in Freneau’s and Bache’s papers are outrages on common decency; and they progress in that style, in proportion as their pieces are treated with contempt, and are passed by in silence, by those at whom they are aimed. The tendency of them, however, is too obvious to be mistaken by men of cool and dispassionate minds, and, in my opinion, ought to alarm them; because it is difficult to prescribe bounds to the effect.
The light in which you endeavored to place the views and conduct of this country to M. Genet, and the sound policy thereof, as it respected his own, was unquestionably the true one, and such as a man of penetration, left to himself, would most certainly have viewed them in; but mum on this head. Time may unfold more than prudence ought to disclose at present. As we are told that you have exchanged the rugged and dangerous field of Mars for the soft and pleasurable bed of Venus I do in this, as I shall in every thing you may pursue like unto it, good and laudable, wish you all imaginable success and happiness. With esteem and regard, I am, &c.
TO THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT.
Philadelphia, 23 July, 1793.
The circumstances, which had induced me to ask your counsel on certain legal questions interesting to the public, exist now as they did then; but I by no means press a decision, whereon you wish the advice and participation of your absent brethren. Whenever, therefore, their presence shall enable you to give it with more satisfaction to yourselves, I shall accept it with pleasure. With sentiments of high respect, I am, &c.1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 25 July, 1793.
A letter from Colonel S. Smith of Baltimore to the Secretary of the Treasury, giving information of the conduct of the privateers Citizen Genet and Sans Culotte, is sent for your perusal; after which it may be returned, because contained therein is a matter, which respects the treasury department solely.1
As the letter of the minister of the Republic of France, dated the 22d of June, lies yet unanswered, and as the official conduct of that gentleman, relatively, to the affairs of this government, will have to undergo a very serious consideration (so soon as the special court at which the attorney-general is now engaged will allow him to attend with convenience), in order to decide upon measures proper to be taken thereupon, it is my desire that all the letters to and from that minister may be ready to be laid before me, the heads of departments, and the attorney-general, whom I shall advise with on the occasion, together with the minutes of such official oral communications, as you may have had with him on the subject of those letters. And as the memorials from the British minister and answers thereto are materially connected therewith, it will be proper, I conceive, to have these ready also. I am, &c.
TO THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
Philadelphia, 29 July, 1793.
It will not be amiss, I conceive, at the meeting you are about to have to-day, to consider the expediency of directing the custom-house officers to be attentive to the arming or equipping vessels, either for offensive or defensive war, in the several ports to which they belong, and make report thereof to the governor or some other proper officer.
Unless this, or some other effectual mode is adopted to check this evil in the first stage of its growth, the executive of the United States will be incessantly harassed with complaints on this head, and probably when it may be difficult to afford a remedy. I am, &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 31 July, 1793.
As there are several matters, which must remain in a suspended state, perhaps not very conveniently, until a decision is had on the conduct of the minister of the French Republic, and as the attorney-general will, more than probably, be engaged at the Supreme Court next week, it is my wish, under these circumstances, to enter upon the consideration of the letters of that minister to-morrow at nine o’clock. I therefore desire you will be here at that hour, and bring with you all his letters, your answers, and such other papers as are connected therewith.
As the consideration of this business may require some time, I should be glad if you and the other gentlemen would take a family dinner with me at four o’clock. No other company is or will be invited. I am, dear Sir, &c.1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 4 August, 1793.
If the heads of departments and the attorney-general, who have prepared the eight rules, which you handed to me yesterday, are well satisfied that they are not repugnant to treaties, or to the laws of nations, and moreover are the best we can adopt to maintain neutrality, I not only give them my approbation, but desire they may be made known without delay for the information of all concerned.2
The same expression will do for the other paper, which has been subscribed as above, and submitted to my consideration, for restoring or making restitution of prizes under the circumstances therein mentioned.1
It is proper you should be informed, that the minister of France intends to leave this city for New York to-morrow; and not amiss, perhaps, to know, that, in mentioning the seasonable aid of hands, which the Ambuscade received from the French Indiaman the day preceding her meeting the Boston, he added, that seamen would no longer be wanting, as he had now fifteen hundred at his command. This being the case, (although the allusion was to the subject he was then speaking upon,) some of these men may be employed in the equipment of privateers, other than those now in existence, as the right of fitting out such in our ports is asserted in unequivocal terms.
Was the propriety of convening the legislature at an earlier day, than that on which it is to assemble by law, considered yesterday?1
The late decree of the National Convention of France, dated the 19th of May, authorizing their ships of war and armed vessels to stop any neutral vessel loaded in whole or in part with provisions, and send them into their ports, adds another motive for the adoption of this measure. I am, &c.
TO HILAND CROW.
Philadelphia, 4 August, 1793.
By a Letter which I have just received from my nephew, Mr. Lewis, at Mount Vernon, he informs me that you are applying to have your wages raised. This, I think, was the case last year, and may be the case another year. Nor is this all. For when one succeeds, another comes forward; a stop therefore might as well be put to these kind of cravings at one time as at another. However, as your crop was the most productive of any I made last year; and as I hope the present one will not be bad, if properly taken care of, I agree, by way of encouraging your future exertions, to raise your wages to forty pounds next year; and make you the same allowance of provisions and other things as, by agreement, you were to receive this year.
To make an attempt after this, to encrease your wages, will be fruitless; and I mention it, that whenever you want more, you must seek for it elsewhere. Forty pounds per annum, clear of all expenses, whether the wind blows high or blow low—whether the ground is deluged with rain, or laid waste by a parching drought; by either of which, and by many other casualties, crops may be destroyed, though the expences incurred in the making do not lessen, nor the mouths which are to be fed, nor the backs which are to be clothed do not decrease—is equal to the chance of double that sum in a proportion of the crop; which, was it not for the labor spent in making meadows, and other jobs, some on and others off the farm, I had much rather give; but have been restrained from doing it to avoid grumbling; and because I may apply the hands at such places and in such a manner as to me, or my manager, should seem most conducive to my interest, when no other was to be affected by it. With this explanation of my sentiments, I remain, &c.
TO BURGES BALL.
Philadelphia, 4 August, 1793.
Previously to the receipt of your letter of the 25th ulto: some persons have been mentioned to me as one well qualified for the superintendence of my business at Mount Vernon, and until something is decided with respect to them (letters having passed on the subject) I can say nothing further with respect to Mr. Lawrence Lewis. So much am I engaged in public business, and so little have I it in my power to visit or attend to my private concerns that it becomes extremely necessary (besides fidelity) to have an experienced and skilful man of some weight to manage my business—one whose judgment is able to direct him in cases which may arise out of circumstances that can neither be foreseen nor previously guarded against.
What the age of Mr. Lawrence Lewis is, what opportunities he may have had to acquire any knowledge in the management of a farm, what his disposition, whether active or indolent, whether clear in his perceptions and of good judgment, whether sober and sedate, or fond of amusements and running about, with other queries which might be asked as well applying to a young man just entering on the career of life, are all matters to which I am an entire stranger, and if you can give me information respecting them, I shall thank you.
You will readily perceive that my sole object in these enquiries is to ascertain the competency of a character to whom I should commit an important trust. Consequently going no further can operate nothing to the prejudice of my nephew, whatever you may say to me on the foregoing points and such others as may occur to you.
So far as integrity and I presume sobriety, would qualify him, I should give him my entire confidence; but though these are very essential, something more, circumstanced as I am, is equally necessary. Was I at home myself, I should prefer a person connected with me, as he is, to a more skilful man that was not (provided he had no thoughts of soon forming a matrimonial alliance) because he could aid me in attention to company, which I should stand as much in need of as of one to look after my estate, as my disposition would lead me to endulge in retirement whenever I shall quit my public walks. My love to Mrs. Ball and your family, in w’ch Mrs. Washington joins. With sincere regard and friendship, &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.1
Philadelphia, 12 August, 1793.
I clearly understood you on Saturday, and of what I conceive to be two evils must prefer the least, that is, to dispense with your temporary absence in the autumn, in order to retain you in office till January, rather than part with you altogether at the close of September.
It would be an ardent wish of mine, that your continuance in office, even at the expense of some sacrifice of inclination, would have been through the whole of the ensuing session of Congress, for many, very many weighty reasons, which present themselves to my mind; one of which, and not the least, is, that in my judgment the affairs of this country, as they relate to foreign powers, Indian disturbances, and internal policy, will have taken a more decisive and I hope agreeable form than they now bear before that time, when perhaps other public servants might also indulge in retirement. If this cannot be, my next wish is, that your absence from the seat of government in the autumn may be as short as you conveniently can make it.
With much esteem and regard, I am, &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 19 August, 1793.
I send, for the consideration and opinion of the heads of departments and the attorney-general of the United States, a communication from the governor of Pennsylvania respecting the privateer Citizen Genet, together with copies of two letters from the French consul to the governor on the same subject, and a report of persons, who had examined the aforesaid privateer by the governor’s order, which were enclosed in the governor’s letter to me.
The gentlemen will decide, whether these circumstances reported respecting the unfitness of the said privateer to proceed to sea are such, as would make it proper to depart from the rules already adopted, and allow a longer time for her to prepare to depart, than is granted by the governor, or whether the orders given by him on this head shall be executed.
It will be seen that the subject requires despatch, and the Secretary of War will inform the governor of the result of your deliberations on this subject as soon as it is given. I am, &c.
TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Philadelphia, 9 September, 1793.
It was the opinion of the gentlemen at their meeting on Saturday last, if I mistake not, that Mr. Wolcott should be desired to request Mr. Webster to substantiate the language of the minister of the French republic, as related by him in the enclosed letter.
Colonel Hamilton’s situation, for which I feel extreme regret,1 does not permit his having any agency in the matter at present. I therefore send the letter, which he forwarded to me, from Mr. Webster to Mr. Wolcott, to your care, being persuaded that whatever measure shall be deemed right and proper will be put in train by you.2
I think it would not be prudent either for you, or the clerks in your office, or the office itself, to be too much exposed to the malignant fever, which, by well authenticated report, is spreading through the city. The means to avoid [it,] your own judgment under existing circumstances must dictate.
As the spreading and continuance of the disorder may render it unadvisable for me to return to this city so soon as I at first intended, I would thank you, in case you should remain in the vicinity of it, to write me a line by every Monday’s post, informing me concisely of the then state of matters, with other occurrences, which may be essential for me to be made acquainted with. * * *
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Chester, 10 September, 1793.
I return from this place the papers, which you put into my hands on the road to-day. The unpromising state of the negotiation at Madrid, and the opinion of the commissioners, that their commission should be withdrawn, and matters in that court placed in statu quo, deserve very serious consideration. I pray you to give it; and if it rests altogether with the executive, after the agency the Senate [have taken] in the business, let me know the result.
Mr. Carmichael must not be the person left there; for from him we should never hear a tittle of what is going forward at the court of Madrid.
I am yours, &c.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.
Mount Vernon, 23 September, 1793.
My dear Sir,
With very sincere pleasure I received your private letter of the 11th instant. This pleasure was not a little enhanced by your reiterated assurance of my still holding that place in your estimation, of which, on more occasions than one, you have given me the most flattering testimony, highly gratifying to my mind. This assurance came opportunely, as I had begun to conceive, though unable to assign a cause, that some part of my public conduct, (however well-meant my endeavors,) had appeared unfavorably in your eyes; for you will please to recollect, that formerly you promised me, and I always expected, an annual letter from you. It is now, (if my memory has not failed me,) at least four years since I have had that pleasure.
Sequestered you say you are from the world, and know little of what is transacting in it, but from newspapers. I regret this exceedingly. I wish you had more to do on the great theatre, and that your means of information were co-equal to your abilities and the disposition I know you to possess to judge properly of public measures. It would be better, perhaps, for that public, it should be so; for, be assured, we have some infamous papers, calculated to disturb the public mind, if not absolutely intended to do mischief.
With respect to the fiscal conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury, I will say nothing, because an inquiry, more than probable, will be instituted next session of Congress into some of the allegations against him, which eventually may involve the whole; and because, if I mistake not, he will seek, rather than shrink from an investigation. A fair opportunity will, in that case, be offered the impartial world to form a just estimate of his acts, and probably of his motives. No one, I will venture to say, wishes more devoutly than I do, that they may be probed to the bottom, be the result what it will.1
With the most scrupulous truth I can assure you, that your free and unreserved opinion, upon any public measure of importance, will always be acceptable to me, whether it respects men or measures; and on no man do I wish it to be expressed more fully than on myself, for, as I can conscientiously declare, I have no object in view incompatible with the constitution, and the obvious interests of this country, nor no earthly desire half so strong as that of returning to the walks of private life; so, of consequence, I only wish, whilst I am a servant of the public, to know the will of my masters, that I may govern myself accordingly.
You do me no more than justice when you suppose, that, from motives of respect to the legislature (and I might add from my interpretation of the constitution), I give my signature to many bills, with which my judgment is at variance. In saying this, however, I allude to no particular act. From the nature of the constitution I must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto. To do the latter can only be justified upon the clear and obvious ground of propriety; and I never had such confidence in my own faculty of judging, as to be ever tenacious of the opinions I may have imbibed in doubtful cases.1
Mrs. Washington, who enjoys tolerable health, joins me most cordially in best wishes to you and Mrs. Pendleton. I wish you may live long, continue in good health, and end your days, as you have been wearing them away, happily and respected. Always and very affectionately yours, &c.
TO TOBIAS LEAR.
Mount Vernon, 25 September, 1793.
My dear Sir,
I have not written to you since we parted, but had just set down to do it when your letter of the 13th instt. was brought to me from the Post office in Alexandria.
It gave Mrs. Washington, myself and all who knew him, sincere pleasure to hear that our little favourite1 had arrived safe, and was in good health at Portsmouth. We sincerely wish him a long continuance of the latter—that he may always be as charming and promising as he now is—and that he may live to be a comfort and blessing to you, and an ornament to his country. As a testimony of my affection for him I send him a ticket in the lottery which is now drawing in the Federal City; and if it should be his fortune to draw the hotel it will add to the pleasure I have in giving it.
We remained in Philadelphia until the 10th instant.—It was my wish to have continued there longer; but as Mrs. Washington was unwilling to leave me surrounded by the malignant fever which prevailed, I could not think of hazarding her, and the Children any longer by my continuance in the City, the house in which we lived being, in a manner blockaded, by the disorder, and was becoming every day more and more fatal; I therefore came off with them on the above day and arrived at this place the 14th, without incountering the least accident on the road.
You will learn from Mr. Greenleaf, that he has dipped deeply in the concerns of the Federal city.—I think he has done so on very advantageous terms for himself, and I am pleased with it notwithstanding on public ground; as it may give facility to the operations at that place, at the same time that it is embarking him and his friends in a measure which, although [it] could not well fail under any circumstances that are likely to happen, may be considerably promoted by men of Spirit with large Capitals. He can, so much better than I, detail his engagements and the situation of things in and about the city, that I shall not attempt to do it at this time.
Mrs. Washington having decided to let Nelly Custis have her watch and chain, is disposed to receive substitutes in lieu thereof at about 25 guineas price; and leaves the choice of them to you, the plainness of the watch she will not object to. 120 dollars in Bank notes are inclosed for the purchase of them.
If it should be convenient and perfectly safe for you to engage for me, on reasonable terms a complete Black Smith you would oblige me by doing so. But as there are Laws in England prohibiting such engagements under severe penalties, and such may exist in other countries, you will understand me clearly, that for no consideration whatever would I have you run the smallest risk of encountering them. You know full well what kind of a Smith would Suit my purposes; it is unnecessary therefore for me to be particular on this head. He must however have a character on which you can rely, not only as a compleat workman for a Farm, but as an honest, sober and Industrious man. If he comes on wages they must be moderate—and with, or without wages, he must be bound to serve me 3 years; 4 would be better.
Mrs. Washington thanks you for your kind recollection of her request with respect to Lincoln, and desires me to assure you of her sincere love for him, in which I join, and of her friendship and regard for you. In whatever place you may be, or in whatever walk of life you may move, my best wishes will attend you, for I am, and always shall be,
Your sincere friend, &c.
P. S. I have just received a letter from the Earl of Buchan in which he says, my letter intended to accompany the Portrait had got safe to his hands but that he had heard nothing of the Picture. If you should, while in New York, see the Painter of it, be so good as to mention this circumstance to him and enquire into the cause of the failure.
The District Attorney of New Hampshire has sent his resignation.—I am entirely unacquainted with the characters in that line in that State and would thank you to name the Person whom you think best qualified to succeed Mr. Shelburne and most likely to give general satisfaction.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 6 October, 1793.
It appearing to me that the public business will require the executive officers to be together sometime before the meeting of Congress, I have written to the Secretaries of the Treasury and War to meet me at Philadelphia or vicinity, say Germantown, by the first of November, and should be glad to see you there at the same time. The Attorney General is advised of this also.
In a letter from General Knox of the 24th ulto., who was then performing quarantine at Elizabethtown before he could be admitted into New York, is the following paragraph:
“The French fleet is still in New York, in a wretched state of disorganization, which prevents its sailing. Mr. G—t has been low spirited for ten days past. The fleet have been told by him that the Executive of the United States prevents their selling their prizes, and Citizen Bompard, who belongs to a club in France, as well as his sailors, say that they shall represent the matter upon their return in its proper colors. I do not find Mr. G—t has promulgated the last letter of the Secretary of State, excepting as to the effect of the measure with the consuls; which prevent their selling their prizes. Would to God it had been thought proper to publish the letter to Mr. Morris. The minds of our own people would have been convinced of the propriety of the measures which have been adopted, and all cavil at the meeting of Congress prevented.”
I should be of this opinion likewise, if there is danger of the public mind receiving unfavorable impressions from the want of information on one hand, whilst the insidious attempts to poison it, are so impudently and unweariedly practised on the other.
In another letter from Gen’l Knox, dated the 1st. inst., at the same place, after having performed quarantine from the 19th of September to that date, he says:
“The French fleet, excepting the Ambuscade, will sail tomorrow from New York, upon some cruise unknown. The Surveillant sailed on the 29th ulto. for France with despatches from Mr. G[ene]t and such is his desire that they should arrive safely, that he will in a day or two despatch the Ceres, an armed brig, with duplicates.”
If our despatch boat should fail, and duplicates are not sent, he will play the whole game himself. * * *1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 11 October, 1793.
Your despatch of the 3d, with its several enclosures, reached Alexandria on Wednesday evening, and got to my hands yesterday morning. This afternoon I shall send to the post office the letters from Mr. Bankson, with my signature to the exequatur for Mr. Dannery and Letters Patent revoking that of Mr. Duplaine. Your letter to the latter, two to the French Minister, one to his secretary Mons. Bournonville, and another to Mr. Morris being approved, are also forwarded.
To a letter written to you a few days ago, I refer for the time and place mentioned for the meeting of the heads of departments, and hope it will be convenient for you to attend. If I do not take a circuitous route by Fredericktown in Maryland, &c., I shall not leave this before the 28th, and in that case should be glad of your company, if it is not inconvenient for you to call. Since writing that letter, however, I have received the enclosed from the attorney-general, which may make a change of place necessary; but I shall wait further advices before this is resolved on.
I have also received a letter from the late Speaker, Trumbull,1 and as I understand, sentiments similar to his are entertained by others. What had I best do? You were of opinion when here, that neither the constitution nor laws gave power to the President to convene Congress at any other place, than where the seat of government is fixed by their own act. Twelve days ago I wrote to the attorney-general for an official opinion on this head, but have received no answer.1 If the importance and urgency of the case, arising from the unabating fever in Philadelphia, would justify calling the legislature at any other place, where ought it to be? This, if Germantown is affected with the malady, involves the executive in a serious and delicate decision. Wilmington and Trenton are equidistant in opposite directions, both on the great thoroughfare, equally dangerous, and would, (I presume,) be equally obnoxious to one or other set of members, according to their situations. Annapolis has conveniences, but it might be thought I had interested and local views in naming this place. What sort of a town then is Reading? And how would it answer? Neither northern nor southern members would have cause to complain of its situation. Lancaster favors the southern ones most.
You will readily perceive, if any change takes place, not a moment is to be lost in the notification, whether by a simple statement of facts (among which, I presume, the house intended for them in Philadelphia will be unfinished), and an intimation that you shall be at a certain place NA days before the 1st of December to meet them in their legislative capacity, or to advise with them on measures proper to be taken in the present exigency. If something of this sort should strike you favorably, draw, (and if necessary sign,) a proper instrument, to avoid delay, leaving the place blank, but giving your opinion thereon. Germantown would certainly have been the best place for them to have met in the first instance, there to take ulterior resolutions without involving the executive.
I have no objection to the director of the mint, with your concurrence, choosing an engraver in place of Mr. Wright. No report has been made to me relative to the tonnage of the French ships from St. Domingo.
Major Lenox, I perceive by the papers, is marshal of the district of Pennsylvania. Limits of jurisdiction and protection must lie over till we meet, when I request you would remind me of it. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
TO THOMAS SIM LEE, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND.
Mount Vernon, 13 October, 1793.
The letter, with which your Excellency was pleased to favor me, dated the 7th instant, was received on the 10th, and might have had an acknowledgment the next day; but I waited the arrival of Friday’s mail, in hopes that I should have had a report from the Secretary of War relatively the ship Rochampton. Disappointed in this, I am not able to give you any opinion thereon, uninformed as I am of the specific articles of charges exhibited by the British consul. The French minister complains of the detention.
With respect to the second case mentioned in your letter, and these of the British consuls, I have only to observe, that, as these gentlemen cannot but know, that the custom-house officers in every port are instructed to keep a vigilant watch upon all armed vessels, and the presumption being, that they also are not inattentive, there seems to have been no necessity for lodging a complaint unaccompanied with proofs.
It is scarcely possible to give instructions, which will embrace minutely every case that may arise during the war; nor do I conceive it essential. Your Excellency will readily perceive, by the communications which have been made to you, the principles upon which the general government act, in the recess of Congress, respecting the belligerent powers. These principles are, to adhere strictly to treaties, according to the plain construction and obvious meaning of them, and, regarding these, to act impartially towards all the nations at war. Keeping these principles in view, and observing the rules which are founded on them, with your disposition to do justice, and to preserve this country in peace, I persuade myself you can be at no loss, that your decisions will be always right; and I hope they will always be prompt.
Being removed from the public offices, intending when I left Philadelphia not to be absent more than fifteen or eighteen days, I brought no public papers of any sort (not even the rules which have been established in these cases,) along with me. Consequently I am not prepared at this place to decide points, which may require a reference to papers not within my reach. But, as I find cases are daily occurring, which call for attention and decision, I have requested the heads of the departments to attend at Philadelphia or vicinity, by the 1st of next month, whither I shall go and be present myself. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
TO JAMES MADISON.
Mount Vernon, 14 October, 1793.
My dear Sir,
The calamitous situation of Philadelphia, and the little prospect, from the present appearance, of its eligibility to receive Congress by the first Monday in December, involve a serious difficulty. It has been intimated by some, that the President ought, by proclamation, to convene Congress a few days before the above period, at some other place; and by others, (although in extraordinary cases he has the power to convene,) yet that he has none to change the place. Mr. Jefferson, when here on his way home, was of the latter opinion; but the laws were not fully examined, nor was the case at that time so serious as it now is. From the attorney-general, to whom I have since written on this subject, requesting an official opinion, I have received no answer, nor is it likely I shall soon, as I believe he has no communication with Philadelphia.1
Time presses, and the malady, at the usual place of meeting, is becoming more and more alarming. What, then, do you think is the most advisable course for me to pursue in the present exigency? Summon Congress to meet at a certain time and place, in their legislative capacity? Simply to state facts and say I will meet the members at the time and place just mentioned for ulterior arrangements? Or leave matters as they are, if there is no power in the executive to alter the place legally? In the first and second cases, especially the first, the delicacy of my naming a place will readily occur to you. My wish would be, that Congress could be assembled at Germantown, to show I meant no partiality, leaving it to themselves, (if there should appear to be no prospect of getting into Philadelphia soon,) to decide what should be done thereafter. But accounts say, that some people have died in Germantown also of the malignant fever. Every death, now, however, is now ascribed to that cause, be the disorder what it may. Wilmington and Trenton are nearly equidistant from Philadelphia, in opposite directions; but both are on the great thoroughfare, and equally exposed to danger from the multitude of travellers; and neither may have a chamber sufficient for the House of Representatives. Annapolis and Lancaster are more secure, and have good accommodations. But to name either, especially the first, would be thought to favor the southern convenience; and, perhaps, might be attributed to local views, especially as New York is talked of for this purpose. Reading, if there are proper conveniences at it, would favor neither the southern nor northern interest most, but would be alike to both.
I have written to Mr. Jefferson on this subject. Notwithstanding which, I would thank you for your opinion, and that fully, as you see my embarrassment. I even ask more. I would thank you, (not being acquainted with forms,) to sketch some instrument for publication, adapted to the course you may think it would be most expedient for me to pursue in the present state of things, if the members are called together as before.
The difficulty of keeping clerks in the public offices had in a manner put a stop to business before I left Philadelphia; and the heads of departments having matters of their own, which called them away, has prevented my return thither longer than I had intended. I have now desired the different Secretaries to meet me there, or in the vicinity, the 1st of next month, for which I shall set out the 27th or the 28th of the present one.
The accounts from the city are really affecting. Two gentlemen now here from New York, (Colonels Platt and Sergeant,) say, that they were told at the Swedes’ Ford of Schuylkill, by a person who had it from the Governor (Mifflin), that, by an official report from the mayor of the city, upwards of three thousand and five hundred had died, and the disorder raging more violently than ever. If cool weather, accompanied by rain, does not put a stop to the malady, distressing indeed must be the case of that city, now almost depopulated by removals and deaths.
I am, dear Sir, &c.1
TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Mount Vernon, 16 October, 1793.
Since my arrival at this place I have been favored with your letters of the 17th ultimo and 7th instant. For your kind attentions to me I pray you to receive my sincere acknowledgments.
I have always, (from the accounts given of it,) entertained a high opinion of Colonel Taliaferro’s threshing machine, but knew at the same time I had no stream that could supply water for one on any of my farms. This was confirmed when Mr. Payne came hither and examined them. The model brought over by the English farmers may also be a good one, but the utility of it among careless negroes and ignorant overseers will depend absolutely upon the simplicity of the construction; for, if there is any thing complex in the machinery, it will be no longer in use than a mushroom is in existence. I have seen so much of the beginning and ending of new inventions, that I have almost resolved to go on in the old way of treading, until I get settled again at home, and can attend myself to the management of one. As a proof in point, of the almost impossibility of putting the overseers of this country out of the track they have been accustomed to walk in, I have one of the most convenient barns in this, or perhaps any other country, where thirty hands may with great ease be employed in threshing. Half of the wheat of the farm was actually stowed in this barn in the straw, by my order, for threshing; notwithstanding, when I came home about the middle of September, I found a treading-yard not thirty feet from the barndoor, the wheat again brought out of the barn, and horses treading it out in an open exposure, liable to the vicissitudes of weather. I am now erecting a building for the express purpose of treading. I have sanguine expectations of its utility; and, if I am not deceived in them, it may afford you some satisfaction, when you come into this part of the country, to call and look at it.
I have a grateful sense of your kind offer of Mr. Workman. Previous, however, to the communication, I had engaged a manager from the eastern shore of Maryland; but the impression on my mind for the favor intended me is not lessened on that account.
I have not, as you will perceive, touched the subject of politics in this letter. The reasons are, your letter of the 17th has expressed precisely my ideas of the conduct and views of those, who are aiming at nothing short of the subversion of the government of these States, even at the expense of plunging this country in the horrors of a disastrous war; and because I wish to wait a little longer to see what may be the sense of legally constituted bodies, at the meetings which are about to take place.
The public service requiring it, I shall set off in about ten days for Philadelphia or the vicinity. Though unknown to your lady, I beg my respectful compliments may be presented to her. I wish an agreeable and harmonious session, and am, with much truth, your affectionate humble servant.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
Mount Vernon, 23 October, 1793.
Your letter of the 14th instant only came by the post of last night to Alexandria, and this is sent thither today, that it may go by to-morrow’s mail, and thereby reach you as soon as the nature of the case will admit.
As you have given no positive opinion respecting the power of the executive to change the place for Congress to meet at,1 and as it is uncertain what will be the result of this business, I am really at a loss to decide which of the three houses, mentioned in the postscript to your letter of the above date, would best suit me, or whether either of them would.
If, from the present state of the malady, with which Philadelphia is visited, and there is an unfavorable prospect of its ceasing, Germantown should be thought unsafe, and of course an ineligible spot for Congress to sit in or meet at, even in the first instance, any kind of lodging and board would suffice for the short stay I should have to remain there, especially as all the time, not employed in business with the heads of departments and yourself, might be spent in little excursions to places at a small distance therefrom. Of course all idea of furnishing and keeping a house myself, being entirely unprovided with servants or means of any sort, ought to be banished entirely, if it be practicable, and some rooms, even in a tavern, if I could be retired in them, taken in preference. On the other hand, if my stay there is likely to be of any continuance, then unquestionably Colonel Franks’s (if to be had) would suit me best, because more commodious for myself and the entertainment of company; and, next to this, Bensel’s.
This is the light in which the matter strikes me at this distance. But, as you are on the spot, know more precisely than I possibly can do the real state of things, and besides, have been in the way of having the various opinions of people on the subject of what Congress ought to do, I would leave much to your judgment. I shall set out, so as to be in Germantown or thereabouts the 1st of November, if no difficulties should be encountered on the road. As there can be but a short interval between your receipt of this letter and my arrival, any place might do for my first reception.
It is not in my power to despatch a servant before me. I shall have but two, neither of which can be spared for such a purpose. These, with five horses, Mr. Dandridge, and myself, form the total of my family and equipage. It would be very convenient for me, therefore, to meet a letter from you at Wilmington, that I may know better how to proceed from thence, and where to cross the Schuylkill.
My best wishes, in which Mrs. Washington unites, attend you, Mrs. Randolph, and family. We are glad to hear, that your apprehensions on account of Peyton have subsided. With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
Mount Vernon, 24 October, 1793.
Your favor of yesterday was handed to me upon my return from my usual ride, and almost at the moment I was sitting down with company to dinner, which prevented my acknowledging the receipt of it by your servant. I am sorry, I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you and your lady before I return to the northward, and regret the cause. On Sunday, if I can previously arrange some business that presses, I shall commence my journey; and, if I can render you any service whither I am going, I should be happy in doing it.
On fair ground, it would be difficult to assign reasons for the conduct of those, who are arraigning and, constantly so far (as they are able) embarrassing the measures of government, with respect to its pacific disposition towards the belligerent powers in the convulsive dispute, which agitated them. But their motives are too obvious to those, who have the means of information, and have viewed the different grounds they have taken, to mistake their object. It is not the cause of France, nor I believe of liberty, which they regard; for, could they involve this country in war (no matter with whom) and disgrace, they would be among the first and loudest of the clamorers against the expense and impolicy of the measure.
The specimens you have seen of M. Genet’s sentiments and conduct in the gazettes form a small part only of the aggregate. But you can judge from these to what test the temper of the executive has been put, in its various transactions with this gentleman. It is probable that the whole will be exhibited to public view in the course of the next session of Congress. Delicacy towards his nation has restrained doing it hitherto. The best that can be said of this agent is, that he is entirely unfit for the mission on which he is employed; unless, contrary to the express and unequivocal declaration of his country (which I hope is not the case), made through himself, it is meant to involve ours in all the horrors of a European war. This, or interested motives of his own, or having become the dupe and the tool of a party formed on various principles, but to effect local purposes, is the only solution that can be given of his conduct. I sincerely wish that Mrs. [Lee] and yourself may soon and effectually recover your health; and with very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.1
TO FRANCIS WILLIS.
Mount Vernon, 25 October, 1793.
Your letter of the 4th of August had to go to Philadelphia and come back, before I received it.
The mistakes which have happened respecting the Negroes of the late Mrs. Samuel Washington are somewhat singular; and it is not a little surprizing after the first mistake had happened, and so much pains had been taken to account for, and set it right, that now, after a lapse of five or six years, the whole matter should assume quite a different face. It should be Discovered at this late hour that, that lady herself had no right to the Negroes, which by the bye, I believe possession alone would give her.
If I had ever intended to avail myself of the Law for my own benefit (which made me heir to those Negroes,) I would not have relinquished my claim without a thorough investigation of the subject of defective title. For presuming that all Law is founded on equity, and being under a conviction that if Mrs. Washington had survived her husband, she would have released nothing to which she would have been entitled by law, I saw no injustice or impropriety upon the ground of reciprocity of receiving for my Brother’s Children that which in the other case would have been taken from them. But not having finally resolved in my own mind (as you may readily infer from my long silence) whether to take from Mrs. Washington’s family for the benefit of my Brother’s only daughter (who, from the involved state of his affairs, had left her by his will a very small pittance; and the obtainment of that, even doubtful) the whole or only part of what the law entitled me to, I let the matter rest till your second letter had revived the subject.
I now, in order to close the business finally, have come to the following conclusions. Pay me one hundred pounds which I shall give to my Niece for her immediate support, and I will quit claim to all the Negroes which belonged to Mrs. Saml. Washington, and will release them accordingly. I am, &c.1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Philadelphia, 1 December, 1793.
Is there no clue to Mr. Morris’s meaning respecting Monsieur Merlino? The next paragraph of his letter is enigmatical to me from the want of my recollecting perfectly the subjects alluded to. What are the orders given him, which he will implicitly obey, and which were, according to his account, received so very opportunely? Has not a letter of his, of subsequent date to that laid before me yesterday, acknowledged the receipt of the plans of the Federal City.
There can be no doubt, since the information which has come to hand from our ministers at Paris and London, of the propriety of changing the expression of the message as it respects the acts of France. And if any bad consequences, (which I still declare I see no cause to apprehend,) are likely to flow from a public communication of matters relative to Great Britain, it might be well to revise the thing again in your own mind before it is sent in, especially as the Secretary of the Treasury has more than once declared, and has offered to discuss and prove, that we receive more substantial benefits (favors are beside the question with any of them, because they are not intended as such,) from British regulations, with respect to the commerce of this country, than we do from those of France; antecedent, I mean, to those of very recent date. We should be very cautious, ifthis be the case, not to advance any thing that may recoil, or take ground we cannot support.
SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, DECEMBER 3D, 1793.
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
Since the commencement of the term, for which I have been again called into office, no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to my fellow-citizens at large, the deep and respectful sense, which I feel, of the renewed testimony of public approbation. While, on the one hand, it awakened my gratitude for all those instances of affectionate partiality, with which I have been honored by my country; on the other, it could not prevent an earnest wish for that retirement, from which no private consideration should ever have torn me. But influenced by the belief, that my conduct would be estimated according to its real motives, and that the people, and the authorities derived from them, would support exertions having nothing personal for their object, I have obeyed the suffrage, which commanded me to resume the executive power; and I humbly implore that Being, on whose will the fate of nations depends, to crown with success our mutual endeavors for the general happiness.
As soon as the war in Europe had embraced those powers, with whom the United States have the most extensive relations, there was reason to apprehend, that our intercourse with them might be interrupted, and our disposition for peace drawn into question, by the suspicions too often entertained by belligerent nations. It seemed, therefore, to be my duty to admonish our citizens of the consequences of a contraband trade, and of hostile acts to any of the parties; and to obtain, by a declaration of the existing legal state of things, an easier admission of our right to the immunities belonging to our situation. Under these impressions, the Proclamation, which will be laid before you, was issued.
In this posture of affairs, both new and delicate, I resolved to adopt general rules, which should conform to the treaties and assert the privileges of the United States. These were reduced into a system, which will be communicated to you. Although I have not thought myself at liberty to forbid the sale of the prizes, permitted by our treaty of commerce with France to be brought into our ports, I have not refused to cause them to be restored, when they were taken within the protection of our territory, or by vessels commissioned or equipped in a warlike form within the limits of the United States.
It rests with the wisdom of Congress to correct, improve, or enforce this plan of procedure; and it will probably be found expedient to extend the legal code, and the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States, to many cases, which, though dependent on principles already recognised, demand some further provisions.
Where individuals shall within the United States array themselves in hostility against any of the powers at war; or enter upon military expeditions or enterprises within the jurisdiction of the United States; or usurp and exercise judicial authority within the United States; or where the penalties on violations of the law of nations may have been indistinctly marked, or are inadequate; these offences cannot receive too early and close an attention, and require prompt and decisive remedies.
Whatsoever those remedies may be, they will be well administered by the judiciary, who possess a long-established course of investigation, effectual process, and officers in the habit of executing it. In like manner, as several of the courts have doubted, under particular circumstances, their power to liberate the vessels of a nation at peace, and even of a citizen of the United States, although seized under a false color of being hostile property; and have denied their power to liberate certain captures within the protection of our territory; it would seem proper to regulate their jurisdiction in these points. But if the executive is to be the resort in either of the two last-mentioned cases, it is hoped, that he will be authorized by law to have facts ascertained by the courts, when, for his own information, he shall request it.
I cannot recommend to your notice measures for the fulfilment of our duties to the rest of the world, without again pressing upon you the necessity of placing ourselves in a condition of complete defence, and of exacting from them the fulfilment of their duties towards us. The United States ought not to indulge a persuasion, that, contrary to the order of human events, they will for ever keep at a distance those painful appeals to arms, with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for war.
The documents, which will be presented to you, will show the amount and kinds of arms and military stores now in our magazines and arsenals; and yet an addition even to these supplies cannot with prudence be neglected, as it would leave nothing to the uncertainty of procuring a warlike apparatus in the moment of public danger. Nor can such arrangements, with such objects, be exposed to the censure or jealousy of the warmest friends of republican government. They are incapable of abuse in the hands of the militia, who ought to possess a pride in being the depository of the force of the Republic, and may be trained to a degree of energy, equal to every military exigency of the United States. But it is an inquiry, which cannot be too solemnly pursued, whether the act “more effectually to provide for the national defence by establishing a uniform militia throughout the United States,” has organized them so as to produce their full effect; whether your own experience in the several States has not detected some imperfections in the scheme; and whether a material feature, in an improvement of it, ought not to be to afford an opportunity for the study of those branches of the military art, which can scarcely ever be attained by practice alone.
The connexion of the United States with Europe has become extremely interesting. The occurrences, which relate to it, and have passed under the knowledge of the executive, will be exhibited to Congress in a subsequent communication.
When we contemplate the war on our frontiers, it may be truly affirmed, that every reasonable effort has been made to adjust the causes of dissension with the Indians north of the Ohio. The instructions given to the commissioners evince a moderation and equity proceeding from a sincere love of peace, and a liberality having no restriction but the essential interests and dignity of the United States. The attempt, however, of an amicable negotiation having been frustrated, the troops have marched to act offensively. Although the proposed treaty did not arrest the progress of military preparation, it is doubtful how far the advance of the season, before good faith justified active movements, may retard them, during the remainder of the year. From the papers and intelligence, which relate to this important subject, you will determine, whether the deficiency in the number of troops, granted by law, shall be compensated by succors of militia; or additional encouragements shall be proposed to recruits. An anxiety has been also demonstrated by the executive for peace with the Creeks and the Cherokees. The former have been relieved with corn and with clothing, and offensive measures against them prohibited, during the recess of Congress. To satisfy the complaints of the latter, prosecutions have been instituted for the violences committed upon them. But the papers, which will be delivered to you, disclose the critical footing on which we stand in regard to both those tribes; and it is with Congress to pronounce what shall be done.
After they shall have provided for the present emergency, it will merit their most serious labors, to render tranquillity with the savages permanent by creating ties of interest. Next to a rigorous execution of justice on the violators of peace, the establishment of commerce with the Indian nations on behalf of the United States is most likely to conciliate their attachment. But it ought to be conducted without fraud, without extortion, with constant and plentiful supplies, with a ready market for the commodities of the Indians, and a stated price for what they give in payment, and receive in exchange. Individuals will not pursue such a traffic, unless they be allured by the hope of profit; but it will be enough for the United States to be reimbursed only. Should this recommendation accord with the opinion of Congress, they will recollect, that it cannot be accomplished by any means yet in the hands of the Executive.
GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The commissioners, charged with the settlement of accounts between the United and individual States, concluded their important functions within the time limited by law; and the balances, struck in their report, which will be laid before Congress, have been placed on the books of the treasury.
On the first day of June last, an instalment of one million of florins became payable on the loans of the United States in Holland. This was adjusted by a prolongation of the period of reimbursement, in the nature of a new loan, at interest at five per cent. for the term of ten years: and the expenses of this operation were a commission of three per cent.
The first instalment of the loan of two millions of dollars from the bank of the United States has been paid, as was directed by law. For the second, it is necessary that provision should be made.
No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt; on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.
The productiveness of the public revenues hitherto has continued to equal the anticipations which were formed of it; but it is not expected to prove commensurate with all the objects, which have been suggested. Some auxiliary provisions will, therefore, it is presumed, be requisite; and it is hoped that these may be made, consistently with a due regard to the convenience of our citizens, who cannot but be sensible of the true wisdom of encountering a small present addition to their contributions, to obviate a future accumulation of burdens.
But here I cannot forbear to recommend a repeal of the tax on the transportation of public prints. There is no resource so firm for the government of the United States, as the affections of the people, guided by an enlightened policy; and to this primary good, nothing can conduce more than a faithful representation of public proceedings, diffused without restraint throughout the United States.
An estimate of the appropriations necessary for the current service of the ensuing year, and a statement of a purchase of arms and military stores made during the recess, will be presented to Congress.
GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The several objects, to which I have now referred, open a wide range to your deliberations, and involve some of the choicest interests of our common country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of your task. Without an unprejudiced coolness, the welfare of the government may be hazarded; without harmony, as far as consists with freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But as the legislative proceedings of the United States will never, I trust, be reproached for the want of temper or candor; so shall not the public happiness languish from the want of my strenuous and warmest coöperations.
MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS; RESPECTING THE FRENCH MINISTER GENET, AND THE RELATIONS WITH FRANCE, DECEMBER 5, 1793.
As the present situation of the several nations of Europe, and especially of those with which the United States have important relations, cannot but render the state of things between them and us matter of interesting inquiry to the legislature, and may indeed give rise to deliberations, to which they alone are competent, I have thought it my duty to communicate to them certain correspondences which have taken place.
The representative and executive bodies of France have manifested generally a friendly attachment to this country, have given advantages to our commerce and navigation, and have made overtures for placing these advantages on permanent ground; a decree, however, of the National Assembly, subjecting vessels laden with provisions to be carried into their ports, and making enemy goods lawful prize in the vessel of a friend, contrary to our treaty, though revoked at one time as to the United States, has been since extended to their vessels also, as has been recently stated to us. Representations on the subject will be immediately given in charge to our minister there, and the result shall be communicated to the legislature.
It is with extreme concern I have to inform you, that the proceedings of the person, whom they have unfortunately appointed their minister plenipotentiary here, have breathed nothing of the friendly spirit of the nation, which sent him; their tendency, on the contrary, has been to involve us in war abroad, and discord and anarchy at home. So far as his acts, or those of his agents, have threatened our immediate commitment in the war, or flagrant insult to the authority of the laws, their effect has been counteracted by the ordinary cognizance of the laws, and by an exertion of the powers confided to me. Where their danger was not imminent, they have been borne with, from sentiments of regard to his nation; from a sense of their friendship towards us; from a conviction, that they would not suffer us to remain long exposed to the action of a person, who has so little respected our mutual dispositions; and, I will add, from a reliance on the firmness of my fellow-citizens in their principles of peace and order.
In the mean time, I have respected and pursued the stipulations of our treaties, according to what I judged their true sense; and have withheld no act of friendship, which their affairs have called for from us, and which justice to others left us free to perform. I have gone further; rather than employ force for the restitution of certain vessels, which I deemed the United States bound to restore, I thought it more advisable to satisfy the parties, by avowing it to be my opinion, that, if restitution were not made, it would be incumbent on the United States to make compensation. The papers, now communicated, will more particularly apprize you of these transactions.
The vexations and spoliation, understood to have been committed on our vessels and commerce by the cruisers and officers of some of the belligerent powers, appeared to require attention. The proofs of these, however, not having been brought forward, the description of citizens supposed to have suffered were notified, that, on furnishing them to the executive, due measures would be taken to obtain redress of the past, and more effectual provisions against the future. Should such documents be furnished, proper representations will be made thereon, with a just reliance on a redress proportioned to the exigency of the case.
The British government having undertaken, by orders to the commanders of their armed vessels, to restrain, generally, our commerce in corn and other provisions to their own ports and those of their friends, the instructions now communicated were immediately forwarded to our minister at that court. In the mean time, some discussions on the subject took place between him and them. These are also laid before you; and I may expect to learn the result of his special instructions, in time to make it known to the legislature, during their present session.
Very early after the arrival of a British minister here, mutual explanations on the inexecution of the treaty of peace were entered into with that minister; these are now laid before you for your information.
On the subjects of mutual interest between this country and Spain, negotiations and conferences are now depending. The public good requiring that the present state of these should be made known to the legislature in confidence only, they shall be the subject of a separate and subsequent communication.1
TO ARTHUR YOUNG.
Philadelphia, 12 December, 1793.
I wrote to you three months ago, or more, by my late secretary and friend, Mr. Lear; but as his departure from this country for Great Britain, was delayed longer than he or I expected, it is at least probable that that letter will not have reached your hands at a much earlier period than the one I am now writing.
At the time it was written, the thoughts which I am now about to disclose to you, were not even in embryo; and whether, in the opinion of others, there be impropriety, or not, in communicating the object which has given birth to them, is not for me to decide. My own mind reproaches me with none; but if yours should view the subject differently, burn this letter, and the draught which accompanies it, and the whole matter will be consigned to oblivion.
All my landed property, east of the Apalachian mountains, is under rent, except the estate called Mount Vernon. This, hitherto, I have kept in my own hands; but, from my present situation, from my advanced time of life, from a wish to live free from care, and as much at my ease as possible, during the remainder of it, and from other causes, which are not necessary to detail, I have, latterly, entertained serious thoughts of letting this estate also, reserving the mansion house farm for my own residence, occupation and amusement in agriculture; provided I can obtain what is, in my own judgment, and in the opinions of others whom I have consulted, the low rent which I shall mention hereafter; and provided also I can settle it with good farmers.
The quantity of ploughable land (including meadow), the relative situation of the farms to one another, and the division of those farms into separate inclosures, with the quantity and situation of the woodlands appertaining to the tract will be better delineated by the sketch herewith sent (which is made from actual surveys, subject, nevertheless, to revision and correction), than by a volume of words.
No estate in United America, is more pleasantly situated than this. It lies in a high, dry and healthy country, 300 miles by water from the sea, and, as you will see by the plan, on one of the finest rivers in the world. Its margin is washed by more than ten miles of tide water; from the bed of which, and the innumerable coves, inlets, and small marshes, with which it abounds, an inexhaustible fund of rich mud may be drawn, as a manure, either to be used separately, or in a compost, according to the judgment of the farmer. It is situated in a latitude between the extremes of heat and cold, and is the same distance by land and water, with good roads, and the best navigation (to and) from the Federal City, Alexandria, and Georgetown; distant from the first, twelve, from the second, nine, and from the last sixteen miles. The Federal City, in the year 1800, will become the seat of the general government of the United States. It is increasing fast in buildings, and rising into consequence; and will, I have no doubt, from the advantages given to it by nature, and its proximity to a rich interior country, and the western territory, become the emporium of the United States. The soil of the tract of which I am speaking, is a good loam, more inclined however, to clay than sand. From use, and I might add, abuse, it is become more and more consolidated, and of course heavier to work. The greater part is a greyish clay; some part is a dark mould; a very little is inclined to sand; and scarcely any to stone.1 A husbandman’s wish would not lay the farms more level than they are; and yet some of the fields (but in no great degree) are washed into gullies, from which all of them have not yet been recovered.
This river, which encompasses the land the distance above-mentioned, is well supplied with various kinds of fish, at all seasons of the year; and, in the spring, with the greatest profusion of shad, herrings, bass, carp, perch, sturgeon, &c. Several valuable fisheries appertain to the estate; the whole shore, in short, is one entire fishery.
There are, as you will perceive by the plan, four farms besides that at the mansion house: these four contain 3260 acres of cultivable land, to which some hundreds more, adjoining, as may be seen, might be added, if a greater quantity should be required; but as they were never designed for, so neither can it be said they are calculated to suit, tenants of either the first, or of the lower class; because, those who have the strength and resources proportioned to farms of from 500 to 1200 acres (which these contain), would hardly be contented to live in such houses as are thereon; and if they were to be divided and subdivided, so as to accommodate tenants of small means, say from 50 to one or 200 acres, there would be none, except on the lots which might happen to include the present dwelling-houses of my overlookers (called bailiffs with you), barns, and negro cabins; nor would I choose to have the wood-land (already too much pillaged of its timber) ransacked, for the purpose of building many more. The soil, however, is excellent for bricks, or for mud walls; and to the building of such houses, there would be no limitation, nor to that of thatch for the cover of them.
The towns already mentioned (to those who might incline to encounter the expense) are able to furnish scantling, plank and shingles, to any amount, and on reasonable terms; and they afford a ready market also for the produce of the land.
On what is called the Union Farm (containing 928 acres of arable and meadow), there is a newly erected brick barn, equal, perhaps, to any in America, and for conveniences of all sorts, particularly for sheltering and feeding horses, cattle, &c., scarcely to be exceeded any where. A new house is now building in a central position, not far from the barn, for the overlookers; which will have two rooms, 16 by 18 feet, below, and one or two above, nearly of the same size. Convenient thereto is sufficient accommodation for fifty odd negroes, old and young; but these buildings might not be thought good enough for the workmen, or day-laborers, of your country.
Besides these, a little without the limits of the farm (as marked in the plan), are one or two other houses, very pleasantly situated, and which, in case this farm should be divided into two (as it formerly was), would answer well for the eastern division. The buildings thus enumerated, are all that stand on the premises.
The Dogue Run Farm (650 acres) has a small, but new, building, for the overlooker; one room only below, and the same above, 16 by 20 each; decent and comfortable for its size. It has also covering for forty odd negroes, similar to what is mentioned on Union Farm. It has a new circular barn, now finishing, on a new construction; well calculated, it is conceived, for getting grain out of the straw more expeditiously than in the usual mode of threshing. There are good sheds also erecting, sufficient to cover 30 work-horses and oxen.
Muddy-hole Farm (476 acres) has a house for the overlooker, in size and appearance nearly like that of Dogue Run, but older; the same kind of covering for about 30 negroes, and a tolerable good barn, with stables for the work-horses.
River Farm, which is the largest of the four, and separated from the others by Little Hunting Creek, contains 1207 acres of ploughable land, has an overlooker’s house, of one large and two small rooms below, and one or two above; sufficient covering for 50 or 60 negroes, like those before-mentioned; a large barn, and stables, gone much to decay, but will be replaced next year with new ones.
I have deemed it necessary to give this detail of the buildings, that a precise idea might be had of the conveniences and inconveniences of them; and I believe the recital is just in all its parts. The inclosures are precisely and accurately delineated in the plan; and the fences now are, or soon will be in respectable order.
I would lett these four farms to four substantial farmers of wealth and strength sufficient to cultivate them, and who would ensure to me the regular payment of the rents; and I would give them leases for seven or ten years, at the rate of a Spanish milled dollar, or other money current at the time in this country, equivalent thereto, for every acre of ploughable and mowable ground, within the inclosures of the respective farms, as marked in the plan; and would allow the tenants, during that period, to take fuel; and use timber from the woodland to repair the buildings and to keep the fences in order, until live fences could be substituted in place of dead ones; but, in this case, no sub-tenants would be allowed.
Or, if these farms are adjudged too large, and the rents, of course, too heavy for such farmers as might incline to emigrate, I should have no insuperable objection against dividing each into as many small ones, as a society of them, formed for the purpose, could agree upon, among themselves; even if it should be by the fields as they are now arranged (which the plan would enable them to do), provided such buildings as they would be content with, should be erected at their own expence, in the manner already mentioned. In which case, as in the former, fuel, and timber for repairs, would be allowed; but, as an inducement to parcel out my grounds into such small tenements, and to compensate me, at the same time, for the greater consumption of fuel and timber, and for the trouble and expence of collecting small rents, I should expect a quarter of a dollar per acre, in addition to what I have already mentioned. But in order to make these small farms more valuable to the occupants, and by way of reimbursing them for the expence of their establishment thereon, I would grant them leases for 15 or 18 years; although I have weighty objections to the measure, founded on my own experience, of the disadvantage it is to the lessor, in a country where lands are rising every year in value. As an instance in proof, about 20 years ago, I gave leases for three lives, in land I held above the Blue Mountains, near the Shenandoah river, seventy miles from Alexandria, or any shipping port, at a rent of one shilling per acre (no part being then cleared); and now land of similar quality, in the vicinity, with very trifling improvements thereon, is renting, currently, at five and more shillings per acre, and even as high as eight.
My motives for letting this estate having been avowed, I will add that the whole (except the mansion-house farm), or none, will be parted with, and that upon unequivocal terms; because my object is to fix my income (be it what it may) upon a solid basis, in the hands of good farmers; because I am not inclined to make a medley of it; and, above all, because I could not relinquish my present course, without a moral certainty of the substitute which is contemplated; for to break up these farms, remove my negroes, and to dispose of the property on them, upon terms short of this, would be ruinous.
Having said thus much, I am disposed to add further, that it would be in my power, and certainly it would be my inclination (upon the principle above), to accommodate the wealthy, or the weak-handed farmer (and upon reasonable terms) with draught-horses, and working mules and oxen; with cattle, sheep, and hogs; and with such implements of husbandry, if they should not incline to bring them themselves, as are in use on the farms. On the four farms there are 54 draught-horses, 12 working mules, and a sufficiency of oxen, broke to the yoke; the precise number I am unable this moment to ascertain, as they are comprehended in the aggregate of the black cattle; of the latter there are 317; of sheep, 634; of hogs, many; but as these run pretty much at large in the woodland (which is all under fence), the number is uncertain. Many of the negroes, male and female, might be hired by the year, as laborers, if this should be preferred to the importation of that class of people; but it deserves consideration, how far the mixing of whites and blacks together is advisable, especially where the former are entirely unacquainted with the latter.
If there be those who are disposed to take these farms in their undivided state, on the terms which have been mentioned, it is an object of sufficient magnitude for them, or one of them, in behalf of the rest, to come over and investigate the premises thoroughly, that there may be nothing to reproach themselves or me with, if (though unintentionally) there should be defects in any part of the information herein given; or, if a society of farmers are disposed to adventure, it is still more incumbent on them to send over an agent, for the purposes above-mentioned; for with me the measure must be so fixed, as to preclude any cavil or discussion thereafter. And it may not be mal apropos to observe in this place, that our overlookers are generally engaged, and all the arrangements for the ensuing crops are made before the first of September in every year; it will be readily perceived, then, that if this period is suffered to pass away, it is not to be regained until the next year. Possession might be given to the new-comers at the season just mentioned, to enable them to put in their grain for the next crop; but the final relinquishment could not take place until the crops are gathered, which of Indian corn (maize) seldom happens till towards Christmas, as it must endure hard frosts before it can be safely housed.
I have endeavored, as far as my recollection of facts would enable me, or the documents in my possession allow, to give such information of the actual state of the farms, as to enable persons at a distance to form as distinct ideas as the nature of the thing is susceptible, short of one’s own view: and having communicated the motives which have inclined me to a change in my system, I will announce to you the origin of them.
First. Few ships, of late, have arrived from any part of Great Britain, or Ireland, without a number of emigrants, and some of them by report very respectable and full-handed farmers. A number of others, they say, are desirous of following, but are unable to obtain passages; but their coming in that manner, even if I was apprized of their arrival in time, would not answer my views, for the reason already assigned; and which, as it is the ultimatum at present, I will take the liberty of repeating, namely, that I must carry my plan into complete execution, or not attempt it; and under such auspices, too, as to leave no doubt of the exact fulfillment; and,
2dly, Because, from the number of letters which I have received myself (and, as it would seem, from respectable people), inquiring into matters of this sort, with intimations of their wishes, and even intentions of migrating to this country, I can have no doubt of succeeding. But I have made no reply to these inquiries; or, if any, in very general terms, because I did not want to engage in correspondences of this sort with persons of whom I had no knowledge, nor indeed leisure for them, if I had been so disposed.
I shall now conclude as I began, with a desire, that if you see any impropriety in making these sentiments known to that class of people who might wish to avail themselves of the occasion, that it may not be mentioned. By a law, or by some regulation of your government, artisans, I am well aware, are laid under restraints; and, for this reason, I have studiously avoided any overtures to mechanics, although my occasions call for them. But never having heard that difficulties were thrown in the way of husbandmen by the government, is one reason for my bringing this matter to your view. A second is, that having yourself expressed sentiments which shewed that you had cast an eye towards this country, and was not inattentive to the welfare of it, I was led to make my intentions known to you, that if you or your friends, were disposed to avail yourselves of the knowledge, you might take prompt measures for the execution.—And 3dly, I was sure, if you had lost sight of the object yourself, I could, nevertheless, rely upon such information as you might see fit to give me, and upon such characters, too, as you might be disposed to recommend.
Lengthy as this epistle is, I will crave your patience while I add, that it is written in too much haste, and under too great a pressure of public business, at the commencement of an important session of Congress, to be correct, or properly digested. But the season of the year, and the apprehension of ice, are hurrying away the last vessel bound from this port to London. I am driven therefore to the alternative of making the matter known in this hasty manner, and giving a rude sketch of the farms, which is the subject of it; or to encounter delay. The first I preferred. It can hardly be necessary to add, that I have no desire that any formal prolongation of these sentiments should be made.
To accomplish my wishes, in the manner expressed, would be agreeable to me; and in a way that cannot be exceptionable, would be more so. With much esteem and regard, &c.1
MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS; RELATIVE TO TRANSACTIONS WITH SPAIN, DECEMBER 16TH, 1793.
The situation of affairs in Europe, in the course of the year 1790, having rendered it possible that a moment might arrive favorable for the arrangement of our unsettled matters with Spain, it was thought proper to prepare a representative at that court to avail us of it. A confidential person was therefore despatched to be the bearer of instructions to him, and to supply, by verbal communications, any additional information of which he might find himself in need. The government of France was at the same time applied to for its aid and influence in this negotiation. Events, however, took a turn, which did not present the occasion hoped for.
About the close of the ensuing year I was informed, through the representatives of Spain here, that their government would be willing to renew at Madrid the former conferences on these subjects. Though the transfer of scene was not what would have been desired, yet I did not think it important enough to reject the proposition; and therefore, with the advice and consent of the Senate, I appointed commissioners plenipotentiary for negotiating and concluding a treaty with that country on the several subjects of boundary, navigation, and commerce, and gave them the instructions now communicated. Before these negotiations, however, could be got into train, the new troubles which had arisen in Europe had produced new combinations among the powers there, the effects of which are but too visible in the proceedings now laid before you.
In the meantime, some other points of discussion had arisen with that country, to wit, the restitution of property escaping into the territories of each other, the mutual exchange of fugitives from justice, and above all the mutual interferences with the Indians lying between us. I had the best reason to believe that the hostilities threatened and exercised by the southern Indians on our border were excited by the agents of that government. Representations were thereon directed to be made by our commissioners to the Spanish government, and a proposal to cultivate with good faith the peace of each other with those people. In the mean time, corresponding suspicions were entertained, or pretended to be entertained, on their part, of like hostile excitements by our agents to disturb their peace with the same nations. These were brought forward by the representatives of Spain here in a style which could not fail to produce attention. A claim of patronage and protection of those Indians was asserted; a mediation between them and us by that sovereign assumed; their boundaries with us made a subject of interference; and at length, at the very moment when these savages were committing daily inroads upon our frontier, we were informed by them, that “the continuation of the peace, good harmony, and perfect friendship of the two nations was very problematical for the future unless the United States should take more convenient measures and of greater energy than those adopted for a long time past.”
If their previous correspondence had worn the appearance of a desire to urge on a disagreement, this last declaration left no room to evade it, since it could not be conceived we would submit to the scalping-knife and tomahawk of the savage without any resistance. I thought it time, therefore, to know if these were the views of their sovereign; and despatched a special messenger with instructions to our commissioners, which are among the papers now communicated. Their last letter gives us reason to expect very shortly to know the result. I must add, that the Spanish representatives here, perceiving that their last communication had made considerable impression, endeavored to abate this by some subsequent professions, which being also among the communications to the legislature, they will be able to form their own conclusions.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
Philadelphia, 24 December, 1793.
My dear Sir,
It was my wish, for many reasons (needless to enumerate) to have retained Mr. Jefferson in administration, to the end of the present Session of Congress, but he is so decidedly opposed to it, that I can no longer hint this to him.
I now wish for your permission to nominate you to it, the office of Secretary of State, and will add, that your compliance would give me pleasure. Mr. Jefferson will quit it the last day of this month and proposes to set out for Virginia a few days afterwards.
I am always, &c.
TO WILLIAM WHITE.1
Philadelphia, 31 December, 1793.
It has been my intention ever since my return to the city, to contribute my mite towards the relief of the most needy inhabitants of it. The pressure of public business hitherto has suspended, but not altered my resolution. I am at a loss, however, for whose benefit to apply the Little I can give, and in whose hands to place it; whether for the use of the fatherless children and widows, made so by the late calamity, who may find it difficult, whilst provisions, wood, and other necessaries are so dear, to support themselves; or to other and better purposes, if any, I know not, and therefore have taken the liberty of asking your advice.
I persuade myself justice will be done to my motives for giving you this trouble. To obtain information, and to render the little I can afford, without ostentation or mention of my name, are the sole objects of these inquiries. With great and sincere esteem and regard, I am, &c.
LETTERS TO ANTHONY WHITING, 1793.1
I never had it in contemplation to withdraw the hands from the river, or any other Plantation to aid at the mansion house, if their work should be required at home: therefore I find no difficulty in releasing the river force from this service, if there is really work enough to employ them at home; which is indeed very probable, as they have spent all the fall and half the winter in getting in their corn:—a thing hardly ever heard of before in the worst of weather, much less in such as we have had, and which perhaps never was seen before. If there was any way of making such a rascal as Garner2 pay for such conduct, no punishment would be too great for him. I suppose he never turned out of morning’s until the sun had warmed the earth;—and if he did not, the negros would not:—and if you do not watch the motions of such people (now and then) in the mornings, it will, more than probably be the case with the rest who are on standing wages; and who feel no interest in the crop, whether it be great or small. For in this case principle, and a regard for reputation, are the only motives to stimulate industry, and unfortunately, too few of that class of (common) overseers, are overburthened with either of those.
I am perfectly sensible of the scarcity of timber at the River Plantation, and the distance it is to draw at some others; and this principally (but aided by many others) is the reason why for many years back, I have been laboring, but in vain, to substitute live, instead of dead fences; and which I will no longer, under any pretences whatsoever, delay doing. My frequent and long absences from home prevented my attending to the business personally; and no recommendation, nor indeed orders, could draw the attention of those to whom I entrusted my affairs in the manner it ought—for the seasons were either suffered to pass away before the measure was thought of by them, or the work executed in such a manner as to produce no good effect. Now, as I mean to make hedging a business and a primary one, and when I add that I cannot be more disappointed, or disobliged by anything, than in neglecting the season, and the means to accomplish the measure, I shall hope to be relieved in a few years from the great consumption of timber which such a quantity of fencing as I have, will occasion; and the consequent transportation of the rails to such a variety of cross-fences as there are, but which in the first instances at least, might be made of any sort or kind of hedge that would turn horses, cattle and sheep—hogs not being admitted. * * *
Mr. Butler’s ideas may require correction, and to be assimilated a little more to the nature of our climate and soil; but I by no means disapprove of the idea of trying the efficacy of the mud which may be extracted from Hell hole, if he can contrive to get it up. I do not mean on a large scale; this would be expensive; but if the attempt was made on a few square rods of the poorest ground in the adjacent lot, with different quantities of each, the experiment might and unquestionably would, ascertain a fact which may be of great importance to know; and as experiments of this sort can be made at a small expence, it is wonderful and inexcusable they are not oftener attempted. And though it may be imprudent to risk a whole field of turnips for the purpose of folding upon (until the land can be brought into better order), yet it would certainly be right to practice this upon a small scale at first: and advance by degrees and according to the utility and advantages which are found to flow from it. Mr. Young (of Suffolk in England) who unquestionably understands the principles of farming as well as any man in England, and who has had as much practical knowledge, has given it as his decided opinion that the stock of every farm ought to be supported by the fallows. By fallows (for he reprobates the idea of naked fallows) he means turnips, cabbage, beans, clover, and such like, as are adapted to the soil, and which are part of his rotation crops. His great desiderata is, that large crops cannot be raised without large stocks of cattle and sheep. Nor large stocks of these without the fallows above mentioned; which are the best, if not the only, proper preparation for crops of grain. To get fully into a practice of this sort, in this country, must be more than the work of a year, two or three; but if it is never begun, it can never be executed. Turnips (where the land is fit for it) folded on, and clover, seems to be his plan. * * *
Let Mr. Crow know that I view with a very evil eye the frequent reports made by him of sheep dying. When they are destroyed by dogs, it is more to be regretted than avoided perhaps—but frequent natural deaths is a very strong evidence to my mind of the want of care, or something worse, as the sheep are culled every year, and the old ones drawn out. * * * 13 January, 1793.
It is a little extraordinary that Davenport should delay making the experiment I directed so long as he did1 ; and then to do it in so unsatisfactory a manner; when he knew or might have known, that my object in making it was to ascertain whether my interest would be most promoted by manufacturing the wheat, or selling it in the grain. I fear he is too lazy to give the necessary attention to the business which is entrusted to him; for it was my full expectation that he would have mixed the common and white wheat by some uniform proportion together, through the whole manufactury of them; as they do at Brandywine and other mills in this State; where, it is the opinion of the millers that superfine flour, of the first quality, cannot be made without some white wheat. To do this would have given him a little trouble; and trouble, I presume, is what he is not overfond of. The price, as well as quantity of shorts and bran, ought to be inserted in the account to give it accuracy and fairness:—and this price ought to be regulated by their proportionate value to corn and oats, in feeding the work horses. After the danger of having the navigation of the creek interrupted by ice is over, it might not be amiss to save me the expence of storage of this article flour in Alexandria:—as it can, when sold, be sent from the mill in the first instance.
I am concerned to find that the crop of wheat is likely, ultimately, to fall so much below expectation;—and it is singular that all the stacks, latterly, though equal in size and appearance, should be so unequal in their yield, when compared with those which were first got out, in August and September. Disappointment in the wheaten crop I did not—I must own—expect. My apprehension that the Indian corn crop would fall short of the calculation was always great, even before the frost, and more so afterwards. You will, I am persuaded, have every care possible taken of it; and the bran, which will be a valuable aid to it.
I do not disapprove your sowing the new ground at Dogue Run with oats (in such quantity to the acre as you may judge best) along with the clover. It will, unquestionably, add to the profit which is to be derived from the ground; and I think the clover is always better sown with grain that will protect it (in its infant state) from the sun, and preserve it against weeds, than when it is sown quite alone. When you speak of clover for this ground, I presume you mean to mix timothy with it—this, in my opinion ought uniformly to be the case; except where it is sown for the purpose of seed. I do not care by what means, or in what way, the grass seeds are sown, so as that it is done with regularity; and the quantity allotted, bestowed to the acre. To mix it well with sand, or dry earth (sand is best), and the quantity of seed designed to the acre given to a bushel, say rather a bushel when mixed; and this sown by stakes where there be no regular furrows, is the best way I have ever tried;—for where the seedsman walks by stakes, and has been accustomed to sow wheat at the rate of a bushel to the acre, there can be no mistake in this mode. But he must possess more skill than falls to the lot of our common overseers, who can sow the naked seed regularly, and in due proportions: and without furrows or stakes, no man living can do it well, unless it be by chance.
It will be highly pleasing to me if the swamps at the Ferry and French’s could be so well prepared, as to be laid down this spring in oats and grasses. * * * Let this plantation henceforward be called “Union Farm or Plantation,” instead of “Ferry and French’s.” * * * 27 January, 1793.
Under cover with this letter you will receive some beans which Mrs. Washington desires may be given to the gardener;—also Panicum or Guinea corn, from the Island of Jamaica, which may be planted merely to show the uses it can be applied to; and the white bent grass, with the description of it by Mr. Hawkins (one of the Senators, who had it from Mr. Bassett, of Delaware State, another of the Senate). If the account of it be just it must be a valuable grass:—I therefore desire it may be sowed in drills, and to the best advantage for the purpose of seed. These things which are intended for experiments, or to raise as much seed from, as can be, should never be put in fields or meadows; for there (if not forgot) they are neglected; or swallowed up in the fate of all things within the inclosures that contain them. This has been the case of the choricum (from Mr. Young), and a grass which sold for two guineas a quart in England, and presented to me. And the same, or some other fate equally as bad has attended a great many curious seeds which have been given to and sent home by me at different times—but of which I have heard nothing more; either from the inattention which was given to them in the first instance, neglect in the cultivation, or not watching the period of their seeding, and gathering them without waste. The intention of the little garden by the salt house, &c., was to receive such things as required but a small space for their cultivation;—and what is called the vineyard inclosure was designed for other articles of experiment, or for seed which required still greater space before they were adopted upon a large scale; yet the plants which are deposited there are, generally, so over-run with grass and weeds as to be destroyed before a judgment can be formed of their utility. This, I know has absolutely been the case with many things which have been given to me as curiosities, or for their value. From the fancy grass (of which I have [being told that both horse and cattle are fond of it] a high opinion), I have been urging for years (it being more than five since I sowed it myself) the saving of seed; yet, it is almost in statu quo, because the necessary measures have not been taken to propagate and save the seed, and because it will not, I believe, be overcome by anything else—whilst other things not so hardy have been eradicated by the grass and weeds. I now desire that all these things may be attended to by the gardener and those who are with him, aided, if necessary, by the house-gang. * * *
I hope the delivery to and the application of nails by the carpenters, will undergo a pretty strict comparative scrutiny, without expressing any suspicion, unless cause shall be given for it. I cannot conceive how it is possible that 6000 twelve penny nails could be used in the corn house at River Plantation; but of one thing I have no great doubt, and that is, if they can be applied to other uses, or converted into cash, rum, or other things, there will be no scruple in doing it.
I can conceive no latch (sufficient to answer the purpose, and not always out of sorts) more simple or cheaper than those to the White gates, unornimented, which is unnecessary. A thin plate of iron, kept in place by an old iron hoop (of which I presume hundred could be got in Alexandria for a mere song) and staple for it to catch in, is, in my opinion, as cheap as anything that (will not always be a plague) can be devised. The advantage of this latch is, that let the gate swag as it may, it always catches. The top of the flat iron ought to shew, that strangers may know how to open it on either side, but there is not the least occasion for the round like that at the Gumspring, nor of the curl, like those at the White gates; nor is there any occasion to make the flat part longer or stiffer than is necessary for the spring. Most other kinds of latches, after the gates settle, are not only insecure but exceedingly troublesome;—instance that at the ferry, which was vexing to every one who went in. I was obliged always to dismount either to open or shut it. However, if you know of any other kind more simple than the above, equally secure, and which will not be troublesome to open, I have no objection to the adoption. * * *
Sarah Flatfoot (you call her Lightfoot) has been accustomed to receive a pair of shoes, stockings, a country cloth petticoat, and an oznabrig shift, all ready made, annually, and it is not meant to discontinue them. You will therefore furnish them to her. * * * 3 February, 1793.
The Major was permitted to cut cord wood from the tops of the trees which had been felled for rails; either for burning bricks or other purposes; but it is not unlikely that his overseer (Taylor) may cord it for sale, if he is not watched; for it is established as a maxim in my mind, that a man who will do wrong to another in one instance knowingly, will have no scruple in doing it in every instance where it can be done without being liable to discovery. And with respect to his keeping a horse, no matter whether (as I suppose he will say, at his own expense) it is on his own provender, or that of his employer, it is my express request that you will, immediately upon the receipt of this letter, inform him (unless he can shew a written permission for the purpose, which I am sure he is not able to do) that if the horse, or mare, or any other animal, he is not allowed to keep, is not instantly sent away, that I will, as soon as I reach Mount Vernon, not only turn him off the Plantation, but cause him to be sued for a breach of covenant;—and for his knavery;—for it is not less so, than would be the opening of the Major’s desk, and taking his money;—nay, in my estimation, the crime is greater; because a man who will defraud another who confides in him, is surely a greater villain than one who robs boldly, at the risque of his life. You may assure Mr. Taylor in the strongest language you can devise,—you may even read this part of my letter to him,—that no pretence of verbal permission to keep a horse will avail him; for I know from various conversations with the Major on this subject, that it is next to impossible he ever should have given such leave;—and I again add, that the pretext (if it should be offered) of feeding him at his own expense, will not way one moment. * * * 10 February, 1793.
Unless you have received, or may receive any directions from Mrs. Fanny Washington respecting the building my deceased nephew was carrying on, it is my opinion that an entire suspension of it had better take place. And with respect to the conduct of the overseer there, it is my wish and desire that you would attend to him as much as to any of my own. And, in addition to what was mentioned in one of my last letters to you concerning him, if he should be detected in any knavish pranks I will make the country too warm for him to remain in.
Your accounts of Davenport’s sloth, impress me more strongly with the idea of his laziness. I therefore request you to tell him from me, that I expect the season will not be suffered to slip away, and my wheat left unground; but on the contrary, that he will work of nights, as well as in the day, as all merchant mills do; and which he himself must have done before he fell into the idle habits he has acquired since he has basked in the sunshine of my mill. * * *
The correction you gave Ben, for his assault on Sambo, was just and proper. It is my earnest desire that quarrels may be stopped, or punishment of both parties follow, unless it shall appear clearly, that one only is to blame, and the other forced into [a quarrel] from self-defence. * * * 24 February, 1793.
I am as apprehensive as you can be, that Green never will overcome his propensity to drink; that it is this which occasions his frequent sickness, absences from work, and poverty. And I am convinced, moreover, that it answers no purpose to admonish him. But if the work in hand cannot be carried on without a head to execute it, and no other presents, in whom confidence can be placed, there is no alternative but to keep him, unless he should get too bad to be longer borne with;—and even then, a house so framed as the Dogue Run barn is intended to be, ought not to be entrusted to my negro carpenters, or any other bungler. * * *
I am very sorry to hear that so likely a young fellow as Matilda’s Ben should addict himself to such courses as he is pursuing. If he should be guilty of any atrocious crime, that would affect his life, he might be given up to the civil authority for trial; but for such offences as most of his color are guilty of, you had better try further correction, accompanied with admonition and advice. The two latter sometimes succeed where the first has failed. He, his father and mother (who I dare say are his receivers) may be told in explicit language, that if a stop is not put to his rogueries and other villainies, by fair means and shortly, that I will ship him off (as I did Wagoner Jack) for the West Indies, where he will have no opportunity of playing such pranks as he is at present engaged in. * * * 3 March, 1793.1
I did not suppose that this was the season for demanding payment of taxes of any kind. I may be mistaken, however; but as I do sincerely believe the under sheriffs in Virginia to be among the greatest rascals in the world; it is my desire that you will get their demands from them in writing, and lay these before some gentleman well acquainted with these matters, and know from him, first, when they have a right to distrain for the levies;—for until that time you may withhold payment, so as to give yourself time to provide the tobacco, or money. 2dly. Whether the quantity of tobacco demanded by them is just. 3dly, whether they have a right to fix 3d. or any other cash price by way of commutation. And 4thly, to know if you cannot discharge their just claims, to get the tobacco for less than 3d. per lb. * * *
The middlings and ship stuff may be sold to answer the money calls which you will have upon you; but I entreat that these may be as few as you can possibly make them. For I acknowledge, although I have no doubt of the justness of the account you handed to Mr. Dandridge, that the amount was beyond what I expected to see in so short a time; but as I had not the particular articles to refer to, it was not in my power to form an accurate judgment of the necessity for them. But there is one rule, and a golden rule it is, that nothing should be bought that can be made, or done without. People are often ruined before they are aware of the danger, by buying everything they think they want, without adverting to a Scotch adage—than which nothing in nature is more true—“that many mickles make a muckle.” I am more pointed in giving this sentiment, because I perceive many things were yet to be got at the instance of Green, from the stores in Alexandria. He will not care what cost I am run to for carpenter’s tools. * * *
I wish to know precisely, what ground you have sown, or mean to sow with clover, or clover and timothy this Spring. And as I do not believe it was done before I left home, I desire you will have the ox-eye window in the green house so secured as to guard against another robbery of that loft. The same with respect to the corn loft, for that I know (intending several times to speak about it, but forgot to do so) is in the same situation as when the corn was stolen from it. I wish also to know the quantity of clover seed that has been given to each field, or lot, which has been sown there with the past winter or present spring. And here I cannot help expressing, that I felt both mortification and vexation, to find an ignorant Negro sowing these seeds, contrary to my reiterated direction to have them mixed with sand or dry earth. The consequence of not doing it will be, I expect, that the fields will either be loaded with, or so barren of, seed, as to be wasteful in the one case, or unproductive and useless in the other:—whereas, if the quantity of seed intended for half an acre had been put into half a bushel, and that half bushel filled with sand or earth as above, and well mixed; the same cast that would have sewed wheat (which he was used to) would exactly have answered for the grass seed:—and if this admixture of them had been made by the overseer, there could have been no embezzlement of the seed when so mixed. Without it, is there any reason to hope that the seeds were more secure in the hands of a negro seedsman, suspected of being a rogue, than it was under a good lock? I am thus explicit on this occasion, because I would have it clearly understood that when I do give positive directions, in any case whatsoever, they are not to be dispensed with. * * * 21 April, 1793.
In looking over the last weekly report that has been forwarded to me, I perceive the allowance of meal to Muddy Hole is increased one peck, Union Farm and River farm two pecks each, and Dogue Run Farm, three pecks. Whether this addition with what goes to their absent hands, is sufficient, I will not undertake to decide;—but in most explicit language I desire they may have plenty; for I will not have my feelings again hurt with complaints of this sort, nor lye under the imputation of starving my negros, and thereby driving them to the necessity of thieving to supply the deficiency. To prevent waste or embezzlement is the only inducement to allowancing of them at all—for if, instead of a peck they could eat a bushel of meal a week fairly, and required it, I would not withhold or begrudge it them. 28 April, 1893.
I did not entertain the most distant suspicion of your having charged any thing in the acct. exhibited to Mr. Dandridge but what you had actually paid, for my use.—For if I could suppose you capable of such a violation of the principles of honesty, and so lost to the trust reposed in you, my confidence in you would depart, and I should think my concerns very unsafe in your hands.—I only meant to guard you against an error which is but too common, and the ill effects of which, oftentimes not foreseen, before they are severely felt; I mean that of not avoiding the purchase of things, that can be done without, or made within oneself. “A penny saved, is a penny got”—from experience I know, that no under overseer I have ever yet had, nor any of my black people who have not the paying for the articles they call for, can be impressed (as it respects me) with these ideas. On the contrary, things are seldom taken care of by them, when they are lost, broke, or injured with impunity;—and are replaced, or renewed, by asking for more.—For these reasons as far as it is consistent with just propriety, make the overseers, Green and others, who have the sub management of parts of my business, responsible for whatever is committed to their care; and whenever they apply for a new thing, that you will be satisfied of the necessity there is for granting it;—if to supply a worn thing, to see the condition of, and to take in the old one.—Unless this care and attention is used, you will be greatly imposed upon yourself, and I shall feel the evil of it.—I am perfectly satisfied that as much is made by saving (or nearly so) as there is by the Crops; that is, by attention to the crops when made, stocks of all sorts; working cattle; Plantation utensils; Tools; fences; and though last, not least, to the Negros:—first by seeing that they have every thing that is proper for them, and next, that they be prevented, as far as vigilance can accomplish it, all irregularities and improper conduct.—And this oftentimes is easier to effect by watchfulness and admonition, than by severity;—and certainly must be more agreeable to every feeling mind in the practice of them.—Speaking of accts., and finding some articles of my deceased nephews mixed with mine; I request that, although they are, or may be, paid with my money, yet that they may be kept entirely distinct from my accounts.
I cannot say that the Rams were not seperated (as they ought to have been) from the ewes at shearing time last year, but from my own view I can (I think at Union Farm) say I saw Rams with my sheep in the month of August last.—Whether my own, or belonging to others, I know not. The last would be worse than the first, as I believe my sheep are above mediocrity, when most others are below it.—As I am constantly loosing sheep I wish this year, you would cull them closer.—The flock would be benefitted thereby, whilst I might get something for the refuse; instead of the frequent reports of their deaths.—And I wish you would reprehend the overseers severely for suffering the sheep under their respective care, to get so foul as I saw some when I was at home, particularly at Dogue run Farm.—It is impossible for a sheep to be in a thriving condition when he is carrying six or eight pounds at his tale.—And how a man who has them entrusted to his care, and must have a sight of this sort every day before his eyes can avoid being struck with the propriety and necessity of easing them of this load, is what I have often wondered at.
Having sheep at five different places it has often occurred to my mind whether for a certain part of the year—say from shearing time or before until the first of December (or until the end of the period for folding them), they were, except the Rams, brought into one flock—distinguishing before hand those of the seperate farms by conspicuous marks made by tar, or red lead in different parts, and placed under the care of a trusty negro, if there be such an one, whose sole business it should be to look after and fold them every night in hurdles made light and removed with the sheep from farm to farm; as the food at each would be eaten by them, and become scant.—I think I should get my fields dunged sooner and better by this means (with other common assistance) than by any other.—Shifting their walks frequently would certainly be serviceable to the sheep, if so great a number together would not be injurious;—especially as thefts, and other depredations might be committed without the knowledge of their keeper; for I know not the negro among all mine, whose capacity, integrity, and attention could be relied on for such a trust as this.—I do no more than suggest the idea for consideration; when you have given it consideration let me know the result of your thoughts on the occasion.
I was afraid the heavy rains and long easterly winds would prove injurious to the fruit, and probably to the grain, if they should continue; but I did not expect to find that I was to loose calves by it;—four of wch. I find by the River Farm Report are dead.—This, and looking over the other Reports, and finding thereby the small number of Calves I have, leads me to apprehend that there is some defect in the management of this part of my Stock; for it is inconceivable that out of 300 head of cattle I should have but about 30 calves, as appears by the last week’s report.—This must proceed from the want of, or from old and debilitated Bulls.—Let me know whether the fruit (of different kinds) is injured by the easterly winds which have blown so constantly;—and whether the wheat, &ca., appear to have received any hurt.—The Oats, Buck wheat and grass will, I hope, be benefitted by the Rains, and it would give me pleasure to hear that your White thorn, Willow, Poplar, and other Cuttings were coming on well?—Does the last and present years planting of Honey locust seed come up well—and is there any appearance of the Cedar berries, Furze seed, Lucern, &c., &c., coming up and answering expectation?—and is your corn coming up—or likely to rot in the ground with the wet weather we have had? 5 May, 1793.
I am satisfied from what you have said, that it would not be proper to bring all my sheep into one flock, and so to be penned;—and if you think drawing off two score of the latter, and most indifferent lambs is proper, it may be done, but not till they are weaned, or actually seperated with their mothers from the rest of the flock;—for unless one of these is done, I am sure, that so far from havg. 40 of the worst disposed of, I shall have that number of the choicest taken, if from the flock at large,—so well am I acquainted with the practices and contrivances of the Butchers;—and the inattention and carelessness of the Overseers, to whom they may go, if taken away as they are wanted.—I had rather not part with one, unless this apprehension of mine is fully, and compleatly guarded against.—All the declining sheep of every sort might be disposed of, after they can, by good pasture and attention, be got in order for it. In a word, I wish every possible care may be used to improve the breed of my sheep; and to keep them in a thriving and healthy state.—The same with regard to my Cattle; and there is no measure so likely to effect this as by a judicious choice of the subjects that are bred from.—It is owing to this that Bakewell and others, are indebted for the remarkable quality and sales of their cattle and sheep;—the like attention would produce the like effect in this, as well as in other Countries.—I am fully persuaded, if some of my best cows were selected, and put to (what is called) the Callico Bull, and all the calves which took their shape and appearance from him set apart for Breeders (for I am told his make is exactly that which Bakewell prefers and aims at getting,) that I should, in a few years have a very valuable breed of Cattle.—Such conduct will apply equally to sheep.—The quantity of either species of stock—that is Cattle and sheep—ought, in my opinion, to depend wholly upon the support which can be provided—and that, the more you have of both with an eye to this consideration, the more you may have, as they do, in themselves, afford the means, by the manure they make.
If for the sake of making a little butter (for which I shall get scarcely anything) my calves are starved, and die; it may be compared to stopping the spigot, and opening the faucit,—that is to say, I shall get two or three shillings by butter,—and loose 20 or 30/ by the death, or injury done to my calves. Milk sufficient should be left for them,—or a substitute provided; otherwise, I need not look forward either to the increase or improvement of my Stock.
Not a moment should be lost, after the Wool is taken from the Sheeps’ backs, in having it spun and wove, that it may be made up in time for the negros clothing:—and Grey1 should be told that if he does not weave it as fast as it is carried to him, that he shall not only loose my custom, but, must look out for some other tenement;—because this, and not the Rent, was the inducement for placing him there.—However, speaking of the Rent, let me enquire whether he pays it regularly or not.
I have no intention of Renting any of my fishing landings for a term of years,—consequently, have no objection to your providing a new, and repairing the old sein, against another season—and approve of your laying in a number of Fish Barrels agreeably to your suggestion; especially if you can buy them at what you suppose, which will be much better than making of them by my coopers.
If Mr. Butler is the kind of man you describe him to be, he certainly can be of no use to me;—and sure I am, there is no obligation upon me to retain him from charitable motives; when he ought rather to be punished as an impostor: for he well knew the services he had to perform, and which he promised to fulfil with zeal, activity, and intelligence.—A stirring, lively and spirited man, who will act steadily and firmly, being necessary; I authorise you to get one if you should part with Butler2 ; for it is indispensably necessary that a stop should be put to that spirit of thieving and house breaking which has got to such a height among my People, or their associates.—As one step towards the accomplishment of which, I desire you will absolutely forbid the slaves of others resorting to the Mansion house;—such only excepted as have wives or husbands there, or such as you may particularly license from a knowledge of their being honest and well disposed. All others, after sufficient forewarning, punish whensoever you shall find them transgressing these orders.— * * *
My mind is impressed with many things, which you have been required to give answers to, which have never been received;—and this will forever be the case if you depend upon the mere reading a letter over when you set down to answer it; without first noting on a slate or a piece of waste paper, every point as you come to it, that requires to be touched upon;—crossing it when complied with;—or to stand uncrossed if you are unable to give an answer at that moment until you can do it at another time. Among these things is one of a very interesting nature to me—namely—an exact experiment and worth of an hundred bushels of wheat when manufactured, compared with the price of it in grain—that I might decide therefrom whether it would have been best to sell my wheat or manufacture it into flour, before it was too late to decide.—After frequently writing and pressing this matter, I at length got an imperfect statement made from light wheat; but was promised a more perfect one, but which has never been recd.; although it is months since it was promised.—I mention this as one instance, because, if 100 bushels had, in time, have given me the same evidence of the fact, which I fear the whole quantity of my crops has done or will do, I should have sold my wheat in grain; which would I presume have commanded a dollar pr. Bushl. at any time; and this on 4009½ bushls. wch. I perceive has been delivered at the mill, would have amounted to in Virg. Curry. £1202. 8. 0; whereas the quantity of flour made from it, viz 283 barls. of superfine, and 317 of fine, the first at 33/ and the other at 31/, which I believe, is the highest that has been given, comes to no more than £988. 6—difference £214. 2—Now, if the midlings, ship stuff, shorts and bran does not amount to this difference, all short of it is loss; besides lying out of my money—the hazard of selling the flour, and risk of its souring if I cannot dispose of it to advantage before the warm weather sets in.—I have selected this as an important instance of suffering things to escape. I could enumerate many more of no other or greater moment than as they would have gratified me; not being able to see things myself. But the reason why I mention this, (as I am fully satisfied you have every disposition in the world to comply with my wishes) is merely to let you see that it is by trusting too much to your memory, that these things happen. I am persuaded no instance has happened of your asking me a question by letter—or applying for directions without receiving an answer.—The reason is, that whenever I set down to write you, I read your letter, or letters carefully over, and as soon as I come to a part that requires to be noticed, I take a short note on the cover of a letter, or piece of waste paper;—then read on to the next, noting that in like manner;—and so on until I have got through the whole letter and reports.—Then in writing my letter to you, as soon as I have finished what I have to say on one of these notes, I draw my pen through it and proceed to another, and another, until the whole is done—crossing each as I go on, by which means if I am called off twenty times whilst I am writing, I can never with these notes before me finished, or unfinished, omit anything I wanted to say; and they serve me also, as I keep no copies of letters I write to you, as Memorandums of what has been written if I should have occasion at any time to refer to them. * * * 19 May, 1793.
Although I am very anxious to hasten the New Barn at Dogue run, yet as Hay time and Harvest will not wait, and is of the highest importance to me, every thing else must yield to them:—and if I thought it was necessary, I should, in strong terms, urge you to begin the latter as soon as you shall think it safe, by lying a day or two in the swarth.—The advantage of cutting the grain early last year was evident;—and will always be found safest and best in all cases, especially where there is a large harvest:—the latter part of which besides shattering much, is often, very often indeed, laid down and lost from the Rains which frequently happen at that season, whilst the straw is rendered of no use; having no substance left in it.—I hope, and do expect, that the overseers will be pointedly charged this year to see that the ground is raked clean.—In Garner’s fields last year I was really shocked to see the waste that appeared there.—It is not to close harvest soon, but to accomplish it well, that ought to be the aim, and the pride of these people, notwithstanding they receive standing wages instead of shares. I told Garner last year that if the latter had been the case, I was very certain such waste would not have appeared.
Although others are getting out of the practice of using spirits at Harvest, yet, as my people have always been accustomed to it, a hogshead of Rum must be purchased; but I request at the same time, that it may be used sparingly.—Spirits are now too dear to be used otherwise.
It is not my wish, or desire, that my negros should have an oz. of meal more, nor less, than is sufficient to feed them plentifully. This is what I have repeated to you over and over again; and if I am not mistaken, requested you to consult the Overseers on this head, that enough, and no more than enough, might be allowed.—Sure I am I desired this with respect to Davy.—To ask me whether this, or that, quantity is enough, who do not know the number of mouths that are to be fed, is asking a question that it is not possible for me to resolve.—Formerly, every working negro used to receive a heaping and squeezed peck at top of unsifted meal; and all others (except sucking children) had half a peck, like measure, given to them;—with which I presume they were satisfied, inasmuch as I never heard any complaint of their wanting more.—Since the meal has been given to them sifted, and a struck peck only, of it, there has been eternal complaints; which I have suspected arose as much from the want of the husks to feed their fowls, as from any other cause, ’till Davy assured me that what his people received was not sufficient, and that to his certain knowledge several of them would often be without a mouthful for a day, and (if they did not eke it out) sometimes two days before they were served again; whilst they (the negros) on the other hand assured me, most positively, that what I suspected, namely feeding their fowls with it, or sharing it with strange negros, was not founded.—Like complaints were made by the People at Dogue run and at Union Farm; which altogether hurt my feelings too much to suffer this matter to go on without a remedy.—Or at least a thorough investigation into the cause and justice of their complaints;—for to delay justice is to deny it.—It became necessary therefore to examine into the foundation of the complaints, at once, and not to wait until a pretext should offer to increase the allowance.—Justice wanted no pretext, nor would admit of delay.—If the application for more was unjust no alteration at all, ought to have been made; for, as I at first observed, I am no more disposed to squander, than to stint; but surely the case is not so difficult but that the true and just quantity may be ascertained; which is all they have a right to ask, or I will allow them.—Neither the people at River Plantation, nor any about M. Hole did, to the best of my recollection make any complaints, but only knowing the quantity of meal which was served to them, and not the number of mouths to be fed with it, I supposed, especially in the latter case (the first having little opportunity of making known their wants, as I was not more than once or twice on the Farm) that enough was allowed them.—I have been thus particular, because I would wish to be clearly and fully understood on this head, that you may act accordingly.1
I am surprized to find by your letter that the Gardener has thoughts of leaving me; For when I was last at home, he put the question himself to know if I would retain him;—and being answered that I had no desire to part with him, he said he was very glad of it.—I did not, it is true, nor did he say on what terms; but I took it for granted it would be at the wages of his last year, with a just and proper allowance for the services rendered by his wife, which I always intended, and am still willing to make.—It becomes necessary, however, to know immediately and decidedly too, what his intentions are; and when his term expires; that, if he is not disposed to remain upon such, and lay as I like, I may take measures in time to supply his place.—I wish you therefore (after communicating the unexpectedness of his intention to go) to apply in my name, and know what I have to depend upon.—He, like many others, I presume has golden dreams, which nothing but experience can demonstrate to be the vision only of an uninformed, or indigested imagination.—Time, and the expences arising from Rent, provisions to be purchased, liquor, of which probably he will take too much, Fuell, and a hundred other items of which probably he has never estimated, will convince him, too late perhaps, that he has left a safe and easy berth to embark on a troubled ocean,—where soon he may find no rest.
What color and sex is the coach mare’s colt with you?—Nancy (the other coach mare) foaled on Whitmonday in like manner. Take great care of the one with you. What is become of those mules set apart for my use, and how do they look? Let them be kept well. I am your friend. 26 May, 1793.
It is the duty of the Miller, the moment he has closed his annual manufacture, to render me an exact acct. thereof;—and this, let him know I expect he will do without delay, and with exactitude, with his signature annexed to it.—charging the mill with every bushel of wheat that has been received into it, and from whence; and at the Alexandria price for large crops:—and crediting it with all the superfine and fine flour that has been made; the first at 34/ and the other at 32/ pr. barl.—with all the middlings, ship stuff, shorts and Bran, at what they have actually sold—or would sell for.—Such an acct. as this is the only true criterion by which to decide whether I have gained or lost by manufacturing my crop.—The trial of 100 bushels was only for an experiment, to enable me to judge before hand, whether it would have been best to have sold, or manufactured my wheat.—Nor is cleaning of it in the manner you speak of, a way to make the experiment a fair one.—A hundd. bushels of such wheat as would have been indisputably merchantable in Alexandria, without extra: cleaning to bring it to 60 lbs. pr. bushl. or any other given weight, ought to have been the exact quality for the experiment; because every oz of this, whether shrivelled or light, dust or what not, would have gone into the measure, and so much pr. Bushl. or pr. lb. would have been allowed for it at that place; whereas if you extract all this and make up the quantity afterwards 100 bushls., the profit by manufacturing will unquestionably appear greater than it is in reallity: because what is blown away by the different operations for cleaning in the mill is a deduction from the wheat if sold in grain, and no addition to it when manufactured.—I mention this to guard you against deception in the experiment you were about to make with 500 bushls. (cleaned in the manner you speak of) and which you had prepar’d for grinding.—repeating again, that to ascertain this point now, or at any time hereafter, the wheat with which the experiment is made, should receive no other cleaning than such as to give it a good character with the merchant, if sold in grain; because all that is blown out of it at the mill is lost; unless the miller’s Poultry or my Hogs derive a benefit from it.
I never was more surprized than to find only 1457 lbs. of wool from the shearing of 568 sheep (2½ pound pr. Fleece only).—From the beginning of the year 1784 when I returned from the army, until shearing time of 1788, I improved the breed of my sheep so much by buying and selecting the best formed and most promising Rams, and putting them to my best ewes, by keeping them always well culled and clean, and by other attentions, that they averaged me as will appear by Mr. Lear’s acct. (my present secretary, and) who then lived with me, rather over than under five pounds of washed wool each.—And in the year 1789, being requested by Mr. Arthur Young to send him a fleece of my Wool, I requested my nephew to see that Mr. Bloxham took one from a sheep of average appearance at shearing time, and send it to New York where I then was, to be forwarded to that Gentleman.—This was accordingly done, and weighed 5¼.—How astonished must I be then at the miserable change that has taken place since; and but for the caution I gave you to guard against the roguery of my negros, who formerly have been detected in similar practices, I should have concluded at once that between the time of taking the wool from the sheep and the delivery of it into your hands, a very large toll indeed had been taken from each fleece; for I do not suppose (for fear of detection) that whole fleeces would be taken; the number from each Farm being known. I hope, and expect they will be got up again to their former standard, as I know it to be practicable with care and attention to do it; particularly with respect to the Rams.—It is painful to receive no report unaccompanied with the death of some of these animals;—and I believe no man is more unlucky in the deaths or in the accidents to Horses than I am; for I am continually losing them by one means or another. 2 June, 1793.
In due course of Post I have received your letter of the 31st of May and 5th instant; and was equally surprized and concerned to find by the last, that your health was in the declining and precarious state you describe it to be, because you had not given the least intimation thereof in any other letter, since my departure from Mount Vernon.—I can only repeat now, what I have often done before, that it is by no means my desire that you should expose yourself in the discharge of my business;—or use greater exertions than your strength will bear;—or more exercise than is good for your health;—or, in a word, to attempt anything that the Doctr. shall not think proper for you:—for having a full view of the state of my Plantations in your mind, and knowing the design for each, you can, from the weekly reports (which may be made to you oftener by the overseers, if necessary) give such directions us would naturally result from them,—which is the best expedient both for yourself and me, that occurs to me at this moment—being unable since the receipt of your letter to think of a single person whose qualifications would fit him for the superintendence of my business.—If any such has occurred to you, I would thank you for naming him, hoping, nevertheless, that occasion will not require one; but having a proper character in view may not be amiss, whether wanting or not.—From my own experience (and the measure was recommended to me by eminent Physicians) wearing flannel next the skin is the best cure for, and preventative of the Rheumatism I ever tried,—and for your other complaint, which you suppose to be in your lungs, a vegitable and milk diet I should suppose would be proper; avoiding as much as possible animal food,—of this however the Doctors must be a better judge;—and if you chuse to have any in these parts consulted and will state, or get your case stated, I will lay it before the person highest in reputation here as a Physician, and send you the result.—I shall endeavor to be at Mount Vernon by the first of next month;—but the nature of public business is, and likely to remain such, that I dare not promise at that, or any other time, to be there;—and happen when it will, my stay must be short, as I cannot be long absent from the seat of the Government whilst matters are so delicately situated as they are at present.—If you have, or could procure a few oats against I arrive, they would be acceptable to my Horses.—I shall bring only 4 or at most five with me;—nor shall I be able to stay more than 10 days at farthest.—
You may tell the Gardener1 that as I am not fond of changing—and as I am sure he would very soon find his error in leaving me—I will allow him £30 pr. ann, that is to say 100 dollars, provided he will engage to stay two years at that rate;—will allow him the same perquisite of the Garden, when I am from home, he now enjoys; and a horse six times a year to ride to Alexandria, provided he is not kept out of nights.—With respect to his wife, after increasing his own wages so considerably, I must be well informed what services she is to render before I shall agree to make any further allowance to him, in addition for her; for I should think that he himself, or the woman, or any other who is actuated by a just and honest way of thinking, will readily acknowledge that giving her Provisions is an adequate compensation for the trouble of weighing out, and receiving in, the work of the spinners once a week, if all the intermediate time is devoted to her own business.—If she does more than this for me the case differs from my conception of it;—and from what I had in view at the time she was first spoken to, for then it was my full expectation that after the 4th of March I should return to a permanent residence at Mount Vernon, and in that case to have made her the Housekeeper; which from the nature of the Office would have occupied her whole time, and of course would have entitled her to a proportionate reward.—But if she has not done, nor is likely to do more than weigh out and receive in work, and receives her provision for this, there is no cause that I am able to discover, for enhancing their wages on that acct. * * * 9 June, 1793.1
LETTERS TO WILLIAM PEARCE,2 1793.
* * * As I am never sparing (with proper œconomy) in furnishing my Farms with any and every kind of Tool and implement that is calculated to do good and neat work, I not only authorize you to bring the kind of plows you were speaking to me about, but any others, the utility of which you have proved from your own experience;—particularly a kind of hand rake which Mr. Stuart tells me are used on the Eastern shore of Maryland in lieu of Hoes for corn at a certain stage of its growth—and a scythe and cradle different from those used with us, and with which the grain is laid much better.—In short I shall begrudge no reasonable expence that will contribute to the improvement and neatness of my Farms;—for nothing pleases me better than to see them in good order, and every thing trim, handsome, and thriving about them;—nor nothing hurts me more than to find them otherwise, and the tools and implements laying wherever they were last used, exposed to injuries from rain, sun, &c. * * * 6 October, 1793.
The paper enclosed with this letter will give you my ideas, generally, of the course of crops I wish to pursue.—I am sensible more might be made from the farms for a year or two—but my object is to recover the fields from the exhausted state into which they have fallen by oppressive crops, and to restore them (if possible by any means in my power) to health and vigor. But two ways will enable me to accomplish this.—The first is to cover them with as much manure as possible (winter and summer).—The 2d. a judicious succession of crops.
Manure cannot be had in the abundance the fields require; for this reason, and to open the land which is hard bound by frequent cultivation and want of proper dressings, I have introduced buck wheat in the plentiful manner you will perceive by the table, both as a manure, and as a substitute for Indian corn for horses, &c.; it being a great ameliorater of the soil.—How far the insufferable conduct of my overseers, or the difficulty of getting buck wheat and oats for seeds, will enable me to carry my plan into effect, I am unable at this moment to decide. You, possibly, will be better able to inform me some time hence. * * *
I have already said that the insufferable conduct of my overseers may be one mean of frustrating my plan for the next year.—I will now explain myself.—You will readily perceive by the rotation of crops I have adopted, that a great deal of Fall plowing is indispensible,—of this I informed every one of them, and pointed out the fields which were to be plowed at this season. So anxious was I, that this work should be set about early, that I made an attempt soon after you were at Mount Vernon in September, to begin it; and at several times afterwards repeated the operation in different fields at Dogue Run farm; but the ground being excessively hard and dry, I found that to persevere would only destroy my horses without effecting the object, in the manner it ought to be, and therefore I quit it; but left positive directions that it should recommence at every farm as soon as there should be rain to moisten the earth—and to stick constantly at it, except when the horses were employed in treading out wheat (which was a work I also desired might be accomplished as soon as possible). Instead of doing either of these, as I ordered, I find by the reports that McKoy1 has, now and then, plowed a few days only as if it were for amusement. That Stuart has but just begun to do it.—and that neither Crow2 nor Davy at Muddy Hole, had put a plow into the ground so late as the 7th of this month.—Can it be expected then, that frosts, snow and rain will permit me to do much of this kind of work before March or April? * * *
I am the more particular on this head for two reasons—first to let you see how little dependence there is on such men when left to themselves (for under Mr. Lewis it was very little better)—and 2dly, to show you the necessity of keeping these overseers strictly to their duty—that is—to keep them from running about, and to oblige them to remain constantly with their people;—and moreover, to see at what time they turn out of a morning—for I have strong suspicions that this, with some of them, is at a late hour, the consequence of which to the negros is not difficult to foretell.—All these overseers as you will perceive by their agreements, which I herewith send, are on standing wages; and this with men who are not actuated by the principles of honor or honesty, and not very regardful of their characters, leads naturally to endulgences—as their profits, whatever may be mine, are the same, whether they are at a horse race or on the farm—whether they are entertaining company (which I believe is too much the case) in their own houses, or are in the field with the negros.
Having given you these ideas, I shall now add, that if you find any one of them inattentive to the duties which by the articles of agreement they are bound to perform, or such others as may reasonably be enjoined, admonish them in a calm, but firm manner of the consequences.—If this proves ineffectual, discharge them, at any season of the year without scruple or hesitation, and do not pay them a copper, putting the non-compliance with their agreement in bar.
To treat them civilly is no more than what all men are entitled to, but, my advice to you is, to keep them at a proper distance; for they will grow upon familiarity, in proportion as you will sink in authority, if you do not.—Pass by no faults or neglects (especially at first) for overlooking one only serves to generate another, and it is more than probable that some of them (one in particular) will try, at first, what lengths he may go.—A steady and firm conduct, with an inquisitive inspection into, and a proper arrangement of everything on your part, will, though it may give more trouble at first, save a great deal in the end—and you may rest assured that in everything that is just and proper to be done on your part, [you] shall meet with the fullest support on mine. Nothing will contribute more to effect these desirable purposes than a good example. Unhappily this was not set (from what I have learnt lately) by Mr. Whiting, who, it is said, drank freely—kept bad company at my house and in Alexandria—and was a very debauched person. Wherever this is the case, it is not easy for a man to throw the first stone for fear of having it returned to him;—and this I take to be the true cause why Mr. Whiting did not look more scrupulously into the conduct of the overseers, and more minutely into the smaller matters belonging to the Farms—which though individually may be trifling, are not found so in the aggregate; for there is no adage more true than an old Scotch one, that “many mickles make a muckle.”
I have had but little opportunity of forming a correct opinion of my white overseers, but such observations as I have made I will give.
Stuart appears to me to understand the business of a farm very well, and seems attentive to it. He is I believe a sober man, and according to his own account a very honest one. As I never found him (at the hours I usually visited the farm) absent from some part or another of his people, I presume he is industrious, and seldom from home. He is talkative, has a high opinion of his own skill and management, and seems to live in peace and harmony with the negros who are confided to his care. He speaks extremely well of them, and I have never heard any complaint of him. His work, however, has been behind hand all the year, owing he says, and as I believe, to his having too much plowing to do, and the last omission, of not plowing when he knew my motives for wishing it, has been extremely reprehensible. But upon the whole, if he stirs early and works late, I have no other fault to find than the one I have just mentioned. His talkativeness and vanity may be humored.
Crow is an active man, and not deficient in judgment. If kept strictly to his duty would, in many respects, make a good overseer. But I am much mistaken in his character, if he is not fond of visiting, and receiving visits. This, of course, withdraws his attention from his business, and leaves his people too much to themselves; which produces idleness, or slight work on the one side, and flogging on the other—the last of which besides the dissatisfaction which it creates, has, in one or two instances been productive of serious consequences. I am not clear either that he gives that due attention to his plow horses and other stock, which is necessary, although he is very fond of riding the former—not only to Alexandria, &c., but about the farm, which I did not forbid, as his house was very inconvenient to the scene of his business.
McKoy appears to me to be a sickly, slothful and stupid fellow. He had many more hands than were necessary merely for his crop, and though not 70 acres of corn to cultivate, did nothing else. In short, to level a little dirt that was taken out of the meadow ditch below his house seems to have composed the principal part of his fall work; altho’ no finer season could have happened for preparing the second lot of the mill swamp for the purpose of laying it to grass. If more exertion does not appear in him when he gets into better health, he will be found an unfit person to overlook so important a farm, especially as I have my doubts also of his care and attention to the horses, &c.
As to Butler, you will soon be a judge whether he will be of use to you or not. He may mean well, and for ought I know to the contrary, may in some things have judgment; but I am persuaded he has no more authority over the negros he is placed, than an old woman would have; and is as unable to get a proper day’s work done by them as she would, unless led to it by their own inclination, which I know is not the case.
Davy at Muddy Hole carries on his business as well as the white overseers, and with more quietness than any of them. With proper directions he will do very well; and probably give you less trouble than any of them, except in attending to the care of his stock, of which I fear he is negligent; as there are deaths too frequent among them.
Thomas Green (overlooker of the carpenters) will, I am persuaded, require your closest attention, without which I believe it will be impossible to get any work done by my negro carpenters. In the first place, because it has not been in my power, when I am away from home, to keep either him or them to any settled work; but they will be flying from one trifling thing to another, with no other design, I believe, than to have the better opportunity to be idle, or to be employed on their own business; and, in the next place, because, although authority is given to him, he is too much upon a level with the negros to exert it; from which cause, if no other, every one works, or not, as they please, and carve out such jobs as they like. 18 December, 1793.
[1 ]In the last session of Congress, an act relative to the election of a President and Vice-President, and declaring the succession in case of vacancies, had been passed, and under it the election was held. Fifteen states chose electors; in nine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky, they were chosen by the legislature; and in five, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, by the people. A temporary expedient was resorted to in North Carolina, the state being arbitrarily divided into four districts, and the members of the legislature in each district meeting to choose three electors. Some attempt was made to urge George Clinton as the President, but proved unsuccessful. Washington received the full vote of the college, one hundred and thirty-two votes. Adams received seventy-seven, sufficient to elect; while fifty were cast for Clinton, four for Jefferson (the Kentucky vote), and one for Burr. New York, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia were unanimous for Clinton.
[1 ]His death was caused by a fall from his horse.
[1 ]A copy of the same letter was sent to Charles Thomson. Both these gentlemen declined the appointment. The persons nominated were Benjamin Lincoln, Beverley Randolph, and Timothy Pickering. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate.—Executive Journal, March 1, 1793.
[1 ]Shortly after the date of this letter, President Washington received one from the Marchioness de Lafayette, dated at Chavaniac, October 8th, 1792. It had been conveyed by a private hand through England, which had caused it to be long on its passage. It was accompanied by another letter written from England by Mr. John Dyson, who had been residing for several months in the family of Lafayette. Speaking of the Marchioness he says: “Her present situation is truly affecting; separated from her husband without the means of hearing from him, herself in captivity under the safeguard of the municipality, she is anxiously expecting the decision of his and her own destiny. Under these circumstances she relies on your influence to adopt such measures as may effectuate their mutual freedom.”
[2 ]Widow of George Augustine Washington.
[1 ]Jefferson and Hamilton thought it ought to be in private, and that one of the judges should administer the oath at the President’s own house. Knox and Randolph were of a different sentiment, and advised that the ceremony should be in public. The President inclined to this view, and at a subsequent cabinet meeting on the 1st of March, at which Mr. Jefferson was not present, the following decision was made:
[1 ]Six dollars a day, and an allowance for travelling expenses, had been proposed as the compensation.
[1 ]Jefferson to Morris, 12 March, 1793.
[1 ]Lafayette was made the subject of a separate letter to Morris, dated 15 March, 1793, and a similar one was sent to Pinckney.
[1 ]“In addition to the several matters contained in my circular letter to you before I left Philadelphia, which you were desired to take into consideration, I now submit to you (and to the other gentlemen to whom the abovementioned letter was directed, and whom you will now also consult) a request of the Society of Quakers to be permitted to make presents to the Indians at the proposed treaty at Sandusky.
[1 ]“I shall leave this on Wednesday next, so as to be at Georgetown on the Monday following (the first of April); and if not detained there by business, shall be at Mount Vernon the day after. I shall take Osborne and the two postillions with me, and eight horses.”—Washington to Anthony Whiting, 24 March, 1793.
[1 ]Mr. Barclay was the American consul in Morocco. He had died suddenly, and Mr. Humphreys, then resident in Lisbon as minister to Portugal, on hearing of his death, proceeded immediately to Gibraltar, and took charge of the public property in that place, which had been under the care of Mr. Barclay. The service was important, and, as it was performed without instructions, Mr. Humphreys had requested the President to state explicitly whether it met with his approbation.
[1 ]He reached Philadephia on Wednesday, April 17th.
[1 ]The opinion of the cabinet was thus expressed in a memorandum drawn up by Jefferson:
[1 ]This may have referred to the clause that awakened the fears of Jefferson, leading him to suspect Hamilton of making the revenue officers a “corps trained to the arts of spies, in the service of the Treasury.”
[2 ]This gentleman was the Viscount de Noailles, a French nobleman, who had served with distinction in the United States during the Revolution. He married a sister of the Marchioness de Lafayette. Having engaged with enthusiasm in the early movements of the French Revolution, and acted a conspicuous part, he at length found himself in a proscribed party, and was obliged to flee from his country to escape the rage of the contending factions. He passed by way of England to the United States. Genet characterized him and his companion, Talon, as representatives of the “pretended regent of France.”
[1 ]French Minister.
[1 ]In Governor Lee’s letter, written before he received the proclamation, he had hinted at such a measure. “The minds of the people of my acquaintance,” said he, “are much agitated by reports of privateers being fitted out in some of our ports. The considerate part of society hope for peace, which can only be obtained by strict neutrality. Do you not think your proclamation on this subject would be useful? Pardon the suggestion, and regard it only as my opinion; and you know how uninformed I must be on this subject.”
[2 ]From Governor Lee’s Letter: “As soon after my hearing of your return to Mount Vernon as I could, I set out on a visit to you, but unfortunately your stay at home was so short that I could not see you. I had reached Stafford Court-House, when I accidentally learned that you had departed on the previous Sunday; and on knowing this I instantly turned back from whence I came. This disappointment would have always been mortifying to me, as it deprived me of the pleasure of seeing you; but it was uncommonly so then, as I had vast solicitude to obtain your opinion on a subject highly interesting to me personally.
[1 ]The above letter was written at the request of M. de Ternant, communicated in the following note:
[1 ]“I leave it to you, and the heads of the other two departments, to say what or whether any answer should be given to the British minister’s letter of the 19th. It would seem as if neither he, nor the Spanish commissioners, were to be satisfied with any thing this government can do; but, on the contrary, are resolved to drive matters to extremity.”—Washington to Jefferson, 20 June, 1793.
[1 ]On June 3d Hamilton wrote to the President: “The failure of the late enterprise against the United Netherlands may be expected to have made a favorable alteration in regard to the prospects of obtaining loans there for the United States. Such an expectation is also countenanced by a late letter from our bankers at Amsterdam, which however as yet gives no certainty that can be a basis of operation.
[1 ]Mr. Hamilton had at this time resolved to resign his place as Secretary of the Treasury.
[1 ]From Mr. Jefferson’s Note of the same date: “Thomas Jefferson presents his respects to the President. He had expected that the Secretaries of the Treasury and War would have given to the President immediately the statement of facts in the case of the Little Sarah, as drawn by the former and agreed to, as also their reasons; but, Colonel Hamilton having informed Thomas Jefferson, that he has not been able to prepare copies, Thomas Jefferson sends the President the copies they had given him, which being prefixed to his opinion will make the case complete, as it is proper the President should see both sides of it at once. T. J. has had a fever the two last nights, which has held him till the morning. Something of the same is now coming on him; but nothing but absolute inability will prevent his being in town early to-morrow morning.
[1 ]The appeals and representations of the British representative were frequent and urgent, and by no means stronger than the occasion called for. Jefferson was postponing a settlement, while stirring up his correspondents with outcries against the pusillanimity of the proclamation and the insolent demands of Hammond. The President was “pestered” into a sensitive state of mind by the conflicting memorials from the French and British ministers, and by the difference of opinion in his own cabinet. He determined to take advice of persons learned in the law on the subject of prizes, and belligerent vessels leaving or entering the ports of the United States; and pending such a reference, Jefferson requested the British minister not to allow the vessels giving rise to the question to depart.—Jefferson to Hammond, 12 July, 1793. Hammond naturally expressed some surprise that he should receive such a requisition, for he had no control over any one of them, and indeed all but one were either vessels of force, fitted out to prey upon British commerce, or prizes of those vessels. By a curious oversight, the Sans Culotte, then at Baltimore, was omitted by Jefferson, a circumstance that did not increase Hammond’s faith in the suggested mode of determining the questions he was so much interested in, and other circumstances were not wanting to confirm his suspicion. The Little Sarah, now refitted as a French privateer, The Little Democrat, sailed from Philadelphia, although this was one of the vessels Jefferson named in his letter of the 12th. A few days later a prize was sent in by Le Citoyen Genet, another vessel included by Jefferson, and Hammond was careful to quote the very words of the Secretary of State in calling his attention to these evidences of bad faith on the part of the Government.
[1 ]“I mentioned to you that we had convened the judges to consult them on the questions which have arisen on the law of nations. They declined being consulted. In England, you know, such questions are referred regularly to the Judge of Admiralty. I asked E. R. if we could not prepare a bill for Congress to appoint a board or some other body of advice for the Executive on such questions. He said he should propose to annex it to his office. In plain language this would be to make him the sole arbiter of the line of conduct for the United States towards foreign nations.”—Jefferson to Madison, 11 August, 1793.
[1 ]These privateers had been fitted out by Genet in Charleston, and had already made prizes of some English merchant vessels, which were sent in to Philadelphia. The Citoyen Genet followed, and took measures to increase the force of the vessel, while the Sans Culotte went for the same purpose to Baltimore, and as was said, to watch the movements of a valuable British ship then in that port.
[1 ]For two days the conduct of Genet was made the subject of a cabinet council. It was unanimously agreed that a letter should be written to the Minister of the United States at Paris summarizing the points of difference that had arisen between the government of the United States and Genet, assigning the reasons for the opinions of the former, and desiring the recall of the latter: this letter to be laid before the French executive. Jefferson wished the desire to recall to be expressed with great delicacy; Hamilton and Knox favored peremptory terms. Knox would even have him sent away. On August 15th the draft of the letter was read for consideration, and though not agreed to till the 20th, it was dated the 16th, and a second letter dated the 23d was written. That of the 16th is printed in Jefferson’s Works, iv., 31. A copy was sent by the Secretary of State to Genet.
[2 ]Harassed by the complaints and representations of both the English and the French ministers on alleged violations of neutrality, Washington and his advisers undertook to frame a set of rules that would embody the policy of the government, as determined, and that would be conformable to treaties and the laws of nations. For this purpose a meeting of the cabinet was held on July 29th. “It was agreed that a letter of marque, or vessel armé en guerre, and in merchandise, is not a privateer, and therefore not to be ordered out of our ports. It was agreed by Hamilton, Knox and myself, that the case of such a vessel does not depend on the treaties, but on the laws of nations. E. Randolph thought as she had a mixed character of merchant vessel and privateer, she might be considered under the treaty; but this being over ruled”—the Attorney-General and Secretary of the Treasury proposed some rules which were considered.—Jefferson Anas. At a subsequent meeting (August 3d), the rules as digested were submitted and unanimously approved, and on the next day issued by Hamilton as a Treasury circular. The rules were as follows:
[1 ]“Opinion of the Cabinet on the Restitution of Prizes, 5 August, 1793:—That the minister of the French Republic be informed, that the President considers the United States as bound, pursuant to positive assurances, given in conformity to the laws of neutrality, to effectuate the restoration of, or to make compensation for prizes, which shall have been made of any of the parties at war with France, subsequent to the 5th day of June last by privateers fitted out of their ports.
[1 ]Gideon Henfield, an American citizen, had enlisted to serve on the French privateer Le Citoyen Genet, and on the complaint of Hammond his case came before the President. Randolph gave his opinion that Henfield could be prosecuted in the federal courts; that by the common law, independent of any statute, the federal courts have power to punish offences against the federal sovereignty. Henfield was arrested and reclaimed by Genet. Chief-Justice Jay in a charge to the grand jury, impanelled at Richmond, very clearly laid down the principle that any American citizen who should violate the neutrality by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against either of the powers at war, was to be deemed guilty of a violation of the laws of the United States, and liable to a prosecution in the federal courts, under an indictment at common law for disturbing the peace. [The charge is printed in Wharton, State Trials.] The same rule was even more broadly stated by Justice Wilson in his charge in Henfield’s case; but in spite of the united opinion of the judges on the law and the legal arguments of Randolph and Rawle, a verdict of acquittal was rendered. This result was regarded as a victory for Genet, who it was said advanced the money to pay for the defence, and as a severe blow to the prestige of the administration. Randolph rushed into print to assert that the verdict did not alter the legal aspects of the case, and some deficiency in point of fact, or some circumstance of equity, had brought about the result. The enlisting on French privateers to commit hostilities against Great Britain was clearly unlawful.—Conway, Edmund Randolph, 183, 185. It may be added that the doctrine so strongly enounced by the justices and Randolph was soon unsettled, and in later decisions of the court entirely set aside.
[1 ]This letter has reference to the following note, written by the Secretary of State the day before.
[1 ]He was ill with the malignant fever.
[2 ]On August 12th, Webster had dined at the same table with Genet, Captain Bompard, and one of Genet’s secretaries. In the course of the conversation Paschal (the secretary) asserted that Washington made war upon the French nation. Genet agreed in this, and went on to say that the Executive of the United States (not the President) was under the influence of British gold, and the officers were in the British influence and had formed a plan to subject America to Great Britain. He asserted that he had very good letters to prove this.
[1 ]“I am an utter stranger to the gentleman at the head of that department, and pretty much so to the detail of his conduct; but I will confess to you, Sir, that all his reports on ways and means, from that on the funding system to the present day, have impressed me with an idea of his having made the system of the British ministry the model of his conduct as assumed American primate, choosing rather to trust to a moneyed interest he has created, for the support of his measures, than to their rectitude. I do not say these were his motives, but such they appear to me; and I fear we shall long feel the effects of the system if it were now to be changed, which it is supposed would be improper, at least as to the funding system.
[1 ]In the eight years of his service as President, Washington resorted to the use of the veto but twice. In 1792 he returned the apportionment of representatives, and in 1797 the military establishment bill. In both cases Congress modelled new measures in accord with the President’s suggestions.
[1 ]Lincoln Lear.
[1 ]At this time Genet was sending a remarkable despatch to his government, representing that his ends would be attained in the next Congress in spite of General Washington, who sacrificed the rights of France. “This friend of Lafayette, who affects to adorn his parlor with medallions of Capet and his family; who has received letters from the pretended regent, which were brought to him by Noailles and Talon; and who continues to see these villains, calls me anarchist, Jacobin, and threatens to have me recalled because I have not delivered myself to the federalist party, who wish to do nothing for us, and whose only aim is to establish here a monarchy.”—Genet to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 19 September, 1793.
[1 ]He said he thought the occasion sufficiently “extraordinary” to warrant the President to use his discretionary power to convene the national legislature by a special call, and also at some other place than that to which Congress then stood adjourned. He added that unless this discretionary power should interpose, a majority of the two Houses must assemble in Philadelphia, however great might be the danger, before an adjournment could be made to a place of safety and convenience.
[1 ]Mr. Randolph did not think that the President had power to change the place of the meeting of Congress. He drew up an official paper on the subject, but his opinion is expressed in the following extract from one of his letters.
[1 ]He also wrote to Hamilton; the letter is printed in Sparks’ Washington, x., 378. Also to Pickering, Life of Pickering, iii., 58.
[1 ]“It has been my intention ever since my return to the city, to contribute my mite towards the relief of the most needy inhabitants of it. The pressure of public business hitherto has suspended, but not altered my resolution. I am at a loss, however, for whose benefit to apply the little I can give, and in whose hands to place it; whether for the use of the fatherless children and widows, made so by the late calamity, who may find it difficult, whilst provisions, wood, and other necessaries are so dear, to support themselves; or to other and better purposes, if any, I know not, and therefore have taken the liberty of asking your advice.
[1 ]The official paper by the Attorney-General on the subject came afterwards.
[1 ]By letter from Mr. Randolph, written a few days after the above, it appears that he had in contemplation an important undertaking.
[1 ]The malignant fever in Philadelphia subsided, and the President and heads of departments returned to that city before the end of November. Congress assembled there on the 2d of December, being the day appointed by the constitution for the annual meeting.
[1 ]“I do not as yet know whether I shall get a substitute for William: nothing short of excellent qualities and a man of good appearance, would induce me to do it—and under my present view of the matter, too, who would employ himself otherwise than William did—that is as a butler as well as a valette—for my wants of the latter are so trifling that any man (as William was) would soon be ruined by idleness, who had only them to attend to. Having given these ideas, if your time will permit, I should be glad if you would touch the man upon the strings I have mentioned, probe his character deeper—say what his age, appearance and country is—what are his expectations, and how he should be communicated with, if upon a thorough investigation of matters you should be of opinion he would answer my purposes well—for Kennedy is too little acquainted with the arrangement of a table, and too stupid for a butler, to be continued if I could get a better.”—Washington to Lear, 3 November, 1793.
[1 ]“On a severe review of the question, whether the British communications should carry any such mark of being confidential, as to prevent the legislature from publishing them, I am clearly of opinion they ought not. Will they be kept secret, if secrecy be enjoined? Certainly not; and all the offence will be given (if it be possible any should be given), which would follow their complete publication. If they could be kept secret, from whom would it be? From our own constituents only, for Great Britain is possessed of every tittle. Why then keep it secret from them? No ground of support for the executive will ever be so sure, as a complete knowledge of their proceedings by the people; and it is only in cases where the public good could be injured, and because it would be injured, that proceedings should be secret. In such cases, it is the duty of the executive to sacrifice their personal interest (which would be promoted by publicity) to the public interest.
[1 ]Accompanying this message was all the correspondence that had passed between Genet and the Executive, except a note to Washington, demanding his denial of a statement, and one to Randolph, asking that he institute a suit against Jay and Rufus King for an alleged libel on Genet. The French Minister had taken in very ill part the demand for his recall, and determined to appeal to the people. On December 20th he wrote a highly offensive note to Jefferson, enclosing some printed copies of his instructions, and desiring that “they may be distributed among the members of Congress, and that you will request the President of the United States to lay them officially before both houses of the legislative body.” He issued a collection of his notes to the Executive to be disposed of in the same manner. But these last steps were to his disadvantage, and alienated from his cause many warm republicans, who had up to this point stood by him. His usefulness was at an end.
[1 ]“I have been favored with your letter of the 9th and sample of free stone from my Quarry, sent by Mr. Hoben, for which I thank you both;—and should be obliged to him for information of the spot from whence it was taken.—I always knew, that the River banks from my spring house, to the Ferry formerly kept by Captn. Posey, were almost an entire bed of freestone; but I had conceived before the late sample came to hand, that it was of a very soft nature.
[1 ]“Enclosed I give you the trouble of receiving the copy of a letter which I wrote to Mr. Arthur Young, by Mr. Willm. Morris, on the 12th of December last. At the time that letter was written, I had no knowledge of Mr. Young’s late appointment, as Secretary of the National Board of Agriculture, nor of the change of his political sentiments. It is not improbable but that he has already, or will make you acquainted with the purport of the above letter. Be this, however, as it may, my inducement to send you a copy of it is, that if the case should be otherwise, if there appears to be any dereliction on his part to comply with my wishes, and a fair occasion should occur of mentioning the matter in the course of your peregrinations through England, Scotland, or elsewhere, and you see no impropriety from circumstances, or your view of the subject at the moment, I should be glad if you were to do it. My wish further is, to dispose of the lands I have had restored to me by Mr. de Barth, and in short my settled lands in the Western parts of this State, in the counties of Fayette and Washington—I have raised the price of my lands on the Ohio and Great Kanhawa to twenty shillings, Virginia Currency per acre; the tract in Fayette (about 1700 acres) to forty, and that in Washington to thirty shillings per acre Pennsylvania currency.
[1 ]Bishop of Pennsylvania. Mr. Thomas H. Montgomery kindly sent me copies of the originals of two other letters on the same subject (printed in Wilson, Memoir of William White, 199, 200), one of which was as follows:
[1 ]See page 239, ante.
[2 ]William Garner, overseer of the River Plantation.
[1 ]Page 251, ante.
[1 ]From April 1st to April 13th, Washington was at Mount Vernon.
[1 ]William Grey, a weaver.
[2 ]Butler remained on the plantation till October, 1794. “If you are satisfied with Mr. Butler’s conduct and exertions, I shall be so.—He has always appeared to me as a well disposed man,—obliging and sober, one who has seen better days,—and must have had a good deal of practical knowledge in husbandry.—If you can make him active, and will support his authority, I do not see why he may not be more useful to you than a young man, who might have a greater propensity to be running about.”—Washington to Pearce, 9 February, 1794.
[1 ]“From some complaints made by my negros, that they had not a sufficient allowance of meal, and from a willingness that they should have enough, the quantity was increased by Mr. Whiting so as to amount (by what I have learnt from Mr. Stuart) to profusion.—This is an error again on the other side. My wish and desire is that they should have as much as they can eat without waste and no more.”—Washington to Pearce, December, 1793.
[1 ]John Christian Ehler, who had been secured for Washington in 1790 at Bremen, by Henry Willmans, Danish consul at that place.
[1 ]This is the last of the letters written to Mr. Whiting, who died soon after.
[2 ]Pearce had served as overseer for Mr. Ringgold, in Maryland (page 306, ante), and early in October agreed to assume the direction of Washington’s estate, at an annual salary of one hundred guineas.
[1 ]Henry McKoy.
[2 ]Hiland Crow, overseer of the Union Farm (Ferry and French’s).