Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO FRANCES WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XII (1790-1794)
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TO FRANCES WASHINGTON. - 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 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.