Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO SIR JOHN SINCLAIR. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XII (1790-1794)
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TO SIR JOHN SINCLAIR. - 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 SIR JOHN SINCLAIR.
Philadelphia, 20 July, 1794.
I am indebted to you for your several favours, of the 15th of August and 4 of September of the last, and for that of the 6th of February in the present year; for which, and the pamphlets accompanying them, my thanks are particularly due.—To say this, and to have suffered them to remain so long unacknowledged needs explanation. The truth is they came to hand, the first of them about the opening, and the second set towards the close, of a long and interesting session of Congress, during which my time was very much occupied, and at the end thereof I had a pressing call to my estate in Virginia from whence I have not been returned more than ten or twelve days.
I have read with peculiar pleasure and approbation the work you patronize, so much to your own honor and the utility of the public. Such a general view of the Agriculture in the several counties of Great Britain, is extremely interesting, and cannot fail of being very beneficial to the agricultural concerns of your country; and to those of every other wherein they are read; and must entitle you to their warmest thanks, for having set such a plan on foot and for prosecuting it with the zeal and intelligence you do.—I am so much pleased with the plan and execution myself as to pray you to have the goodness to direct your book-seller to continue them accompanied with the [charge], which shall be paid to his order, or remitted so soon as the amount is made known to me. When the whole are received I will promote, as far as in me lies, the reprinting of them here.
I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country, than by improving its agriculture,—its breed of useful animals—and other branches of a husbandman’s cares:—nor can I conceive any plan more conducive to this end than the one you have introduced for bringing to view the actual state of them in all parts of the Kingdom—by which good and bad habits are exhibited in a manner too plain to be misconceived; for the accounts given to the British board of Agriculture appear in general to be drawn up in a masterly manner, so as fully to answer the expectations formed in the excellent plan which produced them, affording at the same time a fund of information useful in political œconomy—serviceable in all countries.
Commons, Tithes, Tenantry (of which we feel nothing in this country) are in the list of impediments, I perceive, to perfection in English farming, and taxes are heavy deductions from the net profit thereof. Of these we have none, or so light as hardly to be felt. Your system of Agriculture, it must be confessed, is in a stile superior and of course much more expensive than ours; but when the balance at the end of the year is struck by deducting the taxes, poor rates, and incidental charges of every kind from the produce of the land, in the two countries no doubt can remain in which scale it is to be found. It will be some time I fear before an Agricultural society, with congressional aids, will be established in this country. We must walk as other countries have done before we can run. Smaller societies must prepare the way for greater; but with the lights before us I hope we shall not be so slow in maturation as older nations have been. An attempt, as you will perceive by the enclosed outlines of a plan, is making to establish a State society in Pennsylvania for agricultural improvements. If it succeeds it will be a step in the ladder—at present it is too much in embryo to decide on the result.
Our domestic animals (as well as our agriculture) are inferior to yours in point of size, but this does not proceed from any defect in the stamina of them; but to deficient care in providing for their support; experience having abundantly evinced that where our pastures are as well improved as the soil and climate will admit,—where a competent store of wholesome provender is laid up and proper care used in serving it—that our horses, black cattle, sheep, &c.—are not inferior to the best of their respective kinds which have been imported from England. Nor is the wool of our sheep inferior to that of the common sort with you.—As a proof—after the peace of Paris in 1783, and my return to the occupation of a farmer, I paid particular attention to my breed of sheep (of which I usually kept about seven or eight hundred). By this attention, at the shearing of 1789, the fleeces yielded me the average quantity of 5¼ of wool—a fleece of which promiscuously taken, I sent to Mr. Arthur Young, who put it for examination into the hands of manufacturers. These pronounced it to be equal in quality to the Kentish wool. In this same year (i.e. 1789) I was again called from home, and have not had it in my power since to pay any attention to my farms. The consequence of which is, that my sheep at the last shearing, yielded me not more than 2½.
This is not a single instance of the difference between care and neglect. Nor is the difference between good and bad management confined to that species of stock, for we find that good pastures and proper attention can, and does fill our markets with beef of seven, eight and more hundred weight the four quarters; whereas from 450 to 500 (especially in the States south of this, where less attention hitherto has been paid to grass) may be found about the average weight.—In this market some bullocks were killed in the months of March and April last, the weights of which as taken from the accounts which were published at the time, you will find in a paper enclosed. These were pampered steers, but from 800 to 1000, the four quarters, is no uncommon weight.
Your general history of sheep with observations thereon, and the proper mode of managing them will be an interesting work when compleated; and with the information and accuracy with which I am persuaded it will be executed, under your auspices, must be extremely desirable. The climate of this country, particularly that of the middle States, is congenial to this species of animal; but want of attention to them in most farmers, added to the obstacles which prevent the importation of those of a better kind by men who would be at the expense, contributes not a little to the present inferiority we experience.
Mr. Edwards would have it as much in his power as most of our farmers, to solve the queries you propounded to him, in addition to which a gentleman of my acquaintance (who is also among the best farmers of this country and to whom I gave the perusal of your propositions) has favor’d me with some ideas on the subject, as you will find on paper herewith enclosed.
The sample you were so obliging as to put into the hands of Mr. Lear for me, of a scotch fabric, is extremely elegant, and I pray you to accept my thanks for it as I entreat you to do also for the civilities shewn to that Gentleman, who has a grateful sense of them.
Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the perusal of the papers which accompanied your note of the 11 of September.
With great respect & esteem, I am, &c.