Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO TOBIAS LEAR. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798)
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TO TOBIAS LEAR. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIII (1794-1798).
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TO TOBIAS LEAR.
Philadelphia, 21 December, 1794.
My dear Sir,
Your letter of the 17th instant was received yesterday, and I am glad to find, that an act of the Virginia Assembly has been obtained for prolonging the term for the completion of the inland navigation of the Potomac. The like I hope has been or will be obtained this session in the Assembly of Maryland.
A good opportunity presenting itself on Thursday last, I embraced it to inquire of Mr. Morris if the directors of that company might entertain any hope of deriving aid from Mr. Weston’s opinion, respecting the lock-seats at the Great Falls of that river. His answer was; “Mr. Weston, from some peculiar circumstances attending their own concerns, had been prevented from visiting that spot, as was intended; but that he was now expected to be in this city in a few days (as I understood), when he would propose and urge his going thither.”
The plan of Mr. Claiborne’s engineer, as far as I understand it, is to avoid locks altogether. The vessels are received into a basket, or cradle, and let down by means of a lever and pulleys, and raised again by weights at the hinder extremity of the lever, which works on an axis at the top of a substantial post fixed about the centre of the lever. On this principle, but differently constructed, Mr. Greenleaf a few months ago showed me a model, the efficacy of which he seemed to entertain the most exalted opinion. My doubts of the utility of both arise, first, from the insufficiency of any machinery of this sort to bear the weight of the cradle, when charged with water and a loaded boat therein, and its aptness to get out of order by means thereof; secondly, I do not find that they are in general use; and thirdly, because, if I recollect rightly, Mr. Weston has told me, (but of this I am not certain,) that no method of raising and lowering boats had been found equal to that of locks. Still, as I observed in my last, I should be for hearing the opinions and explanations of any and every scientific and practical character, that could be easily got at, on this subject, and therefore would hear Claiborne’s engineer, as well as Mr. Weston; especially as he professes to be particularly well skilled in the application of them in propelling boats, (in an easy and cheap manner,) against the stream, and in conducting of water to cities or for any other purpose whatsoever.
The bill you allude to has not passed, nor do I know what shape it will take if it does, and therefore can say nothing more on the subject at this time, than that there will be no precipitancy in engaging either the agents or the means of carrying the law into effect. If the measure, which I have recommended, should be adopted, with the importance of it I am strongly impressed; consequently, if anything should be required of the President towards carrying it into execution, I shall feel it in a particular manner my duty to set it a going under the most favorable auspices.
I now have and for some considerable time have had, twenty five Hogshead’s Tobo. in the Warehouses in Alexandria, which at some times I have forgot, and at other times have been indisposed to take the prices which were given for Potomac Tobacco on the Virginia side. Originally this Tobacco was of the best sort put up dry—and the quality of it reported to be exceedingly good. If the latter is the case still it will in some respects, and for some purposes, have the advantage of New Tobacco—but what to do with it I know not. In Alexandria it might not bring me 18/ per 100—when in George Town (I mean in the Warehouses at these places) it might bring a guinea.—I have thought, but whether it be practicable to accomplish it without difficulty I am unable to decide, that if the Tobacco could be removed from the Warehouses in which it now is, to those in George Town, and be reinspected at the latter, that I might be a considerable gainer by it. But admitting that this can be done without encountering impediments which might involve inconveniences; or that would excite notice or remarks, neither of which I should incline to subject myself to; it would be previously necessary to know whether the Tobacco would pass at the latter place; for if it should be brought there and be condemned, I should lose the whole and sustain an expence besides, whereas in its present situation, it will, I presume, command the price currant in Alexa. If the suggestion here mentioned can be accomplished (without involving the consequences expressed above) the best expedient that occurs to me to effect it, is under the idea of its being purchased by, or rather offered for sale to a Maryland Merchant, to have it re-examined where it is, in presence of the George Town Inspectors, who should be paid for their attendance and who should declare to the supposed purchaser whether they would pass it, were it brought to the Warehouses in George Town. If in the affirmative, and there is no other impediment to the measure the whole business might be easily accomplished by the removal—reinspection—and issuing of new notes; either in my name, or in that of the supposed purchaser—the last of which for several reasons I think would have the best appearance. Whether this project can be carried into execution or not, is, to me, uncertain; but, to avoid delay, and in order to enable you to do it if it should be thought eligable, I send you the notes for this purpose, or to know what the Tobacco would sell for where it is, if it be not eligable to remove it. They may be kept, or returned, according to circumstances. In the Warehouses at George Town—I have—or ought to have by this time 9,000 lbs. of Crop Tobacco, as you will perceive by the enclosed letter to me, from Colo. Deakins; the same by this also.—
I return Dr. Currie’s letter, with thanks for the perusal of it. The picture drawn in it of the state of things in his own country, and the details which he gives of those of the belligerent powers, are gloomy for them indeed. All here are well, and all join in best regards for you, with, dear Sir, your affectionate, &c.