Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO ALEXANDER SPOTSWOOD. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO ALEXANDER SPOTSWOOD. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO ALEXANDER SPOTSWOOD.
Mount Vernon, 14 September, 1798.
Your letter of the 11th, came to my hands yesterday.
Two causes, indeed three, prevented my answering the first after your return to New Port sooner, namely—debilitated health, occasioned by the fever wch. deprived me of 20 lbs of the weight I had when you and I were at Troy Mill Scales, and rendered writing irksome; the expectation of hearing from you again, relative to the Carpenter and farmer, to whom you informed me you had written; and the daily expectation of hearing from Rawlins, who had been informed if he could forward satisfactory recommendations of his qualifications to make a good overseer, that he would be employed by me in that character. These reasons must apologize for your not hearing from me sooner.
By the same mail, that brought me your letter of the 11th. Rawlins sent me satisfactory testimonials of his fitness for my purpose,—of course I stand engaged to him. But I have yet one place certain, perhaps two, requiring overseers: but not at the advanced wages your overseer asks, vizt., £50, &c.—These are my home house which requires an active, stirring, and spirited man; but not an ill-tempered or severe one. The other, in which I have been in some doubt, is what I call Doguerun Farm (where the Octagon Barn and treading floor is).—I could not well afford more than £40 and the usual allowance of provisions for the latter; & £35 is the most I ever gave for the former, and seldom more than thirty pounds. A single man wd. suit the home house best,—would be cheaper to me,—and he himself would live much better in as much as he would eat of the Provisions that went from my table, with the house-keeper and other hired people, about it:—on the other hand a married man would be preferred for Doguerun.
The reason why I doubted about employing an overseer at the latter farm is—that as Union & Doguerun Farms are under one overseer this year, & the latter conducted in a great measure by the foreman—I had some thoughts of entrusting it solely to him next year under the direction of the steward, but when I perceive, but too clearly, that negroes are growing more and more insolent and difficult to govern, I am more inclined to incur the expense of an overseer than to hazard the management and peace of the place to a negro:—Provided I can get a good overseer on moderate terms:—and why any of them should think of an increase of wages when the produce by which they are to be paid, is reduced to half price, and taxes to their employer (which they will not feel) are becoming very high—is to me inconceivable—for these causes I am lowering the wages of my Farms.
I mention these things to possess you of my ideas relative to these matters but will add notwithstanding that I will keep one of the two places before mentioned open until you hear from Richard Rhodes & learn his terms, if he will come to me at all.—I think he would have a better opportunity of Displaying his Knowledge & skill as a farmer at Doguerun (which is really a good Farm) than at the Mansion house, where there is nothing done by the hands that are kept there but jobbing and running from one thing and from one place to another, and for overlooking this farm I would stretch the wages to £45. tho’ I should hope to get him for £40. and if he declines coming altogether, or asks higher wages, I will in that case offer the same pay for the same place to your Overseer;—But if Rhodes accepts and your overseer will come to the Mansion House for £40. which is ten pounds higher than I had intended, I will allow him that sum, which I am persuaded would be better and more profitable to him (if a single man as I understood from you he was) than £50 at a separate Farm, where he would have to find himself many small though expensive articles, from which he would be exempt by eating at my second table with the house keeper.—
So much for your Overseer and Rhodes. I must add however that both must decide immediately—Yea or Nay—of which you will be so good as to inform me without delay as others are offering (said to be good) which I may also Miss, the Season getting late for valuable Overseers to be disengaged.
From the character you have received of Brookes (the carpenter) I have no hesitation in requesting that he may be engaged immediately, and I did not care how soon he would come up—for as he is spoken of as a complete Joiner, I have work enough for him in that way before the time of the present Overlooker of my Carpenters expires; which will be about the first of Novr.—I go in this case upon the supposition that Brookes is a single man.—If on the contrary he is a married one his wife cannot be brought here (altho’ he might come himself immediately) until my other Carpenter moves his family away & the house in which they live is given up.—If he is single he would not live in that but in one of the houses in my Yard—and eat as before mentioned with the House Keeper & others.
You will oblige me very much by having all these matters adjusted as soon as possible & by informing me of the result; that I may be placed upon a certainty, & conduct myself accordingly—as it will not be in my power to hold those who offer here in suspense more than a few days longer.—
You forgot to leave me the names & grades of those officers whose celebrity were Known in the Revolutionary War; & by expecting it I did not charge my memory with them, & have forgot the names of those you did mention.
I have had no return of my fever and am recovering my flesh fast nearly a pound & a half a day; at which rate if I should hold it for a twelve month I shall be an overmatch for Majr. Willis.
We were very glad to hear that you got safe home in the extreme hot weather you traveled from hence.
Mrs. Washington, Nelly & Washington Custis are all well and unite in best regards and wishes for your self, Mrs. Spotswood, & the family with, Dear Sir, &c.
P. S. To insure this letter getting to you without any delay at the Postoffice I have requested Mr. Parks to send it to you by express.