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1799. - 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 PATRICK HENRY.
Mount Vernon, 15 January, 1799.
At the threshold of this letter I ought to make an apology for its contents; but, if you will give me credit for my motives, I will contend for no more, however erroneous my sentiments may appear to you.
It would be a waste of time to attempt to bring to the view of a person of your observation and discernment, the endeavors of a certain party among us to disquiet the public mind among us with unfounded alarms; to arraign every act of the administration; to set the people at variance with their government; and to embarrass all its measures. Equally useless would it be to predict what must be the inevitable consequences of such policy, if it cannot be arrested.
Unfortunately, and extremely do I regret it, the State of Virginia has taken the lead in this opposition. I have said the State, because the conduct of its legislature in the eyes of the world will authorize the expression, because it is an incontrovertible fact, that the principal leaders of the opposition dwell in it, and because no doubt is entertained I believe, that, with the help of the chiefs in other States, all the plans are arranged and systematically pursued by their followers in other parts of the Union, though in no State except Kentucky, that I have heard of, has legislative countenance been obtained beyond Virginia.1
It has been said that the great mass of the citizens of this State are well-affected, notwithstanding, to the general government and the Union; and I am willing to believe it, nay, do believe it; but how is this to be reconciled with their suffrages at the elections of representatives, both to Congress and their State legislature, who are men opposed to the first, and by the tendency of their measures would destroy the latter? Some among us have endeavored to account for this inconsistency, and, though convinced themselves of its truth, they are unable to convince others, who are unacquainted with the internal policy of the State.
One of the reasons assigned is, that the most respectable and best qualified characters amongst us will not come forward. Easy and happy in their circumstances at home, and believing themselves secure in their liberties and property, will not forsake their occupations, and engage in the turmoil of public business, or expose themselves to the calumnies of their opponents, whose weapons are detraction.
But, at such a crisis as this, when every thing dear and valuable to us is assailed; when this party hangs upon the wheels of government as a dead weight, opposing every measure that is calculated for defence and self-preservation, abetting the nefarious views of another nation upon our rights, preferring, as long as they durst contend openly against the spirit and resentment of the people, the interest of France to the welfare of their own country, justifying the first at the expense of the latter; when every act of their own government is tortured, by constructions they will not bear, into attempts to trample and infringe upon the constitution with a view to introduce monarchy; when the most unceasing and the purest exertions, which were making to maintain a neutrality, proclaimed by the executive, approved unequivocally by Congress, by the State legislatures, nay, by the people themselves in various meetings, and to preserve the country in peace, are charged as a measure calculated to favor Great Britain at the expense of France, and all those, who had any agency in it are accused of being under the influence of the former and her pensioners; when measures are systematically and pertinaciously pursued, which must eventually dissolve the Union or produce coercion; I say, when these things are become so obvious, ought characters who are best able to rescue their country from the pending evil to remain at home? Rather ought they not to come forward, and by their talents and influence stand in the breach, which such conduct has made on the peace and happiness of this country, and oppose the widening of it?
Vain will it be to look for peace and happiness, or for the security of liberty or property, if civil discord should ensue. And what else can result from the policy of those among us, who, by all the measures in their power, are driving matters to extremity, if they cannot be counteracted effectually? The views of men can only be known, or guessed at, by their words or actions. Can those of the leaders of opposition be mistaken, then, if judged by this rule? That they are followed by numbers, who are unacquainted with their designs, and suspect as little the tendency of their principles, I am fully persuaded. But, if their conduct is viewed with indifference, if there is activity and misrepresentation on one side, and supineness on the other, their numbers accumulated by intriguing and discontented foreigners under proscription, who were at war with their own governments, and the greater part of them with all governments, they will increase, and nothing short of Omniscience can foretell the consequences.
I come now, my good Sir, to the object of my letter, which is, to express a hope and an earnest wish, that you will come forward at the ensuing elections (if not for Congress, which you may think would take you too long from home), as a candidate for representative in the General Assembly of this commonwealth.
There are, I have no doubt, very many sensible men, who oppose themselves to the torrent, that carries away others who had rather swim with than stem it without an able pilot to conduct them; but these are neither old in legislation, nor well known in the community. Your weight of character and influence in the House of Representatives would be a bulwark against such dangerous sentiments, as are delivered there at present. It would be a rallying-point for the timid, and an attraction of the wavering. In a word, I conceive it of immense importance at this crisis, that you should be there; and I would fain hope, that all minor considerations will be made to yield to the measure.
If I have erroneously supposed that your sentiments on these subjects are in unison with mine, or if I have assumed a liberty, which the occasion does not warrant, I must conclude as I began, with praying that my motives may be received as an apology, and that my fear, that the tranquillity of the Union, and of this State in particular, is hastening to an awful crisis, has extorted them from me.
With great and very sincere regard and respect, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient, &c.1
TO BRYAN, LORD FAIRFAX.
Mount Vernon, 20th Jany., 1799.
* * * * * *
When I presented my Valedictory address to the People of the United States, in September, 1796, I little thought that any event would occur in my day, that could again withdraw me from the Retirement after which I had been so long panting;—but we know little of ourselves, and still less of the ways of Providence.—The injurious treatment this Country had received from France, in an open violation of the Treaty between the two Countries, and the laws of Nations.—The Insults & Indignities with which all our overtures for an amicable adjustment of the disputes were treated.—The increasing depredations on our commerce, accompanied with outrage & threats, if we did not comply with their demands, leaving no hope of obtaining restitution for the past, or preserving the little that remained, or the Country from Invasion, but by the adoption of vigorous measures for self defence, having come fully to the view of the People, their resentments have been roused, and with one voice as it were, have made a tender of their lives and fortunes to repel any attempts which may be made on the Constitution or Government of their Country—In consequence of which, and to be prepared for the dernier ressort, if unhappily we shall be driven to it—Troops are to be raised, and the United States placed in a posture of defence—Under these circumstances, and it appearing to be the wish of my Countrymen, and the request of the governing Powers that I should take charge of their Armies, I am embarked so far in the business as will appear by my letter to the President of the 13th of July last—which, as it has run through all the news-papers here, and Published in many of the Foreign Gazettes, you probably may have seen; and though still at home, where indeed I hope to remain, under a persuasion that the French will discover the injustice and absurdity of their conduct;—I hold myself in readiness to gird on the sword, if the immergency shall require it.
Notwithstanding, the Spirit of the People is so animated, that party among us who have been uniform in their opposition to all the measures of Government; in short to every Act, either of Executive or Legislative Authority, which seemed to be calculated to defeat French usurpations, and to lessen the influence of that Nation in our Country, hang upon & clog its wheels as much as in them lye—and with a rancor & virulence which is scarcely to be conceived;—Torturing every act, by unnatural construction, into a design to violate the Constitution—Introduce Monarchy—& to establish an aristocracy—And what is more to be regretted, the same Spirit seems to have laid hold of the major part of the Legislature of this State, while all the other States in the Union (Kentucky, the child of Virginia, excepted) are coming forward with the most unequivocal evidences of their approbation of the measures which have been adopted by both, for self preservation.— In what such a spirit, and such proceedings will issue, is beyond the reach of short sighted men to predict, with any degree of certainty.—I hope well—because I have always believed and trusted, that that Providence which has carried us through a long and painful War with one of the most powerful nations in Europe, will not suffer the discontented among ourselves to produce more than a temporary interruption to the permanent Peace and happiness of this rising Empire—That they have been the cause of our present disquietudes, and the means of stimulating (by mis-representing the sentiments of the mass of citizens of this Country) the Directory of France to their unwarrantable Acts—not from more real affection to the nation than others possess, but to facilitate the design of subverting their own government—I have no more doubt than that I am now in the act of writing you this letter—
It was at the request of the Secretary of War, my journey to Philadelphia was undertaken to assist in the formation of the Augmented Force and to effect some other military arrangements; and although your letter from York of the 7th of September came to hand before I set out, & was taken with me to be acknowledged from thence, yet my time & attention was so much occupied with the business that carried me there, that I never found leisure to do it—
Lady Huntingdon, as you may have been told, was a correspondent of mine;—and did me the honor to claim me as a relation, but in what degree, or by what connexion it came to pass, she did not inform me, nor did I ever trouble her Ladyship with an enquiry—The favorable sentiments which others, you say, have been pleased to express respecting me, cannot but be pleasing to a mind who always walked on a straight line & endeavored as far as human frailties, & perhaps strong passions would enable him, to discharge the relative duties to his Maker & fellowmen, without seeking any indirect, or left handed attempts to acquire popularity.—
Our crops of Wheat & Indian Corn last year (except in places) were extremely short—The drought of the Autumn exceeded anything that has been recollected, in so much that the Mills were scarcely able to work before New Years day.—and the Fly has again begun its ravages on the Wheat in the Counties above us—This calamity, with the severity of the Drought on the Fall seeding, has given a discouraging aspect to the ensuing crop of Wint’r Grain—
We have the pleasure, frequently, of seeing or hearing from Mrs. Fairfax—and on Wednesday last Mrs. Washington & myself took a family dinner at Mount Eagle—and left all the family in good health & Spirits in the afternoon—Miss Custis was, at that time, with her mother, at Hope Park, or she would have accompanied us on that visit.—She is now returned, & unites with Mrs. Washington & myself in offering best wishes for your health & safe return—and with very great & sincere esteem & respect, I remain, dear Sir, your most obedient, &c.
P. S. Finding that I could not comprise what I had to say in one sheet of paper, I have rambled on until I have almost filled a second.1
TO JAMES WASHINGTON.
Mount Vernon, 20 January, 1799.
Through the goodness of Mr. Adams, the American minister at Berlin, I am indebted for the safe conveyance of your letter, dated the 19th of Octr. in that city; and through the same medium I have the honor to present this acknowledgment of it.
There can be but little doubt, Sir, of our descending from the same stock, as the branches of it proceeded from the same country. At what time your ancestors left England is not mentioned. Mine came to America nearly one hundred and fifty years ago.1
The regular course of application for military appointments is to the President of the United States, through the Secretary of War. But it would be deceptious not to apprize you beforehand, that it does not accord with the policy of this government to bestow offices civil or military upon foreigners, to the exclusion of our own citizens, first, because there is an animated zeal in the latter to serve their country, and, secondly, because the former, seldom content with the rank they sustain in the service of their own country, look for higher appointments in this; which, when bestowed, unless there is obvious cause to justify the measure, is pregnant with discontent, and therefore it is not often practised, Except in those branches of the Military Science, which relate to Engineering and Gunnery. For in those our Military establishment is defective, and men of known and acknowledged abilities, with ample testimonials thereof, would be certainly encouraged.
Deeming it better to give this candid detail, than to raise hopes that might prove fallacious, is the best apology I can offer for my plain dealing.
At the same time be pleased to accept the assurances of my being, Sir, your most obedient, &c.
TO DAVID STUART.
Mount Vernon, 22 January, 1799.
Washington leaves this day on a visit to Hope Park, which will afford you an opportunity to examine the progress he has made in the studies he was directed to pursue.
I can, and I believe I do, keep him in his room a certain portion of the twenty-four hours, but it will be impossible for me to make him attend to his books, if inclination on his part is wanting; nor while I am out if he chooses to be so, is it in my power to prevent it. I will not say this is the case, nor will I run the hazard of doing him injustice, by saying he does not apply as he ought to what has been prescribed, but no risk will be run, and candor requires I should declare it as my opinion, that he will not derive much benefit in any course which can be marked out for him at this place, without an able preceptor always with him.
What is best to be done with him I know not. My opinion always has been, that the university in Massachusetts would have been the most eligible seminary to have sent him to; first, because it is on a larger scale than any other; and secondly, because I believe that the habits of youth there, whether from the discipline of the school, or the greater attention of the people generally to morals, and a more regular course of life, are less prone to dissipation and excess than they are at the colleges south of it. It may be asked, if this was my opinion, why did I not send him there? The answer is as short as to me it was weighty; being the only male of his line, and knowing (although it would have been submitted to) that it would have proved a heart-rending stroke to have him at that distance, I was disposed to try a nearer seminary, of good repute, which, from some cause, or combination of causes, has not, after the experiment of a year, been found to answer the end that was contemplated. Whether to send him there now, or, indeed, to any other public school, is, indeed, problematical, and to misspend his time at this place would be disgraceful to himself and to me.
If I were to propose to him to go to the university at Cambridge, in Massachusetts, he might, as has been usual for him on like occasions, say, he would go wherever I chose to send him, but if he should go, contrary to his inclination, and without a disposition to apply himself properly, an expense without any benefit would result from the measure. Knowing how much I have been disappointed, and my time disturbed by his conduct, he would not, I am sure, make a candid disclosure of his sentiments to me on this or any other plan I might propose for the completion of his education, for which reason, I would pray that you (or perhaps Mrs. Stuart could succeed better than any one) would draw from him a frank and explicit disclosure of what his own wishes and views are; for, if they are absolutely fixed, an attempt to counteract them by absolute control would be as idle as the endeavor to stop a rivulet that is constantly running. Its progress, while mound upon mound, is erected, may be arrested, but this must have an end, and everything will be swept away by the torrent. The more I think of his entering William and Mary, unless he could be placed in the bishop’s1 family, the more I am convinced of its inutility on many accounts, which had better be the subject of oral communication than by letter. I shall wish to hear from you on the subject of this letter. I believe Washington means well, but has not resolution to act well. Our kind regards to Mrs. Stuart and family, and I am, my dear Sir, &c.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 27 January, 1799.
My dear Sir,
The enclosed letter for Mr. McAlpin, (my Tayler in Philadelphia,) left open for your perusal, may be delivered or not, as you shall judge best; and, if the former takes place, to be accompanied with your sentiments on the doubtful parts of it.
It is predicated, first, on the supposition, that the uniform for the different grades of officers is conclusively fixed, & to be established as a standing regulation; and, secondly, on the presumption that no attempts will be made this Session of Congress to repeal the law for augmenting the army of the United States, or to reduce it below its present establishment. If the former is liable to no change, and there is no indication of an attempt to effect the latter, I would go to the expense of providing a uniform, previously to the spur of the occasion, in conformity with the regulations ordered by the war department agreeably to the President’s command. On the other hand, if either of the above things is likely to happen, I shall suspend doing it.
On reconsidering the uniform for the Commander-in-Chief, it has become a matter of doubt with me, (although, as it respects myself personally, I was against all embroidery,) whether embroidery on the Cape, Cuffs, and Pockets of the Coat, and none on the buff waistcoat, would not have a disjointed and awkward appearance. It is neither required nor forbidden. Which then, in your judgment, or that of connoisseurs, if you should confer with any on the subject, would be most agreeable in itself, and accordant to what is expected? To you I submit the matter, as I also do whether the coat shall have slash Cuffs, (with blue flaps passing through them,) and slash pockets, or both shall be in the usual manner.
These apparently are trifling matters to trouble you with; but, as it is the commencement of a new scene, it is desirable that the thing should take a right direction. I have therefore upon the whole, and since I began this letter, determined to direct Mr. McAlpin to apply to and follow your directions in making the uniform. I should not prefer a heavy embroidery, or one containing much work. A light and neat one would in my opinion be more elegant and more desirable, as well for the Coat as the Waistcoat, if the latter is to receive any. If there are workers in this way in Philadelphia (and the French are most likely to understand it), they will no doubt have a variety of patterns to choose from, and I pray you to examine them.
The eagle, too, having become part of the American cockade; have any of them been brought into use yet? My idea of the size is, that it ought not to be larger than would cover a quarter of a dollar at most, and should be represented (for the officers) as clothed with feathers. This any ingenious silversmith can execute; and, if four were sent to me, I would thank you, and would remit the cost as soon as known to me.
I must further beg, that proper stars for the epaulets (the latter I possess) may be sent to me with the other articles, that I may be equipped in dress at least; and if there are any handsome cockades (but not whimsically foolish) in wear, or any one who can make them, I should be glad if they were sent with the eagles fixed thereon, ready to be placed in the hats. Does the Presidt. and yourself wear them? Excuse this scrawl and trouble, as I wish to set out right; and be assured of the sincere esteem & regard of, dear Sir, your affectionate.
TO TIMOTHY PICKERING.
Mount Vernon, 10 February, 1799.
Your two letters of the 24th of the last, and 2d. of the present month, have been duly received, for which and their enclosures, I thank you.
I am not surprised that some members of the House of Representatives should disrelish your report. It contains remarks and speaks truths which they are desirous should be unknown to the People. I wish the parts which were left out had been retained. The crisis in my opinion calls loudly for plain dealing; that the citizens at large may be well informed and decide with respect to public measures upon a thorough knowledge of facts. Concealment is a species of misinformation, and misrepresentation and false alarms found the ground work of opposition—the plan of which is to keep the people as much as possible in ignorance and terror, for it is believed by themselves that a perfect understanding of our real situation, in regard to our foreign relations would be a death blow to their consequence and struggles, and for that reason have always something on foot to disquiet the public mind.1
I am sorry to see Mr. Gerry is pursuing a mischievous path. That he was led astray by his own vanity and self-importance, and was the dupe of diplomatic skill, I never had a doubt; but these doubts were accompanied by faint hopes (faint indeed they were) that he possessed candor, fortitude and manliness enough to have come forward with an open declaration that he had been practised upon, and was deceived. But Mr. Gerry’s mind is not enlarged enough for such conduct as this, especially assailed as I presume it was on his arrival by those whose labors are unceasing to inculcate their doctrines of hostility against the proceedings of their own government.
The session of Congress is fast drawing to a close. What traits it will leave behind of strong and energetic measures remain to be seen—such I hope as will show that we are ready at all times to negotiate upon fair and honorable terms, but never to be bullied into them. With very great esteem, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, MAJOR GENERAL.
Mount Vernon, 25 February, 1799.
My dear Sir,
Your private letter of the 16th instant came duly to hand, and safe; and I wish you at all times and upon all occasions, to communicate interesting occurrences with your opinions thereon, (in the manner you have designated,) with the utmost unreservedness to me.
If the augmented force was not intended as an in terrorem measure, the delay in Recruiting it is unaccountable, and baffles all conjecture on reasonable grounds. The zeal and enthusiasm, which were excited by the Publication of the Despatches from our Commissioners at Paris, (which gave birth to the Law authorizing the raising of twelve Regiments, etc.,) are evaporated. It is now no more. And if this dull season, when men are idle from want of employment, and from that cause might be induced to enlist, is suffered to pass away also, we shall by and by, when the business of agriculture and other avocations call for the labor of them, set out as a forlorn hope to execute this business.1
Had the formation of the army followed closely the passage of this act, and Recruiting Orders had tread on the heels of that, the men who might have been raised at that time would for their numbers have been equal to any in the world; inasmuch as the most reputable yeomanry of the Country were ready to have stepped forward with alacity. Now, the measure is not only viewed with indifference, but deemed unnecessary by that class of People, whose attentions being turned to other matters, the officers who in August and September could, with ease, have Enlisted whole Companies of them, will find it difficult to Recruit any; and if this idle and frolicksome season is spent in inactivity, none but the riff-raff of the Country, and the scape-gallowses of the large cities will be to be had.
Far removed from the Scene, I might ascribe these delays to wrong causes, and therefore will hazard no opinion respecting them; but I have no hesitation in pronouncing, that, unless a material change takes place, our Military theatre affords but a gloomy prospect to those, who are to perform the principal parts in the Drama. Sincerely and affectionately I am yours, &c.
TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 3 March, 1799.
The unexpectedness of the event communicated in your letter of the 21st ultimo did, as you may suppose, surprise me not a little. But far, very far indeed was this surprise short of what I experienced the next day when, by a very intelligent Gentm, immediately from Philadelphia, I was informed, that there had been no direct overture from the government of France to that of the United States for a negotiation; on the contrary, that M. Talleyrand was playing the same loose and roundabout game he had attempted the year before with our envoys; and which, as in that case, might mean any thing or nothing, as would subserve his purposes best.
Had we approached the ante-chamber of this gentleman when he opened the door to us, and there waited for a formal invitation into the Interior, the Governments would have met upon equal ground, and we might have advanced or receded according to circumstances, with commitment. In plainer words, had we said to M. Talleyrand, through the channel of his communication; “We still are, as we always have been, ready to settle by fair negotiation all differences between the two nations upon open, just, and honorable terms, and it rests with the Directory (after the indignities with which our attempts to affect this have been treated, if they are equally sincere), to come forward in an unequivocal manner, and prove it by their acts;” such conduct would have shewn a dignified willingness on our part to negotiate, and would have tested their sincerity on the other. Under my present view of the subject, this would have been the course I should have pursued; keeping equally in view the horrors of War, and the dignity of the Government.
But, not being acquainted with all the information and the motives, which induced the measure, I may have taken a wrong impression, and therefore shall say nothing further on the subject at this time. With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO JOHN ADAMS, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Mount Vernon, 3 March, 1799.
I have been duly honored with your favor of the 19th ultimo, mentioning the nomination of Mr. Murray to be Minister Plenipotentiary to the French Republic.1
With the writer of the letter, which I did myself the honor to inclose in my last to you, I truly observed that I had never held any correspondence; and I only knew him in his public mission from this country to the Barbary States, the functions of which he discharged at that time with ability and propriety. I have, indeed, lately heard of a letter that has been published, which he wrote to Mr. Baldwin, filled with abuse of this Government and its Administration; but I have never met with it in any of the Papers wch I take.
As you have had more opportunities of knowing this man’s character than have fallen to me, I have no doubt but you have formed a just estimate of him; and, as I had no other desire than to be useful in transmitting any sentiments you might wish to convey, I shall, impressed with your observations, take no notice of his letter.
I sincerely pray, that in the discharge of these arduous and important duties committed to you, your health may be unimpaired, and that you may long live to enjoy these blessings, which must flow to our Country, if we should be so happy as to pass this critical period in an honorable and dignified manner, without being involved in the horrors and calamities of war.
Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Lewis (late Miss Custis) thank you for your kind remembrance of them, and offer their best respects to you; at the same time that they unite with me in every good wish for the perfect restoration of health to Mrs. Adams. With sentiments of very great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 25th March, 1799.
My dear Sir,
You will not only consider this letter as a private one, but as a friendly one, from G. W. to J. M.; and, if the sentiments which you will find in it are delivered with more freedom and candour than are agreeable, say so; not by implication only, but in explicit language; and I will promise to offend no more by such conduct, but confine myself, (if occasion should require it,) to an Official Correspondence.
Thus premising, let me, in the name and behalf of the Officers, who have been appointed, and of the Army intended to be raised, ask what keeps back the Commissions, and arrests the Recruiting Service? Be assured that both among the friends of Government, excite astonishment and discontent. Blame is in every mind, but it is not known where to fix it. Some attach it to the P, some to the S. of W, and some, fertile in invention, seek for other causes. Many of the appointed Officers have quitted their former occupations, that they might be in perfect readiness to proceed in their Military duties, the moment they should receive their Commissions and Recruiting Instructions. Others, who were about to enter into business and plans of future life, stand suspended. Many are highly disgusted; some talk of giving up the idea of becoming Officers, unable to remain longer in the awkward situation they are involved in; and all are complaining. Applications are made by numbers to me to know what the cause of the delay is, what they are to expect, and what they ought to do.
What could I say? Am I not kept in as much ignorance as they are themselves? Am I advised of any new appointments, any changes, which have taken place; any of the views or designs of Government relatively to the Army? It is not unreasonable to suppose, that, if there be reasons of State operating the policy of these delays, that I was entitled to sufficient confidence to be let into the secret; or, if they proceeded from uncontrolable causes, I, still more than the public, ought not to have been left in the field of Conjecture, without a guide to direct me to a knowledge of them. For I shall frankly declare, that I do not, nor ever shall, consider myself in the light of a Mercenary Officer. Nothing short of a high sense of the Amor Patriæ could have placed me in my present situation; and though I stand bound, and will obey the call of my Country whenever it is made, agreeably to my letter of acceptance, none will regret the event with more poignancy, none will forsake the walks of retirement with more heartfelt sorrow, none can leave them with more real inconvenience to their private concerns, than I shall do. A sixteen years’ absence from home (with short intervals only) could not fail to derange them considerably, & to require all the time I can spare from the usual avocations of life to bring them into tune again. But this is not all, nor the worst; for, being the Executor, the Administrator, & Trustee for other Estates, my greatest anxiety is to leave all these concerns in such a clear and distinct form, that no reproach may attach itself to me, when I shall have taken my departure for the land of Spirits.
I have been thus full, as it regards myself, in order to shew you, that information in all matters of a Military nature are necessary for my Government, thereby having a prospective view of things, I may prepare accordingly, and not, though detached from the army until the exigencies of our affairs may require my presence with it, appear like a person just dropped from the clouds when I take the Command, ignorant of preceding occurrences. Nor will it, without doing great violence to the concerns of others equally with my own, be in my power to “take up my bed & walk” at any unexpected requirement, nor without great exertions, which it may not be in my power to make on a sudden call, unless previously hastened (which would be unnecessary), and unless I could discern beforehand the utility of the measure by the gradual unfolding of the prospect before us.
I shall now, with your permission, make a few observations as they respect the Recruiting Service. Had the organization of the Augmented Corps, and consequent Instructions for raising it, tread as close on the passage of the Law as the nature of the case would have permitted, a finer army for the size of it (with the discipline it might have received) the world had never seen. But the golden opportunity is passed, & probably will never occur again. The zeal, enthusiasm, and indeed resentment, which warmed the breasts of the American youth, and would have induced the sons of the respectable Yeomanry, (in all parts of the United States,) to enlist as noncommissioned officers & privates, are now no more. They are evaporated, & a listlessness has supplied their place. The next most favorable opportunity, namely, the idle & dreary scenes of winter, which bring on dissipation & want, from the cessation of labor, has also passed away. The enlivening prospect of Spring, the calls of the Husbandman indeed of every avocation for laborers in the approaching busy season, hath supplanted all thoughts of becoming soldiers; and now many young Gentlemen, who had (conditionally) last Summer & Autumn engaged their Companies, will find it difficult to enlist a single man of those so engaged; the latter pretending that, having waited a considerable time to see if their services would be wanted in the Field, and no overtures for them made, it became necessary for them to seek some other employment.
What is the natural consequence of all this? Why, that we must take the Rif-raf of the populous cities, Convicts, & foreigners, or have officers without men. But even this is not the worst of it. The Augmented Corps, (if I have conceived the matter rightly,) must have been intended as a well-organized and well-disciplined body of men, for others, (in case of need,) to resort to and take example from. Will this be the case if the enemy shall invade this country? Far from it! What better, in the first instance, are Regiments so composed than militia? And what prospect have those, who command them, of rendering service to their Country, or doing honor to themselves in the Field, opposed to Veteran troops, practiced in Tactics, and unaccustomed to defeat? These, my dear McHenry, are serious considerations to a man, who has nothing to gain, and is putting every thing to hazard.
When I began this letter I intended to stop here; but, as I may not again write to you with the freedom I now do, I shall make a few remarks on some other transactions, which have not struck me in the most favorable point of view.
1 The two Major-Generals and myself were called to Philadelphia in November last, and there detained five weeks, (very inconveniently to all of us,) at an inclement season, in wading through volumes of applications & recommendations for Military Appointments; and I will venture to say, that it was executed with as much assiduity, and under as little influence of favor or prejudice, as a work of that sort (from the materials which were laid before us) ever was accomplished. And what has followed? Why, any Member of Congress, who had a friend to serve, or a prejudice to endulge, could set them at nought. Out of a number, I will select one instance only in proof of this. It is a striking one. The case of Gibbes I allude to. He was personally known to you, General Hamilton, & myself, in his former services. He served through the whole Revolutionary war, from the assembling of the first Troops at Cambridge to the closing of the Military Drama at the conclusion of Peace, without reproach; and in the last Act of it, if I mistake not, was a Major in the selected Corps of light Infantry. He was strongly recommended by Generals Lincoln, Knox, Brooks, & Jackson, all on the same theatre with himself, and who ought to be perfectly acquainted with his respectability & pretensions; yet the vote of a member of Congress (I presume) was more respected & sufficient to set him aside.—
Another thing I will remark on, because, if the practice is continued, you will find that serious discontents & evils will result from it.
I find by the Gazettes (I have no other information of these matters), that Lieutt. Mercer of the Light Dragoons is promoted to the Rank of Captn. in that Corps. In the arrangement of officers, where every attention was paid, (that personal knowledge or information could reach,) to merit, age, respectability & standing in the community, he was not even placed (if my memory serves me) high up among the Lieutenants. What then will those Lieutenants, who are his Seniors in that arrangement, greatly his Seniors in age, of at least as much respectability, better known, and of equal merit, think of having him placed over them? Mercer, compared to them is a boy; and in such an army, as it was our wish to form, it will have an odd appearance to place a young man of 20 or 21 years of age over a Lieutent. of 30, in every other respect his equal.
I do not mean to derogate from the merits or deserts of this young Gentleman. On the contrary, I wish to see them properly rewarded, although his whole family are bitter in their enmity to the General Government. Nor would I be understood to mean, that, if a Captain (and so of any other grade) declines his appointment that during the act of formation, the vacancy is necessarily to be filled by the next in seniority. Necessarily so far from this, I maintain, that, when a vacancy is occasioned by non-acceptance, that it may without injustice be filled by a new character as in the first instance. But it is my opinion, at the same time, that, if you have recourse to promotion, the arrangement, which was made by the Board of General Officers in all its parts, who had regard to all the combinations and qualifications that have been enumerated in settling the relative rank, is the safest guide you could have resorted to.
It is not my intention to dispute the Powers of the President to make this or any other promotion, which his inclination or the solicitation of others may prompt him to; but I will add, without fear of contradiction by any one acquainted with the usages & prescriptive rights of armies, that, if he wishes to preserve the Peace and harmony of ours, rules must be observed, and the feelings of the officers attended to in promotions.
These observations relatively to the promotion of Lieutenant Mercer are not the result of any discontent I have heard expressed on the occasion; for, except those who take the Philadelphia Gazette, but a few of the Officers may be acquainted therewith, and of those few I have seen none since its annunciation to the public. It is on general grounds they are made, & by judging of the feeling of others by what would be my own in a similar case; for I do not think it will be a very reconcilable matter to Gentlemen of more respectable ages, better known in the walks of life, and much more likely to Recruit men, to have a young man fresh from College placed over their heads.
As vacancies have happened in the Cavalry by non-acceptances &c, and promotions have begun, may I ask if there would be any impropriety in letting Mr. Custis step from a cornetcy into the Rank of Lieutenant? If I mistake not, in the arrangement given in, he stands the first for promotion; that is, he was made the senior Cornet. The Major-Generals were desirous of placing him as lieutenant in the first instance; but, his age considered, I thought it more eligable that he should enter into the lowest grade of Commissioned Officers. If ample fortune, good education, more than common abilities, and good disposition, free from vice of any kind, give him a title, in the 19th year of his age, his pretensions thereto (though not to the injury of others) are good. But it is not my desire to ask this as a favor. I never have, and never shall, solicit any thing for myself or connexions. I mean nothing more than the statement of facts, in order to bring his situation to view.
There is one matter more, which I was in doubt whether to mention to you or not, because it is of a more delicate nature than any I have touched upon; but finally friendship have got the better of my scruples.
It respects yourself personally. You will recollect, I dare say, that more than once I expressed to you my opinion of the expediency of committing the Details of the Department to the exertion of others, and to bestow your thoughts and attention on the more important Duties of it; which, in the scenes we were contemplating, were alone sufficient to occupy the time and all the consideration of the Secretary. I I went no further then, nor should I have renewed the subject now, had not the delay in issuing the Commissions and commencing the recruiting service excited great reprobation and blame, though, as I have observed before, no one knows where with precision to fix it. Generally, however, it is attributed to the want of system & exertion in the Department of War. To apprize you of this is my motive for this communication.
I prefaced the sentiments of this letter with a request, that they might be considered as proceeding from a private man to his friend. No one would be struck more forcibly than myself with the impropriety of such a letter from the Commander-in-chief of the army of the U. States to the Secretary of War. If they are received in good part, the end is obtained. If otherwise, my motives and the purity of my intentions are the best apology I can offer for the liberty I have taken. In either case, however, be assured of this truth, that, with very great esteem and regard, I remain, my dear Sir, &c.1
TO CHARLES C. PINCKNEY, MAJOR-GENERAL.
Mount Vernon, 31 March, 1799.
My dear Sir,
Your favor of the 8th inst from Charleston has been duly received, and it gave us the pleasure of hearing that you, Mrs. P., and Miss Pinckney had arrived in good health at that place. The first few days of January excepted, you could not have been more favored in the weather than all the remainder of that month, and until the middle of Feby afforded. Although your Report of the arrangement for South Carolina and Georgia, your Reconnoitre of the seaboard to St. Mary’s, and visit of the posts on the Indian Frontier of the latter State, will be made to the Department of War, I should be glad, nevertheless, to know the result of them; for, although I do not mean to act in the present state of our military concerns, yet it is my wish to be regularly informed of the real situation of them; that I may not have every thing to learn, if the exigencies of our affairs should require my attendance in the Field. To have been informed of the arrangements made by you with General (now governor) Davie would have been satisfactory also.
I am disposed to believe, from circumstances which had just got to my knowledge before I left the helm of Government, that the Garrisons on the frontier of Georgia required a strict Inspection; not only for the purpose of restoring due subordination, but for the correction of other misdemeanors in the officers. Your determination, therefore, to look closely into these matters, and to establish strict discipline, is highly proper, and will certainly be supported. An army cannot be governed without, and no mistake in him who commands it is greater, or more fatal to its existence, and the welfare of its Country, than Lax Discipline. Nor is it the right road to true and permanent popularity. Civility is due to, but obedience is required from, all its members. These, accompanied with strict justice, and a proper attention to army rights and wants, will secure love and respect; while one indulgence begets an application for another and another, until order is lost in disorder, and contempt of him brings up the Rear.
I shall be very glad to see Brigadier-General Washington on his route to Princeton, but he will find but little to do in the military line in this State. To what cause to attribute the delay I know not; but the fact is, that not an officer, that I have heard of, has received his commission, nor one who has had any orders to Recruit. The enthusiasm of last summer and autumn was suffered to evaporate for want of these. The dreary months of Winter which (for want of employment of that class of men who usually become Soldiers) bring on idleness and dissipation is now succeeded by the opening of spring, when laborers are in demand by the husbandmen, and other avocations, and has passed away also. In a word, all is a mystery to me.
I have very little more knowledge of the captains in the Virginia line, as arranged by us at Philadelphia, than what was derived from the source of information then laid before us. I have no hesitation, however, in mentioning the name of a gentleman (conditionally,) to whom, under my present view of them, I should give a decided preference. It is Presley Thornton, son of one of the most respectable gentlemen, now deceased, of the same name, in this State. He is thirty or thereabouts, amiable in his character. He was a British officer during our Revolution, but would not fight against his country, and therefore went to Gibraltar, and was in Garrison there during its siege by the Spaniards, where it is said he distinguished himself by his gallant behavior.
The condition I alluded to, and which I annex to this recommendation, is, that, if I shd want him myself, and circumstances in the combinations I should have to make in the choice of my own aids-de-camp should not be opposed to it, that you may not take amiss my calling him into my military suite. I have never given him the most distant hint of such an intention, nor would I have him know, that it ever was in contemplation; especially as it is an event that may never happen. Indeed, I mean to be under no engagement to any of my established aids, until I am about to enter on my military duties.
Mrs. Washington is much obliged to Mrs. Pinckney for the Mellon seeds—as I am to you for your attention to the Paines, and with Mrs. Lewis (that now is,) &c. best wishes to you, Mrs. Pinckney, & family, & to enquiring frds. I am always your sincere and affectionate, &c.
P. S.—Mr. Lewis & Nelly Custis fulfilled their matrimonial engagement on the 22nd of February. In consequence the former, havg relinquished the lapp of Mars for the sports of Venus, has declined a Military appointmt.
TO JAMES WELCH.
Mount Vernon, 7 April, 1799.
I have received your letters of the 10th of March from Rockingham County, and although I have no expectation of deriving any payment from your Kentucky Expedition, yet, I will (inconvenient as it is to me) wait a while longer to know the result of it; desiring you to be persuaded in the mean time, that you have not got a person now, that will be trifled with in your dealings.
It would be uncandid, Mr. Welch, not to inform you, that I have heard too much of your character lately not to expect tale after tale, and relation after relation, of your numerous disappointments, by way of excuses for the non compliance of your agreement with me;—but this I can assure you will not answer your purposes.
It is not difficult for a person who has no ground on which to expect a thousand cents, to talk with facility and ease of his expectation of receiving ten times as many dollars—the relation of disappointments in which, according to his account, he conceives is quite sufficient to ward off the payment of his own solemn contracts, and to satisfy his Creditors.
I am not unacquainted, Sir, with your repeated declarations of your having purchased my Lands on the Great Kanahwa and endeavoring by that means, and such like impositions, and misrepresentations, to abtain extensive credit where you were not known.—Letters, to enquire into the truth of these things, have been written to me on the subject. Be cautious therefore how you provoke explanations that must inevitably end in your disgrace and entire loss of character.—A character is valuable to all men, and not less so to a Speculator.
I will before I conclude, assure you in the most unequivocal terms of two things.
First, that I am in extreme want of the money which you gave me a solemn promise I should receive the first of January last; and secondly—that however you may have succeeded in imposing upon, and deceiving others, you shall not practice the like game with me with impunity.
To contract new Debts is not the way to pay old ones.—nor is it a proof that you have any disposition to do it, when you are proposing to buy lands, &c. &c. on credit (or partial advances) which can answer no other purpose than that of speculation—or (if you have them) of withholding the means which ought to be applied in the discharge of engagements & debts, proceeding therefrom, which you are bound by every tie to do.
Consider this letter well;—and then write without any deception to, Sir.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 23d April, 1799.
My dear Sir,
Six days do I labor, or, in other words, take exercise and devote my time to various occupations in Husbandry, and about my mansion. On the seventh, now called the first day, for want of a place of Worship (within less than nine miles) such letters as do not require immediate acknowledgment I give answers to (Mr. Lear being sick and absent). But it hath so happened, that on the two last Sundays—call them the first or seventh day as you please, I have been unable to perform the latter duty on account of visits from Strangers, with whom I could not use the freedom to leave alone, or recommend to the care of each other, for their amusement.
This Short history of the manner in which I employ my time is given by way of an apology for suffering your letters of the 30th & 31st ulto. to remain so long unanswered—acknowledged they were—and two points which related most immediately to yourself, personally, were dwelt upon in my last. Were it not for this, I should have appropriated sooner, one of the six days I am now about to borrow, for the following communications.
I have perused with attention your Instructions to General Hamilton, and can readily conceive from the purport of them what the tenor of those are, which you have issued to General Pinckney. These Instructions appear to me to be well digested, and are appropriate to the ends contemplated.
I once thought, it being more regular, that the old Troops under the command of General Wilkinson had better have remained subordinate to the orders of Gen. Hamilton, to whom, through the Department of War, (for the reasons alleged in the Instructions) all reports and returns ought to be made. But, on more mature consideration of the multiplied, extensive, and checkered position of those troops, I am disposed to believe that your plan is preferable.
In my last, I gave what I conceived to be the reason why you were uninformed of the intentions of so many of the appointed Officers, and took the liberty of suggesting a mode by which their acceptance, or refusal, might speedily be ascertained. This suggestion and your Circular, (which now appears in all the Gazettes) renders it unnecessary for me to say anything more on that head. And if the obstacles, which were opposed to the preparatory measures for Recruiting, were such as not to be overcome, like many other things, most desirable, but unattainable, we may regret the loss, though we submit to the disappointment.
Until your Circular appeared, I do not believe that it was the expectation of the newly appointed officers, (who had not received their Commissions,) that they were to draw pay from the date of their Acceptances; and to this uncertainty, after having thrown themselves out of other business, was their discontents to be ascribed. Your circular communication, and a just arrangement of Rank hereafter, will, no doubt, put all matters to rights. But if these officers are not speedily employed in the Recruiting Service, a clamor will soon arise in another quarter; for it will be asked why are they in actual pay & unemployed.
Care will be taken, I presume, in settling relative Rank, not to be governed by the date of the acceptances, for that would give to the Officers of those States, who are most contiguous to the seat of Government, advantages which would be as unjust as they are great.1
I do not recollect with precision the circumstances you allude to, as having taken place in the year 1792 under the auspices of one of your Predecessors. But however anxious Officers are to be possessed of their Commissions, I have no hesitation in declaring it as my opinion, that I see no cause they would have to complain of their being withheld, for the reasons you have mentioned, when the matter is explained to them, & they are in receipt of emoluments. With respect to Connecticut and the States South of Virginia, I was at no loss to account for the delays, which had taken place in them, not only as it respected the Recruiting Service, but as it related to the appointment of the Officers also.
General Hamilton having communicated to me his arrangement of the State of Virginia into districts & subdivisions, with the places of rendezvous in each, I have suggested a few (un) important alterations in the sub-districts with which I am best acquainted.
In the revised printed Instructions for Recruiting, which you have been pleased to send to me, there are several blanks, which I presume will be filled up before they are finally issued. These are to be found in the 2d. 5th & 28th Articles.
The quotation of the answer given to your representation respecting the suspension of the arrangement, and consequent delay in Recruiting betrays a manifest want of knowledge of the subject. There is a “tide, it is said, in all things,” and there was a combination of circumstances at the passing of the act, among which resentment was not the least, which produced an uncommon enthusiasm; & which, until it began to slacken & ebb, might have been improved to great advantage. But, taking the matter up, upon the principle of the answer, could there have been a stronger reason assigned agt. delay, than the difficulty of obtaining men?1
If the enumerated obstacles were such as would retard the Recruiting Service, it ought to have commenced with redoubled ardor. The voice of the People, as expressed by their representatives, adjudged this Force necessary. The law was positive. Where then lay a Power to dispense with or suspend it? I will go no farther, however, on this point. Perhaps I have gone too far already; but, as you have not only authorized, but requested, that I would communicate my sentiments to you with freedom and candor, I could not restrain this effusion, while I acknowledge & have declared upon all proper occasions, that you were not responsible for the delay in organizing the army; as you have been informed in my last letter.
In the case of Major Gibbs, I shall make but two short remarks. 1st: that it was not from any predilection for the man, that he was brought forward by the Board of Gen. Officers; and 2d, that I should have thought, that the testimony of Generals Lincoln, Knox, Brooks, Jackson, & others, added to the weight of that board, would be a counterpoise to the objectioners, unless something injurious to his character was adduced. But, with respect to young Mercer’s promotion, I cannot but express my regrets; notwithstanding the high opinion I have of his merit, and the sincere regard I entertained for his deceased father. This promotion, you may rely on it, is radically wrong, & will be felt sorely.1 Although no one is less disposed than I am to call in question the right of the President to make appointments (with the participation of the Senate) yet I must be permitted to add, that, if there is not a good deal of circumspection observed in the exercise of it, as it respects the regulation of the army, he will find it much easier to plunge into, than to extricate himself from, embarassments occasioned by injudicious arrangements. Of this, I can speak from the experience I have had.
In the arrangement of Mr. Mercer at Philadelphia, his comparative pretensions were duly considered, & a lieutenancy was considered a handsome appointment for him. Many applications for Captaincies of Dragoons from meritorious characters, who had had commands in the horse on the Western Expedition in 1794, could not, from the smallness of that Corps, be accommodated; & on that acct. only were turned over to the Infantry. Among these a Capt. Thos. Turner, highly spoken of as a horse officer, & a very respectable character, is numbered. How then must this gentleman, how must Captn. Randolph, so highly recommended by Genl. Morgan for past services, how must others, who served through a winter’s campaign on that occasion with éclat, and how must the Senior Lieutenants of equal pretensions with those of Mr. Mercer, feel on the appointment of a student just from College in preference to them? The question is easily answered; but as there is no remedy for it now, my only motive for dwelling on the case is to shew you how necessary precaution is, in your Military movements; & to prove, moreover, that, after five weeks’ diligent application of the three first officers of your Army, their work ought not to be battered down by sinester or local considerations, unless impeachments, or discoveries unknown while they were about it, are of sufficient weight to affect this measure.1
Having now gone through all the points of your last letter, I have only to declare, that the observations I have made on the several parts of them, and the opinions delivered thereon, proceed from the purest motives, and from an earnest desire, that the Military system may be well composed, may harmonize in all its parts, may perfectly answer the end of its institution, and that the President & Secretary of War may find no difficulty, but be quite easy and happy in their government of it. As it respects myself, I have no object separated from the general welfare to promote. I have no predilections, no prejudices to gratify, no friends, whose interests or views I wish to advance at the expence of propriety, and, I may add in the sincerity of my heart, there is no wish of it equal to that of there being no exigency in our affrs., which may call me from retirement to take the direction of our forces.
With sincere esteem & regard, I am, my dear Sir.
In the hands of an English Gentleman lately at this place, I have seen a map of the United States on a large scale, Edited by A. Arrowsmith, London. It is very necessary the Commander-in-Chief should be possessed of such an one. If the Public will not furnish it (in a travelling case) I would wish to have one sent me at my own expense; if to be procured in Philadelphia.
TO JOHN MARSHALL.
Mount Vernon, 5 May, 1799.
With infinite pleasure I received the news of your Election.1 For the honor of the District I wish the majority had been greater; but let us be content, and hope, as the tide is turning, the current will soon run strong in your favor.
I am sorry to find that the publication you allude to should have given you a moment’s disquietude. I can assure you it made no impression on my mind, of the tendency apprehended by you.2
The doubt you have expressed of Mr. Hancock’s Election is as unexpected as it is painful. In these parts we had set it down as certain; and our calculations went to eleven instead of nine. A few days now will give us the result of all the Elections to Congress and the Legislature of the State; and, as you are at the fountain of information, respecting the politics of the members, give me, I pray you, the amount of the parties on each side, if you have leisure and can ascertain it.1 With very sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, MAJOR-GENERAL.
Mount Vernon, 19 June, 1799.
Your favor of the 7th instant with its enclosures has been duly received. I am very glad to learn that the recruiting business, so far as it has been put in operation, succeeds agreeably to your wishes. It has commenced in Virginia, and I am informed that, in this vicinity (I have no intelligence from the more distant parts of the State) its progress is very flattering. A supply of clothing would, however, promote this service even hereabouts; and, unless it is furnished soon, I am apprehensive it will languish, if not stop entirely.
I understand by a letter, which I received a few days since from General Pinckney, that the selection of officers from N. and S. Carolina and Georgia has been transmitted to the war office. I hope, on every account, there will be no delay in completing this arrangement. The disposition which you have made of the artillery regiment is, I have no doubt, just and proper, and calculated to promote the good of the service.
I thank you for the information from Mr. King. I have long believed that France owes the facilities of her conquests more to the jealousy and want of cordial coöperation among the powers of Europe, whose interest it is to check her desolating ravages, than to any exertions of her own, great as they have been. It appears from every account (although there is none so full and distinct as I could wish), that her armies have not only been checked, but obliged to retreat. And her internal affairs do not seem to be in the best situation. Should these advantages be properly improved, I think the happiest effects may result from them. With very sincere regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1
TO ARCHIBALD BLAIR.2
Mount Vernon, 24 June, 1799.
Your favor of the 19th inst., enclosing the copy of a letter from our deceased friend, Patrick Henry, Esqr.,3 to you, dated the 8th of Jany. last, came duly to hand. For this instance of your polite attention to me, I pray you to accept my thanks, and an assurance that the letter shall find a distinguished place in my Beaureau of Public Papers.4
At any time I should have recd. the account of this Gentleman’s death with sorrow. In the present crisis of our public affairs, I have heard it with deep regret. But the ways of Providence are inscrutable, and not to be scanned by short-sighted man, whose duty is submission without repining at its decrees.
I had often heard of the political sentimts. expressed in Mr. Henry’s letter to you, and as often a wish that they were promulgated through the medium of the gazettes; the propriety or inexpediency of which measure none can decide more correctly than yourself. But, after what you have written to me, I feel an incumbency to inform you, that another copy of that letter has been either surreptitiously obtained, or fabricated, and more than probably is now in the Press; for I was informed on the day preceding my receipt of your letter, that one was in the hands of a Gentleman in this County Fairfax, and that he had been asked to and it was supposed would have it printed.
My breast never harbored a suspicion, that Mr. Henry was unfriendly to me; although I had reason to believe that the same spirit, which was at work to destroy all confidence in the Public functionaries, was not less busy in poisoning private fountains, and sowing the Seeds of distrust amg. men of the same Political sentiments. Mr. Henry had given me the most unequivocal proof, whilst I had the honor to command the troops of the United States in their revolutionary struggle, that he was not to be worked upon by Intriguers; and, not conscious that I had furnished any cause for it, I could not suppose that without a cause he had become my enemy since. This proof, contained in the letter to wch. you allude, is deposited among my files (for want of a proper receptacle for them, which I mean to erect), they are yet in packages. When I shall be able to open them with convenience, I will furnish you with a copy of what passed between Mr. Henry and myself, in consequence of the attempt which was made by a Party in Congress to supplant me in that command, since you think they are not to be found among his papers and wish to be possessed of them.
Your letter to me, Sir, required no apology, but has a just claim to the thanks and gratitude of one, who has the honor to be, your most obedient obliged humble servant.
TO JOHN TRUMBULL.
Mount Vernon, 25 June, 1799.
Your favor of the 18th of September last, with the small box containing four pair of Prints, came safe to hand, but long after the date of the letter. Immediately upon the receipt of these having forgot the terms of the Subscription, and not knowing, as you were absent, to whom the money was to be paid, I wrote to Governor Trumbull for information on this head, without obtaining further satisfaction, than that he thought it probable Mr. Anthony of Philadelphia was authorized by you to receive the amount. In consequence I addressed this Gentleman, (who being absent from that City—as is said, by way of apology for the delay, in answering my letter in a reasonable time), and shall immediately pay what is due from me thereon.
I give you the trouble of this detail, because I should feel unpleasant myself, if, after your marked politeness and attentions to me in this as in every other transaction, any tardiness should have appeared on my part in return for Prints so valuable.
The two vols. put into your hands by Mr. West, for transmission to me, are the production of a Mr. Uvedale Price on the Picturesque; accompanied by a very polite letter, of which the enclosed is an acknowledgement to that Gentleman, recommended to your care, with my best respects to Mr. West.1
I was on the point of closing this letter, with my thanks for the favorable sentiments you have been pleased to express for me, and adding Mrs. Washington’s complimts and best wishes thereto, when the mail from Philadelphia brought me your interesting letter of the 24th of March.
For the political information contained in it I feel grateful, as I always shall for the free and unreserved communication of your sentiments upon subjects so important in their nature and tendency. No well-informed and unprejudiced man, who has viewed with attention the conduct of the French Government since the Revolution in that Country, can mistake its objects, or the tendency of the ambitious plans it is pursuing. Yet, strange as it may seem, a party, and a powerful one too among us, affect to believe that the measures of it are dictated by a principal of self-preservation; that the outrages of which the Directory are guilty proceeds from dire necessity; that it wishes to be upon the most friendly and agreeable terms with the President of the United States; that it will be the fault of the latter, if this is not the case; that the defensive measures, which this Country have adopted, are not only unnecessary and expensive, but have a tendency to produce the evil, which to deprecate is mere pretence, because war with France, they say, is the wish of this government; that on the militia we should rest our Security; and that it is time enough to call upon these, when the danger is imminent, &c., &c., &c.
With these and such like ideas, attempted to be inculcated upon the public mind, (and prejudices not yet eradicated,) with all the arts of sophistry, and no regard to truth or respect to characters public or private who happen to differ from themselves in politics, I leave you to decide on the probability of carrying such extensive plans of defence as you have suggested in your last letter into operation, and in the short period you suppose may be allowed to accomplish it in.
The public mind has changed, and is yet changing every day, with respect to French principles. The people begin to see clearly, that the words and actions of the governing powers of that nation cannot be reconciled, and that hitherto they have been misled by words; in a word that, while they were pursuing the shadow, they lost the substance. The late changes in the Congressional Representation sufficiently evince this opinion; for, of the two sent from the State of Georgia, one certain, some say both, are Federal characters; of six from South Carolina, five are decidedly so; of ten from North Carolina, seven may be counted upon; and, of nineteen from this State, (Virginia), eight are certain, a ninth doubtful, and, but for some egregious mismanagement, Eleven supporters of governmental measures would have been elected.
I mention these facts merely to shew, that we are progressing to a better state of things, not that we are quite right yet. Time I hope will shew us the necessity, or at least the propriety, of becoming so. God grant it, and soon.
It is unfortunate when men cannot or will not see danger at a distance; or, seeing it, are undetermined in the means, which are necessary to avert or keep it afar off. I question whether the evil arising from the French getting possession of Louisiana and the Floridas would be generally seen, until it is felt; and yet no problem in Euclid is more evident, or susceptible of clearer demonstration. Not less difficult is it to make them believe, that offensive operations oftentimes are the surest, if not (in some cases) the only means of defence.
Mrs. Washington is grateful for your kind remembrance of her, and with Mrs. Lewis’s (formerly your old acquaintance Nelly Custis) compliments and good wishes united, I am, with sentiments of the most perfect esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.
TO GOVERNOR JONATHAN TRUMBULL.
Mount Vernon, 21 July, 1799.
My dear Sir,
Your favor of the 22d ultimo got to my hands yesterday, only. It came safe, and without any apparent marks or violence; but whence the length of its passage, I am unable to inform you.
To you and to your brother, Colonel John Trumbull, I feel much indebted for the full, frank, and interesting communication of the political sentiments contained in both your letters.
The project of the latter is vast,—and under any circumstances would require very mature consideration; but in its extent, and an eye being had to the disorganizing party in the United States, I am sure it would be impracticable in the present order of things.
Not being able to convey my ideas to you, on this subject, in more concise terms than I have already done to your brother, in answer to the letter he informs you he had written to me, I shall take the liberty of giving you an extract thereof, as follows:—
“For the political information contained in it, (that is, his letter) I feel grateful, as I always shall for the free, unreserved communication of your sentiments upon subjects so important in their nature and tendency. No well-informed and unprejudiced man, who has viewed with attention the conduct of the French government since the revolution in that country, can mistake its objects, or the tendency of its ambitious projects it is pursuing. Yet, strange as it may seem, a party, and a powerful one too, among us, affect to believe that the measures of it are dictated by a principle of self-preservation; that the outrages of which the Directory are guilty, proceed from dire necessity; that it wishes to be upon the most friendly and amicable terms with the United States; that it will be the fault of the latter if this is not the case; that the defensive measures which this country has adopted, are not only unnecessary, but expensive, but have a tendency to produce the evil which, to deprecate, is mere pretence in the government; because war with France, they say, is its wish; that on the militia we should rest our security; and that it is time enough to call upon these when the danger is imminent and apparent.
“With these and such like ideas attempted to be inculcated upon the public mind (aided by prejudices not yet eradicated), and with art and sophistry, which regard neither truth nor decency; attacking every character, without respect to persons, public or private, who happen to differ from themselves in politics, I leave you to decide on the probability of carrying such an extensive plan of defence as you have suggested in your last letter, into operation, and in the short period which you suppose may be allowed to accomplish it in.”
I come now, my dear sir, to pay particular attention to that part of your letter which respects myself.
I remember well the conversation which you allude to, and have not forgot the answer I gave you. In my judgment it applies with as much force now as then; nay more, because at that time the line between parties was not so clearly drawn, and the views of the opposition so clearly developed as they are at present: of course, allowing your observation (as it respects myself) to be founded, personal influence would be of no avail.
Let that party set up a broomstick, and call it a true son of liberty,—a democrat,—or give it any other epithet that will suit their purpose, and it will command their votes in toto.
Will not the Federalists meet, or rather defend their cause, on the opposite ground? Surely they must, or they will discover a want of policy, indicative of weakness and pregnant of mischief; which cannot be admitted. Wherein, then, would lie the difference between the present gentleman in office, and myself?
It would be matter of sore regret to me, if I could believe that a serious thought was turned towards me as his successor, not only as it respects my ardent wishes to pass through the vale of life in retirement, undisturbed in the remnant of the days I have to sojourn here, unless called upon to defend my country (which every citizen is bound to do), but on public ground also; for, although I have abundant cause to be thankful for the good health with which I am blessed, yet I am not insensible to my declination in other respects. It would be criminal, therefore, in me, although it would be the wish of my countrymen, and I could be elected, to accept an office under this conviction, which another would discharge with more ability; and this, too, at a time when I am thoroughly convinced I should not draw a single vote from the anti-Federal side, and, of course, should stand upon no other ground than any other Federal character well supported; and, when I should become a mark for the shafts of envenomed malice and the basest calumny to fire at,—when I should be charged not only with irresolution, but with concealed ambition, which waits only an occasion to blaze out,—and, in short, with dotage and imbecility.
All this, I grant, ought to be like dust in the balance, when put in competition with a great public good, when the accomplishment of it is apparent. But, as no problem is better defined in my mind than that principle, not men, is now, and will be, the object of contention; and that I could not obtain a solitary vote from that party; that any other respectable Federal character would receive the same suffrages that I should; that at my time of life (verging towards threescore and ten) I should expose myself, without rendering any essential service to my country, or answering the end contemplated; prudence on my part must arrest any attempt of the well-meant but mistaken views of my friends to introduce me again into the chair of government.
Lengthy as this letter is, I cannot conclude it without expressing an earnest wish that some intimate and confidential friend of the President’s would give him to understand that his long absence from the seat of government, in the present critical conjuncture, affords matter for severe animadversion by the friends of government, who speak of it with much disapprobation, while the other party chuckle at and set it down as a favorable omen for themselves. It has been suggested to me to make this communication, but I have declined it, conceiving that it would be better received from a private character, more in the habits of social intercourse and friendship.
With the most sincere friendship and affectionate regard, &c.
TO JAMES McHENRY.
Mount Vernon, 11 August, 1799.
My dear Sir,
Your private letters of the 29th ulto. and 5th instant, have been duly received. Mr. Bordley for presenting, and you for forwarding his Essays on Husbandry, are entitled to, and accordingly receive, my thanks for these instances of both your kindnesses.
I think you Wise men of the East, have got yourselves in a hobble, relatively to France, Great Britain, Russia and the Porte, to which, allow me the priviledge of adding our worthy Demos. All cannot be pleased! Whom will you offend? Here then is a severe trial for your Diplomatic skill, in which the Editor of the Aurora says you are great adepts. But to be serious, I think the nomination, & appointment of Ambassadors to treat with France would, in any event, have been liable to unpleasant reflections (after the Declarations wch have been made) and in the present state of matters, in Europe, must be exceedingly embarrassing. The President has a choice of difficulties before him, in this business: If he pursues the line he marked out, all the consequences cannot be forseen: If he relinquishes it, it will be said to be of a piece with all the other acts of the Administration—unmeaning, if not wicked, deceptious, &c., &c., &c., and will arm the opposition with fresh weapons, to commence new attacks upon the Government, be the turn given to it, and reasons assigned what they may.—I come now to the Scene of Bribery.
And pray, my good sir, what part of the $800.000 have come to your share? As you are high in Office, I hope you did not disgrace yourself in the acceptance of a paltry bribe—a 100.000 $ perhaps—But here again I become serious. There can be no medium between the reward and punishment of an Editor, who shall publish such things as Duane has been doing for some time past. On what ground then does he pretend to stand in his exhibition of the charges, or the insinuations which he has handed to the Public? Can hardihood, itself be so great as to stigmatise characters in the Public Gazettes for the most heinous offences, and when prosecuted, pledge itself to support the alligation, unless there was something to build on? I hope & expect that the Prosecutors will probe this matter to the bottom. It will have an unhappy effect on the public mind if it be not so.
But how stands the charge—in verity & truth with respect to the Consul General (Stephens) purchase of Coffee, and breach of trust; or in other words taking advantage of his official knowledge to monopolise that article at a low price? This thing made a good deal of noise among the friends as well as the enemies of government; and if true, proves him unworthy, altogether, of public confidence; & denominates him a mercenary [NA] one who would do anything for lucre.
Is the President returned to the seat of Government? When will he return? His absence (I mention it from the best motives) gives much discontent to the friends of government, while its enemies chuckle at it, & think it a favorable omen for them.
I am always your affecte.
TO ROBERT LEWIS.
Mount Vernon, 17 August, 1799.
Your letter of the 7th instant came duly to hand, but being received with many other letters, it was laid by, and entirely forgotten until I came across it yesterday again. Mr. Ariss’s draught on Mr. James Russell for £42 pounds shall be presented to him, but if he is indisposed to pay it, or wants time to do it, he has a good pretext for delay, as you have sent it without your endorsement, although made payable to you.
Of the facts related in the enclosed letter relative to the loss of his crop, by the Hessian fly, I know nothing. If it should appear to your credit, that Kercheval has used his true endeavor to raise the means to discharge his rent, and is deprived thereof by an Act of Providence, I am willing, however illy I can afford to do it, to make some reasonable abatement therefrom; of which you, from inquiry, will be the best judge.
It is demonstratively clear, that on this Estate (Mount Vernon) I have more working negros by a full moiety, than can be employed to any advantage in the farming system, and I shall never turn Planter thereon.
To sell the overplus I cannot, because I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species. To hire them out, is almost as bad, because they could not be disposed of in families to any advantage, and to disperse the families I have an aversion. What then is to be done? Something must or I shall be ruined; for all the money (in addition to what I raise by crops, and rents) that have been received for Lands, sold within the last four years, to the amount of Fifty thousand dollars, has scarcely been able to keep me afloat.
Under these circumstances, and a thorough conviction that half the workers I keep on this Estate, would render me a greater nett profit than I now derive from the whole, has made me resolve, if it can be accomplished, to settle Plantations on some of my other Lands. But where? without going to the Western Country, I am unable, as yet to decide; as the best, if not all the Land I have on the East side of the Alleganies are under Leases, or some kind of incumbrance or another. But as you can give me the correct information relative to this matter, I now early apply for it.
What then is the state of Kercheval’s lot, & the other adjoining? Are they under Leases? if not, is the land good? and how many hands would it work to advantage? Have I any other good land in Berkeley that could be obtained on reasonable terms? Is that small tract above the Warm Springs engaged for the ensuing year? How much cleared land is there on it? and what kind of buildings? How many hands could be usefully employed thereon? Information on these points, and any others relative thereto, would be acceptable to me.
The drought has been so excessive on this Estate that I have made no oats—& if it continues a few days longer, shall make no corn. I have cut little or no grass; and my meadows, at this time, are as bare as the pavements; of consequence no second crop can be expected. These things will compel me, I expect to reduce the mouths that feed on the Hay. I have two or three young Jacks (besides young Royal Gift) and several she asses, that I would dispose of. Would Fauquier, or where else, be a good place to dispose of them?
I am glad to hear that your brother Lawrence is so much amended, as your letter indicates. Whether it be from sulphur application, or other cause:—but if Doctr. Baysham, under whose hands he was, was unable to effect a radical cure, I should not place much confidence in Voss’s Spring, as the disorder must be deep rooted.
Your aunt unites with me in best wishes for Mr. Lewis, yourself & family and I am, &c.
TO GOVERNOR JONATHAN TRUMBULL.
Mount Vernon, 30th August, 1799.
My Dear Sir:
Your favor of the 10th instant came duly to hand. It gave me pleasure to find, by the contents of it, that your sentiments respecting the comprehensive project of Colonel Trumbull coincided with those I had expressed to him.
A very different state of politics must obtain in this country, and more unanimity prevail in our public counsels, than is the case at present, ere such a measure could be undertaken with the least prospect of success. By unanimity alone the plan could be accomplished—while, then, a party, and a strong one too, is hanging upon the wheels of government, opposing measures calculated solely for internal defence, and is endeavoring to defeat all the laws which have been passed for this purpose, by rendering them obnoxious, to attempt anything beyond this, would be to encounter certain disappointment. And yet, if the policy of this country, or the necessity occasioned by the existing opposition to its measures, should suffer the French to possess themselves of Louisiana and the Floridas, either by exchange or otherwise, I will venture to predict, without the gift of “second sight,” that there will be “no peace in Israel,”—or, in other words, that the restless, ambitious, and intriguing spirit of that people will keep the United States in a continual state of warfare with the numerous tribes of Indians that inhabit our frontiers, for doing which their “diplomatic skill” is well adapted.
With respect to the other subject of your letter, I must again express a strong and ardent wish and desire that no eye, no tongue, no thought, may be turned towards me for the purpose alluded to therein. For, besides the reasons which I urged against the measures in my last, and which, in my judgment and by my feelings, are insurmountable, you yourself have furnished a cogent one.
You have conceded, what before was self-evident in my mind, namely, that not a single vote would thereby be drawn from the anti-Federal candidate. You add, however, that it might be a means of uniting the Federal votes. Here, then, my dear sir, let me ask, what satisfaction, what consolation, what safety, should I find in support which depends upon caprice?
If men, not principles, can influence the choice on the part of the Federalists, what but fluctuations are to be expected? The favorite today may have the curtain dropped on him tomorrow, while steadiness marks the conduct of the Anti’s; and whoever is not on their side must expect to be loaded with all the calumny that malice can invent; in addition to which I should be charged with inconsistency, concealed ambition, dotage, and a thousand more et ceteras.
It is too interesting not to be again repeated, that if principles, instead of men, are not the steady pursuit of the Federalists, their cause will soon be at an end; if these are pursued, they will not divide at the next election of a President; if they do divide on so important a point, it would be dangerous to trust them on any other,—and none except those who might be solicitous to fill the chair of government would do it. In a word, my dear sir, I am too far advanced into the vale of life to bear such buffeting as I should meet with in such an event. A mind that has been constantly on the stretch since the year 1753, with but short intervals and little relaxation, requires rest and composure; and I believe that nothing short of a serious invasion of our country (in which case I conceive it to be the duty of every citizen to step forward in its defence) will ever draw me from my present retirement. But, let me be in that or in any other situation, I shall always remain your sincere friend, and affectionate humble servant, &c.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 14 September, 1799.
I feel much obliged and accordingly thank you for your kind intention of ordering me two months’ pay, and I shall not suffer false modesty to assert, that my finances stand in no need of it; because it is not the time, nor the attention only, which the public duties I am engaged in require, but their bringing upon me applicants, recommenders of applicants, and seekers of information, with their servants and horses (none of whom perhaps are of my acquaintances,) to aid in the consumption of my forage, and what to me is more valuable, my time, that I most regard; for a man in the Country, nine miles from any house of Entertainment, is differently situated from one in a City, where none of these inconveniences are felt.
Yet even under these circumstances, which may be little known to those who wd. appreciate them, and would be totally disregarded by such as are always on the look-out for something to cavil at, I am resolved to draw nothing from the Public but reimbursements of actual expenditures; unless by being called into the Field I shall be entitled to full pay and the Emoluments of office.
Without this it would be said by the latter description of People, that I was enjoying retirement on very easy and lucrative terms; whilst the former might remark, that I had forgot the conditions on which I accepted my commission; opposed to these the loss of time and incidental expenses are not to be compared.
I thought this explanation of my motives, for declining the acceptance of your offer, was due to your kind attention in behalf of, dear Sir, &c.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 15 September, 1799.
Your letter of the 3d instant, with the papers accompanying it, did not get to my hands till the 11th. At the same time I received a long letter from General Hamilton, with voluminous references, to which he requested my immediate attention, and the communication of my sentiments thereon. These circumstances will account for your not having received an answer before this time.
The rules, which have been adopted by the President of the U. S. relative to rank in the army, point out the mode, which must determine the relative rank of those officers, who have heretofore been in service. The documents in the war-office, and the information obtained from the parties, would enable you to fix the rank of those officers, at least as well as I can do it. But to manifest my readiness to comply, so far as is in my power, with any request from your department, I have in the enclosed list noted numerically the names of the lieutenant-colonels and majors, who have been in service, as they should rank, agreeably to the documents from the war-office, which you forwarded to me, annexed to their names, and in conformity with the regulations established by the President relative to rank.
By these rules resignation precludes all claim to rank, and places the party on a footing with those officers, who have never before been in service; but, where a resignation took place from any cause not affecting the character of the officer (as it is presumed is the case with all who are now appointed under this circumstance), it does not, in my opinion, deprive the party of that consideration, which his having been in service would give, provided he stands on equal ground, in other respects, with those who have never served.
As the relative rank of officers, who have not been in service, is to be determined by the Commander-in-chief, I shall make the arrangement in the best manner I can, with respect to the officers in your list who are of this description. But, in order to do this with propriety and satisfaction, a personal knowledge of the several officers, or full information of their respective qualifications, talents, and merits, is necessary. The former I do not possess. The latter I have, respecting most of those who have not been in service, so far as could be ascertained from the documents laid before the general officers in November last from the war-office. But to proceed on this ground alone, and without any document relative to the characters of the officers from Connecticut, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, (who, you will recollect, were selected without any agency of mine,) and fix the rank definitively, would be very repugnant to my ideas of propriety and justice. In a word, it would be little better than to decide their relative rank by lot. I have tried and tried again to make an arrangement of the majors, who have been in service, and I enclose a list of the result; but it is so unsatisfactory to myself, that I request no weight may be given to it, farther than it accords with better information and circumstances.
In your letter you have requested, that the relative rank of the field-officers of the cavalry, as well as of the twelve regiments of infantry, should be fixed; but you have not furnished the names of those officers; and there is one major wanting, according to your list, to complete the number for the twelve regiments of infantry.
I feel much obliged by your intention of remitting me two months’ pay; but, excepting in cases which may involve me in pecuniary expenses, I must beg leave, on the principle I set out with, to decline the acceptance of it. The letters written to you by the Lieut.-Colonels and Majors, in answer to your queries, are herewith returned. With due consideration, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, MAJOR-GENERAL.
Mount Vernon, 15 September, 1799.
Mrs. Washington’s indisposition, (being confined for 10 days) and other circumstances, would not allow me to give your letter of the 9th instant, and the reports and journals which accompanied it, an earlier consideration. Having done this, however, with as much thought, as I have been able to bestow, under the circumstances mentioned, I see no cause (with the limited force which has been enumerated, and which I presume is all that can be calculated upon,) to differ from you in the disposition of it. Although at the same time I shall make some observations thereupon for consideration.
It may be remembered, that, at the time the Secretary of War laid before the general officers in Philadelphia the letters of General Wilkinson, respecting the propriety in his judgment of placing a considerable force at the Natchez, I gave it my decided disapprobation; inasmuch as it would excite in the Spaniards distrust and jealousy of our pacific disposition; would cause an augmentation of force on their part; and so on with both, if our government would go into the measure; until the thing which was intended to be avoided would more than probable be produced, i. e., hostility. Whereas by keeping that force in the upper country, besides its looking to all points, and exciting no alarm in any, might, if occasion should require it either for defence or offence, descend the stream like lightning with all its munitions and equipments; which could be accumulated with ease, and without noise, at the upper posts, and make the surprise more complete.
Although I have said, (in effect,) that the corps de reserve, or army of observation, should take post at the place you have mentioned, namely, in the vicinity of the Rapids of the Ohio, (Louisville,) yet I can see but two reasons which entitle it to be preferred to the present post above, i. e., Fort Washington, in a geographical point of view. And these are, that there is no water above the former, that can float large vessels at all seasons; and that, by being so much lower down, the passage of the Ohio would be facilitated if an expedition should descend the Mississippi. In other respects the latter, in my opinion, has the advantage. 1st, because it is a post already established, and would incur no additional expense. 2ndly, because it is more contiguous to Fort Wayne, Detroit, Michilimackinac, and all the Indians on the Lakes, from whom in that quarter we have most danger to apprehend. 3rdly, because communications with it, for the most part by water, are already established. And, 4thly, in case of insurrections above or below, it is equally as well if not better situated.
Were it not that the mouth of the Wabash empties itself into the Ohio so low down, and yet above its confluence with the Cumberland and Tennessee, I should be inclined to give a position near the mouth of the Wabash the preference of either the Rapids or Fort Washington, because it would command a great water inlet towards the Lakes.
But whether the position for the corps de reserve be chosen at the Rapids of the Ohio, above or below, it had better, I conceive, be on the north side of the Ohio, then within the State of Kentucky; thereby impeding more the intercourse between the army and the citizens, and guarding against the evils, which result from that mixture and too much familiarity.
I am so far from agreeing with General Wilkinson, that Fort Wayne ought to be abolished, that, if I mistake not the place, central between the heads of the Miamis of Lake Erie and the Ohio, the St. Joseph and the Wabash, affording good water transportation, with small portages in every direction, I should pronounce it, were it not for the expense of subsisting troops there, the most eligible position for the army of observation of any in that country. It would be an effectual security against all the Indians, who could annoy us in that region; it would cover our barrier posts on the line between the British and us; and troops from thence might descend rapidly into the Mississippi by the Wabash.
General Wilkinson, in speaking of posts along our southern frontier, is general; and you only notice Fort Stoddert. But, on an inspection of the maps, a place presents itself to my view as very eligible to occupy, provided the Creek Indians would consent to it. I mean the Appalachicola, at its confluence with Flint River, where the line of demarkation strikes it.
But, in my opinion, if we had or could obtain an engineer of real skill, and attached to the true policy and interest of the United States, he ought to devote his whole time to the investigation of our interior country, and mark and erect its proper defences; for these hitherto have been more the work of chance and local consideration, than national design.
If the harbor of Presque Isle is good, I should think a small garrison ought to be retained there. It certainly is the best on the American side of Lake Erie, and one there is important. But I see very little use of a sergeant and eight privates at Fort Knox. It is either unnecessary, or too small; and sergeants at a distance rarely conduct well, when they have not the eye of an officer to inspect their conduct.
There are several references in General Wilkinson’s report, which were not sent. No. 1 appears to have been essential. They are all returned. By his statement of the mutilated condition of the troops, and present disposition of them, there must have been most horrible mismanagement somewhere. A corrective is, indeed, highly necessary. The practice of furloughing officers, and then renewing the furloughs from time to time, is extremely injurious to the service, and ought to be discontinued on ordinary occasions. And that of frittering the army into small garrisons is, if possible, worse. It will never be respectable while these evils exist; and until it can be more concentrated, and the garrisons frequently relieved by detachments from the main body, discipline will always be lax, and impositions on the public will prevail.
If the British are resolved to keep up armed vessels on the Lakes, I presume it will be expedient for us to do the same; but in time of peace a better way, in my opinion, is for neither to have any. In case of a rupture, or the appearance of one, with that nation, there can be no doubt of our arming on those waters much more expeditiously than they would be able to do.
I have now gone over the material points in your letter and General Wilkinson’s report; but, as I mentioned before, it has been done under circumstances unfavorable to minute investigation or mature deliberation, and my sentiments, where differing from you, are given more for consideration than decision. Should any thing of importance on this subject, not noticed here, occur to me, I shall not fail to communicate it to you; for the measures now taken with respect to guarding our frontiers and interior country ought to be such, as will be permanent and respectable. With very great regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO LAWRENCE LEWIS.
Mount Vernon, 20 September, 1799.
From the moment Mrs. Washington and myself adopted the two youngest children of the late Mr. Custis, it became my intention (if they survived me, and conducted themselves to my satisfaction) to consider them in my will when I was about to make a distribution of my property. This determination has undergone no diminution, but is strengthened by the connection one of them has formed with my family.
The expense at which I live, and the unproductiveness of my estate, will not allow me to lessen my income while I remain in my present situation. On the contrary, were it not for occasional supplies of money in payment for land, sold within the past four or five years, to the amount of upward of fifty thousand dollars, I should not be able to support the former without involving myself in debt and difficulties.
But as it has been understood, from expressions occasionally dropped from Nelly Custis, now your wife, that it is the wish of you both to settle in this neighborhood, contiguous to her friends, and as it would be inexpedient as well as expensive for you to make a purchase of land, when a measure which is in contemplation would place you on more eligible ground, I shall inform you that, in the will which I have made, which I have by me, and have no disposition to alter, that the part of my Mount Vernon tract which lies north of the public road leading from the Gum spring to Colchester, containing about two thousand acres, with the Dogue-river farm, mill, and distillery, I have left you. Gray’s heights is bequeathed to you and her jointly, if you incline to build on it; and few better sites for a house than Gray’s hill and that range are to be found in this country or elsewhere.
You may also have what is properly Dogue-run farm, the mill, and distillery, on a just and equitable rent; as also the lands belonging thereto, on a reasonable hire, either next year, or the year following—it being necessary in my opinion, that a young man should have objects of employment. Idleness is disreputable under any circumstances; productive of no good, even when unaccompanied by vicious habits; and you might commence building as soon as you please, during the progress of which Mount Vernon might be made your home.
You may conceive that building before you have an absolute title to the land is hazardous. To obviate this, I shall only remark that it is not likely any occurrence will happen, or any change take place, that would alter my present intention (if the conduct of yourself and wife is such as to merit a continuance of it); but be this as it may, that you may proceed on sure ground with respect to the buildings, I will agree—and this letter shall be an evidence of it—that if hereafter I should find cause to make any other disposition of the property here mentioned, I will pay the actual cost of such buildings to you or yours.
Although I have not the most distant idea that any event will happen that could effect a change in my present determination, nor any suspicions that you or Nelly could conduct yourselves in such a manner as to incur my serious displeasure, yet, at the same time that I am inclined to do justice to others it behooves me to take care of myself, by keeping the staff in my own hands.
That you may have a more perfect idea of the landed property I have bequeathed to you and Nelly in my will, I transmit a plan of it, every part of which is correctly laid down and accurately measured, showing the number of fields, lots, meadows, &c., with the contents and relative situation of each; all of which except the mill and swamp, which has never been considered as a part of Dogue-run farm, and is retained merely for the purpose of putting it into a better state of improvement, you may have on the terms before-mentioned.
With every kind wish for you and Nelly, in which your aunt, who is still much indisposed, unites, I remain your affectionate uncle.
TO BURGES BALL.
Mount Vernon, 22 September, 1799.
Your letter of the 16th inst. has been received, informing me of the death of my brother.1
The death of near relations always produces awful and affecting emotions, under whatsoever circumstances it may happen. That of my brother has been so long expected, and his latter days so uncomfortable to himself [that they] must have prepared all around him for the stroke though painful in the effect.
I was the first, and am, now, the last of my father’s children by the second marriage who remain.
When I shall be called upon to follow them, is known only to the Giver of Life. When the summons comes I shall endeavor to obey it with a good grace.
Mrs. Washington has been and still is very much indisposed, but unites with me in best wishes for you, Mrs. Ball, and family.
With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
TO WILLIAM VANS MURRAY.
Mount Vernon, 26 October, 1799.
Within the space of a few days I have been favored with your letters of the 26th of July, and duplicate of one of the 7th of April (the original is missing), and of those dated the 9th and 17th of August with their enclosures. For the information in these, and for your kindness in sending me a sketch of the Water-throwing mill, I feel much obliged, and thank you for the trouble you have been at in making the drawing of it; being persuaded of its utility, although, advanced as I am, and engaged in other pursuits, I shall not be able to avail of the insight it conveys. Others, however, may, and I shall take care to make it known on all proper occasions.
The affairs of Europe have taken a most important and interesting turn. What will be the final result of the uninterrupted successes of the combined army, so far as the accounts which have been received in this country are brought down, is not for a man at the distance of 3,000 miles from the great theatre of action to predict; but he may wish, and ardently wish from principles of humanity, and for the benevolent purpose of putting a stop to the further effusion of human blood, that the successful Powers may know at what Point to give cessation to the Sword for the purpose of negotiation. It is not uncommon, however, in prosperous gales, to forget that adverse winds may blow. Such was the case with France. Such may be the case of the Coalesced Powers against her. A by-stander sees more of the game generally, than those who are playing it. So Neutral Nations may be better enabled to draw a line between the Contending Parties, than those who are actors in the war. My own wish is, to see every thing settled upon the best and surest foundation for the Peace and happiness of mankind, without regard to this, that, or the other Nation. A more destructive sword never was drawn, (at least in modern times,) than this war has produced. It is time to sheathe it, and give Peace to mankind.
A severe Electioneering contest has just closed in the State of Pennsylvania adverse to NA the Federal Party by from NA majority in favour of Chief Inspector NA agt. Mr. Ross Senator for the State NA much pains was taken both sides and considerable abuse of character NA which neither was exempt from1
You are going to be employed in an important and delicate negotiation, for the success, of which in all its relations no one more ardently and sincerely wishes than I do. Your colleagues in this business will be able to give you such accurate details of the internal concerns of our country, as not only to render any attempts of mine to do it nugatory, but injudicious; for which reason I shall refer you to them for the state of our Political prospects.
I most devoutly wish, that the cogent, indeed unanswerable arguments you urged to dissuade our friend from visiting the United States in the present crisis of our affairs, may have prevailed.1 The measure would be injudicious in every point of view (so says my judgment) in which he can be placed; Embarrassing to himself, Embarrassing to his friends, and possibly embarrassing to the government in the result. His final decision, however, must have been made ere this. I shall add no more on this head, nor indeed, for the reasons already assigned, on any other subject. Mrs. Washington who has been much indisposed for some time past (now better) unites her best wishes with mine for Mrs. Murray and yourself. With sincere and affectionate regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 17th Novr., 1799.
My dear Sir,
Your confidential and interesting letter of the 10th instant came duly and safely to hand; with the contents of which I have been stricken dumb; and I believe it is better that I should remain mute than express any sentiment on the important matters, which are related therein.
I have, for some time past, viewed the political concerns of the United States with an anxious and painful eye. They appear to me to be moving by hasty strides to some awful crisis; but in what it will result, that Being, who sees, foresees, and directs all things, alone can tell. The Vessel is afloat, or very nearly so, and considering myself as a Passenger only, I shall trust to the Mariners, whose duty it is to watch, to steer it into a safe Port.1
The charge of British influence, in the appointment of Major Pinckney to be Minister at the Court of London, is a perfect enigma. My curiosity leads me to inquire on what ground it is built, and you would oblige me by giving an explanation. Was it the measure or the man that gave rise to this insinuation? The first it cannot be, because an exchange of Ministers had long been invited, sought after, and the tardiness of G Britain, in not meeting the advances of the U. States in this respect, was considered & complained of as an indignity. Could it be the man? Could he, who had fought against that Country, and bled in defence of his own in the conflict, a man of acknowledged abilities & irreproachable character, be suspected of undue influence? If neither, I ask again on what is the accusation founded? The whole is a mystery to me. And merely to satisfy my curiosity, I wish to have it unriddled; & not, from the present view which I have of the subject, because I shall think myself bound to answer any interrogatories, which may be dictated by insiduous impertinence.1 With the greatest esteem and regard I remain My dear Sir Your sincere friend and affectionate Hble. Servant.
TO JAMES ANDERSON.
Mount Vernon, 10th December, 1799.
From the various plans suggested by you, at different times, for cropping the Farms which I propose to retain in my own hands—in the year 1800,—and with a reduced force of the laborers on them in succeeding years, together with the operations necessary to carry them into effect;—and comparing these with the best reflections I am able to bestow on the subject: considering moreover, the exhausted state of my arable fields, and how important it is to adopt some system by which the evil may be arrested, and the fields in some measure restored, by a rotation of crops which will not press hard upon, while sufficient interval between them, is allowed for improvement;—I have digested the following instructions for my Manager (while it is necessary for me to employ one) and for the government of my Overseers; and request that they may be most strictly and pointedly attended to and executed; as far however as the measures therein required, will admit.
A system closely pursued (altho’ it may not in all its parts be the best that could be devised) is attended with innumerable advantages.—The conductor of the bu[si]ness in this case can never be under any dilemma in his proceedings;—The Overseers, & even the negroes, know, what is to be done, and what they are capable of doing, in ordinary seasons; in short every thing would move like clock work; and the force to be employed, may be in due proportion to the work which is to be performed; & a reasonable and tolerably accurate estimate may be made of the produce.—But when no plan is fixed,—when directions flow from day to day,—the business becomes a mere chaos; frequently shifting,—and sometimes at a stand—for want of directions what to do,—or the manner of doing it—These occasion a waste of time, which is of more importance than is generally imagined.
Nothing can so effectually obviate the evil, as an established, & regular course of proceeding; made known to all who are actors in it; that all may, thereby, be enabled to play their parts, to advantage.
This would give ease to the principal conductor of the business;—It would be more satisfactory to the persons who immediately overlook it;—and would be less harrassing to those who labour,—as well as more beneficial for those who employ them.—
Under this view of the subject, & of the change which is about to take place next year, by having rented one of the Farms,—the Mill,—and Distillery,—and having it in contemplation to do the same with the Fishery at the Ferry, the principal services which you can render me (after these events take place) is to explain to the Overseers (who will be furnished with duplicates), the plan, in all its parts, which is detailed in the following sheets;—hear their ideas with respect to the order in which the different sorts of work therein pointed out, shall succeed each other, for the purpose of carrying it into ye best advantage,—correct any erroneous projects they may be disposed to adopt for the execution thereof; and then see that, they adhere strictly to whatsoever may be resolved on—and that they are (except when otherwise permitted) on their respective Farms, & with their People.
The work under such circumstances will go on smoothly;—and that the stock may be well fed,—littered,—and taken care of according to the directions which are given; it will be necessary to Inspect the conduct of the Overseers in this particular, and those also whose immediate business it is to attend upon them,—with a watchful eye;—otherwise, and generally in severe weather, when attention & care is most needed, they will be most neglected.—
Economy in all things is as commendable in the Manager as it is beneficial and desirable by the Employer.—And on a Farm, it shews itself in nothing more evidently or more essentially, than in not suffering the provender to be wasted, but on the contrary, that every atom of it be used to the best advantage;—and likewise in not suffering the Ploughs, Harrows and other implements of husbandry thereon, and the Gears belonging to them, to be unnecessarily exposed; trodden under foot, Carts running over them and abused in other respects.
More good is derived from looking into the Minutiæ on a Farm than strikes people at first view; and by examining the Farm yards, fences, & looking into fields—to see that nothing is within, but what are allowed to be there, produces more good,—or at least avoids more evil, oftentimes, than riding from one working party, or from one Overseer to another, generally accomplishes.—
I have mentioned these things not only because they have occurred to me, and tho’ apparently trifles, but because they prove far otherwise in the result.
And It is hoped, and will be expected, that more effectual measures will be pursued to make butter another year; for it is almost beyond belief, that from 101 cows actually reported on a late enumeration of the cattle, that I am obliged to buy butter for the use of my family.
To visit my Lands in the Western Country (at my expence) so soon as the weather becomes temperate and settled in the Spring—Reporting the circumstances under which they are—and what they are capable of—will be expected, It being of importance for me to receive a just, & faithful acct. respecting them.
After perusing the accompanying plans carefully, furnish me with your opinion on the two following points.—1st. What quantity of Seeds, & of what kinds, I shall have occasion to buy and against what periods, for seeding the Grounds in the year 1800 in the manner therein directed:—and 2d. whether any & what number of hands can be withdrawn from the three Farms I retain in that year; In considering this last mentioned point hear the opinions of the Overseer.
The Accts. for the present quarter must be made final;—as an entire new scene will take place afterwards;—In doing this, advertise (in the Alexa. Paper) for the claims, of every kind and nature whatsoever against me to be brot. in to you by ye 1st of Jan; that I may wipe them off, & begin on a fresh score;—All balances in my favr. must either be recd., or reduced to specialties, that there may be no disputes thereafter.
I am yr. sincere friend—well wisher—and Servant.
CROPS FOR AND OPERATIONS THEREON, FOR THE YEAR 1800.
Field No 1 Is now partly in Wheat Part thereof is to be sown with Oats another part may be sown with Pease, broad cast.—Part is in meadow, and will remain so; the most broken, washed, and indifferent part is to remain uncultivated, but to be harrowed and smoothed in the Spring, and the worst parts thereof (if practicable,) to be covered with litter, straw, weeds, or any kind of vegetable Rubbish, to prevent them from running into gullies.
No 2 One fourth is to be in Corn, and to be sown with wheat; another fourth in Buckwheat and Pease, half of it in the one, and half of it in the other, sown in April, to be ploughed in as a green dressing, and by actual experiment to ascertain which is best. The whole of this fourth is to be sown with Wheat also; another fourth part is to be naked fallow for wheat; and the other and last quarter to be appropriated for Pumpkins, Cymlins, Turnips, Yateman Pease, (in hills,) and such other things of this kind as may be required; and to be sown likewise with Rye, after they are taken off, for seed.
No 3 Is now in wheat, to be harvested in the year 1800; the stubble of which, immediately after Harvest, is to be ploughed in and sown thin with Rye; and such parts thereof as are low, or produces a luxuriant growth of grain, is to have grass-seeds sprinkled over them. The whole for sheep to run on in the day (but housed at night) during the winter and Spring months. If it should be found expedient, part thereof in the spring might be reserved for the purpose of seed.
No 4 Will be in Corn, and is to be sown in the autumn of that year with wheat, to be harvested in 1801—and to be treated in all respects as has been directed for No 3 the preceding year. It is to be manured as much as the means will permit, with such aids as can be procured during the present Winter and ensuing Spring.
Nos 5 6 7 and 8 Are to remain as they are, but nothing suffered to run upon them; as ground will be allotted for the sole purpose of Pasturage, and invariably used as such.
No 1, Counting from the Spring Branch is to be planted in potatoes.
No 2, That part thereof which is now in Turnips is to be sown with oats and clover; the other part, being now in clover, is to remain so until it comes into potatoes by rotation.
No 3 Is also in clover at present, and is to remain so, as just mentioned, for No. 2.
No 4 Is partly in clover and partly in timothy, and so to be until its turn for potatoes.
THE ROTATION FOR THESE LOTS.
Invariably is to be, 1st. Potatoes, highly manured; 2d. Oats, and clover sown therewith; 3d. Clover; 4th. Clover. Then to begin again with Potatoes, and proceed as before. The present clover lots must be plastered.
All green sward, rough ground, or that wch. is heavily covered with weeds, bottle-brush grass, and such things as by being turned in will ferment, putrefy, and ameliorate the soil, should be ploughed in autumn and at such times in winter as it can be done while the ground is dry, and in condition for it.
The large lot adjoining the negro houses and orchd. is to have oats sown on the potato and pumpkin ground; with which, and on the rye also in that lot, and on the melon part, orchard grass-seeds are to be sown; and thereafter to be kept as a standing calf pasture, and for ewes (which may require extra care) at yeaning, or after they have yeaned.
The other large lot, northeast of the Barn lane, is to be appropriated always as a pasture for the milch cows, and probably working oxen during the summer season.
The Woodland, and the old field commonly called Johnston’s, are designed for common pasture, and to be so applied always. To which, if it should be found inadequate to the stock of the farm, field No. 8, and the woodland therein, may be added.
Those already established and in train must continue, and the next to be added to them is the arm of the creek, which runs up to the spring-house, and forks, both prongs of which must be grubbed, and wrought upon at every convenient moment when the weather will permit, down to the line of the Ditch, which encloses the lots for clover, &c.
And, as the fields come into cultivation, or as labour can be spared from other work, and circumstances will permit, the heads of all the inlets in them must be reclaimed, and laid to grass, whether they be large or small. Forasmuch as nothing will run on, or can trespass upon, or injure the grass, no fencing being reqd.
MUD FOR COMPOST.
The season is now too far advanced, and too cold, to be engaged in a work, that will expose the hands to wet; but it is of such essential importance, that it should be set about seriously and with spirit next year, for the summer’s sun and winter’s frost to prepare it for the corn and other crops of 1801. That all the hands of the farm, not indispensably engaged in the crops, should, so soon as corn-planting is completed in the spring, be uninterruptedly employed in raising mud from the pocosons and from the bed of the creek, into the scow; and the carts, so soon as the manure for the corn and potatoes in 1800 is carried out, is to be incessantly drawing it to compost heaps in the fields which are to be manured by it. What number of hands can be set apart for this all-important work, remains to be considered and decided upon.
PENNING CATTLE AND FOLDING SHEEP.
On the fields intended for wheat, from the first of May, when the former should be turned out to pasture, until the first of November, when they ought to be housed, must be practised invariably; and to do it with regularity and propriety, the pen for the first, and the fold for the latter, should be proportioned to the number of each kind of stock; and both these to as much ground as they will manure sufficiently in the space of a week for wheat, beyond which they are not to remain in a place, except on the poorest spots; and even these had better be aided by litter or something else, than to depart from an established rule, of removing the pens on a certain day in every week. For in this, as in every thing else, system is essential to carry on business well, and with ease.
The work-horses and mules are always to be in their stalls, and well littered and cleaned, when they are out of harness; and they are to be plenteously fed with cut straw, and as much chopped Grain, meal, or Bran, with a little salt mixed therewith, as will keep them always in good condition for work; seeing also, that they are watered as regularly as they are fed; this is their winter feed. For spring, summer, and autumn, it is expected, that soiling of them on green food, first with Rye, then with lucerne, and next with clover, with very little grain, will enable them to perform their work.
The oxen, and other horned cattle, are to be housed from the first of November until the first of May; and to be fed as well as the means on the farm will admit. The first (oxen) must always be kept in good condition, housed in the Stalls designed for them; and the cows (so many of them as can find places), on the opposite side. The rest, with the other cattle, must be in the newly-erected sheds; and the whole carefully watered every day; the ice, in frozen weather, being broken, so as to admit them to clean water.
With respect to the sheep, they must receive the best protection that can be given them this winter; against the next, I hope they will be better provided for.
And with regard to the hogs, the plan must be, to raise a given number of good ones, instead of an indiscriminate number of indifferent ones, half of which die or are stolen before the period arrives for putting them up as porkers. To accomplish this, a sufficient number of the best sows should be appropriate to the purpose; and so many pigs raised from them as will insure the quantity of pork, the farm ought to furnish.
Whether it will be most advisable to restrain these hogs from running at large or not, can be decided with more precision after the result of those now in close pens is better known.
The exact quantity of corn used by those, which are now in pens, should be ascertained and regularly reported, in order to learn the result.
STABLES AND FARM PENS.
These ought to be kept well littered, and the stalls clean; as well for the comfort of the creatures that are contained in them, as for the purpose of manure; but, as straw cannot be afforded for this purpose, leaves and such spoiled straw or weeds as will not do for food, must serve for the stables; and the first, that is leaves, and Cornstalks is all that can be applied to the pens. To do this work effectually, let the cornstalks be cut down by a few careful people with sharp hoes, so low as never to be in the way of scythes at harvest; and, whenever the wheat will admit carts to run on it without injury, let them be brought off and stacked near the farm pens. In like manner, let the people, with their blankets, go every evening, or as often as occasion may require, to the nearest wood, and fill them with leaves for the purposes above mentioned; bottoming the beds with cornstalks, and covering them thick with leaves. A measure of this sort will be, if strictly attended to, and punctually performed, of great utility in every point of view. It will save food, make the cattle lay warm and comfortable, and produce much manure. The hogs also in pens must be well bedded in leaves.
As stock of no kind, according to this plan, will be suffered to run on the arable field or clover lots, (except sheep in the day on the Rye field, as has been mentioned before,) partition fences between the fields, until they can be raised of quicks, may be dispen’d with. But it is of great importance, that all the exterior or outer fences should be substantially good; and those also, wch. divide the common or woodland pasture from the fields and clover Lots, are to be very respectable.
To accomplish this desirable object in as short a time as possible, and with the smallest expense of timber, the post-and-rail fence which runs from the negro quarters, or rather from the corner of the lot enclosing them, up to the division between fields Nos. 7 and 8, may be placed on the bank (which must be raised higher) that runs from thence (where it was burnt) to the Creek. In like manner, the fence from the gate, which opens into No. 2, quite down to the River, along the Cedar Hedge-row, as also those rails which are between No. 1 and 2, and between No. 2 and 3, may all be taken away, and applied to the outer fences, and the fences of the lanes from the Barn into the Woodland Pasture, and from the former (the barn) into No. 5; for the fences of all these lanes must be good, as the stock must have a free and uninterrupted passage along them at all times, from the barn-yard to the woodland pasture.
One of the gates near the Fodder house may be moved up to the range of the lane, by the gate, near that which leads into field No. 2; and the other may be placed at the other end of the lane, by the negroe quarters:—and so long as Mr. Mason’s old field remains uninclosed the other gate in the Field No. 8 wd. stand better in the Fence which runs from the division between fields No. 7 and 8 to the creek than where it now is.
All the feng. from the last-mentioned place, (between me and Mr. Mason,) until it joins Mr. Lear’s Farm, and thence with the line between him and me, until it comes to the river, will require to be substantially good; at its termination on the river, dependence must be placed in a water fence; for if made of common Rails, they would be carried off by boatmen for firewood. The fences separating fields No 1 and No 8 from the woodland pasture must also be made good, to prevent depredations on the fields by my own stock.
CROPS, &C. FOR 1801.
No 5 is to be in Corn, and to be invariably in that article. It is to be planted (if drills are thought to be ineligible until the ground is much improved) in Rows 6 feet by 4, or 7 feet by 3½, the wide part open to the south. These fields are to be manured as highly as the means will admit; and the corn planted every year in the middle of the rows of the preceding year; by doing which, and mixing the manure and Earth by the plough and other workings, the whole in time will be enriched.
The washed and gullied parts of this field should be levelled, and as much improved as possible, or left uncultivated. Although it is more broken than some of the other fields, it has its advantages. 1st, It has several Inlets extending into it, with easy assents therefrom; 2d, it is convenient to the mud in the bed of the creek, whensoever (by means of the scow) resort is had thereto, and good landing-places; and, thirdly, it is as near to the Barn as any other, when a bridge and causeway is made over the Spring Branch. To these may be added, that it is more remote from Squirrels than any other.
No. 6 and 7, or such part thereof as is not so much washed and gullied, as to render ploughing ineligible, are to be fallowed for wheat. One of which, if both cannot, is to have the stubble ploughed in and sown with rye, and the low and strong parts to have timothy or orchard grass seeds, perhaps both, in different places, sprinkled over them, for the purpose of raising seed. On the rye pasture the sheep are to be fed in winter and spring, and treated in all respects as directed in the case of No. 3 in 1800.
IN THE YEARS 1802, 1803, AND SO ON.
The corn ground remaining the same, two fields, in following numbers, will be fallowed for wheat, and treated in all respects as mentioned above; and if Pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, pease, and such like growths, are found beneficial to the land, or useful and profitable for stock, ground may readily be found for them.
These are the great outlines of a Plan, and the operations of it, for the next year, and for years to come for River Farm. The necessary arrangements and all the preparatory measures for carrying it into effect ought to be adopted without delay, and invariably pursued. Smaller matters may, and undoubtedly will, occur occasionally; but none, it is presumed, that can militate against it materially. To carry it into effect advantageously, it becomes the indispensable duty of him, who is employed to overlook and conduct the operations, to take a prospective and comprehensive view of the whole business, which is laid before him, that the several parts thereof may be so ordered and arranged, as that one sort of work may follow another sort in proper succession, and without loss of labour or of time; for nothing is a greater waste of the latter, and consequently of the former, (time producing labour, and labour money,) than shifting from one thing to another before it is finished, as if chance or the impulse of the moment, not judgmt. and foresight, directed the measure. It will be acknowledged, that weather and other circumstances may at times interrupt a regular course of proceedings; but, if a plan is well digested beforehand, they cannot interfere long, with a man who is acquainted with the nature of the business, and the crops he is to attend to.
Every attentive and discerning person, who has the whole business of the year laid before him, and is acquainted with the nature of the work, can be at no loss to lay it out to advantage. He will know that there are many things wch. can be accomplished in winter as well as in summer—Others, that Spring, Summer and Autumn are fit for. In a word, to use the wise man’s saying “That there is a time and a season for all things, and that unless they are embraced, nothing will thrive; or go on smoothly. There are many sorts of in-doors work, which can be executed in Hail, Rain, or Snow, as well as in sunshine; and if they are set about in fair weather (unless there be a necessity for it), there will be nothing to do in foul weather; the people therefore must be idle. The man of prudence and foresight will always keep these things in view, and order his work accordingly, so as to suffer no waste of time, or idleness. The same observations apply with equal force to frozen ground, and grounds too wet to work in, or if worked, will be injured thereby.
These observations might be spun to a greater length, but they are sufficient to produce reflection; and reflection, with Industry and proper attention, will produce the end that is to be wished.
There is one thing, however, I cannot forbear to add, and in strong terms; it is, that whenever I order a thing to be done, it must be done, or a reason given at the time, or as soon as the impracticability is discovered, why it cannot be done, which will produce a countermand or change. But it is not for the person receiving the order to suspend, or dispense with, its execution; and, after it has been supposed to have gone into effect, for me to be told, that nothing has been done in it, that it will be done, or that it could not be done; either of these is unpleasant and disagreeable to me, having been accustomed all my life to more regularity and punctuality. And know that nothing but system and method is required to accomplish all reasonable requests.
Mount Vernon, December 10th, 1799.
CROPS FOR AND OPERATIONS THEREON, IN 1800.
Field No 1 Is now sown with wheat, to be harvested in 1800.—the stubble of which is to be immediately ploughed in, and rye sowed thereon for a sheep pasture. Grass-seeds must be sown therewith, on such parts as will yield grass for seed, to supply my own wants, and the market, so far as it can be spared. This field, after the rye has been eaten off by the sheep, is to be reined from stock of all kinds, and nothing suffered to run thereon, until it comes, in course, to be cultivated, in the regular routine of crops.
No 2 Will be in corn, and, although but an indifferent field, washed in some places, gullied in others, and rich in none, is, all things considered, best to be appropriated constantly for this crop. 1st, and primarily, because it is most contiguous to the barn, and the corn therein more easily secured and attended to. 2ndly, because it is as handy to the mud from the pocoson and the bed of the creek as any other, to mix in a compost, and more convenient to the manure from the farm-yard and stables. 3dly, because it is entirely out of the reach of squirrels. And, 4thly, because it is hoped and expected, from the manner of treating it, that it will be so much amended as to become more and more productive every year, and the impoverished places, if not restored to some degree of fertility, prevented from getting worse, and becoming such eye-sores as they now are.
The corn will be planted in rows, 6 feet by 4, or 7 by 3½; the wide part open to the south. And must be as highly manured in the hill as the means on the farm (respect being had to other species of crops) will admit. The rows of the succeeding year will be in the middle of the last, and alternately shifted; by which, and the workings the field will yearly receive, the whole will be enriched, and, it is hoped, restored.
No 3 As No 2 is to be appropriated as a standing field for corn, and of course cannot be sown with wheat in the autumn of 1800, this field, that is, No 3, ought, if it be practicable, to be fallowed, and sown with that article; otherwise the farm will produce no wheat the following year, and the stock must suffer for want of the straw; and is to be treated in every respect as has been directed for No 1, that is, the stubble to be ploughed in immediately after harvest, and rye sowed thereon, with grass-seeds where the soil is strong enough to rear them, for the purpose of producing seed again.
No 4 The part thereof which lyes No. Et. of the meadow, (commonly called Manley’s Field,) is to remain well enclosed, and no stock suffered to run thereon until it comes in rotation to be fallowed for wheat in 1801. The other part of the same No 4 is to be equally well enclosed, and reined up from stock; and, except the part along Muddy-Hole Branch (that is to be added to No. 5, in order to supply the deficiency occasioned by taking clover lot No. 2 from it), is to be planted with Peach trees, at 16½ asunder, except so much of it as lays flat, by the gate on the Mill road, which, if properly prepared, it is supposed would bring grass, and on that account is to be planted at double that distance, viz., at 33 feet apart. What is here meant by enclosing this part of No. 4 well, is, that the outer fence shall be secure, for it will remain as now undivided from No. 3, otherwise than by the Branch.
No 5 Is also to be kept from stock; and, when it comes in course to be fallowed for wheat, is to have the addition above mentioned, (along the Branch,) added thereto, and sown in this article.
No 6 Will receive such an addition to its size from No. 7, as will make it, exclusive of the lot for clover, lucerne, &c., of equal size thereto. Part of this field is now sown with, and will be in wheat in 1800. Part will be in oats, particularly where the pease grew; and all that part of it, and No. 7 also, which lyes low, from the meadow fence by the overseer’s house, quite up to the head springs of the Branch, (reclaimed in the spring,) is to be planted with rare-ripe corn; and in the fall to be treated in every respect as the great meadow at this Farm (but at an earlier period) has been this year. For, although I am not sanguine enough to expect, that it will make good mowing meadow, I shall be much disappointed if it does not produce grass, yielding a good deal of seed, which, until the fields come into cultivation, in regular rotation, and afterwards, if it answer expectation, will be an annual profit without any other labour than gathering of it. The other part of No. 6, which will be taken from No. 7, laying south of this low ground between it and No. 1, might, if it does not involve too much ploughing, be put in corn also; but this is a measure, which will require consideration, and probably must depend upon circumstances. The poor and washed parts of No. 6 must remain uncultivated; but ought, [if] it be practicable, to be levelled, Harrowed, and trash of some kind to be thrown thereon, as will keep them from growing worse.
No. 7 Some part of this field may be sown with Buckwheat, in no great quantity, and a part may be planted with the Yateman pease, in hills, both for a crop; some of the other kind of pease may be sown broad-cast, and mowed at a proper season for the stock. The rest of the ground, by laying uncultivated, and nothing running thereon, will be increasing in strength while idle.
No 1 Next the overseer’s house, same side of the lane, (excepting the ground now in and designed for lucerne, south of the slash by the Barn, and two acres where the turnips grew, or at the other end for experiments) is to be in oats, and to be sown with clover seed.
No 2 Opposite thereto, and at present part of No. 5, is to be well manured and planted with potatoes; whether in Hills, or Drills, may be considered.
No 3 May receive pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, and melons, there being no sown grass remaining on it; and the manure for, and shade occasioned by, these vines, together with the working the lot will get, will be of service instead of a detriment to the potato crop wch. will follow.
No 4 Is to remain in clover, until, by rotation, it comes into potatoes again.
THE ROTATION FOR THESE LOTS
Are uniformly to be, 1st. Potatoes, highly manured; 2d. Oats, and Clover sown therewith; 3d. clover; 4th. Clover. Then to begin again with Potatoes, and proceed as before.
The present clover lots must be plastered.
All green sward, rough ground, or that which is heavily covered with weeds, bottle-brush grass, and such things as by being turned in will ferment, putrefy, and ameliorate the soil, should be ploughed in autumn, and at such time in winter as can be done while the ground is dry and in condition for working.
As stock of all sorts, except sheep upon the rye, are to be excluded from the arable fields and clover lots, resort must be had to the woodland and unreclaimed swamps therein for Pasture for them; (the Lane up to the Barn will serve for calves) and this will be provided by a fence extending from the So. west corner of Muddy-Hole field (No. 2,) to the So. Et. corner of Dogue-run field (No. 4,) leaving all South of it for this Farm; as the north part will be for Muddy-Hole Farm; and, as it will be for the mutual benefit of both Farms, the fence must be erected at the joint expense of both.
The one just mentioned must be completed in the course of the winter; and every possible exertion to strengthen, and render substantially good, the whole of the exterior or outer fence of the Farm. To do which, and to avoid all unnecessary consumption of timber, the partition fence between the fields No. 6 and No. 7, as it now stands, quite up to the woods, and thence to the fence leading from the Ferry to the Mill road (from the Mansion-House,) may be taken away and applied to that fence, and to the trunnel-fence on the Mill road, where they unite, until it comes to the meadow fence at the bridge; leaving the fields No. 6 and No. 7, and the woodland adjoining, under one enclosure. In like manner, the fences dividing No 1 from 2, and No. 2 from 3, may be used for a fence around the creek, until it unites with that opposite to the Mill house; without which neither of those fields will be secure, as hogs have been taught, or of themselves have learnt, to cross the creek in pursuit of food; and for strengthening effectually the fence from the plank bridge by the Barn lane to the Branch opposite to the Mill house, new rails must be got in the nearest wood between the Mill road and the road leading to the Gum Spring.
The West Fence of No. 5 must, next year, or as soon as it can be accomplished, be removed across the Branch, and placed in a line with the new ditch fence of the lower meadow, until it comes in range with the south line of the said field; and, until a fence is run from the end thereof to the nearest part of the outer fence opposite to the Mill, and a second gate established thereat, or that that intercourse between the Barn and the Mill is effectually barred, (which would be the cheapest and by odds the most convenient mode,) there would be no security for any Crop growing in fields Nos. 1, 2, and 3, as the leaving the gate by the Mill run open only five minutes might deluge the whole with the hogs at that place; and they might be in there a night or two, perhaps more, before they were discovered, and do irreparable damage. Indeed, the latter mode has so much the advantage of the former, especially as my intercourse with the Mill will in a great measure cease, that I see no cause to hestitate a moment in adopting it; and, to prevent opening the fence where the gate now is, a deep ditch and high bank would be necessary, from a distance below to the foot of the hill above, (if not quite up to the meadow). One among other advantages resulting from this measure would be, that the west and even south fence of No. 5 might, if occasion required it, be applied, instead of new rails, in making the fence from the meadow towards the Mill, and around the creek, more substantial; for it must be repeated again, that, as there will be few or no inner fences, the outer ones must be unassailable to the most vicious stock.
The fences that are already around the meadows may remain, but there is no occasion for their being formidable. To guard them against hogs, if any should by chance get through the outer fence, is all that would be necessary.
The large meadow below the Barn lane, and half of that above the lane, have had every thing done for them that is requisite, except manuring when necessary and the means are to be had. The remaining part of the last-mentioned meadow above must receive a complete summer fallow, to cleanse it of rubbish of all sorts, and be sown in proper season with timothy, with a protecting crop of rye for soiling the working mules, etc., in the spring.
Although I may find myself mistaken, I am inclined to put the other prong of this swamp, running through No. 6 and heading in No. 7, into meadow; and I have for this reason directed already the mode to be pursued for accomplishing it. Next to this, let as much of the inlet in No. 2 as can be laid dry enough for corn, be planted therewith, in order to eradicate the wild growth. When this is effected, lay it to grass. As the fields come round, the unreclaimed Inlets may be prepared for Grass, if circumstances and the force of the Farm will admit of it. Of these there is one, besides a swamp in No. 3, which is susceptible of being converted into good grass ground; and the flat and low ground (in West) No. 4, it is presumed, wd. bring grass also. Whether the part proposed to be added to field No. 5 had better be retained for arable uses, or laid to meadow, can be determined better after it is cleared, and cleansed of the wild growth, than now. But the Inlets at the Ferry, between the dwelling, and Fish houses, might, by a small change of the fence from the gate of No. 1, be thrown into that field and brought into excellent meadow at very little expense, whensoever time and labor can be afforded for this purpose. To dwell on the advantages of meadow would be a mere waste of time, as the produce is always in demand in the market and for my purposes, and obtained at no other expense, than that of cutting the grass and making it into hay.
CROPS, &C. FOR 1801.
No 2 Being the field appropriated for Corn, will be planted with this article accordingly, as already directed for 1800. The poor and washed parts continuing to receive all the aids that can be given to them.
No 3 Supposing it to have been fallowed and sown the year before, will this year produce a crop of wheat, the stubble of which, immediately after harvest, is to be turned in, sown with rye for the benefit of sheep in the day, during winter and spring, but to be housed at night. All the low and rich spots, capable of producing grass, must be sown with Timothy or orchard-grass seeds, for the purpose of supplying seeds again; and a part of the field may be reserved for a rye crop, or the sheep taken off early enough for the whole to yield enough of this grain to pay for the harvesting of it.
No 4 and 5 That part of No. 4, which lays next to the Mill, is, as has been directed already, to be planted with peach trees; the other part, called Manley’s Field, with all that can be added to it, not exceeding 40 acres, of woodland adjoining No. 6, and the upper meadow below the plank bridge, is to be fallowed for wheat, as No. 5 also is to be, with the addition at the west end taken from No. 4; and both of them, if it can be accomplished, but one certainly, must have the stubble, when the wheat comes off, sowed with Rye (for the sheep), and with grass-seeds upon low and Rich places, for the purpose of raising seed, and to be treated in all other respects as has been directed for number 3.
The reason for preferring an addition to No. 4 from the woods East of the meadow, (although the land is of inferior quality), is, because it requires no additional fencing, for the same fence that encloses Nos. 6 and 7 encompasses this also; because it will be more convenient for supplying the Mansion with fire-wood; and because it will give a better form and appearance to the Farm, than breaking into the woodland on the north side of the Mill Road.
CROPS FOR 1802, 1803, AND SO ON.
The Corn ground remaining the same always, two fields, in following numbers, will every year be fallowed for wheat, and treated in all respects as hath been mentioned before. And, if pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, and such like growths are found beneficial to the land, or useful and profitable for stock, places enough may be found to raise them in.
All unnecessary wood is to be cut down, and removed from the fields, as they are cultivated in Rotation.
mud and rich earth for compost,
penning cattle and folding sheep,
feeding, stables and farm pens,
are all to be managed precisely as is directed for River Farm.
ROTATIONS OF CROPS FOR DOGUE RUN.
Remarks.—The above rotation favors the land very much; inasmuch as there are but three corn crops taken in seven years from any field, and the first wheat crop is followed by a buckwheat manure for the second wheat crop, wch is to succeed it, and which, by being laid to clover or Grass, and continued therein three years, will afford much mowing or Grazing, according as the seasons happen to be, besides being a restorative to the soil. But, then, the produce of the salable crops is small, unless increased by the improving state of the fields. Nor will the Grain for the use of the Farm be adequate to the consumption of it in this course, and this is an essential to attend to—and quere—whether the clover does not remain too long.
Remarks.—By the above Rotation, 900 bushls of b wheat, amounting to £25 is added to the proceeds of No. 1. at the expense of 200 days’ more ploughing; and no two Corn Crops follow in immediate succession. Wheat, in one instance, follows a Clover lay on a single Ploughing; the success of this, tho well ascertained in England, may not answer so well in this Country, where our lands, from the exhausted state of them, require more manure than the Farm can afford, and our Seasons are very precarious.
Remarks.—The above Rotation in point of produce and profit is precisely the same as No. 2, but differs in the succession of crops. It requires about the same plowings and these plowings are pretty regularly distributed through the Spring and Summer months. The Wheat field which follows the B. Wheat manure might have the stubble turned in immediately after harvest for manure and for Green food (proceeding from the shattered grain) for sheep, Calves, &c—in the Winter and Spring.—
Remarks.—This Rotation, for quantity of Grain and the profit arising from it is more productive than either of the preceding, and with no more plowing, excepting No. 1. No field gives more than three Corn crops in 7 years except the Crop of B. Wht.—The last of wch with the Indian Corn will be more than adequate for all the demands of the Farm.—The Cover is to be sown with the B. W in July and by being only one year in the grd. may be too expensive on acct. of the C— nor will the fields in this course receive any great manure.—And the advantages of sowing wheat on a Clover lay in this Country is not well ascertained—Again, preparg. 2 fields for B. Wht. may in practice be found difficult—Wheat Stubble may be placed in here for Green food.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Mount Vernon, 12 December, 1799.
I have duly received your letter of the 28th ultimo, enclosing a copy of what you had written to the Secretary of War, on the subject of a Military Academy.
The establishment of an Institution of this kind, upon a respectable and extensive Basis, has ever been considered by me as an object of primary importance to this Country; and while I was in the Chair of Government, I omitted no proper opportunity of recommending it, in my public speeches and other ways, to the attention of the Legislature. But I never undertook to go into a detail of the Organization of such an Academy; leaving this task to others whose pursuits in the paths of Science, and attention to the arrangements of such Institutions, had better qualified them for the execution of it. For the same reason I must now decline making any observations on the details of your plan; and as it has already been submitted to the Secretary of War, through whom it would naturally be laid before Congress, it might be too late for alterations if any should be suggested.
I sincerely hope that the subject will meet with due attention, and that the reasons for its establishment which you have so clearly pointed out in your letter to the Secretary, will prevail upon the Legislature to place it upon a permanent and respectable footing.
With very great esteem & regard, I am, &c.
EXTRACT FROM A DIARY.
7th. Rainy morning, with the wind at north; mercury at 37. Afternoon, clear and pleasant; wind westerly. Mercury 41 at night. Dined at Lord Fairfax’s.
8th. Morning perfectly clear, calm, and pleasant; but about nine o’clock the wind came from the northwest and blew frost. Mercury 38 in the morning, and 40 at night.
9th. Morning clear and pleasant, with a light wind from northwest. Mercury at 33. Pleasant all day; afternoon calm. Mercury 39 at night. Mr. Howell Lewis and wife set off on their return home after breakfast; and Mr. Lawrence Lewis and Washington Custis, on a journey to New Kent.
10th. Morning clear and calm; mercury at 31. Afternoon lowering; mercury at 42, and wind brisk from the southward. A very large hoar-frost this morning.
11th. But little wind, and raining. Mercury 44 in the morning, and 38 at night. About nine o’clock the wind shifted to the northwest, and it ceased raining, but continued cloudy. Lord Fairfax, his son Thomas, and daughters, Mrs. Warner Washington and son Whiting, and Mr. John Herbert, dined here and returned after dinner.
12th. Morning cloudy; wind at northeast; mercury 33. A large circle round the moon last night. About one o’clock it began to snow; soon after, to hail, and then turned to a settled cold rain. Mercury 28 at night.
13th. Morning snowing, and about three inches deep. Wind at northeast, and mercury at 30. Continued snowing till one o’clock, and about four it became perfectly clear. Wind in the same same place, but not hard. Mercury 28 at night.1
LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH.1
[Mount Vernon, Saturday, December 14th, 1799.
This day being marked by an event, which will be memorable in the history of America, and perhaps of the world, I shall give a particular statement of it, to which I was an eye witness.]
On Thursday Dec. 12 the General rode out to his farms about ten o’clock, and did not return home till past 3 o’clk. Soon after he went out, the weather became very bad, rain hail and snow falling alternately, with a cold wind.—When he came in I carried some letters to him, to frank, intending to send them to the Post Office in the evening.—He franked the letters; but said the weather was too bad to send a servant up to the office that evening.—I observed to him that I was afraid he had got wet, he said no, his great coat had kept him dry; but his neck appeared to be wet, and the snow was hanging on his hair.—He came to dinner [(which had been waiting for him)] without changing his dress. In the Evening he appeared as well as usual.
A heavy fall of snow took place on Friday, which prevented the General from riding out as usual.—He had taken cold (undoubtedly from being so much exposed the day before) and complained of having a sore throat—[He, however, went out in the afternoon into the ground between the house and the river to mark some trees, which were to be cut down in the improvement of that spot.] he had a hoarseness, which increased in the evening; but he made light of it, as he would never take anything to carry off a cold, always observing, “let it go as it came.”—In the evening the papers having come from the post office, he sat in the room [parlour], with Mrs. Washington and myself, reading them, till about nine o’clock, [when Mrs. Washington went up into Mrs. Lewis’s room, who was confined, and left the General and myself reading the papers. He was very cheerful;] and, when he met with anything which he thought diverting or interesting, he would read it aloud [as well as his hoarseness would permit].—He desired me to read to him the debates of the Virginia Assembly, on the election of a Senator and Governor; which I did.—[and, on hearing Mr. Madison’s observations respecting Mr. Monroe, he appeared much affected, and spoke with some degree of asperity on the subject, which I endeavored to moderate, as I always did on such occasions.] On his retiring to bed, he appeared to be in perfect health, excepting the cold before mentioned, which he considered as trifling, and had been remarkably cheerful all the evening.1
About [Between] 2 or 3 o’clk on Saturday morning he awoke Mrs. Washington & told her he was very unwell, and had had an ague. She observed that he could scarcely speak, and breathed with difficulty—and would have got up to call a servant; but he would not permit her lest she should take cold.—As soon as the day appeared, the woman (Caroline) went into the room to make a fire—[and Mrs. Washington sent her immediately to call me] & he desired that Mr. Rawlins, one of the overseers who was used to bleeding the people, might be sent for to bleed him before the Doctor could arrive—And the woman (Caroline) came to my room requesting I might go to the General, who was very ill.—I got up, put on my clothes as quick as possible, and went to his chamber.—Mrs. Washington was then up, and related to me his being taken ill about 2 or 3 o’clk, as before stated.—I found him breathing with difficulty—and hardly able to utter a word intelligibly.—I went out instantly—and wrote a line to Dr. Craik, which I sent off by my servant, ordering him to go with all the swiftness his horse could carry him,—and immediately returned to the General’s chamber, where I found him in the same situation I had left him. A mixture of Molasses, Vinegar & butter was prepared, to try its effect in the throat; but he could not swallow a drop, whenever he attempted it he appeared to be distressed, convulsed, and almost suffocated.—Mr. Rawlins came in soon after sun rise—and prepared to bleed him. When the Arm was ready—the General, observing that Rawlins appeared to be agitated, said, as well as he could speak, “don’t be afraid,” and after the incision was made, he observed, “the orifice is not large enough.” However, the blood ran pretty freely.—Mrs. Washington, not knowing whether bleeding was proper or not in the General’s situation, beg’d that much might not be taken from him, lest it should be injurious, and desired me to stop it; but when I was about to untie the string, the general put up his hand to prevent it, and as soon as he could speak, he said “more” [more].—Mrs. W. being still [very] uneasy lest too much blood should be taken, it was stop’d after about half a pint was taken from him.—Finding that no relief was obtained from bleeding, and that nothing would go down the throat, I proposed bathing the throat externally with salvolitillata, which was done, and in the operation, which was with the hand, and in the gentlest manner, he observed “’t is very sore.” A piece of flannel [dipped in sal volatile] was then put round his neck. His feet were also soaked [bathed] in warm water.—This, however, gave no relief.—In the meantime, before Dr. Craik arrived, Mrs. Washington requested me to send for Doct. Brown of Port Tobacco,1 whom Dr. Craik had recommended to be called, if any case should ever occur that was seriously alarming. I despatched a Messenger (Cyrus) to Dr. Brown immediately (about [between eight and] nine o’clk)—Doctor Craik came in soon after, and after examining the General he put a blister of Cantharides on the throat & took [some] more blood from him, and had some Vinegar & hot water put into a Teapot, for the General to draw in the steam from the nozel—which he did, as well as he was able.—He also ordered sage tea and Vinegar to be mixed for a Gargle.—This the General used as often as desired; but when he held back his head to let it run down, it put him into great distress and almost produced suffocation. When the mixture came out of his mouth some phlegm followed it, and he would attempt to cough, which the Doctor encouraged him to do as much as he could; but without effect, he could only make the attempt.—About eleven o’clock Dr. Dick1 was sent for. [Dr. Craik requested that Dr. Dick might be sent for, as he feared Dr. Brown would not come in time. A messenger was accordingly despatched for him.]—Dr. Craik bled the General again about this time.—No effect however was produced by it, and he continued in the same state, unable to swallow anything.—Dr. Dick came in about 3 o’clk, and Dr. Brown arrived soon after.—Upon Dr. Dick’s seeing the Genl. & consulting a few minutes with Dr. Craik he was bled again, the blood ran [very] slowly—appeared very thick, and did not produce any symptoms of fainting.—Dr. Brown came into the chamber room soon after, and upon feeling the General’s pulse &c., the Physicians went out together.—Dr. Craik soon after returned.—The General could now swallow a little—(about 4 o’clk) Calomel & tartar em. were administered; but without any effect—About half past 4 o’clock, he desired me to ask Mrs. Washington to come to his bedside—when he requested her to go down into his room & take from his desk two wills which she would find there, and bring them to him, which she did.—Upon looking at them he gave her [one], which he observed was useless, as it was superceeded by the other, and desired her to burn it, which she did, and then took the other & put it away [into her closet].—After this was done, I returned again to his bed side and took his hand. He said to me, “I find I am going, my breath cannotcontinue long; I believed from the first attack it would be fatal, do you arrange & record all my late military letters & papers—arrange my accounts & settle my books, as you know more about them than any one else, and let Mr. Rawlins finish recording my other letters, which he has begun.”—[I told him this should be done. He then asked, if I recollected any thing which it was essential for him to do, as he had but a very short time to continue with us. I told him, that I could recollect nothing, but that I hoped he was not so near his end. He observed, smiling, that he certainly was, and that, as it was the debt which we must all pay, he looked to the event with perfect resignation.
In the course of the afternoon he appeared to be in great pain and distress, from the difficulty of breathing, and frequently changed his posture in the bed. On these occasions I lay upon the bed and endeavored to raise him, and turn him with as much ease as possible. He appeared penetrated with gratitude for my attentions, and often said, “I am afraid I shall fatigue you too much;” and upon my assuring him, that I could feel nothing but a wish to give him ease, he replied, “well, it is a debt we must pay to each other, and I hope, when you want aid of this kind, you will find it.”] He asked “when Mr. Lewis1&. Washington2would return?” [(They were then in New Kent.)]. I told him I believed about the 20th of the month. He made no reply to it.—[About five o’clock Dr. Craik came again into the room, and, upon going to the bedside the General said to him; “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. I believed, from my first attack, that I should not survive it. My breath cannot last long.” The Doctor pressed his hand, but could not utter a word. He retired from the bedside, and sat by the fire absorbed in grief.] The Physicians [Dr. Dick and Dr. Brown] again came in (between 5 & 6 o’clock), and when they came to his bed side, Dr. Craik asked him if he could sit up in the bed. He held out his hand to me & was raised up, when he said to the Physicians. “I feel myself going, [I thank you for your attention] you had better not take any more trouble about me; but let me go off quietly; I cannot last long.”—[They found out that all which had been done was without effect. He lay down again, and all retired except Dr. Craik. He continued in the same position, uneasy and restless, but without complaining; frequently asking what hour it was. When I helped to move him at this time, he did not speak, but looked at me with strong expressions of gratitude.] The Doctor pressed his hand but could not utter a word—He retired from the bedside—and sat by the fire absorbed in grief—About 8 o’clk the Physicians again came into the Room, and applied blisters [and cataplasms of wheat bran] to his legs [and feet];—but went out [except Dr. Craik] without a ray of hope.—[I went out about this time, and wrote a line to Mr. Law and Mr. Peter, requesting them to come with their wives (Mrs. Washington’s granddaughters) as soon as possible to Mt. Vernon.] From this time he appeared to breathe with less difficulty than he had done; but was very restless, constantly changing his position to endeavor to get ease.—I aided him all in my power, and was gratified in believing he felt it; for he would look upon me with his eyes speaking gratitude; but unable to utter a word without great distress.—About ten o’clock he made several attempts to speak to me before he could effect it—at length, he said, “I am just going. Have me decently buried, and do not let my body be put into the Vault in less than two [three] days after I am dead.”—I bowed assent [for I could not speak].—He [then] looked at me again, and said, “Do you understand me?”—I replied Yes Sir. “’T is well” said he.—About ten minutes before he expired his breathing became much easier—he lay quietly—he withdrew his hand from mine & felt his own pulse—I spoke to Dr. Craik who sat by the fire—he came to the bedside.—The General’s hand fell from his wrist.—I took it in mine and laid it upon my breast—Dr. Craik put his hand on his eyes and he expired without a struggle or a Sigh!—While we were fixed in silent grief—Mrs. Washington [who was sitting at the foot of the bed] asked, with a firm and collected voice, “Is he gone?”—I could not speak, but held up my hand as a signal that he was—“’T is well” said she in a plain voice. “All is now over.—I have no more trials to pass through.—I shall soon follow him!”
OCCURRENCES NOT NOTED IN THE PRECEDING PAGES.
The General’s servant,1 Christopher, attended his bed side & in the room, when he was sitting up, through his whole illness.—About 8 o’clk in the Morning the General expressed a wish to get up. His clothes were put on, and he was led to a chair, by the fire. [He found no relief from that position.]—He lay down again about two hours afterwards.—A glister was administered to him, by Dr. Craik’s directions, about one o’clock; but produced no effect.—He was helped up again about 5 o’clock—and after sitting about one [half an] hour, he desired to be undressed and put in bed, which was done.—Between the hours of 6 and nine o’clk, he several times asked what hour it was.—During his whole illness, he spoke but seldom & with great difficulty and distress, and in so low & broken a voice as at times hardly to be understood.—His patience, fortitude & resignation never forsook him for a moment.—In all his distress he uttered not a sigh nor a complaint, always endeavoring [from a sense of duty as it appeared] to take what was offered him, or to do what was desired [by the physicians].—
At the time of his decease Dr. Craik & myself were in the situation before mentioned—Christopher was standing by the bedside.—Mrs. Washington was sitting near the foot of the bed.—Caroline, [Molly and] Charlotte, and some other of the servants were standing in the Room near the door.—Mrs. Forbes, the House-keeper, was frequently in the Room in the day & evening.
As soon as Dr. Craik could speak, after the distressing scene was closed, he desired one of the servants to ask the Gentlemen below to come up stairs.—When they came around the bed, I kissed the cold hand, which I had ’till then held [to my bosom], laid it down, went [to the other end of the room] to the fire and was for some time lost in profound grief, until aroused by Christopher desiring me to take care of the General’s keys and things which he had taken out of his pockets, and which Mrs. Washington directed him to give to me.—I wrapped them up in the General’s Handkerchief, and took them with me down stairs;—About 12 o’clk the Corps was brought down and laid out in the large Room.—
[Sunday, December 15th. The foregoing statement, so far as I can recollect, is correct. NAJas. Craik.]
Sunday—Dec. 15.—Mrs. Washington sent for me in the morning and desired I would send up to Alexa. and have a Coffin made, which I did.—Doctor Dick measured the body which was as follows.—
In length 6 ft. 3½ inches exact.
Across the shoulders 1 — 9 —.
Across the elbows—2 — 1 —
After breakfast—I gave Dr. Dick and Dr. Brown forty dolls. each, which Sum Dr. Craik advised as very proper, and they left us.—I wrote letters to the following persons informing them of the melancholly event.—
Mrs. Washington informed me that the Executors to the Generals Will were—Wm. Washington, Bushrod Washington, G. S. Washington, Saml Washington, & G. W. P. Custis.
Bushrod Washington, Col. Wm. Washington, Inclosed to Colo. Blackburn, desiring him to forward them by express.—
Lawrence Lewis, G. W. P. Custis, Sent by express to New Kent by Cæsar.
The President of the United States, General Hamilton, John Lewis, desiring him to give information to his brothers George, Robert & Howell, & to Capt. Sam’l Washington—Sent to the Post Office.
George S. Washington, Colo. (Burges) Ball, Genl Pinckney, Capt. Hammond—Sent off to Berkley on Monday Morning by my Servant Charles.
Mr. Stuart was sent for in the Morning.—About 10 o’clock Mr. Thos. Peter came down—and about 2 came Mr. & Mrs. Law to all whom I had sent on Saturday Evening.—Dr. Thornton came down with Mr. & Mrs. Law.—Dr. Craik tarried here all this day and night.—
In the evening I consulted with Mr. Law, Mr. Peter & Dr. Craik on fixing a day for depositing the body in the vault.—I wished the ceremony to be postponed ’till the last of the week, to give time to some of the General’s Relations to be here. But Dr. Craik & Dr. Thornton gave it decidedly as their opinion that, considering the disorder of which the General died, being of an inflammatory kind, it would not be proper, nor perhaps safe to keep the body so long, and therefore Wednesday was fixed upon for the funeral, to allow a day (Thursday) in case the weather should be unfavorable on Wednesday.—
Monday, Dec. 16.—People were directed to open the [family] Vault, clean away the rubbish from about it & make everything decent around it.—[Ordered a door to be made to the Vault, instead of closing it again with brick, as had been the custom. Engaged Mr. Inglis and Mr. Munn to have a mahogany coffin made, lined with lead.]
Dr. Craik, Mr. Peter & Dr. Thornton left us after breakfast—Mrs. Stuart and her two daughters came here in the forenoon.—Mr. Anderson went to Alexa. to get a number of things preparatory for the funeral.—Mourning clothes were ordered for the family, domestics, & overseers.—
Information being received from Alexa. that the Military, Free Masons, &c., were determined to show their respect to the memory of the General, by attending his body to the grave—measures were taken to make provision for the refreshments of a large number of people, as some refreshment wd be expected. Mr. Robt Hamilton wrote a letter informing that a schooner of his would be off Mt. Vernon to fire minute guns on the funeral of the deceased.—Gave notice of the time fixed for the burial to the following persons by Mrs. Washington’s desire.—Mr. Mason & family—Mr. Peake & family—Mrs. Peake—Mr. Nichols & family—Mr. McCarty & family—Miss McCarty—Mr. & Mrs. McClanahan—Lord Fairfax & family—Mr. Triplett & family—Mr. Anderson & family—Mr. Diggs—Mr. Cockburn & family—L. W. (?) Massey & family, [and Mr. R. West.]
I wrote also to the Rev. Mr. Davis to read the services.—
Mrs. Washington desired that a door might be made for the Vault, instead of having it closed up as formerly, after the body should be deposited—observing—“That it will soon be necessary to open it again..”
Tuesday, Dec. 17.—Every preparation for the mournful ceremony was making.—Mr. Diggs came here in the forenoon, and also Mr. Stewart Adjutant to the Alexa. Regt. to view the ground for the procession.—About one o’clk the Coffin was brought from Alexa. in a stage.—Mr. Inglis the Cabinet maker, and Mr. W. Munn, the plumber came with it, also Mr. Grater, with the Shroud.—The body was laid in the Coffin, at which time I cut off some of the General’s hair for Mrs. Washington.—
The Mahogany Coffin was lined with lead, soddered at the joints—and a cover of lead to be soddered on after the body should be in the Vault.—The whole put into a case lined & covered with black cloth.
Wednesday, Dec. 18.—About 11 o’clk numbers of persons began to assemble to attend the funeral, which was intended to have been at twelve o’clk; but as a great part of the Troops expected could not get down in time it did not take place till 3.—Eleven pieces of Artillery were brought down [from Alexandria].—And a Schooner belonging to Mr. R. Hamilton came down and lay off Mt. Vernon to fire minute guns.—The Pall holders were as follow—Colonels Little, (Charles) Simms, Payne, Gilpin, Ramsay, & Marsteller—and Colo. Blackburne walked before the Corps. [Col. Deneal marched with the military.]
[About three o’clock the procession began to move.] Col. Little, Simms & Deneal and Dr. Dick formed the arrangements of the Procession—[The procession moved out through the gate at the left wing of the house, and proceeded round in front of the lawn, and down to the vault on the right wing of the house.] which was as follows—The Troops—Horse & foot—Music playing a Solemn dirge with muffled Drums.—The Clergy—viz The Revd. Mr. Davis—Mr. (James) Muir, Mr. Moffatt, & Mr. Addison—[The General’s horse, with his saddle, holsters, and pistols, led by two grooms, Cyrus and Wilson, in black.] The Body borne by officers & masons who insisted upon carrying it to the grave.—The Principal Mourners—viz. Mrs. Stuart & Mrs. Law—Misses Nancy & Sally Stuart—Miss Fairfax & Miss Dennison—Mr. Law & Mr. Peter—Doctor Craik & T. Lear—Lord Fairfax & Ferdinando Fairfax—Lodge No. 23.—Corporation of Alexandria.—All other persons, preceded by Mr. Anderson, Mr. Rawlins, the Overseers, &c., &c.—
The Rev. Mr. Davis read the service & made a short extemporary speech—The Masons performed their ceremonies—and the Body was deposited in the Vault—All then returned to the House & partook of some refreshment—and dispersed with the greatest good order & regularity—The remains of the Provision were distributed among the Blacks.—Mr. Peter, Dr. Craik & Dr. Thornton tarried here all night.
PARTICULAR ACCOUNT OF THE LATE ILLNESS AND DEATH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Alexandria, 21 December, 1799.
Some time in the night of Friday, the 10th instant, having been exposed to a rain on the preceding day, General Washington was attacked with an inflammatory affection of the upper part of of the windpipe, called in technical language Cynache Trachealis. The disease commenced with a violent ague, accompanied with some pain in the upper and forepart of the throat, a sense of stricture in the same part, a cough, and a difficult, rather than painful deglutition, which was soon succeeded by fever and a quick and laborious respiration. The necessity of blood-letting suggesting itself to the General, he procured a bleeder in the neighborhood, who took from his arm in the night twelve or fourteen ounces of blood. He could not by any means be prevailed on by the family to send for the attending physician till the following morning, who arrived at Mount Vernon at about 11 o’clock on Saturday. Discovering the case to be highly alarming, and foreseeing the fatal tendency of the disease, two consulting physicians were immediately sent for, who arrived, one at half after three, and the other at four o’clock in the afternoon: in the mean time were employed two pretty copious bleedings, a blister was applied to the part affected, two moderate doses of calomel were administered, which operated on the lower intestines, but all without any perceptible advantage, the respiration becoming still more difficult and distressing. Upon the arrival of the first of the consulting physicians, it was agreed, as there were yet no signs of accumulation in the bronchial vessels of the lungs, to try the result of another bleeding, when about thirty-two ounces of blood were drawn, without the smallest apparent alleviation of the disease. Vapours of vinegar and water were frequently inhaled, ten grains of calomel were given, succeeded by repeated doses of emetic tartar, amounting in all to five or six grains, with no other effect than a copious discharge from the bowels. The powers of life seemed now manifestly yielding to the force of the disorder; blisters were applied to the extremities, together with a cataplasm of bran and vinegar to the throat. Speaking, which was painful from the beginning, now became almost impracticable; respiration grew more and more contracted and imperfect, till half after 11 on Saturday night, retaining the full possession of his intellect—when he expired without a struggle.
He was fully impressed at the beginning of his complaint, as well as through every succeeding stage of it, that its conclusion would be mortal; submitting to the several exertions made for his recovery, rather as a duty, than from any expectation of their efficacy. He considered the operations of death upon his system as coeval with the disease; and several hours before his death, after repeated efforts to be understood, succeeded in expressing a desire that he might be permitted to die without further interruption.1
During the short period of his illness, he economized his time, in the arrangement of such few concerns as required his attention, with the utmost serenity; and anticipated his approaching dissolution with every demonstration of that equanimity for which his whole life has been so uniformly and singularly conspicuous.
Elisha C. Dick,
TOBIAS LEAR TO WILLIAM AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Mount Vernon, Dec. 15, 1799.
I have the painful task of communicating to you information of the death of your much revered Uncle, General Washington. He died last evening about 11 o’clock, after a severe illness of about 20 hours. His complaint was an inflammatory sore throat, commonly called the Quincy.—Every aid that medicine could give, was had; but without effect. Dr. Craik & Dr. Dick of Alexa. & Dr. Brown of Port Tobacco were here.—He died as he lived.—Fortitude in extreme pain & composure at his latest breath never left him, & he retained his reason to the last moment. You are appointed one of his Executors in conjunction with Messr. Bushrod Washington, George S. Washington, Saml. Washington, Lawrence Lewis & G. W. P. Custis.
The Body will be deposited in the Vault on Wednesday or Thursday next.
With great respect, I am Dear Sir
(a) This tract for the size of it is valuable; more for it’s situation than the quality of it’s soil, though that is good for farming, with a considerable portion of gr’d that might, very easily, be improved into meadow.—It lyes on the great Road from the City of Washington, Alexandria and George Town to Leesburgh & Winchester, at Difficult bridge—nineteen miles from Alexandria—less from the City & George Town, and not more than three from Matildaville at the Great Falls of Potomac—
There is a valuable seat on the premises—and the whole is conditionally sold for the sum annexed in the schedule.
|LOUDOUN & FAUQUIER|
|Ashby’s Bent||2,481||10||24,810 }||(b)|
|Chattin’s Run||885||8||7,080 }|
(b) What the selling prices of lands in the vicinity of these two tracts are I know not; but compared with those above the ridge, and others below them the value annexed will appear moderate—a less one would not obtain them from me.—
|So. Fork of Bullskin||1,600|
|Head of Evan’s M||453|
|In Wormley’s Line||183|
(c) The surrounding land, not superior in soil, situation or properties of any sort, sell currently at from twenty to thirty dollars an acre.—The lowest price is affixed to these.
(d) The observations made in the last note applies equally to this tract being in the vicinity of them, and of similar quality, altho it lye’s in another County.
|On Potk River above B.||240||15||3,600||(e)|
(e) This tract though small, is extremely valuable—it lyes on the Potomac River, about twelve miles above the Town of Bath (or Warm Springs) and it is in the shape of a horse-shoe, the River running almost around it.—Two hundred acres of it is rich low grounds; with a great abundance of the largest and finest Walnut Trees, which with the produce of the soil might (by means of the improved navigation of the Potomac) be brought to a shipping port with more ease and at a smaller expense than that which is transported 30 miles, only by land.
|On North River||400 abt||3.600||(f)|
(f) This tract is of second rate Gloucester low ground—it has no improvement thereon, but lyes on navigable water abounding in fish and oysters: it was received in payment of a debt (carrying interest) and valued in the year 1789, by an impartial gentleman to £800—N. B. it has lettely been sold and there is due thereon, a balance equal to what is annexed—the Schedule.
|Near Suffolk ⅓ of 1119 acres||373||8||2,984||(g)|
(g) These 373 acres are the third part of undivided purchases made by the deceased Fielding Lewis, Thomas Walker and myself, on full conviction that they would become valuable.—the land lye’s on the road from Suffolk to Norfolk touches (if I am not mistaken) some part of the navigable water of Nansemond River—borders on—and comprehends part of the rich Dismal Swamp; is capable of great improvement;—and from it’s situation must become extremely valuable.
|GREAT DISMAL SWAMP.|
|My dividend thereof||abt||20,000||(h)|
(h) This is an undivided interest wch I held in the Great Dismal Swamp Company, containing about 400 acres, with my part of the Plantation and Stock thereon belonging to the Company in the s’d Swamp.1
|2 See Vol. II., 295, 392, 410.|
|16 miles lower down||2,448|
|Opposite Big Bent||4,395|
(i) These several tracts of land are of the first quality on the Ohio River in the parts where they are situated; being almost, if not altogether, River bottoms.
The smallest of these Tracts is actually sold at ten dollars an acre, but the consideration therefor not received, the rest are equally valuable, and will sell as high, especially that which lye’s just below the little Kanhawa, and is opposite to a thick settlement on the west side the River.
The four tracts have an aggregate breadth upon the River of Sixteen miles and is bounded thereby that distance.
|Near the mouth west||10,990|
|East Side above||7,276|
|Mouth of Cole River||2,000|
(k) These tracts are situated on the Great Kanhawa River, and the first four are bound thereby for more than forty miles.—It is acknowledged by all who have seen them (and of the tract containing 10,990 acres which I have been on myself, I can assert) that there is no richer, or more valuable land in all that Region;—They are conditionally sold for the sum mentioned in the schedule—that is, 200,000 dollars and if the terms of that sale are not complied with they will command considerable more.—The tract of which the 125 acres is a moiety, was taken up by General Andrew Lewis and myself for on account of a bituminous spring, which it contains, of so inflammable a nature as to burn as freely as spirits, and is as nearly difficult to extinguish.
(l) I am but little acquainted with this land, although I have once been on it.—It was receiv’d (many years since) in discharge of a debt due to me from Daniel Jenifer Adams, at the value annexed thereto, and must be worth more.—It is very level, lyes near the River Potomac.
(m) This tract lyes about 30 miles above the City of Washington not far from Kittoctan.—It is good farming land, and by those who are well acquainted with it I am informed that it would sell at twelve or $15 pr. acre.1
(n) This land is valuable on account of it’s local situation and other properties.—It affords an exceeding good stand on Braddock’s Road from Fort Cumberland to Pittsburgh and besides a fertile soil possesses a large quantity of natural meadow fit for the scythe.—It is distinguished by the appellation of the Great Meadows, where the first action with the French in the year 1754 was fought2
|Mohawk River abt||1000||6||6,000||(o)|
(o) This is the moiety of about 2000 acres which remains unsold of 6071 acres on the Mohawk River, (Montgomery Ct’y) in a Patent granted to Daniel Coxe in the Township of Coxeborough & Carolina as will appear by deed from Marinus Willet & wife to George Clinton (late Governor of New York) and myself; the latter sales have been at six dollars an acre and what remains unsold will fetch that, or more.1
|NORTH WEST TERRITORY—|
|On little Miami||839|
|On little Miami||977|
|On little Miami||1235|
(p) The quality of these lands & their situation may be known by the surveyor’s certificates, which are filed along with the patents—They lye in the vicinity of Cincinnati, one tract near the mouth of little Miami, another seven, & the third ten miles up the same—I have been informed that they will readily command more than they are estimated at.—
(g) For the description of these tracts in detail, see General Spottswood’s letters and with the other papers relating to them—Besides the general good quality of the land, there is a valuable bank of Iron Ore thereon;—which when the settlement becomes more populous (and settlers are moving that way very fast) will be found very valuable, as the rough creek, a branch of Green River affords ample water for furnaces and forges.
|CITY OF WASHINGTON—|
|Two near the Capital Sqr 634 }||15,000||(r)|
|Cost $963, and with Buildgs. }|
|No. 5, 12, 13, & 14, the 3 last water lots on the }||4,132||(s)|
|Eastern Branch }|
|in Sqr 667, containing together }|
|34,438 Sqr. feet at 12 cts. }|
(r) The two lots near the Capital in Square 634, cost me $963 only, but in this price I was favored on condition that I should build two brick houses, three storys high each;—without this reduction, the selling price of those lots would have cost me about $1350.
—These lots with the buildings thereon when completed will stand me in $15,000 at least.
(s) Lots No. 5, 12, 13 & 14 on the Eastern Branch are advantageously situated on the water, and although many lots much less convenient, have sold a great deal higher, I will rate these at 12 cts the square foot only.1
|Corner of Pitt and Prince Strts }||4,000||(t)|
|half an acre—laid out into buildgs }|
|3 or 4 of wch are let on grd Rent at $3 pr foot }|
(t) For this lot, though unimproved I have refused $3500, it has since been laid off into proper sized lots for building on, three or four of which are let on ground Rent forever at three dollars a foot on the street, and this price is asked for both fronts on Pitt and Princess Streets.1
|A lot in the Town, of half an acre & another on the Commons of about 6 acres—supposed }||400||(u)|
(u) As neither the lot in the Town or common have any improvements on them it is not easy to fix a price, but as both are well situated it is presumed the price annexed to them in the Schedule is a reasonable value.
|BATH—OR WARM SPRINGS—|
|Two well situated and had buildings to the amount of £150. }||800||(w)|
(w) The lots in Bath (two adjoining) cost me to the best of my recollection, between fifty and sixty pounds, 20 years ago & the buildings thereon, £150 more.—Whether the property there has increased or decreased in its value, and in what condition the houses are, I am ignorant, but suppose they are not valued too high.2
|UNITED STATES||6 pr ct.||3,746|
|3 pr ct.||2,946||2,500||6,246||(x)|
(x) These are the sums which are actually funded, and though no more in the aggregate than $7566 stand me in at least ten thousand pounds in Virginia money, being the amount of bonded and other debts due me, and discharged during the war, when money had depreciated in that ratio ☞ and was so settled by public authority.1
|24 Shares cost ea £100 Sterl’g||10,666||(y)|
(y) The value annexed to these shares is what they have actually cost me, and is the price affixed by law:—and although the present selling price is under par, my advice to the Legatees (for whose benefit they are intended, especially those who can afford to lye out of the money) is that each should take and hold one; there being a moral certainty of a great and increasing profit arising from them in the course of a few years.
|JAMES RIVER COMPANY—|
|5 Shares each cost $100||$500||(z)|
(z) It is supposed that the shares in the James River Company must also be productive—But of this I can give no decided opinion for want of more accurate information.
|BANK OF COLUMBIA—|
|170 shares—$40 each||6,800 }||(&)|
|BANK OF ALEXANDRIA—besides 20 to the Free School 5 }||1,000 }|
(&) These are nominal prices of the Shares of the Bank of Alexandria & Columbia, the selling prices vary according to circumstances but as the stock usually divided from eight to ten per cent. per annum, they must be worth the former, at least, so long as the Banks are conceived to be secure, although circumstances may some time [be] below it.
The value of live stock depends more upon the quality than quantity of the different species of it, and this again upon the demand and judgment or fancy of purchasers.
Mount Vernon, 6 July, 1799.
At a Court held for the County of Fairfax the 20th day of January 1800, this last Will and Testament of George Washington, deceased, late President of the United States of America, was presented in Court by George Steptoe Washington, Samuel Washington, & Lawrence Lewis, three of the Executors therein named, who made oath thereto, and the same being proved by the oaths of Charles Little, Charles Simms and Ludwell Lee, to be in the true handwriting of the said Testator, as also the Schedule thereto annexed, and the said will, being sealed and signed by him on motion, Ordered to be Recorded—And the said Executors having given Security and performed what the Laws require, a Certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.
|1 “Recorded Liber H, folio 1, and examined.” George Deneale became clerk 2d May, 1798.|
The original of this will is in the County Court House, at Fairfax Court House, Virginia, in charge of the County Clerk. A story occasionally appears in print, that the MS. is in the secret vaults of the British Museum, having been sold to that institution by one who obtained it during or after the civil war. The fact was, fearing lest some damage should be done to it, in July, 1861, the will was taken to Richmond by the then County Clerk, Mr. Alfred Moss, and deposited for safe keeping with the then Secretary of the Commonwealth, Mr. George W. Mumford. The office of the Secretary was looted by the Federal troops, but by some happy chance the will was thrown away, and was later found in a heap of rubbish. It was restored to the Fairfax County Court House.
|TESTE||G. DENEALE,Cl: Fx:|
|R. L. H. fo:||Exd by1|
|G. DENEALE,Cl: Fx:|
[1 ]This refers to the Resolutions of Kentucky and Virginia against the alien and sedition laws, affirming the right of a State to nullify a federal act. Virginia adopted them 21 December, 1798.
[1 ]See Life, Correspondence, and Speeches of Patrick Henry, by William Wirt Henry, ii., 600.
[1 ]I am indebted to Mrs. Burton N. Harrison for a copy of this letter—one of the many for which I am under heavy obligations to her.
[1 ]By the genealogical tables of the Washington family in England, it appears that more than one of that name emigrated to Holland, whose descendants were probably scattered over Germany.
[1 ]James Madison.
[1 ]Pickering sent the omitted passages to Washington, who wrote in reply:
“Although you did not give your letter the stamp of privacy, I did not think myself at liberty to mention the purport of it to some good Federal characters, who were dining with me at the time I received it, and who would have thought it the best dessert I could have offered.
“Henceforward I will consider your letters to me in three distinct points of view; and I mention it now that I may commit no error hereafter.
“First, such communications as you may conceive it proper to make to me alone, and mark confidential, shall go no farther. Those marked private I may, occasionally, impart their contents to well-disposed characters, and those without either will leave me unrestrained.”
[1 ]From a Letter of General Hamilton, dated February 15th.—“The Secretary of War has communicated to me the following disposition with regard to the superintendence of our military forces and posts. All those in the States south of Maryland, in Tennessee and Kentucky, are placed under the direction of Major-General Pinckney; those everywhere else under my direction, to which he has added the general care of the recruiting service.
“The commencement of the business of recruiting, however, is still postponed; for the reason, as assigned by the Secretary, that a supply of clothing is not yet ready. In conformity with your ideas, I have directed General Wilkinson to repair to the seat of government, in order to a more full examination of the affairs of the western scene, and to the concerting of ulterior arrangements. On this and on every other subject of our military concerns, I shall be happy to receive from time to time such suggestions and instructions, as you may be pleased to communicate. I shall regularly advise you of the progress of things, and especially of every material occurrence.”
[1 ]In his message of 21 June, 1798, President Adams said: “I will never send another Minister to France without assurances that he will be received, respected, and honored, as the representative of a great, free, powerful and independent nation.” In a note to Pichon, the French agent in Holland, dated 7th Vendemiaire (28 September), Talleyrand echoed the last words of this sentence, and held out the promise that a minister from the United States would be properly received in Paris. This note was given by Pichon to Murray, who transmitted it to America. Without consulting any member of his cabinet, or giving any intimation of his intention, Adams, on February 18th sent to the Senate the name of William Vans Murray to be minister plenipotentiary to the French Republic. Such a step was as unexpected to the Federalists as it was to the Republicans, and called out severe criticism. “The President,” wrote Pickering to Washington, “was suffering the torments of the damned at the consequences of his nomination.” Sedgwick characterized the measure in strong language. “Had the foulest heart and the ablest head in the world have been permitted to select the most embarrassing and ruinous measures, perhaps it would have been the one which has been adopted.” Hamilton thought the step “in all its circumstances would astonish, if anything from that quarter could astonish,” and suggested a commission of three. The nomination was referred to a committee, who took the unusual step of calling upon the President, but found him determined. He said, however, that if the Senate should negative the nomination of Murray, he would join with him two other individuals, who were not to leave for France until direct assurances of a good reception had been received. While the report of the committee advising the rejection of Murray was being drawn, a message came from Adams nominating Oliver Ellsworth, chief justice of the supreme court, and Patrick Henry, of Virginia, with Murray, under the condition just stated. The senate confirmed the appointments, but was unanimous only on Murray. Henry declined to serve, and his place was filled by William R. Davie, of North Carolina, nominated 5 December, 1799.
[1 ]Major Caleb Gibbs.
[1 ]To this letter the Secretary of War answered in detail, explaining all the principal points, and enumerating the difficulties with which he had to contend, some of which were formidable.
“You will no doubt perceive,” he added in conclusion, “that the situation into which I have been thrown during the last year by others, who prevented all those measures from being carried into effect, which the public expected would necessarily take place, in conformity to the laws, could not fail to attach to me much censure, and excite in the minds of persons, who could not be informed of the facts, that I wanted capacity for the proper conducting of my department. What could I do in such a case? I have submitted to a censure, which those who know all ought to relieve me from, on every fair occasion where it can be done with propriety.”—March 31st.
[1 ]“From an observation of yours, in answer to my letter of the 23d. ulto., I perceive my meaning with respect to relative rank has been misunderstood; or, if taken properly, I must adhere to the opinion I gave of the injustice, which would be inflicted upon the officers of States remote from the seat of government, if those in the vicinity of it are to rank before them, because they were on the spot to announce their acceptance of their appointments at an earlier day.
“Rank and pay are distinct things. The officer, who may have received the latter to-day sustains no injury from him who received it yesterday; but if the commencement of rank in the same grades is to be regulated (under the circumstances I have mentioned) from the dates of their acceptances, it will have injustice stamped on the face of it. For, in that case, those who are most remote, not by any act avoidable in themselves, but from the nature of things, become in almost every instance juniors; when perhaps many of them, in consideration of former services, or other weighty pretensions, might justly be entitled to seniority.”—Washington to McHenry, 5 May, 1799.
[1 ]Among other obstacles, that interposed to retard the recruiting service, the Secretary of War mentioned the ground taken by the President, as affording less encouragement than he expected.
“When I spoke of the time we had lost,” said he, “after all my proposals for augmenting the army had been rejected or procrastinated, what was the reply of the President on the 28th of October? He observed: ‘As to the recruiting service, I wonder whether there has been any enthusiasm, which would induce men of common sense to enlist for five dollars a month, who could have fifteen when they pleased by sea, or for common work at land? There has been no rational plan, that I have seen as yet, formed for the maintenance of the army. One thing I know, that regiments are costly articles everywhere, and more so in this country than in any other under the sun. If this nation sees a great army to maintain, without an enemy to fight, there may arise an enthusiasm that seems to be little foreseen.’ ”—March 31st.
[1 ]The Secretary of War wrote afterwards, that Mr. Mercer did not accept the appointment, but without stating on what grounds he declined.
[1 ]Additional light is thrown upon some of the topics which are here discussed, in a letter from General Hamilton to the Commander-in-chief, written a few days afterwards.
“At length,” he says, “the recruiting for the additional regiments has begun in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The enclosed return of clothing will sufficiently explain to you, that it has commenced at least as soon as the preparations by the department of war would permit. It might now also proceed in Maryland and Massachusetts, and the next post will, I trust, enable me to add Virginia, but that I do not think it expedient to outgo our supply of clothing. It will have the worst possible effect, if the recruits are to wait a length of time for their clothing. I anticipate your mortification at such a state of things. Various causes are supposed to contribute to it.
“It is said, that the President has heretofore not thought it of importance to accelerate the raising of the army; and it is well understood, that the Secretary of the Treasury is not convinced of its utility. Yet he affirms, that, for a long time past, he has been ready and willing to give every aid depending on his department. The Secretary of War imputes the deficiency in the article of clothing to a failure of a contract, which he had made, and to the difficulty of suddenly finding a substitute by purchases in the market. It is however obvious, that the means, which have been since pursued, have not been the best calculated for despatch. The materials procured at distant places have been brought to Philadelphia to be made up. They are stated to be adequate in quantity. If the Secretary’s energies for execution were equal to his good dispositions, the public service under his care would prosper as much as could be desired. It is only to be regretted, that good dispositions will not alone suffice, and that, in the nature of things, there can be no reliance that the future progress will be more satisfactory than the past.
“The officers for North Carolina have been appointed. No nomination has yet come forward from South Carolina. Not a single field-officer has yet been appointed for the regiment to be raised in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. It seems the members of Congress dissuaded from the nomination of those, who were proposed by the general officers, and promised to recommend preferable characters. But this promise has not been performed. This want of organization is an obstacle to the progress of the affairs of this regiment. It is understood that the President has resolved to appoint the officers to the Provisional Army, and that the Secretary has thought fit to charge the senators of each State with the designation of characters.”—New York, May 3d.
[1 ]As a delegate to Congress.
[2 ]“You may possibly have seen a paragraph in a late publication, stating that several important offices in the gift of the executive, and among others that of Secretary of State, had been attainable by me. Few of the unpleasant occurrences produced by my declaration as a candidate for Congress (and they have been very abundant) have given me more real chagrin than this. To make a parade of proffered offices is a vanity, which I trust I do not possess; but to boast of one never in my power would argue a littleness of mind at which I ought to blush.
“I know not how the author may have acquired his information, but I beg leave to assure you that he never received it directly nor indirectly from me. I had no previous knowledge that such a publication was designed, or I would certainly have suppressed so much of it as relates to this subject. The writer was unquestionably actuated by a wish to serve me, and by resentment at the various malignant calumnies, which have been so profusely bestowed on me. One of these was, that I only wished a seat in Congress for the purpose of obtaining some office, which my devotion to the administration might procure. To repel this was obviously the motive of the indiscreet publication I so much regret.
“A wish to rescue myself in your opinion from the imputation of an idle vanity, which forms, if I know myself, no part of my character, will I trust apologize for the trouble this explanation may give you.”—Marshall to Washington, 1st May, 1799.
[1 ]“The Elections of Generals Lee and Marshall are grateful to my feelings. I wish, however, both of them had been elected by greater majorities; but they are Elected, and that alone is pleasing.
“As the tide is turned, I hope it will come in with a full flow; but this will not happen, if there is any relaxation on the part of the Federalists. We are sure there will be none on the part of the Republicans, as they have very erroneously called themselves. It is apprehended latterly, that Mr. Hancock will not carry his Election, and that in numbers we shall not exceed nine. In point of abilities, I think the superiority will be greatly on the side of Federalism.”—Washington to Bushrod Washington, 5th May, 1799.
[1 ]From General Hamilton’s Letter.—“A letter from Mr. King contains this unpleasant intelligence. The publication of the treaty of Campo Formio by the Directory, will injure the affairs of the Emperor. It will increase the jealousy of the King of Prussia, and of the empire; whose safety and interests were too little in view in that treaty. There is no end to the folly of the potentates, who are arrayed against France. We impatiently expect further accounts of the operations of the Archduke, and entertain a strong hope, that his genius and energy will turn to good account the advantage he has gained.”—New York, June 7th.
[2 ]Clerk of the Executive Council.
[3 ]Patrick Henry died on the 6th of June, at the age of sixty-three. His Life, Correspondence, and Speeches have been published by his grandson, William Wirt Henry (1891-92).
[4 ]Henry’s Henry, ii., 591.
[1 ]Mr. Price’s work was entitled, “Essays on the Picturesque, as compared with the Sublime and Beautiful; and on the Use of Studying Pictures for the Purpose of Improving Real Landscape.” Notwithstanding the compass of this title, the author’s main object was to express his views of the art of landscape gardening and ornamental planting; an art in which Washington always took an interest, and which he practised at Mount Vernon as far as opportunity and circumstances would permit.—Sparks.
[1 ]Charles Washington.
[1 ]The letter-press copy is illegible in many parts.
[1 ]The “friend” here alluded to was Lafayette. The hostile attitude of France and the United States at this time towards each other, and the part he must necessarily take if he came to America, were the embarrassments apprehended. It was rumored, likewise, that he was coming as minister from the French Republic.
[1 ]“The President has resolved to send the Commissioners to France, notwithstanding the change of affairs there. He is not understood to have consulted either of his ministers; certainly not either the Secretary of War or of Finance. All my calculations lead me to regret the measure. I hope that it may not in its consequences involve the United States in a war on the side of France with her enemies. My trust in Providence, which has so often interposed in our favor, is my only consolation.”—Hamilton to Washington, 21 October, 1799.
“The purport of your (private) letter of the 21st, with respect to a late decision, has surprised me exceedingly. I was surprised at the measure; how much more so at the manner of it! This business seems to have commenced in an evil hour, and under unfavorable auspices. And I wish mischief may not tread in all its steps, and be the final result of the measure. A wide door was open, through which a retreat might have been made from the first faux pas, the shutting of which, to those who are not behind the curtain, and are as little acquainted with the secrets of the cabinet as I am, is, from the present aspect of European affairs, quite incomprehensible. But I have the same reliance on Providence, which you express, and trust that matters will end well, however unfavorable they may appear at present.”—Washington to Hamilton, 27 October, 1799.
“As men will view the same thing in different lights, I would now fain hope, that the President has caught the true one, and that good will come from the mission, which is about to depart. These are my wishes, and no one is more ardent in them; but I see nothing in the present aspect of European affairs, on which to build them, nor any possible evil, under the same circumstances, which could result from delay. But as the measure is resolved on, I trust as you do, that that Providence, which has directed all our steps hitherto, will continue to direct them to the consummation of our prosperity and happiness.”—Washington to Pickering, 3 November, 1799.
[1 ]See Hamilton’s pamphlet on John Adams, printed in his Writings (Lodge’s edition), vi., 404.
[1 ]On the evening of this day Washington was attacked by the disorder of which he died.
[1 ]Two versions of Tobias Lear’s account of the last illness and death of Washington have passed under my notice. The one, printed by Mr. Sparks, was “transcribed from Mr. Lear’s original manuscript.” This manuscript appears to be lost, and was probably in the hands of Mrs. Lear when Sparks had access to it. What has become of the Lear papers I have been unable to learn. Richard Rush made some extracts from Washington’s letters to Lear, and printed them in Washington in Domestic Life, Philadelphia, 1857; but in so scrappy a fashion as to make them of little value. The second version of Lear’s account is a manuscript now in the possession of Mr. William F. Havemeyer, of New York, whose Washington manuscripts are as valuable in content as they are extensive in number. It was sent by T. Law (who married a granddaughter of Mrs. Washington) to Mrs. Barry of Baltimore. I have taken this latter version as the basis of the text, and inserted in brackets the additional sentences contained in Sparks’ printing of the Lear manuscript.
[1 ]The Sparks version is different: “On his retiring I observed to him, that he had better take something to remove his cold. He answered: ‘No; you know I never take anything for a cold. Let it go as it came.’ ”
[1 ]Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown. See Hayden, Virginia Genealogies, 172.
[1 ]Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick.
[1 ]Lawrence Lewis, his nephew.
[2 ]George Washington Parke Custis.
[1 ]In the afternoon the General observing that Christopher had been standing by his bed side for a long time—made a motion for him to sit in a chair which stood by the bed side.—Note in the MS.
[1 ]“After it became impossible to get anything down his throat, he undressed himself and went to bed, there to die, and to his friend and physician, Doctor Craik, who sat on his bed, and took his head in his lap, he said with difficulty: ‘Doctor, I am dying, and have been dying for a long time, but I am not afraid to die.’ ”—Marshall, Life of Washington, based upon a private letter from Dr. Craik.
[1 ]“I have lately met Dr. Dick again, in consultation, and the high opinion I formed of him when we were in conference at Mt. Vernon last month, concerning the situation of our illustrious friend, has been confirmed.
“You remember how, by his clear reasoning and evident knowledge of the causes of certain symptoms, after the examination of the General, he assured us that it was not really quinsey, which we supposed it to be, but a violent inflammation of the membranes of the throat, which it had almost closed, and which, if not immediately arrested, would result in death.
“You must remember he was averse to bleeding the General, and I have often thought that if we had acted according to his suggestion when he said, ‘he needs all his strength—bleeding will diminish it,’ and taken no more blood from him, our good friend might have been alive now. But we were governed by the best light we had; we thought we were right, and so we are justified.”—Dr. Brown to Dr. Craik, 2 January, 1800.
[1 ]“Your letter of the 25th reached me last night. The transaction concerning which you enquire passed in the following manner. As the stage passed through Philadelphia some passenger mentioned to a friend he saw in the street the death of General Washington. The report flew to the hall of Congress and I was asked to move an adjournment. I did so. General Lee was not at the time in the House. On receiving the intelligence, which he did on the first arrival of the stage, he retired to his room and prepared the resolutions which were adopted, with the intention of offering them himself. But the House of Representatives had risen on my motion, and it was expected by all that I would on the next day announce the lamented event and propose resolutions adapted to the occasion. General Lee immediately called on me and shewed me his resolutions. He said it had now become improper for him to offer them, and wished me to take them. As I had not written anything myself and was pleased with his resolutions which I entirely approved I told him I would offer them the next day, when I should state to the House of Representatives the confirmation of the melancholy intelligence received the preceding day. I did so. You will see the facts stated in a note to the preface to the Life of Washington, p. v, and again in a note to the 5th Vol., p. 765.”—Marshall to Charles W. Hanson, 29 March, 1832.
[1 ]The wills of the Washingtons are printed in my Wills of George Washington and his Immediate Ancestors, 1891. This publication includes the wills of the two immigrants, John and Lawrence, of Lawrence, grandfather of the President; of Augustine, his father; of Mary [Ball] Washington, his mother; his own will; that of his half-brother, Lawrence; of Bushrod and of John Augustine Washington; with much else of related matter.
[2 ]At the bottom of every page—with one exception—he signed his name. On the one page, the last word was Washington, which probably led him to suppose he had signed.
There is mention of an earlier will to be found in a letter written to his wife, printed in Vol. II., 485.
[1 ]These figures in brackets mark the beginning of each page of the MS. will.
[1 ]On 22d April, 1785, when acting as chain bearer, while Washington was surveying a tract of land on Four Mile Run, William fell, and broke his knee pan; “which put a stop to my surveying; and with much difficulty I was able to get him to Abingdon, being obliged to get a sled to carry him on, as he could neither walk, stand or ride.”—Washington’s Diary. See my Spurious Letters Attributed to Washington, 8.
[2 ]“The mulatto fellow, William, who has been with me all the war, is attached (married he says) to one of his own color, a free woman, who during the war, was also of my family. She has been in an infirm condition for some time, and I had conceived that the connexion between them had ceased; but I am mistaken it seems; they are both applying to get her here, and tho’ I never wished to see her more, I cannot refuse his request (if it can be complied with on reasonable terms) as he has served me faithfully for many years.
“After premising this much, I have to beg the favor of you to procure her a passage to Alexandria, either by Sea, in the Stage, or in the passage boat from the head of the Elk, as you shall think cheapest and best, and her situation will admit;—the cost of either I will pay. Her name is Margaret Thomas allias Lee (the name by which he calls himself). She lives in Philada. with Isaac and Hannah Sile—black people, who are often employ’d by families in the city as cooks.”—Washington to Clement Biddle, 28 July, 1784.
“The President would thank you to propose it to Will to return to Mount Vernon when he can be removed for he cannot be of any service here, and perhaps will require a person to attend upon him constantly. If he should incline to return to Mount Vernon, you will be so kind as to have him sent in the first Vessel that sails for Alexandria after he can be removed with safety—but if he is still anxious to come on here the President would gratify him Altho’ he will be troublesome—He has been an old and faithful Servant, this is enough for the President to gratify him in every reasonable wish.”—Lear to Biddle, 3 March, 1789.
[1 ]This provision of the will was never carried into effect.
[1 ]Robert Alexander, educated in Trinity College, Dublin, opened a high school in the Valley of the Blue Ridge about the year 1749. He called it the “Augusta Academy,” and it continued till the Revolution. During that contest its name was changed to Liberty Hall, and in 1782 it was regularly chartered as Liberty Hall Academy. In 1785 it was removed to Rockbridge County, within a short distance of Lexington, and it was there that Washington’s legacy was received. In 1798, out of respect to the benefactor, the name was changed to Washington Academy, and in 1803, on the destruction of the old Academy by fire, a new one was located within the limits of Lexington, where it has since remained. The prosperity of the Academy was interrupted by the Civil War, and at the peace it was again organized under the presidency of Robert E. Lee, and the name became “The Washington and Lee University.”
[2 ]Samuel died at Berkley in 1781, aged 47.
[3 ]“Mr. Pendleton obtained my Deed, or a Bond, or something obligatory upon me, and my heirs, to make him a title to the Land he had of me, & sold to you, upon the purchase money being paid; not one farthing of which has been done—even the last years Rent, if I remember right, which he took upon himself to pay, is yet behind.—However, so soon as I can get evidences I will send a power of attorney to Lund Washington, to make a legal conveyance of the land to you.—In the mean time the Instrument of writing I passed to Mr. Pendleton will always be good against my Heirs, upon the condition of being complied with.”—George Washington to Samuel Washington, 5 October, 1776. Pendleton conveyed to Samuel in 1772. The property was on Bullskin.
[1 ]Sunday, April 24, 1785. “An express arrived with the account of the deaths of Mrs. Dandridge and Mr. B. Dandridge, the mother and brother of Mrs. Washington.”—Diary.
[1 ]Fredericksburg was erected into a town by an act of Assembly passed in February, 1727. Hening’s Statutes, iv., 234. It was incorporated in the November session, 1781. Do., x., 439.
[2 ]Betty Lewis, daughter of Col. Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington, was born 23 February, 1765; m. Charles Carter, of Culpeper Co., 7 May, 1781; died at Audley in 1829.
[3 ]“I drew a prize in Col. Byrd’s lottery of a half acre lot, No. 265, I believe in the town of Manchester, and I have a lot in some town that was established on James River (below Richmond) by a certain John Wood . . . I am entitled also in partnership with, or the heirs of Peyton Randolph, Richard Randolph, William Fitzhugh of Chatham, George Wythe, Richard Kidder Meade, Lewis Burwell, John Wales, Nathaniel Harrison, Junr., and Thomson Mason, to a tenth part of two or three half acre lots, & 200 acre lots in the aforesaid lottery. But as Thomson Mason (with or without authority) sold this property and never to me at least accounted for an iota of the amount, little I presume is to be expected from this concern.”—George Washington to Bushrod Washington, 29 June, 1796. The managers and trustees of this lottery were John Robinson, Peter Randolph, Peyton Randolph, Presley Thornton, John Page, Charles Carter, and Charles Trumbull, and the deed of trust was dated 18 December, 1756. In 1781 all the trustees were dead, Charles Carter alone excepted, and the Legislature passed an act empowering him to give the proper conveyances of land and tenements. Hening’s Statutes, x., 446.
[1 ]The box was presented to the Corporation of Goldsmiths at Edinburgh, which presented it to David Stuart Erskine, the Earl of Buchan, with the freedom of the Company. In a letter of 15 September, 1791, the Earl wrote to Washington: “It is a respectable curiosity, and will, I flatter myself, be a relic of long endurance in America, as a mark of that esteem with which I have the honor to be &c.” And in the letter which accompanied the box (28 June, 1791) he said: “Feeling my own unworthiness to receive this magnificently significant present, I requested and obtained leave to make it over to the man to whom I thought it most justly due; into your hands I commit it; requesting of you to pass it [as in the will].” In 1791 the bearer of the box, Mr. Archibald Robertson, a portrait painter, reached America, and in January, 1792, the box was placed in the President’s hands. Washington’s letter of acknowledgment is printed in Sparks, x., 229.
[1 ]“My fine crab-tree walking-stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a sceptre, he has merited it, and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame de Forbach, the Dowager Duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it.”—Franklin’s Will. This staff passed to the only surviving son of Charles, Captain Samuel Washington, who transmitted it to his son, Samuel T. Washington. In January, 1843, it was, with a sword of Washington, presented by Samuel T. Washington to Congress. The verses appear to have been lost.
[1 ]David Stuart married Nellie [Calvert] Custis, widow of John Parke Custis.
[2 ]On January 1, 1824, George Washington Parke Custis presented to Andrew Jackson, then President, a pocket telescope, used by Washington during the Revolution. “General Jackson received the relic in a manner peculiarly impressive, which showed that however time, hard service, and infirmity may have impaired a frame no longer young, the heart was still entire, and alive to the heroic and generous feelings of the soldier, the patriot, and the friend.”—National Intelligencer, quoted in Parton’s Life of Andrew Jackson, iii., 37.
The remarkable number of telescopes in Washington’s possession, or so described since his death, led me to suspect that he had an opportunity of looting the stock of some instrument maker, or had access to the laboratory of some institution of learning. The latter was the case. In the Journals of the New York Provincial Congress, under date 8 August, 1776, is the following entry: “A letter from John Berrien and Henry Wilmot, Esqrs., dated and received yesterday, was read and filed. They therein mention that they had, by application to the Reverend Mr. Inglis, obtained the telescope belonging to the college for the use of His Excellency General George Washington, and delivered to his aid-de-camp, whom the General had sent to receive it; that Mr. Inglis readily consented to the delivery of it, and the General had been anxious to obtain it.”
[3 ]This account of the Bible was an error on Washington’s part. Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, died 7 March, 1755. In 1785 appeared “The Bible, with notes, by Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, and various Renderings, collected from other Translations, by the Rev. Clement Cruttwell, the Editor.” Bath, 1785, 4to, 3 vols. This was the edition that the son, also named Thomas Wilson, presented to Washington. The presentation must have occurred immediately after the Revolution, for the son died at Bath, in April, 1784. He was chiefly notable by his extravagant appreciation of Mrs. Macaulay, whose statue, in the costume of the goddess of Liberty, he erected in his own church. It is very probable that the Bible was sent over at the time that Dr. Wilson sent to Congress a number of copies of his father’s works, which were distributed among the delegates. Journals of Congress, 22 March, 1785.
These volumes passed, by the will of Bryan Fairfax, into the possession of John C. Herbert, a grandson of Fairfax’s sister, Sarah (Fairfax) Carlyle. A son of John C. Herbert, Edward Herbert, becoming straitened in circumstances, offered them to William H. Corner, of Baltimore. He sold them to Messrs. Porter and Coates, of Philadelphia, who held them in 1876. Some time after, they were bought for the Library of Congress.
[1 ]Hannah [Bushrod], widow of John Augustine Washington.
[2 ]Mildred [Thornton], widow of Charles Washington.
[3 ]Eleanor Calvert, widow of John Parke Custis, and wife of Doctor David Stuart.
[4 ]Hannah [Fairfax], wife of Warner Washington.
[5 ]Elizabeth [Foote], widow of Lund Washington.
[6 ]In 1795 a perpetual lease of 360 acres was made to Tobias and Frances Lear.
[7 ]Sally Ball Haynie was the daughter of Elizabeth Haynie.
[1 ]Alton and Bishop were old servants of Washington.
[2 ]The history of these swords is by no means easy to write. In 1843 Col-George Corbin Washington, of Georgetown, wrote to George W. Summers, a member of Congress, that he had in his possession two of the swords, the one devised to him by his father, William Augustine Washington, and the other by his uncle, Judge Bushrod Washington. There were others in the possession of George Lewis and George Steptoe Washington, and the fifth was offered by Samuel T. Washington, a son of Samuel, to the government (1843). “My father,” continued George C. Washington, “was entitled to the first choice under the will, but was prevented by indisposition from attending at Mount Vernon when the distribution took place, and Judge Washington selected for him the most finished and costly sword, with which associations were connected highly complimentary to General Washington; but I often heard my father say that he would have preferred the sword selected by Colonel Samuel Washington, from the fact that it was used by the General during the revolutionary war. I have at different times heard similar statements as to this fact made by Colonel Samuel Washington, Judge Washington, and Major Lawrence Lewis, and am not aware that it has been questioned by any member of the family. The sword was represented to me as being a couteau, with a plain green ivory handle.” This particular sword was said to have been worn by Washington during the Revolution, and again 1794, when he took command of the army against the Whiskey Insurrection. This sword is now in the Department of State, Washington. “The handle is of ivory, colored a pale green, and wound spirally at wide intervals with silver wire. It was manufactured by J. Bailey, Fishkill, Dutchess County, New York, and has the maker’s name engraved upon the hilt.”—Custis, Recollections, 160.
A second sword was at Mount Vernon in 1859, and was described by Lossing, as “the Spanish dress-sword worn by Washington when he was President of the United States, and which appears in Stuart’s full length portrait of him at that time. It has a finely gilt hilt, and black leather scabbard, gilt mounted. On one side of the blade are the words Recti fac et ice(?)—‘Do what is right’; on the other, Neminem timeas—‘Fear no man.’ ” This sword, in a much injured condition, was sold at auction in Philadelphia, 22 April, 1891, for $1100. The catalogue states: “During the late civil war, this sword, with a lot of other valuables, was hid in a pigeon house, where it was so injured by rust that the scabbard was destroyed and the blade so rusted that it obliterated the inscription. About five inches of the lower portion of the blade has been broken off, but is joined to the other part of the blade by a gold band. The gold-plated top of the scabbard is missing. The hilt of the sword, and other trappings, are gold plated.” This sword was the one selected by Judge Bushrod Washington.
A third sword, that selected by George Steptoe Washington, is now in the possession of Miss Alice L. Riggs, of Washington, D. C. See Vol. XIII., 269. This sword also has suffered much “owing to burial during the late war, by the Washingtons.” It was among the relics exhibited at New York, in 1889.
A fourth sword, that selected for William Augustine Washington, passed into the possession of his son George Corbin Washington, and from him to that of Lewis William Washington. His wife, Ella Bassett Washington, sold it, with other relics, to the State Library of New York, where it now is. It is described in the Report of the Library for 1873, as the “dress sword of Washington.” It is a “straight pointed blade, with hilt and chain of polished steel, dotted with steel beads. The present case of green Turkey morocco is not the original; that was of white shagreen or shark skin. It was cleaned and covered in 1854 in Baltimore by S. Jackson, cutler.”
To the New York Exhibition of 1889, Miss Virginia T. Lewis, of Baltimore, contributed a dress sword, described as follows: “It has a handsome filigree handle and guard, with sword-knot to correspond; the rapier-blade sheathed in a sheepskin or white parchment scabbard, which is silver-mounted. Washington wore this sword when resigning his commission as Commander-in-chief of the army in Annapolis, December 23, 1783, and when inaugurated in New York April 30, 1789, and afterward on all state and dress occasions.” This is probably the sword received by George Lewis, though I am unable to identify it positively, no reply being received to my inquiries.
A sword was exhibited in New York, in 1889, as one that had been presented to Washington by Major-General William Darke. Upon application to Mr. Thornton A. Washington, who exhibited the sword, he very courteously gave me the following information: “The sword was not one of the five swords mentioned in George Washington’s will. It, together with a suit of clothes, was presented by G. W. in person, to Lawrence Augustine Washington, a nephew of his, and a son of his oldest full brother Col. Samuel Washington, late of Harewood, Berkeley Co., now Jefferson Co., West Virginia. This Lawrence A. Washington, together with a brother, George Steptoe Washington, were left orphans by the death of their father, the said Col. Samuel, in the fall of 1781. . . . On the death of Lawrence A. Washington, about 1824, the sword and suit went to his son of the same name. He, the last named L. A. W., after graduating at the medical college in Philadelphia, removed with his family to Texas, and died there about ten years ago, and his widow, Mrs. Martha D. Washington, who had become impoverished by the war, and who became the owner of these relics, placed them in my hands for sale. They had never been on any public exhibition. They are now the property of the Washington Association, at Morristown, New Jersey.”
[1 ]Sons of Major George Augustine Washington and Frances Bassett. George Fayette was the second of that name. It is not a little remarkable that Washington should have written Lawrence Augustine Washington for Charles Augustine Washington. Lawrence Augustine Washington was the son of Samuel Washington.
[1 ]A fac-simile of a survey by Washington of this tract is printed in Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, 445.
[1 ]William Augustine, born at Wakefield, 25 November, 1757, married (1) his cousin Jane, daughter of John Augustine Washington, 25 September, 1777; (2) Mary, daughter of Richard Henry Lee, 10 July, 1792; (3) — Taylor, 11 May, 1799; died at Georgetown, Va., October, 1810. Elizabeth, born at Wakefield, about 1750; married Alexander Spotswood. Jane, born at Wakefield, about 1752, married Col. — Thornton. Ann, born at Wakefield, about 1755; married Burdet Ashton, of Westmoreland County; and had one child who lived—Sarah Ashton.
[1 ]Married 4 July, 1796, Andrew Parks, of Baltimore.
[2 ]He left three sons.
[3 ]Another son of Samuel, Ferdinand, had incurred Washington’s displeasure because of his extravagance.
[4 ]See ante, p. 294.
[5 ]Married Col. Burges Ball.
[6 ]Mildred, daughter of Charles Washington, born 1777, married Col. Thomas Hammond.—Hayden.
[7 ]A sister of Nellie Custis, born 21 August, 1776, and married, 16 January, 1795, Mr. Thomas Law, a brother of Lord Ellenborough.
[8 ]Born 31 December, 1777, and married Thomas Peter.
[9 ]Born 21 March, 1779, and married Lawrence Lewis, the nephew of General Washington.
[10 ]The three ladies mentioned in this clause were daughters of John Parke Custis (son of Mrs. Washington, by her first husband) and Nellie Calvert.
[1 ]George Washington Parke Custis.
[1 ]An interesting account of the transfer is to be found in the Tomb of Washington by W. Strickland, printed anonymously in 1840.
[1 ]A word omitted by Washington. It is noteworthy that the will was not signed in the presence of witnesses.
[2 ]I have thrown the schedule and notes together, for the convenience of reference.
[1 ]Washington owned two of twenty-one shares in the Great Dismal Swamp Company, which he valued in 1793 at £5,000. The Company in 1762 took up 40,000 acres in the interior and richest part of the swamp.
[1 ]Known as Woodstock Manor. It was conveyed to Washington 1 April, 1793, by John Francis Mercer and Sophia, his wife, and James Stewart and Rebecca, his wife.
[2 ]Crawford, on 6 December, 1770, announced to Washington that he had purchased the Great Meadows from Mr. Harrison for thirty pistoles.
[1 ]See Vol. X., 422.
[1 ]I applied to Col. O. H. Ernst, at present in charge of the public buildings and grounds in Washington, for the exact locality of these lots. He has kindly sent me the following:
“The records of this office show that Washington acquired title to the whole of Square 21; to Lot No. 16—not two lots, as you have it—in Square 634; to Lots 5, 12, 13 and 14 in Square 667; and to Lots 4, 5 and 6 in square east of Square 667.
“The boundaries of Square 21 are D and E Sts. North, and 25th and 26th Sts. West.
“The boundaries of Square 634 are B and C Sts. North, Capitol St. and New Jersey Ave.
“The boundaries of Square 667 are U and V Sts. South, First St. West and Water St.
“The boundaries of square east of Square 667 are U and V Sts. South, Water St. and the Eastern Branch. This square was under water at the time. Lots 4, 5 and 6 were opposite Lots 12, 13 and 14 in the adjoining Square—667—and were of value only as securing beyond peradventure the water front appertaining to the lots in Square 667.”
[1 ]On this section Mr. Cassius F. Lee, of Alexandria, writes me: “The half square of ground in this city owned by Washington was on the corner of Prince and Pitt streets. It is covered with dwellings, and is in the best part of the town, and a square only east of the post office, which is on Prince street. Prince street is the correct name. Washington also owned a quarter square on Cameron street, and on this lot was his private office, a small frame building, that I remember well when a very small boy. The gentlemen owning the lot lived adjoining it, and wanting it for his garden, tore down the building and turned the space into a garden-ornamental.”
[2 ]“Having obtained a plan of this Town (Bath), and ascertained the situation of my lots therein, which I examined; it appears that the disposition of a dwelling house, kitchen and stable, cannot be more advantageously placed than they are marked in the copy I have taken from the plan of the Town, to which I refer for recollection of my design; and Mr. Rumsey being willing to undertake those Buildings, I have agreed with him to have them finished by the 10th of next July. The dwelling House is to be 36 feet by 24, with a gallery of 7 feet on each side of the House, the whole fronts. Under the House is to be a cellar half the size of it, walled with stone, and the whole underpin’d. On the first floor are to be three rooms; one of them 24 by 20 feet, with a chimney at the end (middle thereof)—the other two to be 12 by 16 feet with corner chimneys—on the upper Floor there are to be two rooms of equal sizes, with fire places; the staircase to go up in the gallery—galleries above also. The kitchen and stable are to be of the same size—18 by 22; the first with a stone chimney and good floor above. The stable is to be sunk in the ground, so as that the floor above it on the north, or side next to the dwelling House, shall be level with the Yard—to have a partition therein, the west part of which to be for a carriage, Harness, and saddles—the east for Hay or Grain. All three of the houses to be shingled with . . . .”—Journal, 1784.
[1 ]The law of 4 August, 1790, providing for the funding of the revolutionary debt, called for a loan to the full amount of the debt, subscriptions to be payable in the certificates or notes issued by the Continental Congress or the respective States. For two-thirds of the subscriptions a certificate was to issue purporting that the United States owed to the holder a sum equal to such two-thirds (when paid in Continental certificates) and to two-thirds of the aforesaid two-thirds (when paid in States issues) bearing 6 per cent. interest per annum, payable quarterly, and subject to redemption by payments not exceeding 8 per cent. per annum, principal and interest. These certificates were known as the “six per cent. stock of 1790.” For the balance, stock was issued not to bear interest until after 1800, when the rate of six per cent. would be paid. This was the “deferred 6 per cent. stock of 1790.” One-third of the amount subscribed and paid in indents of interest issued by authority of the Continental Congress, or in certificates or notes issued by the several States, should bear interest at three per cent, This was the “three per cent. stock of 1790.”