Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES ANDERSON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO JAMES ANDERSON. - 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 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.