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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XII (1790-1794) [1891]

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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XII (1790-1794). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2416

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About this Title:

Vol. 12 covers December 1790 to December 1794 and includes letters and papers.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WRITINGS of GEORGE WASHINGTON
VOL. XII.
1790-1794
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Of this Letter-press Edition

750 Copies have been Printed for Sale

No._____

December, 1891

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON
COLLECTED AND EDITED by WORTHINGTON CHAUNCEY FORD
Vol. XII.
1790-1794
NEW YORK AND LONDON
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS The Knickerbocker Press
1891
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Press of

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

New York

Edition: current; Page: [v]

CONTENTS OF VOL. XII.

  • 1790.
    • Speech to Congress, December 8th . . . . page 1
  • 1791.
    • To Arthur St. Clair, January 2d . . . . 4

      Certain executive regulations improper, requiring to be established by law—Need of circumspection.

    • To Beverley Randolph, January 13th . . . 6

      A woollen manufactory in Virginia—Reasons for not being active in the matter—Virginia free to act as she pleases.

    • To Henry Knox, January 14th . . . . . 7

      Lands of the Indians—Can lands once ceded by treaty be restored without participation of the Senate?

    • To Edward Rutledge, January 16th . . . . 9

      His proposed southern tour—Reasons for declining private hospitalities.

    • Speech to the Seneca Chiefs, January 19th . . 10
    • To Timothy Pickering, January 20th . . . 12

      Introducing husbandry among the Indians—Strongly in favor of it.

    • To William Deakins, Jr., and Benjamin Stoddert, February 3d . . . . . . . 13

      Location of the federal territory—Advantages of respective situations—Suggested lines to be run—Desires them to negotiate a purchase as if for themselves—A clear purchase preferable.

    • To John Armstrong, February 6th . . . . 16

      Expressions of friendship—Rules laid down for governing appointments.

      Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • To Alexander Hamilton, February 16th . . . 18

      Calls for an opinion on the constitutionality of the proposed bank.

    • To David Humphreys, March 16th . . . . 19

      European opinions of America—Paine and Rumsey—What Congress has accomplished—Affairs in Europe—Indian hostilities—His southern tour.

    • To M. Lafayette, March 19th . . . . . 23

      Prosperous outlook in America—An expression of opinion on the National Assembly—The best confirmation, that of the people.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, March 31st . . . . 26

      Has reconciled differences between Georgetown and Carrollsburg—Terms of the bargain.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, April 1st . . . . 29

      Barclay’s commission—Frontier troubles—Land speculations—His travels outlined.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, April 3d . . . . . 31

      Indians receiving supplies from Canada—Lord Dorchester must be warned.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, April 4th . . . . 32

      Indian troubles—Interference of New York State.

    • To the Secretaries, April 4th . . . . . 34

      Directions for communicating matters of importance arising during his absence—His tour outlined.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, April 13th . . . . 36

      The influence of Morris’ mission on Spanish negotiations—Copies of his letters should be communicated to Carmichael.

    • To Johnson, Stuart, and Carroll, May 7th . . 39

      Is pained that difficulties should arise—The dispute as to territory—How his expressions should be interpreted.

    • To James Seagrove, May 20th . . . . . 41

      His mission to Quesada—The restoration of fugitive slaves.

    • To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Edward Rutledge, May 24th . . . . . . 43

      The resignation of John Rutledge creates a vacancy on the Supreme bench—The place offered to one of them—Why the offer was not made before.

      Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • To Alexander Hamilton, June 13th . . . . 44

      Wolcott appointed—Delays in receiving letters—His tour uninterrupted.

    • To Catharine Macaulay Graham, July 19th . . 47

      Her pamphlet on the French Revolution—Why his letter is short.

    • To David Humphreys, July 20th . . . . 48

      His account of the Spanish nation—His southern progress—Impressions gained of the country through which he passed—Difficulties over the excise—High position of public credit—Indian hostilities and their causes—The new federal district—The situation of Europe.

    • To Gouverneur Morris, July 28th . . . . 53

      Influence of the European commotions upon America—Prejudices against the new nation—The danger of forming new connections with European powers—The situation in the southern States—The success of the bank subscriptions—The census returns.

    • To M. Lafayette, July 28th . . . . . 57

      French decrees on tobacco and oil unfavorably received in America—Difficulty of his position—The situations in Europe and the United States compared.

    • To Thomas Johnson, August 7th . . . . 59

      May be exempted from circuit duty—Probable discontinuance of these tours.

    • To M. de la Luzerne, September 10th . . . 60

      Interest in the happiness of the French people—Conditions of future order and happiness—Prosperity of the United States.

    • To M. Lafayette, September 10th . . . . 62

      In suspense as to the French nation—M. Ternant’s appointment—Matters at Mt. Vernon.

    • To Gouverneur Morris, September 12th . . . 64

      The proposition to finance the debt due to France—Reasons for not accepting the proposition.

    • To George Clinton, September 14th . . . . 68

      Extraordinary action of the British—Moderation and forbearance necessary—Extremities should be the result of a deliberate plan—A messenger sent to examine into the matter.

      Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • To Edmund Randolph, October 10th . . . 70

      The laws relating to Indians—Must be cured of defects if peace is to be secured—Encroachments of the Tennessee Company.

    • Communication of Sentiments to Benjamin Hawkins, 71

      Conduct of the government towards the Indians.

    • To Robert Lewis, October 15th . . . . 74

      Conduct of his land business—Details to be obtained from Muse—Rights of the landlord to be enforced—Transfers not warranted by the leases—Warnings against neglect.

    • Speech to Congress, October 25th . . . . 77
    • To Harriot Washington, October 30th . . . 84

      A hint upon bad excuses—Advice and counsel.

    • To David Stuart, November 20th . . . . 86

      Refusal of L’Enfant to supply the maps of the federal city—High opinion of the man—Probable explanation of his conduct—Has informed him that he is under the commissioners—Unaccountable behavior of the engraver—Importance of laying out the city—Opposition subsiding.

    • To M. Lafayette, November 22d . . . . 91

      Introducing John Trumbull—His productions well received—The King’s acceptance of the Constitution.

    • To the Commissioners of the Federal District, December 18th . . . . . . . 93

      The dispute between Carroll and L’Enfant—Restraints upon the engineer—His reasoning in pulling down Carroll’s house.

  • 1792.
    • To Gouverneur Morris, January 28th . . . 96

      His appointment to the court of France—Criticism of his conduct and conversation—Friendly warning to be more circumspect.

    • To Charles Pinckney, January 31st . . . . 100

      Arrival of the Cherokee deputation—Peculiarly desirable to cultivate friendship with the Indians.

    • To H. D. Gough, February 4th . . . . 101

      Sheep raising in a private and public view—His own success.

      Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • To Reuben Slaughter, February 25th . . . 103

      His claim to lands on the Kanhawa—Will resist every encroachment—Origin of his rights.

    • To David Stuart, March 8th . . . . . 104

      Delays annoying—Trouble with L’Enfant—Advantage will be taken of his dereliction—Has been controlled by one idea from the beginning—Plan should look beyond the present day—Opposition to be expected from L’Enfant—Jealousy and distrust cultivated to defeat the accomplishment of the design—Suggestion for a superintendent—Compensation to L’Enfant—Rumor of a misapplication of money—Importation of foreign artisans.

    • Opinion of the General Officers, March 9th . . 506
    • To John Armstrong, March 11th . . . . 110

      The defeat of St. Clair.

    • To Charles Pinckney, March 17th . . . . 112

      Surrender of forgers by East Florida—Lord Wycombe—Action of South Carolina on slavery—St. Clair’s defeat—General Pickens.

    • To Major-General Arthur St. Clair, April 4th . . 115

      The retention of his commission—The law has allowed for only one major-general—Will have an opportunity of defending himself.

    • To John Carroll, April 10th . . . . . 116

      Instructing the Indians in the principles and duties of Christianity—Obstacles to his plan—Is in favor of it.

    • To the Earl of Buchan, May 1st . . . . 118

      His portrait by Robertson—The Wallace box—Wishes to be relieved of the responsibility laid upon him.

    • To Thomas Paine, May 6th . . . . . 120

      His Rights of Man—Apologies for not discussing the points touched on in his letter.

    • To Charles Carter, May 19th . . . . . 121

      As to receiving his son into his family—Why he cannot recommend clerks to the heads of departments—Size of his household—A military appointment suggested.

    • To James Madison, May 20th . . . . . 123

      His eagerness for retirement—Nothing short of necessity will induce him to remain—How and when should the announcement be made—A valedictory address—General sketch of its contents—Asks for his views.

      Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • To Gouverneur Morris, June 21st . . . . 131

      His letters—Great Britain not requested to serve as mediator between the United States and the Indians—What is being done in Indian affairs—Results of a conference with some tribes—Indecency of the gazettes—As to communications.

    • To James Anderson, June 26th . . . . 136

      Volumes of The Bee.

    • To Henry Lee, June 30th . . . . . . 137

      His rule of judging character—Col. Darke’s assertions—His conduct uncandid and his letter equivocal—The true state of the case—Was never more embarrassed over any appointment—Was inclined in his favor—Reasons against appointing him—The result of naming Wayne.

    • To John Francis Mercer, July 23d . . . . 143

      The debt due him—Broken engagements and vague promises—A meeting proposed—Legal measures threatened—The complaint of Henshaw.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 29th . . . . 147

      General sentiments of the people on public measures—An enumeration of the criticisms made—Desires his views on the discontents described.

    • To Henry Knox, August 1st . . . . . 152

      Propriety of Colonel Kerr’s conduct—Tranquillity on the frontiers may not set aside the necessity for war—Economy necessary—Disciplining the troops—Appointments in the army—Drunkenness of officers—Fish and Posey.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, August 5th . . . 154

      Compensation to inspecting officers—Reasons that induced him to sign—The laws must be enforced.

    • To Henry Knox, August 13th . . . . . 155

      Slow progress of recruiting—Enterprise against the Nashville banditti—Treating with the Wabash Indians—Foundations of the negotiation—General Putnam’s plans—Favorable opinion of Wilkinson.

    • To Henry Knox, August 19th . . . . . 158

      Sentiments on Seagrove’s communications—Spanish intrigues with the Indians—Turbulent behavior of the Georgia settlers—His projected meeting with the Creeks—Restricting trading with the Indians—Intemperate conduct of Major Call—Examination of each subject—Mr. Seagrove.

      Edition: current; Page: [xi]
    • To Henry Knox, August 22d . . . . . 168

      Little prospect of peace with the western Indians—Evidence of a concerted plan to encourage outbreaks—Proposed station on the Muskingum—Importance of the recruiting service—Supplying the troops with food.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, August 23d . . . . 171

      Carmichael—Extraordinary interference of the Spaniards to the southward—Disposition of the Indians—Causes of their unrest—Misfortune of internal dissensions—A plea for mutual forbearance—Nothing personal intended—Speech to Congress.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, August 26th . . . 176

      More charity in passing on the opinions of others—Temporizing yieldings on both sides—The permanence of the Union involved.

    • To Edmund Randolph, August 26th . . . 179

      Hopes his determination on a re-election will be for the best—Wishes to see a cessation of the abuse of public officers and measures of government—If it continues, no man living can keep the machine together.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, September 7th . . . 181

      Disorders in Pennsylvania—Spirit much to be regretted—The measures taken are prudent and proper—His duty to see the laws executed—The meeting at Pittsburg.

    • To Henry Knox, September 7th . . . . 183

      Wayne’s plan for carrying on the war—Proposed strokes may be made if deemed feasible—The magazine on Big Beaver—Caution as to hay.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, September 16th . . 186

      Proclamation to be signed by Secretary of State—Its connection with an army—To be sent to the governors.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, September 17th . . 188

      Proclamation will be forwarded from Monticello—Longer forbearance has become unjustifiable remissness—Some other measures may be necessary.

    • To Henry Knox, September 24th . . . . 189

      Inauspicious aspect of Indian affairs—Intelligence wanted as to the strength of the confederation—Covering the troops for the winter—When one person is adequate to an office, more should not be appointed—Trial of Ensign Morgan.

      Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • To John Francis Mercer, September 26th . . 192

      Object in taking his land—An offer made—Use of his name for electioneering purposes—Criticisms on his conduct.

    • To Henry Knox, September 28th . . . . 196

      His return to Philadelphia—Disposition of the troops for the winter—Future movements and operations.

    • To Mrs. Betty Lewis, October 7th . . . . 199

      Harriot sent to Fredericksburg—What is to be done for her—No disposition to industry.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, October 18th . . . . 201

      His attachment to the Constitution of the United States—Harmony in the Cabinet—No reason to doubt the honesty of his opinions—No discordance in views.

    • To Gouverneur Morris, October 20th . . . 202

      No fair statement of facts and causes of events in France available—Commercial treaty with that country—Frontier troubles—Misleading complexion of the newspapers.

    • To David Stuart, October 21st . . . . . 204

      Mercer’s charge against Hamilton—Wishes a definite statement.

    • Speech to Congress, November 6th . . . . 205
    • To Benjamin Stoddert, November 14th . . . 211

      A superintendent wanted for the federal city—Blodget suggested for the appointment—Conflicting interests to be met—A comprehensive view should be taken.

    • To the Commissioners of the Federal District, November 17th . . . . . . . 213

      Is gratified with the sale of lots—Mechanics among the purchasers—Sale of ground about the Capitol and the President’s house—Blodget’s purchase and scheme for extending the market for lots—A superintendent.

    • To the Commissioners of the Federal District, December 18th . . . . . . . 215

      Importing workmen from abroad.

    • To Robert Lewis, December 23d . . . . 220

      Harrison’s land and its rascally set of tenants—Why he wishes to purchase—Proposals to be made.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • Agricultural Methods . . . . . . 222

      Washington’s early attention to farming—Note books—A pioneer in the new system—The tobacco trade of the colony—Situation of the planters in production and exchange—Early readings and experience in the Revolution—Slave labor condemned economically—Notes and observations, 1785—Conclusions—Directions for George A. Washington, 1789—Manager’s weekly report.

    • To Anthony Whiting, October to December . . 239

      Cuttings to be planted—Grub well—Care of negroes—No more to be undertaken than can be well done—Fences—Entertaining visitors at Mount Vernon—Sick negroes—His illness—Clover seed—Idle slaves—English seeds and ploughs—Alternation of crop and fallows—Green’s reports—Wheat—Report on stock—Roads and trees—Renting the fisheries—Alteration in the rotation—Live hedges—Loss of stock—Experiments on fattening hogs—Jones, the overseer—Notes on directions—Labor not to be moved from one plantation to another—Arrangement of the posts—Labor of slaves—A new overseer—Neglect on the part of the miller—The Major’s condition—Practice of running to stores ruinous—Directions for the miller—Fires—The keeping of dogs—Butler engaged—The smiths’ book—To aid the gardener—Poor work of the sewers—Smiths and horses—Duty of overseer—Use of lime—A hint to be given to the miller.

  • 1793.
    • To Henry Lee, January 20th . . . . . 256

      His re-election—His wish for retirement—Death of Col. Bassett.

    • To Charles Carroll, January 23d . . . . 257

      Wishes to appoint him on an Indian commission.

    • To George Augustine Washington, January 27th . 259

      Why he does not write oftener—Must submit to the will of Heaven.

    • To the Commissioners of the Federal District, January 31st . . . . . . . . 260

      Plans of the Capitol—Favors Dr. Thornton’s—Hallet must be prepared for a rejection.

    • To the Marchioness de Lafayette, January 31st . 261

      Some money deposited in Holland for her use.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
    • To Frances Washington, February 24th . . . 262

      Words of condolence—Wishes her to return to Mount Vernon.

    • To Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox, February 27th . . . . . . . . . 264

      As to taking the oath of office.

    • To David Stuart, March 3d . . . . . 265

      The question of the commissioners’ compensation—What is required by justice—Suggests that he take the position of superintendent—Mr. Ellicott.

    • To Burwell Bassett, March 4th . . . . . 268

      Condolences on the death of his friend—What he can do as executor.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, March 13th . . . . 269

      The letter to Morris—Wishes an informal expression of opinion in regard to Lafayette.

    • To Frances Washington, March 17th . . . 270

      As to coming to Mount Vernon—Bad conduct of her overseer—The work on the building.

    • To the Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, of War, and the Attorney-General of the United States, March 21st . . . . . . . . 273

      The coming negotiations with the Indians—Proposal of the Quakers.

    • To David Humphreys, March 23d . . . . 275

      Rapidity and magnitude of national revolutions—Trusts America will not be involved in war—Enterprises undertaken—His second term.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, April 12th . . . . 278

      The maintenance of neutrality.

    • To the Secretaries and Attorney-General, April 18th, 279

      Questions on measures to be observed in case of war between France and Great Britain.

    • Proclamation of Neutrality, April 22d . . . 281
    • To the Earl of Buchan, April 22d . . . . 282

      Sincere wish of United America to have nothing to do with the troubles of European nations—The new federal city and other ventures—The Fairfax family.

      Edition: current; Page: [xv]
    • To Alexander Hamilton, May 5th . . . . 285

      The reception of Noailles.

    • To Henry Lee, May 6th . . . . . . 286

      The proclamation of neutrality—Indian hostilities on the western frontiers—Advice on taking service in France.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, May 7th . . . . 289

      A misconception that may check ship-building.

    • To M. Ternant, May 23d . . . . . . 290

      Letter of commendation.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, June 1st . . . . . 291

      On policy to be pursued towards Hammond.

    • To Frances Washington, June 10th . . . . 292

      Renting the estate in Berkeley—Nature of the property—Force needed to work it—Suggestions on hiring it—Details of the covenant—Is to be at Mount Vernon soon.

    • To Henry Knox, June 14th . . . . . 297

      Intelligence on Spanish matters.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, June 20th . . . . 298

      Loans—Application of the proceeds of former loans.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, June 30th . . . . 301

      Complaint of the French consul—The Cabinet to consider it.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, July 11th . . . . 302

      The case of the Little Sarah—Can the French minister set the acts of government at defiance with impunity.

    • To Burges Ball, July 21st . . . . . . 303

      Lawrence Lewis as a manager.

    • To William Tilghman, July 21st . . . . 304

      Is in want of a manager—Reasons for looking to the eastern shore—Qualifications required—Persons suggested.

    • To Henry Lee, July 21st . . . . . . 308

      Pestered by the disputes of the French and British ministers—Discontented characters and their abuse—Publications in Freneau’s and Bache’s papers outrages on common decency—Genet’s conduct.

    • To the Justices of the Supreme Court, July 23d . 311

      Wishes to take their opinion.

      Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
    • To Thomas Jefferson, July 25th . . . . 312

      The French privateers—The conduct of Genet to be seriously considered.

    • To the Heads of Departments and the Attorney-General, July 29th . . . . . . 313

      Instructions to custom-house officers expedient.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, July 31st . . . . 313

      The French minister’s letters to be considered the next day.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, August 4th . . . . 314

      The eight rules on equipments—Further facts to be weighed—Convening the legislature at an earlier day—A French decree.

    • To Hiland Crow, August 4th . . . . . 318

      His application for an increased salary—Why no further rise can be expected.

    • To Burges Ball, August 4th . . . . . 319

      A manager for his estate—Lawrence Lewis.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, August 12th . . . . 321

      Would wish him to continue in office till the close of the session.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, August 19th . . . . 322

      Papers relating to a French privateer.

    • To Henry Knox, September 9th . . . . 323

      Webster’s report on Genet’s conversation—Not advisable to expose himself to the plague.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, September 10th . . . 324

      The Spanish negotiations—Carmichael.

    • To Edmund Pendleton, September 23d . . . 325

      Had been led to fear his conduct was disapproved by him—The conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury—Has no object in view but the Constitution and the interests of the country—Does not agree with every measure of Congress.

    • To Tobias Lear, September 25th . . . . 328

      A lottery ticket for Lincoln Lear—The fever in Philadelphia—Greenleaf ventures heavily in the new city—A watch and a blacksmith wanted—The portrait for the Earl of Buchan—An appointment in New Hampshire.

      Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
    • To Thomas Jefferson, October 6th . . . . 331

      A meeting of the Cabinet at Germantown—Genet’s conduct in New York—The public mind may be poisoned—The despatches for France.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, October 11th . . . . 332

      Revoking the French consul’s exequatur—His return route and the Cabinet council—Convening Congress elsewhere—A notification to be drawn.

    • To Thomas Sim Lee, October 13th . . . . 336

      The ship Rochampton—Attitude of the general government to the belligerent powers—Cannot decide upon the specific points submitted.

    • To James Madison, October 14th . . . . 337

      As to convening Congress—The progress of the fever.

    • To Henry Lee, October 16th . . . . . 340

      Threshing machines—Difficulty of inducing overseers to adopt new methods—A manager—Awaiting the action of Congress.

    • To Edmund Randolph, October 23d . . . . 343

      The session of Congress—Lodging for his own use—His following.

    • To Richard Henry Lee, October 24th . . . 345

      Motives of those who are attacking the government—How Genet has tested the temper of the Executive—Entirely unfit for his mission.

    • To Francis Willis, October 25th . . . . 347

      Negroes belonging to the estate of Mrs. Samuel Washington—Error in property rights—What has governed his own conduct in the matter—An offer to close all controversy.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, December 1st . . . . 349

      Morris’ puzzling references—The message on France and Great Britain.

    • Speech to Congress, December 3d . . . . 350
    • Message to Congress respecting Genet and the Relations with France, December 5th . . . 356
    • To Arthur Young, December 12th . . . . 358

      Wishes to dispose of his property at Mount Vernon—Nature and situation of the land—The various farms described—Terms Edition: current; Page: [xviii] on which he will rent—Farm animals and labor—Immigration of farmers—The English law forbidding the emigration of artisans—Why he writes to Young.

    • Message to Congress relative to Spain, December 16th 370
    • To Edmund Randolph, December 24th . . . 372

      Wishes to nominate him as Secretary of State.

    • To William White, December 31st . . . . 373

      A contribution for the needy of Philadelphia—Asks his advice in applying it.

    • To Anthony Whiting, January to June . . . 374

      Transfer of hands from one plantation to another—Garner’s rascality—Live fences—Mud as manure—Young on fallows—Folding of sheep—Dying of sheep—The experiments at the mill—Disappointment in the crop of wheat—Sowing clover—Union plantation—Some seeds to be planted—Conversion of nails—Sarah Flatfoot—Misconduct of Taylor—Davenport’s sloth—Prevention of quarrels—Green—Matilda’s Ben—Taxes—Money calls—Sowing clover seed—Allowance of meal—“A penny saved, is a penny got”—Culling the sheep—Loss of calves—Penning the sheep—Bakewell—Weaving the wool—Renting the fisheries—Butler—Thieving among the people—A suggestion on directions—The flour experiment—Cutting grain—Spirits at harvest—Meal for the negroes—The gardener’s notice of leaving—The mill accounts—Small quantity of wool—Saving his strength—The gardener’s allowance.

    • To William Pearce, October to December . . . 396

      Farm implements—Course of crops—Manure—Neglect of ploughing by overseers—The overseers to be watched—Treatment of them—Stuart—Crow—McKoy—Butler—Davy—Thomas Green.

  • 1794.
    • To Thomas Jefferson, January 1st . . . . 401

      Regrets his resignation—Friendly assurances.

    • To John Adams, January 8th . . . . . 402

      The case of Genet.

    • Message to Congress Announcing the Recall of Genet, January 20th . . . . . . 403 Edition: current; Page: [xix]
    • To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, January 22d . . 404

      Offers him the secretaryship of war—The qualities needed.

    • To Thomas Johnson, January 23d . . . . 406

      The commission on the federal city—Shortcomings of Blodget—His speculations.

    • To George Clinton, March 31st . . . . . 408

      Dorchester’s speech to the Indians—Has no doubt of its authenticity—Political conduct of Great Britain—Inquiries on Canadian affairs.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, April 8th . . . . 410

      General certificate on disposition of loans—Written and verbal communications.

    • To James McHenry, April 8th . . . . . 412

      Does not as a rule answer letters on appointments—His policy in such matters—Lafayette.

    • To James Monroe, April 9th . . . . . 414

      On his objections to the appointment of Hamilton for the English mission.

    • To Richard Henry Lee, April 15th . . . . 416

      Fauchet and Genet compared—Disclaimer of the British ministry—Madison’s resolutions.

    • To Edmund Randolph, April 15th . . . . 419

      Message naming Jay as envoy extraordinary—Objects of the mission.

    • To John Fitzgerald, April 27th . . . . 420

      Services rendered by Thomas Digges in the late war—Specific instances—Since the war—Testimony of John Trumbull.

    • To John Jay, April 29th . . . . . . 422

      Has determined to recall Gouverneur Morris—Suggests that Pinckney be sent to France, and that Jay be permanently in London.

    • To Edmund Randolph, April 29th . . . . 423

      Care requisite in preparing a reply to British minister.

    • To Tobias Lear, May 6th . . . . . . 424

      The British provision orders—Jay’s mission—Measures proposed in Congress—Resolution to prohibit trade with Great Britain—Professor Anderson—Lincoln’s lottery ticket—Has taken a house in Germantown.

      Edition: current; Page: [xx]
    • To Alexander Hamilton, May 6th . . . . 427

      Reception of Talleyrand—Embarrassment from a public introduction—Policy to be pursued.

    • To Robert Lewis, May 18th . . . . . 429

      His lots in Winchester and Bath—A proposed exchange of lands—Leases for lives—Purchase of leases—Accokeek lands and his title to them.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, May 29th . . . . 432

      Is pleased at his determination to continue in office.

    • To Gouverneur Morris, June 25th . . . . 433

      His recall will not affect his position in his estimation—Disappointments in receiving intelligence—Unauthorized statements of Major Jackson—Watchful guardians of America—His object is to preserve peace or be prepared for war—Jay’s mission to England.

    • To Edmund Randolph, June 25th . . . . 436

      The British minister more captious than conciliatory—Injured while riding.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 2d . . . . 437

      Compensation for British vessels taken by prescribed French privateers—Original communication of the subject—Relaxing the powers of the Executive.

    • To Sir John Sinclair, July 20th . . . . . 440

      His agricultural writings—Importance of agricultural operations—Difference between the net result of farming in Great Britain and the United States—Congressional aid and agricultural societies—Domestic animals—His own experience in wool raising—Beef—Sheep raising.

    • Proclamation Warning the Insurgents in the Western Parts of Pennsylvania to Desist from their Opposition to the Laws, August 7th . . . . 445
    • To Burges Ball, August 10th . . . . . 448

      Establishing the arsenals—Little prospect of taking his property—What is thought of the western insurrection and coercion on the part of the government.

    • To Charles M. Thruston, August 10th . . . 450

      Feeling in Kentucky—Endeavors of the general government in behalf of the wishes of its people—Leaven of the societies—Actual rebellion in the western parts of Pennsylvania—If permitted, Edition: current; Page: [xxi] there is an end to republican government—Opposition to coercion—Merits of General Morgan—His ardent wish for peace.

    • To Henry Lee, August 26th . . . . . 453

      The western insurrection and Virginia—Attempts to suspend proceedings against the insurgents—First fruit of the Democratic societies—Diabolical attempts to destroy the government—Programme of discord—Reported assertions about Henry—His relations and obligation to him—His wish to ally him to administration—Alleged words of Jefferson.

    • To John Jay, August 30th . . . . . 459

      His arrival—A protest from Upper Canada—Will Great Britain allow it to pass with impunity?—Indian troubles the effect of British intrigue—The only road to peace.

    • To David Stuart, September 21st . . . . 462

      His brother’s estate—Heavy charges arising from it—How far measures may be taken to arrest process.

    • To Burges Ball, September 25th . . . . 464

      Spirited opposition to the insurrection—Idle fears of its supports—Self-created censors of Congress—Their institution for the express purpose of dissension.

    • Proclamation Concerning the Western Insurrection, September 25th . . . . . . . 467
    • To Major-General Morgan, October 8th . . . 469

      Is on his way to Fort Cumberland—May cross the mountains with the troops—Unless the opposition is crushed, there is an end to government.

    • To Edmund Randolph, October 11th . . . 471

      Delay in sending on troops—Arrival of Findley and Riddick—His address to Congress.

    • To Edmund Randolph, October 16th . . . 473

      Troops at Fort Cumberland—Impertinence of Bache in questioning his command—Madison and the opposition—Subjects of the speech—Is convinced that the societies must be put down, or they will destroy government—Suggestion for a reference in his address.

    • To Edmund Randolph, October 18th . . . 476

      Despatches from Jay—Good dispositions of the British ministry.

      Edition: current; Page: [xxii]
    • To Henry Lee, October 20th . . . . . 478

      Thanks the militia army for their service—Importance of the matters at issue—As supporters of the law, the army should not be guilty of infractions—Parting words.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, October 26th . . . 480

      His progress on his return—Malconduct of some of the soldiery—His movements—Bradford and Husband should be secured.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, October 31st . . . 482

      Has reached Philadelphia—Intelligence from Europe—Arrival of Monroe—Congress—Hints for the return of the soldiers.

    • To John Jay, November 1st . . . . . 484

      Testimony of remembrane—Favorable prospects of his mission—Criticism to be expected—What the Executive may do—The western insurrection and the self-created societies—Spirit shown by the troops—Effect on the insurgents—Will refer to this in his message—Cannot encourage emigrants.

    • To John Adams, November 15th . . . . 489

      The Genevese university and the proposal to bring it to America—His opinion on emigration.

    • Speech to Congress, November 19th . . . 491
    • To Alexander Spotswood, November 23d . . 499

      New countries and their advantages—Lands on the Ohio—Suggestions as to disposing of his lands—His position towards slavery.

    • To Tobias Lear, December 14th . . . . 501

      Disregard of delegated powers—Petition of the Potomac Company—Impropriety of his writing to members of the Virginia Assembly.

    • To John Jay, December 18th . . . . . 503

      Monroe’s communications to the national convention—His defence—Business of the session—Report that United States will be chosen mediator between France and England—Virginia escheats of British property.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

1790.

SPEECH TO CONGRESS.

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

In meeting you again I feel much satisfaction in being able to repeat my congratulations on the favorable prospects which continue to distinguish our public affairs. The abundant fruits of another year have blessed our Country with plenty and with the means of a flourishing commerce. The progress of public credit is witnessed by a considerable rise of American stock abroad as well as at home. And the revenues allotted for this and other national purposes, have been productive beyond the calculations by which they were regulated. This latter circumstance is the more pleasing as it is not only a proof of the fertility of our resources, but as it assures us of a further increase of the national respectability and credit; and, let me add, as it bears an honorable testimony to the patriotism and integrity of the mercantile and marine part of our citizens. The punctuality of the former in discharging their engagements has been exemplary.

In conforming to the powers vested in me by the acts of the last session, a loan of three millions of florins, towards which some provisional measures had previously taken place, has been completed in Holland. As well the celerity with which it has been filled, as the nature of the terms (considering the more than ordinary demand for borrowing, created by the situation of Europe,) gives a reasonable hope, that the further execution of those powers may proceed with advantage and success. The Secretary of the Treasury has my directions to communicate such Edition: current; Page: [2] further particulars as may be requisite for more precise information.

Since your last sessions, I have received communications by which it appears, that the district of Kentucky, at present a part of Virginia, has concurred in certain propositions contained in a law of that State, in consequence of which the district is to become a distinct member of the Union, in case the requisite sanction of Congress be added. For this sanction application is now made. I shall cause the papers on this very important transaction to be laid before you. The liberality and harmony, with which it has been conducted, will be found to do great honor to both the parties; and the sentiments of warm attachment to the Union and its present government, expressed by our fellow-citizens of Kentucky, cannot fail to add an affectionate concern for their particular welfare to the great national impressions under which you will decide on the case submitted to you.

It has been heretofore known to Congress, that frequent incursions have been made on our frontier settlements by certain banditti of Indians from the northwest side of the Ohio. These, with some of the tribes dwelling on and near the Wabash, have of late been particularly active in their depredations; and, being emboldened by the impunity of their crimes, and aided by such parts of the neighboring tribes as could be seduced to join in their hostilities or afford them a retreat for their prisoners and plunder, they have, instead of listening to the humane invitations and overtures made on the part of the United States, renewed their violences with fresh alacrity and greater effect. The lives of a number of valuable citizens have thus been sacrificed and some of them under circumstances peculiarly shocking, whilst others have been carried into a deplorable captivity.

These aggravated provocations rendered it essential to the safety of the western settlements, that the aggressors should be made sensible, that the government of the Union is not less capable of punishing their crimes, than it is disposed to respect their rights and reward their attachments. As this object could not be effected by defensive measures, it became necessary to put in force the act, which empowers the President to call out the militia for the protection of the frontiers; and I have Edition: current; Page: [3] accordingly authorized an expedition, in which the regular troops in that quarter are combined with such drafts of militia as were deemed sufficient. The event of the measure is yet unknown to me. The Secretary of War is directed to lay before you a statement of the information on which it is founded, as well as an estimate of the expense with which it will be attended.

The disturbed situation of Europe, and particularly the critical posture of the great maritime powers, whilst it ought to make us more thankful for the general peace and security enjoyed by the United States, reminds us at the same time of the circumspection with which it becomes us to preserve these blessings. It requires also, that we should not overlook the tendency of a war, and even of preparations for a war, among the nations most concerned in active commerce with this country, to abridge the means, and thereby at least enhance the price, of transporting its valuable productions to their proper markets. I recommend it to your serious reflection, how far and in what mode it may be expedient to guard against embarrassments from these contingencies, by such encouragements to our own navigation as will render our commerce and agriculture less dependent on foreign bottoms, which may fail us in the very moments most interesting to both of these great objects. Our fisheries, and the transportation of our own produce, offer us abundant means for guarding ourselves against this evil.

Your attention seems to be not less due to that particular branch of our trade, which belongs to the Mediterranean. So many circumstances unite in rendering the present state of it distressful to us, that you will not think any deliberations misemployed, which may lead to its relief and protection.

The laws you have already passed for the establishment of a judiciary system, have opened the doors of justice to all descriptions of persons. You will consider in your wisdom, whether improvements in that system may yet be made, and particularly whether a uniform process of execution on sentences issuing from the federal courts be not desirable through all the States.

The patronage of our commerce, of our merchants and seamen, has called for the appointment of consuls in foreign counries. It seems expedient to regulate by law the exercise of that Edition: current; Page: [4] jurisdiction and those functions, which are permitted them, either by express convention, or by a friendly indulgence in the places of their residence. The consular convention, too, with his Most Christian Majesty has stipulated, in certain cases, the aid of the national authority to his consuls established here. Some legislative provision is requisite to carry these stipulations into full effect.

The establishment of the militia, of a mint, of standards of weights and measures, of the post-office and post-roads, are subjects which (I presume) you will resume of course, and which are abundantly urged by their own importance.

GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

The sufficiency of the revenues you have established, for the objects to which they are appropriated, leaves no doubt that the residuary provisions will be commensurate to the other objects for which the public faith stands now pledged. Allow me, moreover, to hope, that it will be a favorite policy with you, not merely to secure a payment of the interest of the debt funded, but, as far and as fast as the growing resources of the country will permit, to exonerate it of the principal itself. The appropriation you have made of the western lands explains your dispositions on this subject; and I am persuaded the sooner that valuable fund can be made to contribute, along with other means, to the actual reduction of the public debt, the more salutary will the measure be to every public interest, as well as the more satisfactory to our constituents.

1791.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 January, 1791
Philadelphia
Arthur St. Clair
St. Clair, Arthur

TO ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, GOVERNOR OF THE NORTHWESTERN TERRITORY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

In the journals of the proceedings of the executive in the Northwestern Territory, there appear to be certain regulations made by the executive, under the Edition: current; Page: [5] articles of the 25th of April, 6th, 28th, and 29th of June last, which can with propriety only be established by laws.

In noticing these, my mind naturally recurred to your letter to me, dated at Cahokia on the 1st of May last, wherein you observe, that the absence of the judges had embarrassed you a great deal, and after waiting for them as long as possible, that you had been under the necessity of directing by proclamation certain regulations suited to the peculiar circumstances of the country. These you had no doubt would be soon confirmed by law, and the necessity of the case offered an excuse for having exceeded your proper powers.1

The imperfect state in which the legislation of the Northwestern Territory is, the want which the executive has often felt of the necessary coadjutors to adopt even the most urgent laws, and the peculiar situation of a frontier country, are circumstances which may not strike every one, who will observe that the executive has gone beyond its proper powers. It therefore becomes a matter of high importance, that the utmost circumspection should be observed in the conduct of the executive; for there are not wanting persons, who would rejoice to find the slightest ground of clamor against public characters; and, paying no regard to the absolute necessity of the case, which caused a momentary stretch of power, nor the public good which might be produced by it, they would seize the occasion of making impressions unfavorable to Edition: current; Page: [6] government, and possibly productive of disagreeable effects.

I have therefore thought it best to give you this intimation in a private and friendly letter, that by circumspection malice itself may be disarmed. With the compliments of the season, and great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
13 January, 1791
Philadelphia
Beverley Randolph
Randolph, Beverley

TO BEVERLEY RANDOLPH, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.

Sir,

The various and important business, which required my particular attention in the beginning of the present session of Congress, will, I presume, sufficiently apologize to your Excellency for this late acknowledgment of your letter of November last.

I have attentively considered the request, which your Excellency has made by desire of the legislature, that I would again open the business of establishing a woollen manufactory in Virginia; and it is with infinite regret, that I must decline any further agency in it, at least so far as relates to carrying on a correspondence with the person in Great Britain, who has proposed to establish the manufactory. I am persuaded, that your Excellency and the legislature will see, upon reflection, the impropriety of my appearing in this business, while I remain in my present situation; for I am told that it is felony to export the machines, which it is probable the artist contemplates to bring with him, and it certainly would not Edition: current; Page: [7] carry an aspect very favorable to the dignity of the United States, for the President in a clandestine manner to entice the subjects of another nation to violate its laws.

I have communicated the subject of your letter to the secretary of state and the attorney-general, who are both of the same sentiment which I have expressed, and for the reason mentioned.

I am however happy, that my agency is not absolutely necessary to the completion of this object; for the project has been announced to Virginia, and the original letter from the artist has been transmitted to your Excellency. This communicates every thing on the subject of which I am possessed, and leaves it with the State of Virginia to do whatever may be thought best in the affair.

Impressed as I am with the utility of such an establishment, I shall ever be ready to give it every aid that I can with propriety; and I am certain that your Excellency and the legislature will impute my conduct on this occasion to its true motive. With due consideration, I have the honor to be, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 January, 1791
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

On as full a consideration of the last speech made to me by Cornplanter, Halftown, and the Great-tree, chiefs of the Seneca nation, as my comprehension of their meaning enables me to give, I am led to the following conclusions, which, if there is any propriety Edition: current; Page: [8] in discussing their request, or yielding the land asked for, I wish you to consider as the basis of the communications to be made to these people.

In the first place, it appears to me, that Cornplanter and the other chiefs now in the city of Philadelphia do not constitute a representation of their nation; and to undo, or perhaps even to enter on the revision of treaties, which have been deliberately and formally concluded, but under circumstances of equal deliberation and form, would be to open a door to certain inconvenience, and probable difficulty, by encouraging applications, which the Indians would not fail to make to the United States; that it is a matter, which requires mature consideration, how far any assurances regarding the restoration of lands, which have been ceded by treaty to the United States, can be made without the participation of the Senate, and that no assurance should be given, which may involve a dispute with any individual State, respecting its claim to the land applied for; that they be informed, that no agent for Indian affairs will be authorized to dispose of their lands.

Not comprehending the precise meaning of the clause respecting children, I do not remark upon it.

In reply to the last clause of their speech, I have to observe, that such expense cannot be incurred. What is made will be for objects the most beneficial. The enclosed letter from Colonel Pickering contains some good ideas of improvement, and, if necessary, may be useful in framing the answer to the Cornplanter, and the other Indians who are with him. I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [9]
George Washington
Washington, George
16 January, 1791
Philadelphia
Edward Rutledge
Rutledge, Edward

TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE.

My Dear Sir,

I can but love and thank you, and I do it sincerely, for your polite and friendly letter of the 11th of November, which came to my hands the day before yesterday only. The sentiments contained in it are such as have uniformly flowed from your pen, and they are not less flattering than pleasing to me.

The present Congress can sit no longer than the 4th of March, and should it not be found expedient to convene the new one immediately upon the rising of it—and should not the old one, by Acts of the present session cut out work for the Executive, which may render my absence from the seat of government (soon after the adjournment) incompatible with my public duties; I shall most assuredly indulge myself in a tour thro’ the Southern States in the Spring. But it will readily be perceived that this event must depend upon the time I shall be able to commence the journey, for I do not hesitate to acknowledge, that I am not inclined to be in the southernmost States after the month of May; and my journey must, on many accounts be made slow and easy.

It was among my first determinations when I entered upon the duties of my present station to visit every part of the United States in the course of my administration of the government, provided my health and other circumstances would admit of it. And this determination was accompanied with another: viz.—not, by making my head quarters in private Edition: current; Page: [10] families, to become troublesome to them in any of these tours. The first I have accomplished in part only, without departing in a single instance from the second, although pressed to it by the most civil and cordial invitations. After having made this communication you will readily perceive, my dear Sir, that it is not in my power (however it might comport with my inclinations,) to change my plan, without exposing myself to the charge of inconsistency, if not something more exceptionable—especially too, as it is not more than ten days since I declined a very kind and friendly invitation from my namesake and kinsman Colonel W. Washington of your State to lodge at his house when I should visit Charleston.

With affectionate esteem and regard, I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
19th day of January, 1791

ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CORNPLANTER, HALFTOWN, AND GREAT-TREE, CHIEFS OF THE SENECA NATION OF INDIANS.

Brothers,

I have maturely considered your second written speech.

You say your nation complain, that, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, you were compelled to give up too much of your lands; that you confess your nation is bound by what was there done, and, acknowledging the power of the United States, that you have now appealed to ourselves against that treaty, as made while we were angry against you, and that the said treaty was therefore unreasonable and unjust.

But while you complain of the treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1784, you seem entirely to forget that you yourselves, the Cornplanter, Edition: current; Page: [11] Halftown, and Great-tree, with others of your nation, confirmed by the treaty of Fort Harmar upon the Muskingum, so late as the 9th of January, 1789, the boundaries marked at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, and that in consequence thereof you then received goods to a considerable amount.

Although it is my sincere desire, in looking forward, to endeavor to promote your happiness by all just and humane arrangements, yet I cannot disannul treaties formed by the United States before my administration, especially as the boundaries mentioned therein have been twice confirmed by yourselves.

The lines fixed at Fort Stanwix and Fort Harmar must therefore remain established.

But Halftown and others, who reside upon the land you desire may be relinquished, have not been disturbed in their possession, and I should hope, while they continue to demean themselves peaceably, and to manifest their friendly dispositions towards the people of the United States, that they will be suffered to remain where they are.

The agent, who will be appointed by the United States, will be your friend and protector. He will not be suffered to defraud you, or to assist in defrauding you, of your lands, or of any other thing; as all his proceedings must be reported in writing, so as to be submitted to the President of the United States.

You mention your design of going to the Miami Indians, to endeavor to persuade them to peace. By this humane measure you will render those mistaken people a great service, and probably prevent their being swept from off the face of the earth. The United States require only, that those people should demean themselves peaceably. But they may be assured, that the United States are able, and will most certainly punish them severely for all their robberies and murders.

You may, when you return from this city to your own country, mention to your nation my desire to promote their prosperity, by teaching the use of domestic animals, and the manner that the white people plough and raise so much corn; and if, upon consideration, it would be agreeable to the nation at large to learn Edition: current; Page: [12] these arts, I will find some means of teaching them at such places within their country as shall be agreed upon.

I have nothing more to add, but to refer you to my former speech, and to repeat my wishes for the happiness of the Seneca nation.

Given under my hand, and the seal of the United States, at Philadelphia, this 19th day of January, 1791.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 January, 1791
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING.

Sir,

I have had the pleasure to receive your letters of the 8th and 15th of this month. I feel myself much obliged by the trouble you have taken, in the former, to detail your ideas with respect to introducing the art of husbandry and civilization among the Indians. I confess that your plan, or something like it, strikes me as the most probable means of effecting this desirable end; and I am fully of opinion with you, that the mode of education, which has hitherto been pursued with respect to those young Indians, who have been sent to our colleges, is not such as can be productive of any good to their nations. Reason might have shown it, and experience clearly proves it to have been the case. It is perhaps productive of evil. Humanity and good policy must make it the wish of every good citizen of the United States, that husbandry, and consequently civilization, should be introduced among the Indians. So strongly am I impressed with the beneficial effects, which our country would receive from such a thing, that I shall always take a Edition: current; Page: [13] singular pleasure in promoting, as far as may be in my power, every measure which may tend to ensure it.

I should have been very glad, if it had comported with your interest and inclination to superintend the northern Indians, as I am persuaded that nothing would have been wanting on your part to attach them to the United States, and to cultivate that spirit for civilization, which now begins to dawn among them.1 Whoever undertakes this business must be actuated by more enlarged views, than his individual interest, or he can never accomplish the wished for end.

With very great regard, I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
3 February, 1791
Philadelphia
William Deakins
Deakins, William
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO WILLIAM DEAKINS, JR. AND BENJAMIN STODDERT.

Gentlemen,

In asking your aid in the following case, permit me, at the same time, to ask the most perfect secresy.

The federal territory being located, the competition for the location of the town now rests between Edition: current; Page: [14] the mouth of the Eastern branch and the lands on the river below and adjacent to Georgetown. In favor of the former, nature has furnished powerful advantages: In favor of the latter, is its vicinity to Georgetown—which puts it in the way of deriving aids from it in the beginning, and of communicating in return an increased value to the property of that town. These advantages have been so poised in my mind as to give it different tendencies at different times. There are lands which stand yet in the way of the latter location and which if they could be obtained for the purposes of the town, would remove a considerable obstacle to it, and go near indeed to decide what has been so long on the balance with me.

These are first, the lands on the Southwest side of a line to be run from where the Road crosses Goose creek (in going from Georgetown to the Eastern branch,—to the corner of Beatty’s lot, including by the Plat, of Beatty and Orme the house of William Pearce) or, if the whole of this parcel cannot be obtained then, secondly, so much as would lie within a line to be run from the said ford, or thereabouts, to the middle of the line of cession which extends from Edition: current; Page: [15] the corner of Beatty’s lot as above mentioned to its termination in Goose creek. Thirdly, the lands of Mr. Carrol, between Goose creek, the river, and Mr. Young’s, to the same ford of the creek.

The object of this letter is to ask you to endeavor to purchase these grounds of the owners for the public, particularly the second parcel, but as if for yourselves, and to conduct your propositions so as to excite no suspicion that they are on behalf of the public.

The circumstances of the funds appropriated by the States of Virginia and Maryland will require that a twelve month’s credit be stipulated, in order that they may cover you from any inconvenience which might attend your personal undertakings. As the prices at which the lands can be obtained would have its weight also with me, I would wish that, in making your bargains you should reserve to yourselves a fortnight’s time to consider, at the end of which you should be free to be off or on but the seller not so: This will admit your writing to me and receiving my definitive answer.

A clear purchase is so preferable to every other arrangement, that I should scarcely think any other worthy attention.1

Edition: current; Page: [16]

I am obliged to add that all the despatch is requisite which can consist with the success of your operations, and I shou’d be glad to hear by post of your progress, and prospect of the accomplishment of this business in whole or in part. I am, &c.

P. S. That my description of the lands required in the foregoing letter may be more clearly understood, and my wishes further explained, I enclose you a rough, and very rough indeed it is, copy of the ceded tracts, roads, &c., of Messrs. Beatty and Orme’s survey, adding thereto lines of augmentation.—To obtain the lands included within the lines A B & C is my first wish,—and next to that the lands within the lines D E & F; but those within the lines D. E and along the creek to C are indispensably necessary; and being not over 250 acres might, I suppose, be easily obtained.

It ought to be the first essay; and I wish to know the result of it before any others are directly attempted.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 February, 1791
Philadelphia
John Armstrong
Armstrong, John

TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.

Dear General,

Acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 29th of December, and offering to you my best thanks for the interest it expresses in my behalf, I beg you to be persuaded, that neither my late silence Edition: current; Page: [17] nor my present brevity is in any degree the consequence of diminished regard. Your friendship receives from me the same grateful and affectionate return, which I have ever made to it; but the multiplied duties of my public station allow me little or no leisure for the cultivation of private regards; and the necessity of a prior attention to those duties cannot fail, my dear Sir, to excuse me to you.

Having in all cases of application for appointment to office prescribed as an invariable rule to myself, the right of remaining to the last moment free and unengaged, I did not find myself at liberty, even in your regard, to deviate from that rule, which you will be so good as to assign as the reason why I did not answer your letter of last spring.

I have the best disposition to serve the person, whom you then recommended, and, in whatever may comport with circumstances and public propriety, I shall be happy to do so. At present I know not what offices may be created, and applicants multiply with every new office, and some of them come forward under such fair pretensions and pressing wants, that preference is difficult and painful to a degree. In a word, to a man, who has no ends to serve, nor friends to provide for, nomination to office is the most irksome part of the executive trust.

The concern which you take in my health, enhances the pleasure I have in assuring you, that it is now perfectly reëstablished. It will add greatly to my enjoyment to hear that yours is also improved.

I am, dear Sir, &c.
Edition: current; Page: [18]
George Washington
Washington, George
16 February, 1791
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir:

“An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States” is now before me for consideration.

The constitutionality of it is objected to. It therefore becomes more particularly my duty to examine the ground on which the objection is built. As a mean of investigation I have called upon the Attorney General of the United States, in whose line it seemed more particularly to be, for his official examination and opinion. His report is, that the Constitution does not warrant the act. I then applied to the Secretary of State for his sentiments on the subject. These coincide with the Attorney General’s, and the reasons for their opinions having been submitted in writing, I now require, in like manner, yours, on the validity and propriety of the above recited act: and that you may know the points on which the Secretary of State and the Attorney General dispute the constitutionality of the act; and that I may be fully possessed of the argument for and against the measure, before I express any opinion of my own—I give you an opportunity of examining and answering the objections contained in the enclosed papers. I require the return of them, when your own sentiments are handed me (which I wish may be as soon as is convenient), and further, that no copies of them be taken, as it is for my own satisfaction they have been called for.

Edition: current; Page: [19]
George Washington
Washington, George
16 March, 1791
Philadelphia
David Humphreys
Humphreys, David

TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.

My dear Sir,

As this letter is wholly of a private nature, I refer you to Mr. Jefferson’s official communications for every thing relative to your appointment at the court of Lisbon, &c., and shall confine myself to acknowledging your two letters, viz. one from London of October 31 and the other from Lisbon of November 30, 1790, and to such general observations as may occur in the course of my writing.

The desponding accounts of our public affairs, which you mention to have been transmitted to Europe by a person high in office here, are happily contradicted by facts too stubborn to be overturned; and, although it is to be regretted, that such gloomy relations should be given by a man, who, it may be supposed, is perfectly acquainted with our political situation, yet there is some pleasure in knowing, that his better half has asserted things quite contrary.1

The remarks of a foreign Count are such as do no credit to his judgment, and as little to his heart. They are the superficial observations of a few months’ residence, and an insult to the inhabitants of a country, where he has received much more attention and civility than he seems to merit.2

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It gives me pleasure to hear, that Mr. Paine is likely to succeed with his bridge, and Rumsey in his ingenious projects.1

Congress finished their session on the 3d of March, in the course of which they received and granted the applications of Kentucky and Vermont for admission into the Union2; the former after August, 1792, and Edition: current; Page: [21] the latter immediately. They made provision for the interest on the national debt, by laying a higher duty than that which heretofore existed on spirituous liquors, imported or manufactured; they established a national bank; they passed a law for certain measures to be taken towards establishing a mint; and finished much other business of less importance, conducting on all occasions with great harmony and cordiality. In some few instances, particularly in passing the law for higher duties mentioned above, and more especially on the subject of the bank, the line between the southern and eastern interests appeared more strongly marked than could have been wished; the former against, and the latter in favor of, those measures. But the debates were conducted with temper and candor.

The convention between Spain and England seems once more to have composed the European powers, except the Empress and the Turks, and the Emperor appears to have settled matters pretty thoroughly in Edition: current; Page: [22] his dominions. Of the state of things in France we can form no just idea, so various and contradictory are our accounts from thence; but we most devoutly wish a speedy and happy termination of the struggle, which has for some time past convulsed that kingdom.

Peace and tranquillity pervade the territory of the United States, except on the N. W. side of the Ohio, where the frequent depredations of the Indians made it necessary to form an expedition against them last fall. But that has not been productive of the consequences, which were expected from it. The Indians still continue their hostilities, and measures are now taking to convince them, if they do not see the folly of their ways before they can be carried into effect, that the enmity of the United States is as much to be dreaded, as their friendship is to be desired. Our public credit is restored, our resources are increasing, and the general appearance of things at least equals the most sanguine expectation, that was formed of the effects of the present government.

I am about to set out to-morrow or next day on a tour through the southern States. I am under the necessity of commencing my journey with very bad roads, in order that I may take such advantage of the season as to be leaving the southern extremity before the travelling shall be rendered disagreeable, and perhaps dangerous by the heat. I expect to return to this city in the latter end of June, or early in July. Since the rising of Congress I have been, and shall be till my departure, very busily engaged in making Edition: current; Page: [23] such arrangements with the several departments as will enable me to be absent for several months, without interrupting public business; and if I have not said every thing in this letter that I intended, or that you might expect, it must be imputed to the hurry of the moment. But at any rate there is one thing I must not omit, which is to tell you, that I am very sincerely your affectionate friend.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 March, 1791
Philadelphia
M. Lafayette
Lafayette, M.

TO M. LAFAYETTE.1

Renewing to you, my dear Sir, assurances of the most perfect esteem and affection, I desire to refer the interruptions, which our correspondence has lately sustained on my part, to causes which I am persuaded you will readily admit as excusable. To the fulfilment of public duties, too interesting to be neglected, and too multiplied to allow me much leisure, I am forced to sacrifice the wishes of friendship and the pleasures of private life. This reason to you, who suffer the same privations, will apologize for the abridgment of an intercourse, ever grateful to my feelings and conducive to my happiness.

The tender concern, which you express on my late illness, awakens emotions, which words will not explain, and to which your own sensibility can best do justice. My health is now quite restored, and I Edition: current; Page: [24] flatter myself with the hope of a long exemption from sickness. On Monday next I shall enter on the practice of your friendly prescription of exercise, intending at that time to begin a journey to the southward, during which I propose visiting all the southern States.

Our country, my dear Sir, (and it is truly yours) is fast progressing in its political importance and social happiness. The last session of Congress has been occupied in additional arrangements of finance, to establish the public credit, and provide for the expenditures of government. A small increase of our military establishment has also been judged necessary to reclaim, if possible, and to chastise, if required, the irregularities of some Indian tribes on the western waters. Your friend, General St. Clair, resumes his functions as major-general.1

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The laws of the United States, adapted to the public exigencies, are framed with wisdom and moderation, and acquiesced in with cheerfulness. The administration of them, aided by the affectionate partiality of my countrymen, is attended with no unnecessary inconvenience, and every circumstance is auspicious to the felicity of your fellow-citizens in this section of the globe. They are not less so, I devoutly hope, in that country which is more immediately the object of your patriotic attentions.

The distance, which separates us, joined to the delicacy of the subject, has always suspended my opinion on your national affairs. I am well aware, that it is impossible to judge with precision of measures, the motives of which are sometimes unknown, and the necessity of them not always understood; but there is one circumstance on which I find it difficult to suppress an anxious wish; that the present National Assembly may not protract their own existence so long, as to beget any uneasiness on that score. The confirmation of their decrees will be best made by a second representation of the people; and that representation, to act efficiently as a legislative body, may possibly be required to be reorganized. My affection for the French nation, my sincere wish that Edition: current; Page: [26] their government may be respectable and the people happy, will excuse the disclosure of this sentiment, the only one, I believe, that I have ventured to offer on the subject of the revolution.

Like you, my dear Sir, I sighed for retirement; like me, I am afraid you must continue the sacrifice. I have obeyed your request in communicating your remembrance to the friends mentioned in your letter of the 26th of August. Mrs. Washington joins me in respectful compliments to Madame de Lafayette, and I entreat you to be assured of the inviolable respect and esteem with which I am, my dear Sir, &c.

P. S. Your old aid-de-camp, George Augustine Washington, has got another son, to whom he has given your name.1

George Washington
Washington, George
31 March, 1791
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Having been so fortunate as to reconcile the contending interests of Georgetown and Carrollsburg, and to unite them in such an agreement as permits the public purposes to be carried into effect on an extensive and proper scale, I have the pleasure to transmit to you the enclosed proclamation, which, Edition: current; Page: [27] after annexing the seal of the United States, and your countersignature, you will cause to be published.1

The terms entered into by me, on the part of the United States, with the landholders of Georgetown and Carrollsburg are, that all the land from Rock Creek along the river to the Eastern Branch, and so upwards to or above the Ferry, including a breadth of about a mile and a half, the whole containing from three to five thousand acres, is ceded to the public Edition: current; Page: [28] on condition, that, when the whole shall be surveyed and laid off as a city (which Major L’Enfant is now directed to do), the present proprietors shall retain every other lot; and for such part of the land as may be taken for public use, for squares, walks, &c., they shall be allowed at the rate of twenty-five pounds per acre, the public having the right to reserve such parts of the wood on the land, as may be thought necessary to be preserved for ornament; the landholders to have the use and profits of all the grounds until the city is laid off into lots, and sale is made of those lots, which, by this agreement, become public property. Nothing is to be allowed for the ground, which may be occupied as streets or alleys.

To these considerations all the principal landholders, except the purchaser of Slater’s property, who was not present, have subscribed; and it is not doubted, that the few, who were not present, will readily come into the measure, even the obstinate Mr. Burns.

The enlarged plan of this agreement having done away the necessity, and indeed postponed the propriety, of designating the particular spot on which the public building should be placed, until an accurate survey and subdivision of the whole ground is made, I have left out that paragraph of the proclamation.

It was found on running the lines, that the comprehension of Bladensburg within the district must have occasioned the exclusion of more important objects; and of this I am convinced, as well by my own observation, as Mr. Ellicott’s opinion. With great regard and esteem, I am, dear Sir, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
1 April, 1791
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I have had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 27th ultimo, with the papers which accompanied it. Referring to your judgment, whether a commission similar to that intended for Mr. Barclay1 may be given without the agency of the Senate, I return both papers to you signed, in order that the one you deem most proper may be used.

Your opinions respecting the acts of force, which have already taken place, or may yet take place, on our boundaries, meet my concurrence as the safest mode of compelling propositions to an amicable settlement; and it may answer a good purpose to have them suggested in the way you mention. Should this matter assume a serious aspect during my absence, I beg you to communicate particulars with all possible despatch.2

The most superb edifices may be erected, and I shall wish their inhabitants much happiness, and that Edition: current; Page: [30] too very disinterestedly, as I shall never be of the number myself.1

It will be fortunate for the American public, if private speculations in the lands still claimed by the aborigines do not aggravate those differences, which policy, humanity, and justice concur to deprecate.2

I am much indebted to your kind concern for my safety in travelling. No accident has yet happened, either from the high hanging of the carriage, or the mode of driving. The latter I must continue, as my postilion is still too much indisposed to ride the journey. It occurs to me that you may not have adverted to Judge Putnam’s being in the western country at present. Perhaps General Knox can furnish you with the maps you want, or they may be found among those that are in my study at Philadelphia.

I expect to leave Mount Vernon, in prosecution of my southern tour, on Tuesday or Wednesday next. I shall halt one day at Fredericksburg and two at Richmond; thence I shall proceed to Charleston by the way of Petersburg, Halifax, Tarborough, Newbern, Edition: current; Page: [31] Wilmington, and Georgetown, without making any halts between Richmond and Charleston, but such as may be necessary to accommodate my journey. I am sincerely and affectionately yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
3 April, 1791
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

You will readily agree with me, that the best interests of the United States require such an intimation to be made either directly or indirectly to the Governor of Canada, as may produce instructions to prevent the Indians receiving military aid or supplies from the British posts or garrisons. The notoriety of this assistance has already been such, as renders inquiry into particulars unnecessary. Major Beckwith seems peculiarly designated to be the channel of an indirect intimation. Referring the mode and extent of communicating with him to your own discretion, I wish it may be suggested, in such manner as to reach Lord Dorchester, or the officer commanding in Canada, that certain information has been received of large supplies of ammunition being delivered from British posts to the hostile Indians, about the beginning of last campaign; and as the United States have no other view in prosecuting the present war against the Indians, than, in the failure of negotiation, to procure, by arms, peace and safety to the inhabitants of their frontier, they are equally surprised and disappointed at such an interference by the servants or Edition: current; Page: [32] subjects of a foreign state, as seems intended to protract the attainment of so just and reasonable an object.

These are my sentiments on this subject at the present moment; yet so unsettled do some circumstances appear, that it is possible you may see a necessity either to treat it very delicately, or to decline acting on it altogether. The option is therefore left to your judgment, as events may make the one or the other the part of propriety.1 The enclosed paper is transmitted, and referred to you in the state I received it. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 April, 1791
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 27th ultimo came duly to hand. For the information given in it, and for the notes which accompanied the same, I thank you.

Every expedient, as I believe you know, is tried to avert a war with the hostile tribes of Indians, and to keep those who are in treaty with us in good humor; but I am almost thoroughly convinced, that neither will be effected, or, if effected, will be of short duration, whilst land-jobbing, and the disorderly conduct Edition: current; Page: [33] of our borderers, are suffered with impunity; and while the States individually are omitting no occasion to intermeddle in matters, which belong to the general government.

It is not more than four or five months since the Six Nations, or part of them, through the medium of Colonel Pickering, were assured, that henceforward they would be spoken to by the government of the United States only, and the same thing was repeated in strong terms to the Cornplanter at Philadelphia afterwards. Now, as appears by the extract from Mr. King, the legislature of New York were going into some negotiations with these very people. What must this evince to them? Why, that we pursue no system, and that there is no reliance on any of our declarations. To sum the whole up into a few words, the interference of States, and the speculations of individuals, will be the bane of all our public measures. Sincerely and affectionately yours.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
4 April, 1791
Mount Vernon,

TO THE SECRETARIES OF THE DEPARTMENTS OF STATE, TREASURY, AND WAR.

Gentlemen,

As the public service may require, that communications should be made to me during my absence from the seat of government by the most direct conveyances, and as, in the event of any very Edition: current; Page: [35] extraordinary occurrence, it will be necessary to know at what time I may be found in any particular place, I have to inform you, that, unless the progress of my journey to Savannah is retarded by unforeseen interruptions, it will be regulated, including days of halt, in the following manner. I shall be on the 8th of April at Fredericksburg, the 11th at Richmond, the 14th at Petersburg, the 16th at Halifax, the 18th at Tarborough, the 20th at Newbern, the 24th at Wilmington, the 29th at Georgetown, South Carolina; on the 2d of May at Charleston, halting there five days; on the 11th at Savannah, halting there two days. Thence, leaving the line of the mail, I shall proceed to Augusta; and, according to the information which I may receive there, my return by an upper road will be regulated.

The route of my return is at present uncertain, but in all probability it will be through Columbia, Camden, Charlotte, Salisbury, Salem, Guilford, Hillsborough, Harrisburg, Williamsburg to Taylor’s Ferry on the Roanoke, and thence to Fredericksburg by the nearest and best road.

After thus explaining to you, as far as I am able at present, the direction and probable progress of my journey, I have to express my wish, if any serious and important cases (of which the probability is but too strong) should arise during my absence, that the Secretaries for the Departments of State, Treasury, and War, may hold consultations thereon, to determine whether they are of such a nature as to demand my personal attendance at the seat of government; and, should they be so considered, I will return immediately from any place at which the information may reach me. Or should they determine, that measures, relevant to the case, may be legally and properly pursued without the immediate agency of the President, I will approve and ratify the measures, which may be conformed to such determination.

Presuming that the Vice-President will have left the seat of government for Boston, I have not requested his opinion to be taken on the supposed emergency; should it be otherwise, I wish him also to be consulted. I am, Gentlemen, your most obedient servant.

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George Washington
Washington, George
13 April, 1791
Richmond
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 2d came to my hand at this place. Part of it did, as you supposed, and might well suppose, astonish me exceedingly. I think it not only right, that Mr. Carmichael should be furnished with a copy of the genuine letter to Mr. Morris, but that Mr. Morris should know the result of his conferences with the Count Florida Blanca1 at the court of Madrid.2 The contents of my public letters to him, Edition: current; Page: [37] you are acquainted with. My private ones were few, and there was nothing in any of them respecting England or Spain. How it comes to pass, therefore, that such interpretations, as the extracts recite, should be given, he best can account for.

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Being hurried, I shall only add, that I shall proceed on my journey to-morrow, and, from good information, have a dreary one before me in parts of it. * * *

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George Washington
Washington, George
7 May, 1791
Charleston
Thomas Johnson
Johnson, Thomas
David Stuart
Stuart, David
John Carroll
Carroll, John

TO MESSRS. JOHNSON, STUART, AND CARROLL.1

Gentlemen,

I have received your letter of the 14 of last month—It is an unfortunate circumstance, in the present stage of the business, relative to the federal city, that difficulties unforeseen and unexpected should arise to darken, perhaps to destroy the fair prospect, which it presented when I left Georgetown—and which the instrument, then signed by the combined interest (as it was termed) of Georgetown and Carrollsburg, so plainly describes—The pain which this occurrence occasions me is the more sensibly felt, as I had taken pleasure, during my journey through the several States, to relate the agreement and to speak of it, on every proper occasion, in terms, which applauded the conduct of the Parties, as being alike conducive to the public welfare, and to the interest of individuals, which last, it was generally thought would be most benefitted by the amasing encrease of the property reserved to the Landholders.

The words cited by Messrs. Young, Peters Lingan, Edition: current; Page: [40] and Forrest and Stoddert, may be nearly what I expressed. But will these Gentlemen say this was given as the precise boundary, or will they, by detaching these words, take them in a sense unconnected with the general explanation of my ideas and views upon that occasion or without the qualifications, which, unless I am much mistaken were added of running about so and so—for I had no map before me for direction. Will they not recollect my observation that Philadelphia stood upon an area of three by two miles, and that if the metropolis of one State occupied so much ground, what ought that of the United States to occupy? Did I not moreover observe that before the city could be laid out, and the spot for the public buildings be precisely fixed on, the water courses were to be levelled, the heights taken &c., &c—

Let the whole of my declaration be taken together, and not a part only and being compared with the instrument then subscribed, together with some other circumstances which might be alluded to, let any impartial man judge whether I had reason to expect that difficulties would arise in the conveyances.

When the instrument was presented I found no occasion to add a word with respect to boundary, because the whole was surrendered upon the conditions which were expressed. Had I discovered a disposition in the subscribers to contract my views, I should then have pointed out the inconveniences and the impolicy of the measure.

Upon the whole I shall hope and expect that the business will be suffered to proceed; and the more so, Edition: current; Page: [41] as they cannot be ignorant that the farther consideration of a certain measure in a neighboring state, stands postponed—for what reason is left to their own information or conjectures. I expect to be with you at the time appointed, and should be exceedingly pleased to find all difficulties removed. I am, &c.—

George Washington
Washington, George
20 May, 1791
Augusta
James Seagrove
Seagrove, James

TO JAMES SEAGROVE.

Sir,

The confidence, which your character inclines me to place in you, has induced me to commit the enclosed letter from the Secretary of State to Governor Quesada,1 and the negotiation, which will be consequent thereon, to your care and management. The letter, which is under a flying seal, to be closed before it is delivered, will inform you of the import, and serve to instruct you in the mode of conducting the object of your mission. Delicate in its nature, it will require the greatest address and temper in its treatment. Nor must any proposition or declaration be made, which in its consequence might commit the government of the United States.

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The enclosed copy of a letter, written by my direction from the Secretary of State to the Governor of Georgia, which is now confidentially communicated to you, is another source, whence some information may be drawn; but, as my ideas of your personal acquaintance with this business, combined with my opinion of your character and talents to transact it, have determined me to appoint you, it is from your own knowledge, and the circumstances which may arise, that you must decide on the best means to accomplish the negotiation. Your first care will be to arrest the farther reception of fugitive slaves; your next to obtain restitution of those slaves, who have fled to Florida, since the date of Governor Quesada’s letter to Mr. Jefferson, notifying the orders of his Catholic Majesty; and your last object, which may demand the greatest address, will be to give a retrospective force to the orders of the court of Spain, beyond the date of that letter, and to procure the Governor’s order for a general relinquishment of all fugitive slaves, who were the property of citizens of the United States. This last instruction will require peculiar delicacy, and must be entered on with caution and circumspection, or not be taken up at all, as appearances of compliance may justify the one or the other.

If your collectorate cannot furnish money to defray your expenses, in which you will observe due economy, and of which you will transmit an account to the Secretary of State, you will supply yourself from the collector of Savannah. I am, Sir, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
24 May, 1791
Columbia
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth
Edward Rutledge
Rutledge, Edward

TO CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY AND EDWARD RUTLEDGE.

Gentlemen,

An address to you jointly, on a subject of the following nature, may have a singular appearance; but that singularity will not exceed the evidence, which is thereby given of my opinion of, and confidence in you, and of the opinion I entertain of your confidence in and friendship for each other.

The office lately resigned by the Honble. Mr. John Rutledge, in the supreme judiciary of the Union, remains to be filled. Will either of you two gentlemen accept it? And, in that case, which of you? It will occur to you, that appointments to offices in the recess of the Senate are temporary; but of their confirmation in such a case there can be no doubt.

It may be asked why a proposition similar to this has never been made to you before. This is my answer. Your friends, with whom I have often conversed on like occasions, have always given it as their decided opinion, that no place in the disposal of the general government could be a compensation for the relinquishment of your private pursuits, or, in their belief, would withdraw you from them.1 In making Edition: current; Page: [44] the attempt, however, in the present instance, I discharge my duty, and shall await your answer (which I wish to receive soon) for the issue. Of my sincere esteem and regard for you both, I wish you to be persuaded, and that I am, Gentlemen, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
13 June, 1791
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

I am arrived at this place, and just in time to acknowledge (in a hasty manner by this day’s post, the first opportunity that has offered of writing to Philadelphia since I left Savannah,) the receipt of your private letter of the 17th of April, by Mr. Smith, who lodged it at Camden, through which it was known my route would be on my return to the seat of the government.

Mr. Wolcott may be informed that it is my intention to appoint him to the office of comptroller.1 With respect to his successor as auditor, I shall suspend Edition: current; Page: [45] my determination, if no manifest inconvenience will result from it, until my arrival in Philadelphia, which, however, is not likely to happen before the 5th or 6th of July, as, by appointment at the last meeting, I am to meet the commissioners under the residence act, on Monday the 27th instant at Georgetown, and may, for aught I know to the contrary, be detained there several days; and afterwards must move slowly, on account of the exhausted condition of my horses.

No letters from the northward or eastward of this, bearing date between the 15th and 30th of May, have come to my hands; and having abundant evidence, before I reached Charleston, of the slow movements of the mail through the three southernmost States, I did, before I left that place, on the 9th of that month, direct that all letters, which might be for and following me, to be returned to Fredericksburg, as the first place I should touch the post line upon my return. But, these directions not arriving in Richmond in time, as I conjecture, the letters of that interval agreeably to the superscriptions which I am informed were on them, were forwarded from that place to Taylor’s Ferry, in expectation of meeting me there. But to this circumstance, which was unknown to me, and to finding from better information than I set out with, that it would be more convenient to cross James River higher up than at Taylor’s, is to be ascribed my missing the communications, which were made between the 15th and 30th of May as mentioned before. These despatches I may be long Edition: current; Page: [46] without, and perhaps never get; for there are no cross posts in those parts, and the letters, which will have to pass through many hands, may find some who are not deficient in curiosity.

My return to this place is sooner than I expected, owing to the uninterruptedness of my journey by sickness, from bad weather, or accidents of any kind whatsoever. Having obtained, before I left Philadelphia, the most accurate account I could get there of the places and roads through and by which I was to perform my tour, and the distances between the former, I formed my line of march accordingly, fixed each day’s journey and the day to halt; from neither of which have I departed in a single instance, except staying from a particular circumstance two days in Columbia, and none at Charlotte, instead of one at each, and crossing James River at Carter’s Ferry in place of Taylor’s, as was the original intention. But the improbability of performing a tour of seventeen hundred miles (I have already rode more) with the same set of horses without encountering any accident, by which a deviation would be rendered unavoidable, appeared so great, that I allowed eight days for casualties, and six to refresh at this place when I should have returned to it. None of the former having happened, accounts for the fourteen days I shall remain here before the meeting with the commissioners; one of whom, Mr. Johnson, Chief Justice of the State of Maryland, and living at a pretty considerable distance from Georgetown, having made his arrangements agreeably thereto, would not be able to meet me sooner.

Edition: current; Page: [47]

I mention this matter, that, if there is any thing pressing in either of the departments, it may be known where I am. With affectionate regard, I am sincerely yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 July, 1791
Philadelphia
Catharine Macaulay Graham
Graham, Catharine Macaulay

TO CATHARINE MACAULAY GRAHAM.

Madam,

At the same time that I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 1st of March, with which I have been honored, let me request you to accept my thanks for your polite attention in sending me the pamphlet.1 which accompanied it. The importance of the subject, which has called forth your production and numerous others, is so deeply interesting to mankind, that every philanthropic mind, however far removed from the scene of action, cannot but feel anxious to see its termination; and it must be the ardent wish of every good man, that its event may increase the happiness of the human race.

I often regret, that my public duties do not allow me so much time as my inclination requires, to attend to my private correspondences, especially, with you, Madam. But I persuade myself, your goodness will lead you to place the brevity of this letter to its proper account, particularly when I add, that I am but just returned from a tour of near two thousand miles through the southern States, to perform which took me more than three months. I shall only further add to it, what I know must give you great pleasure, that Edition: current; Page: [48] the United States enjoy a scene of prosperity and tranquillity under the new government, that could hardly have been hoped for under the old, and that, while you, in Europe, are troubled with war and rumors of war, every one here may sit under his own vine, and none to molest or make him afraid. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20 July, 1791
Philadelphia
David Humphreys
Humphreys, David

TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.

My dear Sir,

I have received your letters of the 16th of February and 3d of May, and am much obliged by your observations on the situation, manners, customs, and dispositions of the Spanish nation. In this age of free inquiry and enlightened reason, it is to be hoped, that the condition of the people in every country will be bettered, and the happiness of mankind promoted. Spain appears to be so much behind the other nations of Europe in liberal policy, that a long time will undoubtedly elapse, before the people of that kingdom can taste the sweets of liberty, and enjoy the natural advantages of their country.

In my last I mentioned my intention of visiting the southern States, which I have since accomplished, and have the pleasure to inform you, that I performed a journey of eighteen hundred and eighty-seven miles without meeting with any interruption by sickness, bad weather, or any untoward accident. Edition: current; Page: [49] Indeed, so highly were we favored, that we arrived at each place, where I proposed to make any halt, on the very day I fixed upon before we set out. The same horses performed the whole tour; and although much reduced in flesh, kept up their full spirits to the last day.

I am much pleased that I have taken this journey, as it has enabled me to see with my own eyes the situation of the country through which we travelled, and to learn more accurately the disposition of the people than I could have done by any information.

The country appears to be in a very improving state, and industry and frugality are becoming much more fashionable than they have hitherto been there. Tranquillity reigns among the people, with that disposition towards the general government, which is likely to preserve it. They begin to feel the good effects of equal laws and equal protection. The farmer finds a ready market for his produce, and the merchant calculates with more certainty on his payments. Manufacturers have as yet made but little progress in that part of the country, and it will probably be a long time before they are brought to that state, to which they have already arrived in the middle and eastern parts of the Union.

Each day’s experience of the government of the United States seems to confirm its establishment, and to render it more popular. A ready acquiescence in the laws made under it shows in a strong light the confidence, which the people have in their representatives, and in the upright views of those, who administer Edition: current; Page: [50] the government. At the time of passing a law imposing a duty on home-made spirits, it was vehemently affirmed by many, that such a law could never be executed in the southern States, particularly in Virginia and North Carolina.1 As this law came in force only on the 1st of this month, little can be said of its effects from experience; but, from the best information I could get on my journey, respecting its operation on the minds of the people, (and I took some pains to obtain information on this point,) Edition: current; Page: [51] there remains no doubt but it will be carried into effect, not only without opposition, but with very general approbation in those very parts where it was foretold, that it would never be submitted to by any one. It is possible, however, and perhaps not improbable, that some demagogue may start up, and produce and get signed some resolutions declaratory of their disapprobation of the measure.

Our public credit stands on that ground, which three years ago it would have been considered as a species of madness to have foretold. The astonishing rapidity, with which the newly instituted bank was filled, gives an unexampled proof (here) of the resources of our countrymen, and their confidence in public measures. On the first day of opening the subscription, the whole number of shares (twenty thousand) were taken up in one hour, and application made for upwards of four thousand shares more than were granted by the institution, besides many others that were coming in from different quarters.

For some time past the western frontiers have been alarmed by depredations committed by some hostile tribes of Indians; but such measures are now in train as will, I presume, either bring them to sue for peace before a stroke is struck at them, or make them feel the effects of an enmity too sensibly to provoke it again unnecessarily, unless, as is much suspected, they are countenanced, abetted, and supported in their hostile views by the British. Though I must confess I cannot see much prospect of living in tranquillity with them, so long as a spirit of landjobbing Edition: current; Page: [52] prevails, and our frontier settlers entertain the opinion, that there is not the same crime (or indeed no crime at all) in killing an Indian, as in killing a white man.

You have been informed of the spot fixed on for the seat of government on the Potomac; and I am now happy to add, that all matters between the proprietors of the soil and the public are settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, and that the business of laying out the city, the grounds for public buildings, walks, &c. is progressing under the inspection of Major L’Enfant with pleasing prospects.

Thus much for our American affairs. And I wish I could say as much in favor of circumstances in Europe. But our accounts from thence do not paint the situation of the inhabitants in very pleasing colors. One part exhibits war and devastations, another preparations for war, a third commotions, a fourth direful apprehensions of commotions; and indeed there seems to be scarcely a nation enjoying uninterrupted, unapprehensive tranquillity.

The example of France will undoubtedly have its effects on other kingdoms. Poland, by the public papers, appears to have made large and unexpected strides towards liberty, which, if true, reflects great honor on the present King, who seems to have been the principal promoter of the business.

By the by, I have never received any letter from Mr. Littlepage, or from the King of Poland, which you say Mr. Carmichael informed you were sent to me last summer.

Edition: current; Page: [53]

I yesterday had Mr. Jaudenes,1 who was in this country with Mr. Gardoqui, and is now come over in a public character, presented to me for the first time by Mr. Jefferson. Colonel Ternant is expected here every day as minister from France.

I am glad to learn, that the air of Lisbon agrees so well with you. I sincerely hope you may long, very long, enjoy the blessing of health, accompanied with such other blessings as may contribute to your happiness. I have been in the enjoyment of very good health during my journey, and have rather gained flesh upon it. Mrs. Washington desires her best wishes may be presented to you. You are always assured of those of, my dear Sir, your sincere and affectionate friend.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 July, 1791
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.

Dear Sir,

I have not before me your favors of the 22 of November, 1 and 24 of December, 1790, and of the 9th of March, 1791.

The plateaux which you had the goodness to procure for me arrived safe and the account of them has been settled as you desired with Mr. Robert Morris. For this additional mark of attention to my wishes you must accept my thanks.

The communications in your several letters, relative to the state of affairs in Europe, are very gratefully received; and I should be glad if it was in my Edition: current; Page: [54] power to reply to them more in detail than I am able to do. But my public duties, which are at all times sufficiently numerous, being now much accumulated by an absence of more than three months from the seat of government, make the present a very busy moment for me.

The change of systems, which have so long prevailed in Europe, will, undoubtedly, affect us in a degree proportioned to our political or commercial connexions with the several nations of it. But I trust we shall never so far lose sight of our own interest and happiness as to become, unnecessarily, a party in their political disputes. Our local situation enables us to keep that state, with them, which otherwise could not, perhaps, be preserved by human wisdom. The present moment seems pregnant with great events; but, as you observe, it is beyond the ken of mortal foresight to determine what will be the result of those changes, which are either making, or contemplated, in the general system of Europe. Although, as fellow men, we sincerely lament the disorders, oppressions, and incertitude, which frequently attend national events, and which our European brethren must feel, yet we cannot but hope, that it will terminate very much in favor of the rights of man. And, that a change there will be favorable to this country, I have no doubt. For under the former system we were seen either in the distresses of war, or viewed after the peace in a most unfavorable light through the medium of our distracted state. In neither point could we appear of much consequence Edition: current; Page: [55] among nations. And should affairs continue in Europe in the same state they were, when these impressions respecting us were received, it would not be an easy matter to remove the prejudices imbibed against us. A change of system will open a new view of things, and we shall then burst upon them, as it were, with redoubled advantages.

Should we, under the present state of affairs, form connexions other than we now have with any European powers, much must be considered in effecting them, on the score of our increasing importance as a nation; and, at the same time, should a treaty be formed with a nation, whose circumstances may not at this moment be very bright, much delicacy would be necessary in order to show that no undue advantages were taken on that account. For unless treaties are mutually beneficial to the parties, it is in vain to hope for a continuance of them beyond the moment when the one, which conceives itself overreached, is in a situation to break off the connexion. And I believe it is among nations as with individuals, that the party taking advantage of the distresses of another will lose infinitely more in the opinion of mankind, and in subsequent events, than he will gain by the stroke of the moment.

In my late tour through the southern States, I experienced great satisfaction in seeing the good effects of the general government in that part of the Union. The people at large have felt the security which it gives, and the equal justice which it administers to them. The farmer, the merchant, and the mechanic Edition: current; Page: [56] have seen their several interests attended to, and from thence they unite in placing a confidence in their representatives, as well as in those in whose hands the execution of the laws is placed. Industry has there taken place of idleness, and economy of dissipation. Two or three years of good crops, and a ready market for the produce of their lands, has put every one in good humor; and in some instances they even impute to the government what is due only to the goodness of Providence.

The establishment of public credit is an immense point gained in our national concerns. This, I believe, exceeds the expectation of the most sanguine among us. And a late instance, unparalleled in this country, has been given of the confidence reposed in our measures, by the rapidity with which the subscriptions to the bank of the United States were filled. In two hours after the books were opened by the commissioners, the whole number of shares was taken up, and four thousand more applied for than were allowed by the institution. This circumstance was not only pleasing, as it related to the confidence in government, but as it exhibited an unexpected proof of the resources of our citizens.

In one of my letters to you, the account which I gave of the number of inhabitants, which would probably be found in the United States on enumeration, was too large. The estimate was then founded on the ideas held out by the gentlemen in Congress of the population of their several States, each of whom (as was very natural) looking through a magnifier, Edition: current; Page: [57] would speak of the greatest extent, to which there was any probability of their numbers reaching. Returns of the census have already been made from several of the States, and a tolerably just estimate has been formed now in others; by which it appears, that we shall hardly reach four millions; but this you are to take along with it, that the real number will greatly exceed the official returns of them; because, from religious scruples, some would not give in their lists; that it was intended as the foundation of a tax, the fears of others induced them to conceal, or diminished theirs; and from the indolence of the mass, and want of activity in many of the deputy enumerators, numbers are omitted. The authenticated number will, however, be far greater, I believe, than has ever been allowed in Europe; and will have no small influence in enabling them to form a more just opinion of our present growing importance, than has yet been entertained there.

This letter goes with one from Mr. Jefferson, to which I must refer you for what respects your public transactions; and I shall only add to it the repeated assurances of regard and affection, with which I am, dear Sir, your obedient and obliged, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 July, 1791
Philadelphia
M. Lafayette
Lafayette, M.

TO M. LAFAYETTE.

My dear Sir,

* * * * * *

The decrees of the National Assembly, respecting our tobacco and oil, do not appear to be very pleasing to the people of this country; but I do not presume, Edition: current; Page: [58] that any hasty measures will be adopted in conse quence thereof; for we have never entertained a doubt of the friendly disposition of the French nation toward us, and are therefore persuaded, that, if they have done any thing, which seems to bear hard upon us, at a time when the Assembly must have been occupied in very important matters, and which perhaps would not allow time for a due consideration of the subject, they will, in the moment of calm deliberation, alter it and do what is right.

I readily perceive, my dear Sir, the critical situation in which you stand, and never can you have greater occasion to show your prudence, judgment, and magnanimity.

On the 6th of this month I returned from a tour through the southern States, which had employed me for more than three months. In the course of this journey I have been highly gratified in observing the flourishing state of the country, and the good dispositions of the people. Industry and economy have become very fashionable in these parts, which were formerly noted for the opposite qualities, and the labors of man are assisted by the blessings of Providence. The attachment of all classes of citizens to the general government seems to be a pleasing presage of their future happiness and respectability.

The complete establishment of our public credit is a strong mark of the confidence of the people in the virtue of their representatives, and the wisdom of their measures; and, while in Europe wars or commotions seem to agitate almost every nation, peace and tranquillity prevail among us, except on some Edition: current; Page: [59] parts of our western frontiers, where the Indians have been troublesome, to reclaim or chastise whom proper measures are now pursuing. This contrast between the situation of the people of the United States, and those of Europe, is too striking to be passed over, even by the most superficial observer, and may, I believe, be considered as one great cause of leading the people here to reflect more attentively on their own prosperous state, and to examine more minutely, and consequently approve more fully of the government under which they live, than they otherwise would have done. But we do not wish to be the only people, who may taste the sweets of an equal and good government. We look with an anxious eye to the time, when happiness and tranquillity shall prevail in your country, and when all Europe shall be freed from commotions, tumults, and alarms.

Your friends in this country often express their great attachment to you by their anxiety for your safety. Knox, Jay, Hamilton, Jefferson, remember you with affection; but none with more sincerity and true attachment than, my dear Sir, your affectionate, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 August, 1791
Philadelphia
Thomas Johnson
Johnson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JOHNSON.

Dear Sir,

I have been duly favored with your letters of the 27th and 30th of July, the last of which came to hand while the judges of the Supreme Court were with me on an invitation to dinner.

I took this opportunity of laying your letter before the Chief Justice (as you mentioned your having Edition: current; Page: [60] written to him and to Mr. Wilson on the subject), in order that it might be communicated to the other judges. After a few minutes’ consultation together, the Chief Justice informed me, that the arrangement had been, or would be, so agreed upon, that you might be wholly exempted from performing this tour of duty at that time. And I take the present occasion to observe that an opinion prevails pretty generally among the judges, as well as others, who have turned their minds to the subject, against the expediency of continuing the circuits of the associate judges, and that it is expected some alterations in the judicial system will be brought forward at the next session of Congress, among which this may be one.

Upon considering the arrangements of the judges with respect to the ensuing circuit, and the probability of future relief from these disagreeable tours, I thought it best to direct your commission to be made out and transmitted to you, which has accordingly been done; and I have no doubt but that the public will be benefited, and the wishes of your friends gratified, by your acceptance. With sentiments of very great regard, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
10 September, 1791
Philadelphia
M. de la Luzerne
de la Luzerne, M.

TO M. DE LA LUZERNE.2

Sir,

In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 15th of May, which reached me but a few days ago, Edition: current; Page: [61] I cannot forbear to express the sensibility with which I receive those warm effusions of personal attachment and respectful remembrance, which are contained in it; and at the same time I beg you will be assured, that I reciprocate them with truth and sincerity.

As the happiness of the French nation cannot be indifferent to the people of this country, when we remember the aid which we received therefrom in an hour of distress, you will readily believe, that we view with no small anxiety the troubles, which for some time past have agitated that kingdom; and the suspense in which we are held as to what may be the consequence of a late important event, which has taken place there, deprives us, in some measure, of the full enjoyment of those feelings, which would naturally result from a reflection on the prosperous situation of the United States. But, however gloomy the face of things may at this time appear in France, yet we will not despair of seeing tranquillity again restored; and we cannot help looking forward with a lively wish to the period, when order shall be established by a government, respectfully energetic and founded on the broad basis of liberality and the rights of man, which will make millions happy, and place your nation in the rank which she ought to hold.

In a tour, which I made last spring through the southern States, I confirmed by observation the accounts, which we had all along received of the happy effects of the general government upon our agriculture, commerce, and industry. The same effects pervade the middle and eastern States, with the addition Edition: current; Page: [62] of vast progress in the most useful manufactures. The complete restoration of our public credit holds us up in a high light abroad. Thus it appears, that the United States are making great progress towards national happiness; and, if it is not attained here in as high a degree as human nature will admit of its going, I think we may then conclude, that political happiness is unattainable. But, at the same time, we wish it not to be confined to this country alone; and, as it expands through the world, our enjoyments will expand with it, and that you may find it in your nation, and realize it yourself, is the sincere prayer of, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 September, 1791
Philadelphia
M. Lafayette
Lafayette, M.

TO M. LAFAYETTE.

The lively interest, which I take in your welfare, my dear Sir, keeps my mind in constant anxiety for your personal safety amidst the scenes in which you are perpetually engaged. Your letter of the 6th of June by M. de Ternant gave me that pleasure, which I receive from all your letters, which tell me you are well. But, from the account you there gave, it did not appear, that you would be soon relieved from your arduous labors; and, from the information we have received of an important event, which has taken place since that time, it does not appear likely, that the clouds which have long obscured your political horizon will be soon dispersed. As yet we are in suspense as to what may have been the consequences of this Edition: current; Page: [63] event; and feeling, as we do in this country, a sincere regard for the French nation, we are not a little anxious about them. Opinions we are not able to form here; therefore none can be given on the subject. But at any rate, you may be assured, my dear Sir, that we do not view with indifference the happiness of so many millions.

I am glad of M. de Ternant’s appointment to this country; for I have a good opinion of his abilities, discretion, and proper views; and, as you observe, as he seems to belong to both countries, there is no doubt but this, joined to the good information which he possesses of the relative and particular interests of both, will enable him to render as much service, and be as acceptable to each, as any man can be.1

I shall next week set off for Mount Vernon with Mrs. Washington and the children, where I shall, if Edition: current; Page: [64] possible, enjoy a few weeks of retirement before the meeting of Congress in the last of October. Indeed, my presence there, (as it will not at this time interfere with my public duties,) is necessary for my interest, as George, your old aid, has for some time past been too much indisposed to pay attention to my concerns, and is now over the mountains for his health. The last account from him was favorable. He had received benefit from his journey. I sincerely wish, my dear Sir, that the affairs of your country were in such a train as would permit you to relax a little from the excessive fatigues to which you have of late been exposed; and I cannot help looking forward with an anxious wish, and a lively hope, to the time when peace and tranquillity will reign in your borders, under the sanction of a respectable government, founded on the broad basis of liberality and the rights of man. It must be so. The great Ruler of events will not permit the happiness of so many millions to be destroyed; and to his keeping I resign you, my dear Sir, with all that friendship and affectionate attachment, with which you know me to be, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 September, 1791
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 27th of May with its enclosures came duly to hand.1

During my absence on my late Southern tour the proposals of Messrs. Schweizer and Jeannerett made Edition: current; Page: [65] their appearance here, as well through Mr. Otto, Chargé des Affaires of France, to the Secretary of State, as through Mr. Short, to the Secretary of the Treasury.

In pursuance of certain arrangements, made previous to my departure, an answer was given: which answer was in substance, that it did not appear to be for the interest of the United States to accept those proposals.

The reasons which have been assigned to me as having dictated this answer are as follows.

First, That the rate of interest to be stipulated in the new contract, as well upon the part of the debt which had not fallen due, as upon that which had fallen due, was 5 p. cent.—It was a question whether a contract stipulating such a rate of interest with regard to the first mentioned part of the debt, was fairly within the meaning of that clause of the law which requires that the payment of it should be made upon “terms advantageous to the United States.” And while there was no reason to apprehend that it would be necessary to allow a higher interest than 5 p. cent. on any loans, which might be made to discharge the arrears of principal and interest, it did not appear expedient to forego the chance of a lower rate.

2nd. The commission or premium of 5 p. ct. demanded in the proposal is one p. ct. more than is Edition: current; Page: [66] given up on the loans going on in Holland—This would amount to a loss of one p. ct. on the part, which the United States were bound immediately to pay; and in respect to that, which had not become due, would be an unnecessary sacrifice of 5 p. cent.

3rd. The immediate proposers are understood to be a House not of primary consequence themselves, and though they alledged, they did not prove, that they were supported by others who could be deemed Capitalists equal to the undertaking. From the difference of exchange between Holland and Paris they could afford sacrifices in the sale of the bonds of the United States; and if there was not great force of capital among those engaged in the undertaking, such sacrifices were to be expected. A great quantity of bonds, thrown suddenly into the market, by persons who were pressed to raise money from them, could not but have effects the most injurious to the credit of the U. S.

4th. Paris being the stipulated place of payment, if, from the state of exchange, payment could be made there in gold and silver with a saving to the United States, there could be no good objection to profiting by the circumstance—but this advantage, and more, even to the full extent of the depreciation of the Assignats, would be transferred by the proposed bargain to the undertakers.

5th. The single advantage which the proposals held out, of a prolonged period of reimbursement, would be obtained of course by loans in the ordinary way—and as to the effect of the measure upon loans Edition: current; Page: [67] for the redemption of the domestic debt, this would be good or bad according as the undertakers might or not have occasion to bring the bonds of the United States to market.

The foregoing reasons appeared to me to have so much weight that I saw no ground for directing any alterations in what was done.

It appears in their letter to you that the gentlemen in question are willing to wave the claim of premium or commission on the part of the debt not yet due; but this obviates only one of the objections which have been stated.

You observe also that they had given you proofs that persons of the first fortune were connected with them in the business—They were deficient in not having given the like proof to Mr. Short, whose enquiries had been directed to this object.

The observations you make concerning the views, which ought to govern the United States in their reimbursements to France, are founded in propriety—You may conclude that no unequitable advantage will be taken; and it is hoped that the measures now in execution will be more conducive to the real interests of that country than would have been an acceptance of the proposals of Messrs. S. & J., who, it is presumable, founded their speculation chiefly upon the idea of availing themselves of the full benefit resulting from the depreciation of the Assignats.

Thanking you for the communication you have made me on the subject, I assure you that I do justice to the motives which dictated it. * * *

Edition: current; Page: [68]
George Washington
Washington, George
14 September, 1791
George Clinton
Clinton, George

TO GEORGE CLINTON, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.

Sir,

Your letter of the 7th instant, with its enclosure, did not reach me till yesterday. The intelligence it communicates is of a nature both serious and important. Indeed, the step it announces, as about to be taken by the British, would be one so extraordinary in every view, as to justify a question, whether the indications, which are alleged to have been given, have not rather proceeded from some indiscreet levity on the part of the officers alluded to, than from any real design of doing what appears to have been threatened. A little time, however, will explain the true state of the matter.

Your Excellency need not, I am persuaded, be assured, that, in connexion with the more general considerations, which are involved in the circumstance, I feel a due concern for any injury, inconvenience, or dissatisfaction, which may have arisen or may arise, in respect to the State of New York, or any part of its inhabitants, in consequence of the detention of the posts, or the interferences which may have grown out of it. Nor has the matter failed to receive from me the degree of attention to which it is entitled. Yet in a point of such vast magnitude, as that of the preservation of the peace of the Union, particularly in this still very early stage of our affairs, and at a period so little remote from a most exhausting and affecting, though successful war, the public welfare and safety evidently enjoin a conduct of circumspection, moderation, and Edition: current; Page: [69] forbearance. And it is relied upon, that the known good sense of the community ensures its approbation of such a conduct.

There are, however, bounds to the spirit of forbearance, which ought not to be exceeded. Events may occur, which may demand a departure from it. But if extremities are at any time to ensue, it is of the utmost consequence, that they should be the result of a deliberate plan, not of an accidental collision, and that they should appear, both at home and abroad, to have flowed either from a necessity, which left no alternative, or from a combination of advantageous circumstances, which left no doubt of the expediency of hazarding them. Under the impression of this opinion, and supposing that the event, which is apprehended, should be realized, it is my desire, that no hostile measure be in the first instance attempted.

With a view, nevertheless, to such ultimate proceedings as the nature of the case may require, and that upon the ground of well authenticated facts, I have concluded to send a gentleman to the spot, who will be charged to ascertain and report to me whatever may take place, together with the general situation of the part of the country immediately affected by the vicinity of the British posts. An additional motive to this measure is the desire of obtaining information, in reference to the establishment of the custom-house in the State of Vermont, which is also connected with the position of those posts.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Edition: current; Page: [70]
George Washington
Washington, George
10 October, 1791
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

Sir,

* * * * * *

It is my wish and desire, that you would examine the laws of the general government, which have relation to Indian affairs, that is, for the purpose of securing their lands to them, restraining States or individuals from purchasing their lands, and forbidding unauthorized intercourse in their dealings with them; and, moreover, that you would suggest such auxiliary laws, as will supply the defects of those, which are in being, thereby enabling the executive to enforce obedience.

If Congress expect to live in peace with the neighboring Indians, and to avoid the expenses and horrors of continual hostilities, such a measure will be found indispensably necessary; for, unless adequate penalties are provided, that will check the spirit of speculation in lands, and will enable the executive to carry them into effect, this country will be constantly embroiled with and appear faithless in the eyes not only of the Indians, but of the neighboring powers also. For, notwithstanding the existing laws, solemn treaties, and proclamations, which have been issued to enforce a compliance with both, and some attempts of the government southwest of the Ohio to restrain their proceedings, yet the agents for the Tennessee Company are at this moment, by public advertisements under the signature of a Zachariah Cox, encouraging by offers of land and other Edition: current; Page: [71] inducements a settlement at the Muscle Shoals, and is likely to obtain emigrants for that purpose, although there is good evidence, that the measure is disapproved by the Creeks and Cherokees; and it is presumed it is so likewise by the Chickasaws and Choctaws, unless they have been imposed upon by assurances, that trade is the only object in view by the establishment. I am, Sir, &c.

COMMUNICATION OF SENTIMENTS TO BENJAMIN HAWKINS.1

Errors of Government toward the Indians:—Have not these been repaired by the subsequent treaties and purchases from those who claimed the soil? Some of the Tribes it is said would not attend the treaty at Fort Harmar, because they expect’d a relinquishment of their right to the land would be demanded. May it not rather be said that while they could War with impunity, they were better pleased and found it more profitable to plunder than to hunt, especially as they were stimulated to the first by the B[ritish] traders and the withholding of the Western Posts from the U. States.

But we are involved in actual war! is it just? or is it unjust? Mr. H. cannot believe fully in the latter because he is for providing in part the means for carrying it on. Is this to be done by offensive or defensive operations? Defensive ones I say, and I speak it boldly, from experience, and from the nature of things, are not only impracticable against such an enemy, but the expence attending them would be ruinous both to our finances and frontier settlements.

Edition: current; Page: [72]

If offensive measures are to be carried on, must not troops advance into the enemy’s Country? What possible objection then can there be to the establishing of Posts there, when these posts answer the double purposes of annoyance and security? Cannot these posts, if peace should be concluded, be either demolished, or retained merely for the protection of our trade with these people, and to restrain settlements on the Indian lands? Without which it would be no easy matter. This experience has proved—and Mr. H. is not to be told that the Miami Village is a considerable distance from the B— garrison at Detroit. What cause then for alarm? True it is, pacific overtures were to have preceded hostile measures last campaign—and as true it is they did so. Though all the avenues thro’ which they were intended could not be opened, yet enough were opened to inform the Indians of the disposition of Government towards them;—and the obstacles in the others are strong evidences of the difficulties this government has to encounter.

The Kaskaskias is a circuitous, if not a dangerous rout by which to communicate with the Indians with whom we are at War. The Canadian French, subject to G. B. are not to be relied upon, unless particular characters could be selected, and that is hardly to be done with certainty and precision.

The defeat of the 4th of November may be ascribed to several causes; perhaps to none more justly than to the short enlistment of part of the force.—Mr. H—s’s ideas and mine with respect to the force, the composition of the troops, and the time for which they are to be engaged, differ very widely indeed—reasons to be assigned. The number of hostile Indians according to Mr. H— is under rated; the Estimate last year was 1200, when confined to the Miami and Wabash Tribes—now we have good reasons to believe that the Delawares, Wyandots and others were in the action with Genl. St. Clair.

Plan of the Secretary of War having passed thro’ the hands of the P—. and remaining in them (as will appear by a recurrence to dates) ten or more days, is a strong presumption of its having been considered and approved by him. Motives of delicacy have Edition: current; Page: [73] uniformly restrained the P— from introducing any topic which relates to Legislative matters to members of either House of Congress, lest it should be suspected that he wished to influence the question before it.

A Committee, from either house, would in his opinion (so far as the business related to legislative matters) have been new and embarrassing. If it did not mean to be governed by the sentiments which were drawn from the P—, why ask his opinion? as the official application for and disregard of them could not fail to wound his feelings. A free communication to a friend on any matter depending, when asked, he would have no scruple to make.

The sentiments of members of Senate or their views are unknown to the P— and what may be the object of the Secretary of War, or others, he knows not—his own are not concealed nor can he see more danger in raising men for three years than for three months, when withholding their pay and subsistence will discharge them at any time. but he can see an immense difference between the advantages of the one over the other, they are too numerous and self-evident to need detail—a few only will suffice. Short enlistments will, nay must, have an uncontroulable influence upon all the operations—long enlistments enable one to take advantage of time and circumstances. In the first case, before men become acquainted with their duty or the service they are destined for, their term expires, and there is to be a second edition of them. In the other case they grow more valuable every month and at half the expense of new men. In the first case too it is impossible to retain a man an hour beyond the term of his engagement. In the other he is bound for three years and may be discharged in three months or three days, if the service will admit of it. No man wishes less than the P— to see a standing army established; but if Congress will not enact a proper Militia Law (not such a milk and water thing as I expect to see—if I ever see any)—Defense and the Garrisons will always require some troops—it has ever been my opinion that a select militia properly trained might supercede the necessity for these,—but I despair on that head.

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George Washington
Washington, George
15 October, 1791
Mount Vernon
Robert Lewis
Lewis, Robert

TO ROBERT LEWIS.

Dear Sir,

Enclosed is a letter for Mr. Muse,1 requesting him to put my papers into your hands, and to give you such information with respect to the business, as is necessary to bring you acquainted with the present state of it. After you have read the letter, and noticed the contents, seal and deliver it to him.

Receive from Mr. Muse all the blank leases, with which I have furnished him, as well as those which have been filled up and executed. It will be indispensably necessary for you to get the precise state of the rents, which are due on each tenement, the ability of the tenants, and the prospect of receiving the rents. Make yourself master, also, of the disputes, if any there be, to which the tenements are subject.

From long experience I have laid it down as an unerring maxim, that to exact rents with punctuality is not only the right of the landlord, but that it is also for the benefit of the tenant that it should be so, unless by uncontrollable events and providential strokes the latter is rendered unable to pay them. In such cases he should not only meet with indulgence, but in some instances with a remittal of the rent. But in the ordinary course of these transactions, the rents ought to be collected with the most rigid exactness, especially from my tenants, who do not, for most of the farms, pay a fourth of what the Edition: current; Page: [75] tenements would let for, if they were now in my possession. If it is found difficult for a tenant to pay one rent, it is more difficult for him to pay two. When three are due he despairs, or cares little about them; and if it runs to a greater number, it is highly [probable], that, to avoid paying any, he will leave you the bag to hold. For these reasons, except under the circumstances before mentioned, it is my desire that you will give all the tenants timely notice, that you will give no indulgences beyond those allowed by the covenants in the leases. If they find you strict, they will be punctual; if otherwise, your trouble will be quadrupled, and I can have no dependence upon my rents, which are now my principal support, since, by the diligence of Mr. Muse, the tenants are brought into a proper way of thinking and acting respecting them, and my crops are almost continually failing me.

As there have been many transfers, and some without any privity of mine, although it is contrary to a covenant in the leases, it is a matter which will claim your particular attention. And, as I have already observed, as the leases of old date are given for less than one fourth of their present value, it is my particular request, that you will endeavor to investigate with great accuracy, and inform me of the result, what lives still remain in each lease; throwing the proof (unless you are advised by able counsel that it cannot be done), where the lessees are not to be produced, upon the tenant to show that they are actually in existence.

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As all the rents become due on or before the first day of January in every year, and distrainable at the expiration of a certain number of days thereafter, I shall expect, that, in some short and reasonable time after the days of grace expire, the amount of your collection will be paid into the hands of Major George A. Washington, my present attorney, or whosoever hereafter may have the superintendence of my business in this State, during my absence in the service of the public.

Although I flatter myself, that there is no occasion for the admonition, yet I will accompany this appointment with suggesting to you, that business is rarely well executed, that is not diligently pursued, and that the same consequences of neglect will happen to you, that would to any idle, inattentive, or deficient collector, if any of these should appear in your conduct; and the more so, as it is owing to the attentive and close watchings of Muse, that this resource has been productive and useful to me, and that many rents have been recovered, which appeared to be desperate, by his activity and perseverance.

If they are admitted in the first instances, you will have a thousand pleas to forbearance; but, considering the low and easy rents, at which my tenants stand, I know of none which ought to be admitted, except losses by fire, by storms, or such droughts as are apparent and well attested; for bad crops, proceeding from idleness, may and will be a constant plea, as they ought to be inadmissible.

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It is of essential consequence, that you should examine accurately, whether the covenants in the leases, with respect to the buildings to be erected, orchards to be planted, meadows to be made, and woods to be preserved, have been complied with. These were important objects with me at the time the leases were granted, and are so still—well knowing how much they would contribute to enhance the value of the lots, at the expiration of the term for which the leases were given. My best wishes attend Mrs. Lewis and yourself, and I remain your affectionate uncle.

P. S. If as I have heard, you should not conceive the collection of my rents, to be an object sufficient to engage your attention, the letter for Mr. Muse is not to be given him.

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS OCTOBER 25TH, 1791.

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I meet you upon the present occasion with the feelings, which are naturally inspired by a strong impression of the prosperous situation of our common country, and by a persuasion equally strong, that the labors of the session which has just commenced will, under the guidance of a spirit no less prudent than patriotic, issue in measures conducive to the stability and increase of national prosperity.

Numerous as are the providential blessings, which demand our grateful acknowledgments, the abundance, with which another year has again rewarded the industry of the husbandman, is too important to escape recollection.

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Your own observations, in your respective situations, will have satisfied you of the progressive state of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation. In tracing their causes, you will have remarked, with particular pleasure, the happy effects of that revival of confidence, public as well as private, to which the constitution and laws of the United States have so eminently contributed; and you will have observed, with no less interest, new and decisive proofs of the increasing reputation and credit of the nation. But you, nevertheless, cannot fail to derive satisfaction from the confirmation of these circumstances, which will be disclosed in the several official communications, that will be made to you in the course of your deliberations.

The rapid subscriptions to the Bank of the United States, which completed the sum allowed to be subscribed in a single day, is among the striking and pleasing evidences which present themselves, not only of confidence in the government, but of resource in the community.

In the interval of your recess, due attention has been paid to the execution of the different objects, which were specially provided for by the laws and resolutions of the last session.

Among the most important of these, is the defence and security of the western frontiers. To accomplish it on the most humane principles was a primary wish.

Accordingly, at the same time that treaties have been provisionally concluded, and other proper means used to attach the wavering, and to confirm in their friendship the well-disposed tribes of Indians, effectual measures have been adopted to make those of a hostile description sensible, that a pacification was desired upon terms of moderation and justice.

These measures having proved unsuccessful, it became necessary to convince the refractory of the power of the United States to punish their depredations. Offensive operations have, therefore, been directed; to be conducted, however, as consistently as possible with the dictates of humanity. Some of these have been crowned with full success, and others are yet depending. The expeditions, which have been completed, were carried on, under the authority Edition: current; Page: [79] and at the expense of the United States, by the militia of Kentucky; whose enterprise, intrepidity, and good conduct are entitled to peculiar commendation.

Overtures of peace are still continued to the deluded tribes, and considerable numbers of individuals belonging to them have lately renounced all further opposition, removed from their former situations, and placed themselves under the immediate protection of the United States.

It is sincerely to be desired, that all need of coercion in future may cease; and that an intimate intercourse may succeed, calculated to advance the happiness of the Indians, and to attach them firmly to the United States.

In order to this, it seems necessary, that they should experience the benefits of an impartial dispensation of justice; that the mode of alienating their lands, the main source of discontent and war, should be so defined and regulated as to obviate imposition, and, as far as may be practicable, controversy concerning the reality and extent of the alienations which are made; that commerce with them should be promoted under regulations tending to secure an equitable deportment towards them, and that such rational experiments should be made for imparting to them the blessings of civilization, as may from time to time suit their condition; that the executive of the United States should be enabled to employ the means, to which the Indians have been long accustomed, for uniting their immediate interests with the preservation of peace; and that efficacious provision should be made for inflicting adequate penalties upon all those, who, by violating their rights, shall infringe the treaties and endanger the peace of the Union.

A system corresponding with the mild principles of religion and philanthropy towards an unenlightened race of men, whose happiness materially depends on the conduct of the United States, would be as honorable to the national character as conformable to the dictates of sound policy.

The powers specially vested in me by the act laying certain duties on distilled spirits, which respect the subdivisions of the districts into surveys, the appointment of officers, and the assignment Edition: current; Page: [80] of compensations, have likewise been carried into effect. In a matter, in which both materials and experience were wanting to guide the calculation, it will be readily conceived, that there must have been difficulty in such an adjustment of the rates of compensation, as would conciliate a reasonable competency with a proper regard to the limits prescribed by the law. It is hoped that the circumspection, which has been used, will be found in the result to have secured the last of the two objects; but it is probable, that, with a view to the first, in some instances a revision of the provision will be found advisable.

The impressions, with which this law has been received by the community, have been, upon the whole, such as were to be expected among enlightened and well-disposed citizens, from the propriety and necessity of the measure. The novelty, however, of the tax, in a considerable part of the United States, and a misconception of some of its provisions, have given occasion in particular places to some degree of discontent. But it is satisfactory to know, that this disposition yields to proper explanations and more just apprehensions of the true nature of the law. And I entertain a full confidence, that it will, in all, give way to motives, which arise out of a just sense of duty and a virtuous regard to the public welfare.

If there are any circumstances in the law, which, consistently with its main design, may be so varied as to remove any well-intentioned objections that may happen to exist, it will consist with a wise moderation to make the proper variations. It is desirable, on all occasions, to unite with a steady and firm adherence to constitutional and necessary acts of government, the fullest evidence of a disposition, as far as may be practicable, to consult the wishes of every part of the community, and to lay the foundations of the public administration in the affections of the people.

Pursuant to the authority contained in the several acts on that subject, a district of ten miles square, for the permanent seat of the government of the United States, has been fixed, and announced by proclamation; which district will comprehend lands on both sides of the river Potomac, and the towns of Alexandria and Georgetown. A city has also been laid out agreeably to a plan Edition: current; Page: [81] which will be placed before Congress; and, as there is a prospect, favored by the rate of sales which have already taken place, of ample funds for carrying on the necessary public buildings, there is every expectation of their due progress.

The completion of the census of the inhabitants, for which provision was made by law, has been duly notified (excepting in one instance, in which the return has been informal, and another, in which it has been omitted or miscarried); and the returns of the officers who were charged with this duty, which will be laid before you, will give you the pleasing assurance, that the present population of the United States borders on four millions of persons.

It is proper also to inform you, that a further loan of two millions and a half of florins has been completed in Holland; the terms of which are similar to those of the one last announced, except as to a small reduction of charges. Another, on like terms, for six millions of florins had been set on foot, under circumstances that assured immediate completion.

GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE:

Two treaties, which have been provisionally concluded with the Cherokees, and Six Nations of Indians, will be laid before you for your consideration and ratification.

GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

In entering upon the discharge of your legislative trust, you must anticipate with pleasure, that many of the difficulties, necessarily incident to the first arrangements of a new government for an extensive country, have been happily surmounted by the zealous and judicious exertions of your predecessors in coöperation with the other branch of the legislature. The important objects, which remain to be accomplished, will, I am persuaded, be conducted upon principles equally comprehensive, and equally well calculated for the advancement of the general weal.

The time limited for receiving subscriptions to the loans proposed by the act making provision for the debt of the United States having expired, statements from the proper department will as soon as possible apprize you of the exact result. Enough, Edition: current; Page: [82] however, is known already to afford an assurance, that the views of that act have been substantially fulfilled. The subscription in the domestic debt of the United States has embraced by far the greatest proportion of that debt; affording at the same time proof of the general satisfaction of the public creditors with the system which has been proposed to their acceptance, and of the spirit of accommodation to the convenience of the government with which they are actuated. The subscriptions in the debts of the respective States, as far as the provisions of the law have permitted, may be said to be yet more general. The part of the debt of the United States, which remains unsubscribed, will naturally engage your further deliberations.

It is particularly pleasing to me to be able to announce to you, that the revenues which have been established promise to be adequate to their objects, and may be permitted, if no unforeseen exigency occurs, to supersede for the present the necessity of any new burthens upon our constituents.

An object which will claim your early attention is a provision for the current service of the ensuing year, together with such ascertained demands upon the treasury as require to be immediately discharged, and such casualties as may have arisen in the execution of the public business, for which no specific appropriation may have yet been made; of all which a proper estimate will be laid before you.

GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I shall content myself with a general reference to former communications for several objects, upon which the urgency of other affairs has hitherto postponed any definite resolution. Their importance will recall them to your attention; and I trust, that the progress already made in the most arduous arrangements of the government will afford you leisure to resume them with advantage.

There are, however, some of them, of which I cannot forbear a more particular mention. These are, the militia; the post-office and post-roads; the mint; weights and measures; a provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States.

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The first is certainly an object of primary importance, whether viewed in reference to the national security, to the satisfaction of the community, or to the preservation of order. In connexion with this, the establishment of competent magazines and arsenals, and the fortification of such places as are peculiarly important and vulnerable, naturally present themselves to consideration. The safety of the United States, under divine protection, ought to rest on the basis of systematic and solid arrangements, exposed as little as possible to the hazards of fortuitous circumstances.

The importance of the post-office and post-roads on a plan sufficiently liberal and comprehensive, as they respect the expedition, safety, and facility of communication, is increased by the instrumentality in diffusing a knowledge of the laws and proceedings of the government; which, while it contributes to the security of the people, serves also to guard them against the effects of misrepresentation and misconception. The establishment of additional cross posts, especially to some of the important points in the western and northern parts of the Union, cannot fail to be of material utility.

The disorders in the existing currency, and especially the scarcity of small change, a scarcity so peculiarly distressing to the poorer classes, strongly recommend the carrying into immediate effect the resolution already entered into concerning the establishment of a mint. Measures have been taken, pursuant to that resolution, for procuring some of the most necessary articles, together with the requisite apparatus.

A uniformity in the weights and measures of the country is among the important objects submitted to you by the constitution; and, if it can be derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less honorable to the public councils, than conducive to the public convenience.

A provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States is particularly urged, among other reasons, by the important considerations, that they are pledged as a fund for reimbursing the public debt; that if timely and judiciously applied, they may save the necessity of burthening our citizens with new taxes for the extinguishment of the principal and that, being free to discharge Edition: current; Page: [84] the principal but in a limited proportion, no opportunity ought to be lost for availing the public of its rights.1

George Washington
Washington, George
30 October, 1791
Philadelphia
Harriot Washington
Washington, Harriot

TO HARRIOT WASHINGTON.2

Dear Harriot,

I have received your letter of the 21st instant, and shall always be glad to hear from you. When my business will permit, inclination will not be wanting in me to acknowledge the receipt of your letters; and this I shall do more cheerfully, as it will afford me opportunities at those times of giving you such occasional advice, as your situation may require.

At present I could plead a better excuse for curtailing my letter to you, than you had for shortening of yours to me, having a multitude of occupations before me, while you have nothing to do; consequently you might with equal convenience to yourself have sat down to write your letter an hour or two or even a day sooner, as to have delayed it until your Edition: current; Page: [85] cousin was on the point of sending to the post-office. I make this remark for no other reason, than to show you it is better to offer no excuse than a bad one, if at any time you should happen to fall into an error.

Occupied as my time now is, and must be during the sitting of Congress, I nevertheless will endeavor to inculcate upon your mind the delicacy and danger of that period, to which you are now arrived under peculiar circumstances. You are just entering into the state of womanhood, without the watchful eye of a mother to admonish, or the protecting aid of a father to advise and defend you; you may not be sensible, that you are at this moment about to be stamped with that character, which will adhere to you through life; the consequences of which you have not perhaps attended to, but be assured it is of the utmost importance that you should.

Your cousins, with whom you live, are well qualified to give you advice; and I am sure they will, if you are disposed to receive it. But, if you are disobliging, self-willed, and untowardly, it is hardly to be expected that they will engage themselves in unpleasant disputes with you, especially Fanny, whose mild and placid temper will not permit her to exceed the limits of wholesome admonition or gentle rebuke. Think, then, to what dangers a giddy girl of fifteen or sixteen must be exposed in circumstances like these. To be under but little or no control may be pleasing to a mind that does not reflect, but this pleasure cannot be of long duration; and reason, too late perhaps, may convince you of the folly of misspending Edition: current; Page: [86] time. You are not to learn, I am certain, that your fortune is small. Supply the want of it, then, with a well cultivated mind, with dispositions to industry and frugality, with gentleness of manners, obliging temper, and such qualifications as will attract notice, and recommend you to a happy establishment for life.

You might, instead of associating with those from whom you can derive nothing that is good, but may have observed every thing that is deceitful, lying, and bad, become the intimate companion of, and aid to, your cousin in the domestic concerns of the family. Many girls, before they have arrived at your age, have been found so trustworthy as to take the whole trouble of a family from their mothers; but it is by a steady and rigid attention to the rules of propriety, that such confidence is obtained, and nothing would give me more pleasure than to hear that you had acquired it. The merits and benefits of it would redound more to your advantage in your progress through life, and to the person with whom you may in due time form a matrimonial connexion, than to any others; but to none would such a circumstance afford more real satisfaction, than to your affectionate uncle.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 November, 1791
Philadelphia
David Stuart
Stuart, David

TO DAVID STUART.

Dear Sir,

I had heard before the receipt of your letter of the 29th of October, and with a degree of surprise and concern not easy to be expressed, that Major L’Enfant Edition: current; Page: [87] had refused the map of the Federal City, when it was requested by the commissioners for the satisfaction of the purchasers at the sale. It is much to be regretted, however common the case is, that men, who possess talents which fit them for peculiar purposes, should almost invariably be under the influence of an untoward disposition, or are sottish, idle, or possessed of some other disqualification, by which they plague all those with whom they are concerned. But I did not expect to have met with such perverseness in Major L’Enfant as his late conduct exhibited.

Since my first knowledge of the gentleman’s abilities in the line of his profession, I have received him not only as a scientific man, but one who added considerable taste to professional knowledge; and that, for such employment as he is now engaged in, for prosecuting public works, and carrying them into effect, he was better qualified than any one, who had come within my knowledge in this country, or indeed in any other, the probability of obtaining whom could be counted upon.

I had no doubt, at the same time, that this was the light in which he considered himself, and, of course, that he would be so tenacious of his plans as to conceive, that they would be marred if they underwent any change or alteration; but I did not suppose, that he would have interfered further in the mode of selling the lots, than by giving an opinion with his reasons in support of it; and this perhaps it might be well always to hear, as the latter would stamp the Edition: current; Page: [88] propriety or show the futility of it. To advise this I am the more inclined, as I am persuaded that all those, who have any agency in the business, have the same objects in view, although they may differ in sentiment with respect to the mode of execution; because, from a source even less productive than L’Enfant’s may flow ideas, that are capable of improvements; and because I have heard, that Ellicott, who is also a man of uncommon talents in his way, and of a more placid temper, has intimated that no information had been required either from him or L’Enfant on some point or points (I do not now particularly recollect what), which they thought themselves competent to give.

I have no other motive for mentioning the latter circumstance, than merely to show, that the feelings of such men are always alive, and, where their assistance is essential, that it is policy to honor them, or to put on the appearance of doing it.

I have, however, since I have come to the knowledge of Major L’Enfant’s refusal of the map at the sale, given him to understand through a direct channel, though not an official one as yet, (further than what casually passed between us, previous to the sale, at Mount Vernon,) that he must in future look to the commissioners for directions. They having laid the foundation of this grand design, the superstructure depended upon them; that I was perfectly satisfied his plans and opinions would have due weight, if properly offered and explained; that, if the choice of commissioners was again to be made, Edition: current; Page: [89] I could not please myself better, or hit upon those who had the measure more at heart, or better disposed to accommodate the various interests and persons concerned; and that it would give me great concern to see a goodly prospect clouded by impediments, which might be thrown in the way, or injured by disagreements, which would only serve to keep alive the hopes of those, who are enemies to the plan. But, that you may not infer from hence, he has expressed any dissatisfaction at the conduct of the commissioners towards him, it is an act of justice I should declare, that I never have heard, directly or indirectly, that he has expressed any. His pertinacity would, I am persuaded, be the same in all cases and to all men. He conceives, or would have others believe, that the sale was promoted by withholding the general map, and thereby the means of comparison; but I have caused it to be signified to him, that I am of a different opinion, and that it is much easier to impede than to force a sale, as none who knew what they were about would be induced to buy, to borrow an old adage, “a pig in a poke.

There has been something very unaccountable in the conduct of the engraver, yet I cannot be of opinion the delays were occasioned by L’Enfant. As soon, however, as a correct draft of the city is prepared, the same or some other person, shall be pressed to the execution. I say a correct draft, because I have understood that Mr. Ellicott has given it as his opinion, it was lucky that engravings did not come out from the first plan, in as much as they Edition: current; Page: [90] would not have been so perfectly exact, as to have justified a sale by them. It is of great importance, in my opinion, that the city should be laid out into squares and lots with all the despatch that the nature and accuracy of the work will admit. And it is the opinion of intelligent and well-informed men, now in this city, who are friends to this measure, that for this purpose, and to accommodate the two great interests of Georgetown and Carrollsburg, it would be advisable, rather than delay another public sale till the whole can be completed, to lay all the ground into squares, which shall be west of the avenue leading from Georgetown to the President’s house, thence by the avenue to the house for Congress, thence by a proper avenue (I have not the plan by me to say which) to the Eastern Branch, comprehending the range of squares next to and bounding on the said avenues on the east side, and to appoint as early a day for the sale as a moral certainty of their completion will warrant.

When I speak of the importance of despatch, it does not proceed from any doubt I harbor, that the enemies to the measure can shake the establishment of it; for it is with pleasure I add as my opinion, that the roots of the permanent seat are penetrating deep, and spreading far and wide. The eastern States are not only getting more and more reconciled to the measure, but are beginning to view it in a more advantageous light, as it respects their policy and interests; and some members from that quarter, who were its bitterest foes while the question was pending in Congress, have now declared in unequivocal Edition: current; Page: [91] terms to various people, and at various times, that, if attempts should be made to repeal the law, they would give it every opposition in their power. These sentiments of the eastern people, being pretty well known, will, I am persuaded, arrest the design, if a repeal has been contemplated; but it will not prevent those, who are irreconcilable, from aiming all the side blows in their power at it; and the rumor, which was spread at the sale, that Congress never would reside there, is one of the expedients, that will be exerted in all its force, with a view to discourage the sales of the lots, and the buildings thereon, that the accommodations may be unfit for the government when the period shall arrive that the removal is to take place.

When I see Major L’Enfant, who it is said will shortly be here, I shall endeavor to bring him to some explanation of the terms on which he will serve the public; and will also impress upon him the necessity of despatch, that as early a sale as circumstances will admit may ensue.1 * * *

With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
22 November, 1791
Philadelphia
M. Lafayette
Lafayette, M.

TO M. LAFAYETTE.

My dear Sir,

Mr. John Trumbull, with whom you are acquainted, is engaged in painting a series of pictures of the most important events of the revolution in this country, Edition: current; Page: [92] from which he proposes to have plates engraved. I have taken peculiar satisfaction in giving every proper aid in my power to a subscription for supporting this work, which has been likewise patronized by the principal people of this country. In the hope of meeting the patronage of the French nation, to whose honor, as well as that of America, this plan is directed, Mr. Trumbull informs me he has ordered a subscription to be opened in Paris. And the object of this letter is to engage your support to the subscription in that city, and other parts of the nation where it may be offered. I should not, however, do justice to Mr. Trumbull’s talents and merits, were I barely to mention his views and wishes on this occasion.

His pieces, as far as they are executed, meet the warm applause of all, who have seen them. The greatness of the design, and the masterly execution of the work, equally interest the man of a capacious mind and the approving eye of the connoisseur. He has spared no pains in obtaining from the life the likenesses of those characters, (French as well as American,) who bore a conspicuous part in our revolution; and the success with which [his] efforts have been crowned will form no small part of the value of his pieces.

To you, my dear Sir, who knew Mr. Trumbull as a man and as an artist, it would perhaps have been hardly necessary to say so much as I have done on this occasion. But I could not in justice say less of Edition: current; Page: [93] him, when I believe, in his profession, he will do much honor to the liberal art of painting, as well as credit to this his native country.

I cannot conclude this letter without congratulating you most sincerely on the King’s acceptance of the constitution, presented to him by the National Assembly, and upon the happy consequences, which promise to flow upon your country as well as to mankind in general from that event. The prayers and wishes of the friends of the human race have attended the exertions of your nation; and when your affairs are completely settled, under an energetic and equal government, the hearts of good men will be gratified, and no one will rejoice in your felicity, and for the noble and disinterested part you have acted, more than your truly affectionate, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18th December, 1791
Philadelphia,

TO THE COMMISSIONERS FOR THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.

Gentlemen,

It gave me much pleasure to find by a late letter of yours to Mr. Jefferson, that the dispute between Major L’Enfant and Mr. Carroll is likely to terminate more favorably than might have been expected from the nature of it; and that you are disposed to take no further notice of his late unjustifiable proceedings.

You will perceive by the enclosed copy of a letter which I have just written to him that I have placed it beyond a doubt (if he had any before, from an opinion that the Commissioners were appointed for Edition: current; Page: [94] one purpose and himself for another, and that they were to act independent of each other) that his powers and instructions are to flow from you.

His aim is obvious—It is to have as much scope as possible for the display of his talents—perhaps for his ambition.—A copy of his letter of the 7th instant herewith sent, not only evinces this, but shows the extent to which he wishes to carry it. If however he will bear the curb which is put upon him by the letter of which you have the copy (and which will admit of no misinterpretation) I submit to your consideration whether it might not be politic to give him pretty general and ample powers for defined objects, until you shall discover in him a disposition to abuse them.

His pride would be gratified and his ambition excited, by such a mark of your confidence. If for want of these, or from any other cause he should take miff and leave the business, I have no scruple in declaring to you (though I do not want him to know it) that I know not where another is to be found who could supply his place.

His conduct in the dispute with Mr. Carroll of Duddington, I will readily acknowledge is no inducement to entrust him with extensive powers; because after your interference his proceedings was unwarrantable; and previous to it (in the last act) it was imprudent. Having said this, I must go farther and declare, that under the statement I received of this matter when I was at George town (not only from Major L’Enfant, but from another on whom I could Edition: current; Page: [95] depend) I think Mr. Carroll of Duddington is equally to blame, and without entering far into the detail of the dispute between these two Gentlemen; the following will comprise in my opinion, and bear solution of the motives which influenced the former. The work of Maj. L’Enfant (which is greatly admired) will show that he had many objects to attend to, and to combine, not on paper merely, but to make them correspond with the actual circumstances of the ground. This required more time than the patience—perhaps the convenience,—of Mr. Carroll would admit, and therefore, notwithstanding the assurances of the other, that he was using all the despatch in his power to ascertain the principal Streets and objects, and that he, Mr. Carroll, should not suffer by the delay; the latter proceeded after a while to the completion of his buildings.

This excited resentment in L’Enfant; and, more than probably gave birth to expressions which begat mutual warmth; and conceiving (without adverting to, or perhaps even knowing the formalities which are required by our laws) that, by the Deeds of cession, houses, and every other impediment which might happen to stand in the way were to be removed (paying the value thereof)—he took the determination to demolish, without ceremony, the house of Mr. Carroll; and having proceeded to the execution, his pride (however false) would not permit him to recede. This in my opinion, is a true state of the case;—to which a reserve, and an unwillingness to answer enquiries respecting his plan, has given disgust. Edition: current; Page: [96] But how far a compliance on his part, in an unfinished stage of the work would have been consistent with his duty, is a matter worthy of consideration. If this reserve &c. proceeded from self importance, and the insolence of office, the motives were unworthy.—If from a conviction of the impropriety of developing his designs to the public before they were matured and approved; they were good;—at any rate not condemnable.

These sentiments being the result of my reflections upon this subject, I communicate them for your private information; and for that reason request that this letter may not be mixed with other papers that respect your public transactions.—An imprudent use made of them might sow the seeds of discord, whilst reconciliation ought to be promoted, and discontents of every sort ought to be buried, by all those who have any concern or interest in the business. I am, &c.

1792.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 January, 1792
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.1
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Your favor of the 30th of September came duly to hand, and I thank you for the important information contained in it.

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The official communications from the secretary of state, accompanying this letter, will convey to you the evidence of my nomination and appointment of you to be minister plenipotentiary for the United States at the court of France; and my assurance, that both were made with all my heart, will, I am persuaded, satisfy you as to that fact. I wish I could add, that the advice and consent flowed from a similar source. Candor forbids it, and friendship requires, that I should assign the causes, as far as they have come to my knowledge.

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Whilst your abilities, knowledge in the affairs of this country, and disposition to serve it, were adduced and asserted on one hand; you were charged, on the other hand, with levity and imprudence of conversation and conduct. It was urged, that your habits of expression indicated a hauteur disgusting to those, who happen to differ from you in sentiment; and among a people, who study civility and politeness more than any other nation, it must be displeasing; that in France you were considered as a favorer of aristocracy, and unfriendly to its revolution (I suppose they meant constitution); that, under this impression, you could not be an acceptable public character, of consequence would not be able, however willing, to promote the interest of this country in an essential degree; that in England you indiscreetly communicated the purport of your mission in the first instance to the minister of France, at that court, who, availing himself in the same moment of the occasion, gave it the appearance of a movement through his court; this, and other circumstances of a similar nature, added to a close intercourse with the opposition members, occasioned distrust, and gave displeasure to the ministry, which was the cause, it is said, of that reserve which you experienced in negotiating the business, which had been intrusted to you.

But not to go further into detail, I will place the ideas of your political adversaries in the light, which their arguments have presented them to me, vizt, that the promptitude, with which your lively and brilliant Edition: current; Page: [99] imagination is displayed, allows too little time for deliberation and correction, and is the primary cause of those sallies, which too often offend, and of that ridicule of characters, which begets enmity not easy to be forgotten, but which might easily be avoided, if it was under the control of more caution and prudence; in a word, that it is indispensably necessary, that more circumspection should be observed by our representatives abroad, than they conceive you are inclined to adopt.

In this statement you have the pros and cons. By reciting them I give you a proof of my friendship, if I give none of my policy or judgment. I do it on the presumption, that a mind, conscious of its own rectitude, fears not what is said of it, but will bid defiance to and despise shafts, that are not barbed with accusations against honor or integrity; and because I have the fullest confidence (supposing the allegations to be founded in whole or part) that you would find no difficulty, being apprized of the exceptionable light in which they are viewed, and considering yourself as the representative of this country, to effect a change, and thereby silence, in the most unequivocal and satisfactory manner, your political opponents.

Of my good opinion, and of my friendship and regard, you may be assured, and that I am always your affectionate, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
31 January, 1792
Philadelphia
Charles Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles

TO CHARLES PINCKNEY, GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 22d of November last, with the enclosures from General Pickens and Colonel Anderson to yourself, respecting the deputation from the Cherokee nation. I have likewise the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th of the same month.

The Cherokees arrived in this city after a tedious passage from Charleston, which I believe they will consider as the most, if not the only disagreeable circumstance attending their mission; for the requests, which they had to make, were of a nature to be readily complied with, and they appeared not only satisfied, but highly pleased with their reception, and the manner in which their business had been done.

They have been detained here longer than was expected on their arrival, owing to the navigation of Edition: current; Page: [101] this river being totally obstructed, and that of New York harbor having been so for some days past by the severity of the weather. As soon as the harbor of New York opens, they will proceed to embark at that place for Charleston.

It is at all times very desirable, but peculiarly so at the present moment, that we should be upon terms of friendship and good understanding with those powerful tribes of Indians, who border on our southern and western frontiers; and I have strong hopes, that the favorable impression, which this deputation have received, will not only ensure the attachment of the Cherokees to the United States, but will likewise have a beneficial influence on the Creeks, the Chickasaws, and the Choctaws, from which nations they brought belts and messages, as well as from their own. For your attention to these Indians at Charleston, and in procuring them a passage to this place, permit me to offer you my thanks, and at the same time to assure you that I am, with great regard and esteem, dear Sir, your obedient servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 February, 1792
Philadelphia
H. D. Gough
Gough, H. D.

TO H. D. GOUGH.

Sir,

I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your polite letter of the 1st instant, and to inform you that the very fine mutton which you have had the goodness to send me has come to hand in the best order.

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While I beg your acceptance of my thanks for this mark of polite attention, permit me to express the satisfaction which I feel in learning from your letter the success you have met with in your laudable attempts to improve the breed of our sheep, by introducing among them the broad-tail’d Persian breed. I have ever been satisfied in my own mind, that by a proper attention to our sheep (particularly in Maryland and Virginia, where the climate and other circumstances seem to be peculiarly favorable to the object) they might be made not only a most profitable subject to the farmer, but rendered highly important in a public view, by encouraging extensive establishments of woollen manufactories from the abundance of wool which they could furnish.

During the time of my residing at home, between the close of the war and the entrance on my present office, I had paid much attention to my sheep, and was proud in being able to produce perhaps the largest mutton and the greatest quantity of wool from my sheep that could be then produced. But I was not satisfied with this; and contemplated further improvements both in the flesh and wool by the introduction of other breeds, which I should by this time have carried into effect, had I been permitted to pursue my favorite occupation.—I am, however, much pleased to see that some gentlemen seem to view this matter in the light which it deserves, and exert themselves in promoting it; and if I cannot give my aid by a personal attention to the object, those who do, will always have my best wishes for their success. I am.

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George Washington
Washington, George
25 February, 1792
Philadelphia
Reuben Slaughter
Slaughter, Reuben

TO REUBEN SLAUGHTER.

Sir,

I thank you for the information given me in your letter of the 21st of November last, of your claiming two hundred acres of the land within the limits of my survey on the Great Kanhawa, as it gives me an opportunity of letting you know my fixed determination to defend my title to all that land within the lines of my patent, and to warn you in the most pointed manner not to make any settlements thereon, or to exercise any other right of proprietorship within the limits of my patent.

It may be proper to inform you, that, in the year 1769 or 1770, there was a special order of the Governor and Council of Virginia for reserving all the lands on the Great Kanhawa, to satisfy the military claims of myself and others of the first Virginia regiment; that in 1770 I was myself on the Great Kanhawa with the surveyor to look out the land for the military claims; and that my patent for the tract you speak of has been in my possession for many years. I cannot therefore entertain the smallest doubt of the legality and validity of my title to every acre of land within the lines of that patent; and from a conviction of this I am resolved to defend it at all events, and to prosecute to the extremity of the law every encroachment, that may be made upon the boundaries of it. I therefore desire you will consider this letter as a solemn warning not to make any settlement, or exercise any other right of proprietorship, on any part of the land within the lines of Edition: current; Page: [104] my patent; assuring you, that if you should, after this warning, persevere in your intention of settling or otherwise encroaching upon my land, you must expect to be prosecuted as far as right and justice will admit. I am, Sir, your very humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 March, 1792
Philadelphia
David Stuart
Stuart, David

TO DAVID STUART.

Dear Sir,

In a short letter which I wrote to you by the last Post, I promised a lengthy one by the post of tomorrow; but such is my present situation that I must pass by some things, and be more concise on others than I intended.

That Mr. Johnson’s health did not permit him to come to this City as he proposed and was expected, is matter of exceeding great regret—as many things relative to the Federal district—the City and the public buildings might have been more satisfactorily arranged, and delays avoided; but as there is no contending against acts of Providence, we must submit as it becomes us so to do and endeavor to recover the time lost, in the best manner we can.

That the Commissioners have had more than a little trouble and vexation with Maj. L’Enfant, I can readily conceive (if your representation of the fact had been wanting) from the specimens he has given of his untoward temper since his arrival in this City. And I can as easily conceive that, in proportion to the yieldings of the Commissioners his claims would Edition: current; Page: [105] extend. Such upon a nearer view, appears to be the nature of the Man!

Every advantage will be taken of the Major’s dereliction. A vigorous counteraction, therefore, is essential.—If he does not come forward openly to declare it—his friends and the enemies to the measure will do it for him—that, he found matters were likely to be conducted upon so pimping a scale, that he would not hazard his character or reputation on the event, under the controul he was to be placed. It is even said (but nothing has appeared yet) that he meant to publish this to the world.—The half friends to the new City (if this is not allowing them more than their due) undertake to predict that it now stands in equilibrio: that a feather will turn the scale either way.—If, say they, the matter is pushed with vigor, and upon a plan commensurate to the design, and the public’s expectation, the permanent seat of Government will be fixed on the Potommack.—On the other hand, if inactivity and contractedness should mark the steps of the Commissioners of the District,—whilst in — on the part of this State is displayed in providing commodious buildings for Congress &c—the Government will remain where it now is. That exertions will be made by this State to effect the purpose there can be no doubt.—A late message from the Government to the Assembly proposing a certain grant of money for the erection of the buildings designed for the Presiident, is one among other instances which have occurred.

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It would have been very agreeable to me that you should have shewn the copies of the letters I had written to Major L’Enfant declaratory of the subordinate part he was destined to act under the Commissioners. It does not appear to have been so understood by the Proprietors, from the sentiments expressed by Mr. Walker (while he was in this City), for when he was told in what explicit language Major L’Enfant was given to understand this, he seemed quite surprized. You did me no more than justice when you supposed me incapable of duplicity in this business. I have had but one idea on the subject from the beginning, nor but one design and that was to convince the Major of the subordinate part he was destined to act in it. I was obliged, as you have seen, to use stronger and stronger language as I found his repugnance encreasing until he was told, in even harsh terms, that the Commissioners stood between him and the President of the U. States, and that it was from them alone he was to receive directions.

The doubts and opinion of others with respect to the permanent seat have occasioned no change in my sentiments on the subject. They have always been, that the plan ought to be prosecuted with all the despatch the nature of the case will admit, and that the public buildings in size, form and elegance, should look beyond the present day. I would not have it understood from hence that I lean to extravagance.—A chaste plan sufficiently capacious and convenient for a period not too remote, but one to which we may reasonably look forward, would meet my idea in the Edition: current; Page: [107] Capitol. For the President’s House I would design a building which should also look forward but execute no more of it at present than might suit the circumstances of this country, when it shall be first wanted. A Plan comprehending more may be executed at a future period when the wealth, population, and importance of it shall stand upon much higher ground than they do at present.

How and when you will be able to obtain Plans of such buildings is with yourselves to decide on.—No aid, I am persuaded is to be expected from Major L’Enfant in the exhibition—rather I apprehend, opposition and a reprobation of every one designed by any other, however perfect.

The part which Mr. Johnson, by your letter to me, and another from Mr. Johnson to Mr. Jefferson, appears to have acted surprizes me exceedingly. His interest in the City, and the discernment with which he seems to have viewed the measure in the early stages of it, would have lead me to have drawn a different conclusion.—The — which seem to have been — to him and the Major are more to be despised than to be regarded or resented. More than once, you will remember, I have given it to you as my opinion, that it would be by by-blows and indirect — that attempts would be made to defeat the Law. To sow the seeds of dissension, jealousy and distrust are among the means that will be practised.—There is a current in this City which sets so strongly against every thing that relates to the federal district, that it is next to impossible to Edition: current; Page: [108] stem it. To this cause is to be ascrib’d the backwardness of the engraving. Danger from them is to be apprehended; and in my opinion, from no other. The best antidote against them is perseverance, and vigorous exertion on the part of the Commissioners; and good temper and mutual forbearance with one another, on the part of the Proprietors. For who are so much interested in the success and progress of the measure as they?

I see no necessity for diminishing the Square allotted for the President’s House, &c., at this time. It is easier at all times to retrench, than it is to enlarge a Square, and a deviation from the Plan in this instance, would open the door to the other applications, which might perplex, embarrass and delay business exceedingly; and end, more than probably in violent discontents.

Where you will find a character qualified in all respects for a Superintendent I know not,—none present themselves to my view—yet one must be had.—A better than Mr. Ellicott for all matters, at present, can not be had.—No one I presume who can lay out the ground with more accuracy—lay out the squares and divide them into lots, better. He must understand levelling also perfectly—and has, I suppose, competent skill in conducting the Water.—Beyond these your opportunities to form an opinion of him, must exceed mine. Whether he is a man of arrangement—sober and industrious are matters unknown to me. I believe he is obliging—and would be perfectly subordinate.—What he asks, 5 dollars a Edition: current; Page: [109] day (if Sundays are included), seems high; but whether a fit character can be had for less, I am unable to say.

The plan of the City having met universal applause (as far as my information goes) and Major L’Enfant having become a very discontented man,—it was thought that, less than from 2,500 to 3,000 dollars would not be proper to offer him for his services; instead of this, suppose five hundred guineas, and a Lot in a good part of the city were to be substituted? I think it would be more pleasing and less expensive. I have never exchanged a word with Mr. Roberdeau since he came to this place, consequently am unable to relate what his expressions have been, or what his ideas are; he lives with, and more than probably partakes of the sentiments of Major L’Enfant; unless the dismission of the latter may have worked a change in them which, not unlikely, is the case with both; as I can hardly conceive that either of them contemplated the result of their conduct.

Altho’ what I am going to add may be a calumny, it is nevertheless necessary that you should be apprized of the report that Colo. Deakins applies the public money in his hands to speculative purposes; and is unable, at times, to answer the call of the workmen. An instance has been given. There are doubts also of the sincerity of Mr. Francis Cabot. Of both these matters you are to judge from the evidence before you. I have nothing to charge either with myself, these hints are disclosed in confidence, to place you on your guard.

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The idea of importing Germans and Highlanders as artizans, and laborers, has been touched upon in the letter from Mr. Jefferson to the Commissioners. It is, in my opinion, worthy of serious consideration, in an economical point of view, and because it will contribute to the population of the place.—The enclosed extract of a letter from Genl. Lincoln to Mr. Lear is sent, that you may see the prospect in that quarter.

The General is a candid undesigning man in whose word much confidence may be placed; and having been in this city, and lately returned from it, has had opportunities of making the remarks which are contained in the extract.

I began with telling you that I should not write a lengthy letter but the result has been to contradict it. It is to be considered as a private letter in answer to yours of the 26th ulto. but it may under that idea be communicated to your associates in office. They and you must receive it blotted and scratched as you find it, for I have not time to copy it. It is now ten o’clock at night, after my usual hour for retiring to rest, and the mail will be closed early tomorrow morning. Sincerely &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
11 March, 1792
Philadelphia
John Armstrong
Armstrong, John

TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

I am persuaded, that no one will be more ready than yourself to make the proper allowances for my not having sooner acknowledged the receipt of your Edition: current; Page: [111] friendly letter of the 23d of December, as you there express a conviction, that the pressure of my public duties will allow me but very little time to attend to my private correspondences. This is literally the truth, and to it must be imputed the lateness as well as the brevity of this letter.

The loss of the brave officers and men, who fell in the late unfortunate affair at the westward, is, I hope, the only one which the public sustain on the occasion, that cannot be readily repaired. The loss of these is not only painful to their friends, but is a subject of serious regret to the public. It is not, however, our part to despond; we must pursue such measures as appear best calculated to retrieve our misfortune, and give a happy issue to the business. I am sure there never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe, that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God, who is alone able to protect them.

Your friendly wishes for my happiness and prosperity are received with gratitude, and are sincerely reciprocated by, dear Sir, your affectionate, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [112]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 March, 1792
Philadelphia
Charles Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles

TO CHARLES PINCKNEY, GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 8th of January, and their duplicates. That of a public nature, on the subject of a proposed application from yourself to the Governor of East Florida for the redelivery of certain fugitives, charged with having forged the indents assumed by Edition: current; Page: [113] the U. States, will be answered by the Secretary of State.1 To your private favor I shall now reply. And in the first place, let me beg your acceptance of my thanks for the remembrance of, and kind attention to, my wishes in sending the box of seeds, which I have received by Captain Ort.

I am flattered by the regret, which you express at having been absent from Charleston during the stay of Lord Wycombe2 in that city, and being thereby deprived of an opportunity of paying the attention which you wished to that nobleman, to whom I had given a letter for you; and am glad that his intention of returning among you after having visited the Floridas will permit you to do it.

I must say that I lament the decision of your legislature upon the question of importing slaves after March, 1793. I was in hopes, that motives of policy Edition: current; Page: [114] as well as other good reasons, supported by the direful effects of slavery, which at this moment are presented, would have operated to produce a total prohibition of the importation of slaves, whenever the question came to be agitated in any State, that might be interested in the measure.1

Our misfortune at the westward is certainly a circumstance much to be regretted; but it affords consolation to know, that every public loss on that occasion may be readily repaired, except that of the lives of the brave officers and men, who fell in the conflict. I believe with you, that the absence of the Cherokee Edition: current; Page: [115] chiefs from their nation at so critical a moment was a fortunate event; and I trust they have received such impressions here, as will not fail to have a happy influence in their nation with regard to us.

If in the course of our military arrangements, it should be found compatible with the plan, which it is proposed to adopt, to require the services of General Pickens, I shall not be unmindful of your recommendation of that gentleman; and from his talents, knowledge, and influence, should look for the best effects. But I most sincerely join with you in hoping, that the war with the Indians may not extend so far to the southward, as to render your frontiers an object of immediate defence. I beg my best respects may be presented to Mrs. Pinckney and to Colo. Laurens, when you see him. With very great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 April, 1792
Philadelphia
Arthur St. Clair
St. Clair, Arthur

TO MAJOR-GENERAL ARTHUR ST. CLAIR.

Sir,

I have read and duly considered your letter of the 31st ultimo. The reasons you offer for retaining your commission, until an opportunity should be presented, if necessary, of investigating your conduct in every mode prescribed by law, would be conclusive with me under any other circumstances than the present. But the establishment of the troops allows only of one major-general. You have manifested your intention of retiring, and the essential interests of Edition: current; Page: [116] the public require, that your successor should be immediately appointed, in order to repair to the frontiers.

As the House of Representatives have been pleased to institute an inquiry into the causes of the failure of the late expedition, I should hope an opportunity would thereby be afforded you of explaining your conduct in a manner satisfactory to the public and yourself. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
10 April, 1792
Philadelphia
John Carroll
Carroll, John

TO JOHN CARROLL.2

Sir,

I have received and duly considered your memorial of the 20th ultimo, on the subject of instructing the Indians, within and contiguous to the United States, in the principles and duties of Christianity.

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The war now existing between the United States and some tribes of the western Indians prevents, for the present, any interference of this nature with them. The Indians of the Five Nations are, in their religious concerns, under the immediate superintendence of the Reverend Mr. Kirkland; and those, who dwell in the eastern extremity of the United States, are, according to the best information that I can obtain, so situated as to be rather considered as a part of the inhabitants of the State of Massachusetts than otherwise, and that State has always considered them as under its immediate care and protection. Any application, therefore, relative to these Indians, for the purposes mentioned in your memorial, would seem most proper to be made to the government of Massachusetts. The original letters on this subject, which were submitted to my inspection, have been returned to Charles Carroll, Esq. of—1

Impressed as I am with an opinion, that the most effectual means of securing the permanent attachment of our savage neighbors is to convince them that we are just, and to show them that a proper and friendly intercourse with us would be for our mutual advantage, I cannot conclude without giving you my thanks for your pious and benevolent wishes to effect this desirable end, upon the mild principles of religion and philanthropy.2 And, when a proper occasion shall Edition: current; Page: [118] offer, I have no doubt but such measures will be pursued, as may seem best calculated to communicate liberal instruction, and the blessings of society, to their untutored minds. With very great esteem and regard, I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
1 May, 1792
Philadelphia,

TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN.

My Lord,

I should have had the honor of acknowledging sooner the receipt of your letter of the 28th of June last, had I not concluded to defer doing it till I could announce to you the transmission of my portrait, which has been just finished by Mr. Robertson, (of New York), who has also undertaken to forward it.1 The manner of the execution does no discredit, I am told, to the artist, of whose skill favorable mention has been made to me. I was further induced to intrust the execution to Mr. Robertson, from his having informed me, that he had drawn others for your Lordship, and knew the size which would best suit your collection.2

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I accept with sensibility and with satisfaction the significant present of the box, which accompanied your Lordship’s letter. In yielding the tribute due from every lover of mankind to the patriotic and heroic virtues of which it is commemorative, I estimate, as I ought, the additional value which it derives from the hand that sent it, and my obligation for the sentiments that induced the transfer.

I will, however, ask, that you will exempt me from a compliance with the request relating to its eventual destination. In an attempt to execute your wish in this particular, I should feel embarrassment from a just comparison of relative pretensions, and should fear to risk injustice by so marked a preference. With sentiments of the truest esteem and consideration, I remain your Lordship’s, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
6 May, 1792
Philadelphia
Thomas Paine
Paine, Thomas

TO THOMAS PAINE.

Dear Sir,

To my friends, and those who know my occupations, I am sure no apology is necessary for keeping their letters so much longer unanswered, than my inclination would lead me to do. I shall therefore offer no excuse for not having sooner acknowledged the receipt of your letter of the 21st of June. My thanks, however, for the token of your remembrances, in the fifty copies of “The Rights of Man,” are offered with no less cordiality, than they would have been, had I answered your letter in the first moment of receiving it.1

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The duties of my office, which at all times, especially during the session of Congress, require an unremitting attention, naturally become more pressing towards the close of it; and as that body have resolved to rise to-morrow, and as I have determined, in case they should, to set out for Mount Vernon on the next day, you will readily conclude, that the present is a busy moment with me; and to that I am persuaded your goodness will impute my not entering into the several points touched upon in your letter. Let it suffice, therefore, at this time, to say, that I rejoice in the information of your personal prosperity, and, as no one can feel a greater interest in the happiness of mankind than I do, that it is the first wish of my heart, that the enlightened policy of the present age may diffuse to all men those blessings, to which they are entitled, and lay the foundation of happiness for future generations. With great esteem, I am, dear sir, &c.

P. S. Since writing the foregoing, I have received your letter of the 13th of February, with the twelve copies of your new work, which accompanied it, and for which you must accept my additional thanks.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 May, 1792
Mount Vernon
Charles Carter
Carter, Charles

TO CHARLES CARTER.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 30th ultimo was on its way to Philadelphia whilst I was on my journey to this place—owing to which I did not receive it until it reverberated—this Edition: current; Page: [122] must be my apology for not giving the receipt of it an earlier acknowledgment.

It would give me pleasure to receive your son into my family, if it could be made tolerably convenient to me—or if any advantage was likely to result from it to the young gentleman himself. I was in no real want even of Howell Lewis, but understanding that he was spending his time rather idly, and at the same time very slenderly provided for by his father, I thought for the few months which remained to be accomplished of my own servitude, by taking him under my care, I might impress him with ideas, and give him a turn to some pursuit or other that might be serviceable to him hereafter; but what that will be I am at present as much at a loss to decide as you would be—for as the heads of the different departments have by law the appointment of their own Clerks—are responsible for the conduct of them—are surrounded always with applicants—and, I presume, have their own inclinations and friends to gratify—I never have, in a single instance, and I am pretty sure I shall not now begin, recommending any one to either of them.

My family, now Howell is admitted into it, will be more than full, and in truth than is convenient for the House, as Mr. Dandridge (a nephew of Mrs. Washington’s) is already one of it, and but one room for him, Howell and another person to sleep in, all the others being appropriated to public or private uses.

If your son Charles is of age, and it should be yours and his own inclination to pursue a military course, I Edition: current; Page: [123] would, if any vacancy should happen (at present there is none) in one of the Regiments, endeavor to place him therein.—You will perceive I have made age the condition—the reason is, it is established as a rule in the War Office to appoint none knowingly, that are under it.

My best respects to Mrs. Carter. I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
20 May, 1792
Mount Vernon
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON.

My dear Sir,

As there is a possibility if not a probability, that I shall not see you on your return home;—or, if I should see you that it may be on the road and under circumstances which will prevent my speaking to you on the subject we last conversed upon; I take the liberty of committing to paper the following thoughts, and requests.

I have not been unmindful of the sentiments expressed by you in the conversations just alluded to:—on the contrary I have again, and again revolved them with thoughtful anxiety; but without being able to dispose my mind to a longer continuation in the office I now have the honor to hold.—I therefore still look forward to the fulfilment of my fondest and most ardent wishes to spend the remainder of my days (which I cannot expect will be many) in ease and tranquillity.

Nothing short of conviction that my deriliction of the Chair of Government (if it should be the desire Edition: current; Page: [124] of the people to continue me in it) would involve the Country in serious disputes respecting the chief Magestrate, and the disagreeable consequences which might result there from in the floating and divided opinions which seem to prevail at present, could, in any wise, induce me to relinquish the determination I have formed: and of this I do not see how any evidence can be obtained previous to the Election. My vanity, I am sure is not of that cast to allow me to view the subject in this light.1

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Under these impressions then, permit me to reiterate the request I made to you at our last meeting—namely, to think of the proper time, and the best mode of announcing the intention; and that you would prepare the latter.—In revolving this subject myself, my judgment has always been embarrassed.—On the one hand, a previous declaration to retire, not only carries with it the appearance of vanity and self-importance, but it may be construed into a manœuvre to be invited to remain.—And on the other hand, to say nothing, implys consent; or, at any rate, would leave the matter in doubt; and to decline afterwards might be deemed as bad, and uncandid.

I would fain carry my request to you farther than is asked above, although I am sensible that your compliance with it must add to your trouble; but as the recess may afford you leizure, and I flatter myself you have dispositions to oblige me, I will, without apology, desire (if the measure in itself should strike Edition: current; Page: [126] you as proper, and likely to produce public good, or private honor) that you would turn your thoughts to a valedictory address from me to the public, expressing in plain and modest terms, that having been honored with the Presidential chair, and to the best of my abilities contributed to the organization and administration of the government—that having arrived at a period of life when the private walks of it, in the shade of retirement, becomes necessary and will be most pleasing to me;—and the spirit of the government may render a rotation in the elective officers of it more congenial with their ideas of liberty and safety, that I take my leave of them as a public man; and in bidding them adieu (retaining no other Edition: current; Page: [127] concern than such as will arise from fervent wishes for the prosperity of my Country) I take the liberty at my departure from civil, as I formerly did at my military exit to invoke a continuation of the blessings of Providence upon it, and upon all those who are the supporters of its interests, and the promoters of harmony, order and good government.

That to impress these things it might, among other things be observed, that we are all the children of the same country—a country great and rich in itself—capable and promising to be, as prosperous and as happy as any the annals of history have ever brought to our view—That our interest, however deversified in local and smaller matters, is the same Edition: current; Page: [128] in all the great and essential concerns of the Nation.—That the extent of our Country—the diversity of our climate and soil—and the various productions of the States consequent of both, are such as to make one part not only convenient, but perhaps indispensably necessary to the other part;—and may render the whole (at no distant period) one of the most independant in the world.—That the established government being the work of our own hands, with the seeds of amendment engrafted in the Constitution, may by wisdom, good dispositions, and mutual allowances; aided by experience, bring it as near to perfection as any human institution ever approximated; and therefore, the only strife among us ought to be, who should be foremost in facilitating and finally accomplishing such great and desirable Edition: current; Page: [129] objects; by giving every possible support, and cement to the Union.—That however necessary it may be to keep a watchful eye over public servants, and public measures, yet there ought to be limits to it; for suspicions unfounded, and jealousies too lively, are irritating to honest feeling; and oftentimes are productive of more evil than good.

To enumerate the various subjects which might be introduced into such an address would require thought; and to mention them to you would be unnecessary, as your own judgment will comprehend all that will be proper; whether to touch, specifically, any of the exceptionable parts of the Constitution may be doubted.—All I shall add therefore at present, is, to beg the favor of you to consider—1st, the propriety of such an address.—2d, if approved, the several Edition: current; Page: [130] matters which ought to be contained in it—and 3d, the time it should appear: that is, whether at the declaration of my intention to withdraw from the service of the public—or to let it be the closing act of my administration—which will end with the next session of Congress (the probability being that that body will continue sitting until March,) when the House of Representatives will also dissolve.

’Though I do not wish to hurry you (the case’s not pressing) in the execution of either of the publications beforementioned, yet I should be glad to hear from you generally on both—and to receive them in time, if you should not come to Philadelphia until the session commences, in the form they are finally to take.—I beg leave to draw your attention also to such things as you shall conceive fit subjects for Edition: current; Page: [131] communication on that occasion; and noting them as they occur that you would be so good as to furnish me with them in time to be prepared, and engrafted with others for the opening of the session. With very sincere and affectionate regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 June, 1792
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Since writing to you on the 28th of January, I have received your several favors of the 27th of December from Paris; 4th of February, 17th and Edition: current; Page: [132] 21st of March, and 6th and 10th of April from London. I thank you very much for the interesting and important information contained in several of these letters, particularly that of the 4th of February. If the last article of which it is comprised should in your judgment require an acknowledgment, I shall rely on your goodness to make it in suitable and respectful terms. You can be at no loss to discover the paragraph to which I allude.1

The plot thickens and development must have begun; but what the final issue will be, lyes too deep for human ken. I will hope for the best, without allowing myself to wander in the field of conjecture for the result. Your letters, though extremely interesting in point of information, require but little to be said in the way of reply. The accts. given therein will be treasured up, to be acted upon as circumstances will warrant, and as occasions may present. One thing, however, I must not pass over in silence, lest you Edition: current; Page: [133] should infer from it, that Mr. D[undas] had authority for reporting, that the United States had asked the mediation of Great Britain to bring about a peace between them and the Indians. You may be fully assured, Sir, that such mediation never was asked, that the asking of it never was in contemplation, and I think I might go further and say, that it not only never will be asked, but would be rejected if offered. The United States will never have occasion, I hope, to ask for the interposition of that power, or any other, to establish peace within their own territory.

That it is the wish of that government to intermeddle, and bring this measure to pass, many concurrent circumstances (small indeed when singly considered) had left no doubt on my mind, before your letter of the 6th of April came to hand. What is there mentioned of the views of Mr. P[itt], as well as of the assertions of Mr. D., is strong as “proof of Holy Writ” in confirmation of it.1 The attempt has, however, in its remotest movements been so scouted as to have retarded, if it has not entirely done away the idea; but I do not hesitate to give it to you, my private and decided opinion, that it is to these interferences, and to the underhanded support, which the Indians receive, (notwithstanding Edition: current; Page: [134] the open disavowal of it,) that all our difficulties with them may be imputed. We are essaying every means in our power to undeceive these hostile tribes, with respect to the disposition of this country towards them, and to convince them that we neither seek their extirpation, nor the occupancy of their lands, as they are taught to believe, except such of the latter as has been obtained by fair treaty, and purchase bona fide made and recognised by them in more instances than one. If they will not, after this explanation (if we can get at them to make it), listen to the voice of peace, the sword must decide the dispute; and we are, though very reluctantly, vigorously preparing to meet the event.

In the course of last winter, I had some of the chiefs of the Cherokees in this city, and in the spring I obtained, (with some difficulty indeed,) a full representation of the Six Nations to come hither. I have sent all of them away well satisfied, and fully convinced of the justice and good dispositions of this government towards the Indian nations generally. The latter, that is the Six Nations, who before appeared to be divided and distracted in their councils, have given strong assurances of their friendship, and have resolved to send a deputation of their tribes to the hostile Indians with an acct. of all that has passed, accompanying it with advice to them to desist from further hostilities. With difficulty still greater, I have brought the celebrated Captain Joseph Brant to this city, with a view to impress him also with the equitable intentions of this government towards all the nations of his color. He only Edition: current; Page: [135] arrived last night, and I am to give him an audience at twelve this day.

Nothing has, as yet, been hinted on this side of the water to any of the officers of government, of the other matter mentioned in your letter of the 6th of April, though suspicions of it have been entertained.1

Knowing from the letters of the Secretary of State to you, that you are advised in all matters of public concern, and will have transmitted to you the laws as they are enacted, and the gazettes as they are published, I shall not trouble you with a detail of domestic occurrences. The latter are surcharged and some of them indecently communicative of charges that stand in need of evidence for their support.

There can be but few things of a public nature likely to fall in your line, requiring to be acted upon by this government, that may not be freely communicated to the department to which it belongs; because in proceeding thereon the head of the department will necessarily be made acquainted therewith. But there may, nevertheless, be other matters, more remote in their consequences, of the utmost importance to be known, that not more than one intermediate person would be entrusted with. Here, necessity as well as propriety will confine you to a point. Cases, not altogether under the control of necessity, may also arise to render it advisable to do this, and your own good judgment will be the best direction in these. With much truth and affection, I am, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
26 June, 1792
Philadelphia
James Anderson
Anderson, James

TO JAMES ANDERSON.

Sir,

I had the pleasure a few days ago to receive your letter of the 28th of September, enclosing a letter from the Earl of Buchan, and accompanied with some seeds of the Swedish turnip, or ruta baga. At the same time I received from Mr. Campbell, a bookseller in New York, six volumes of The Bee,1 which he informed me were transmitted by your directions. In your letter you mentioned having sent the first four volumes of The Bee, and the Earl mentions in his that he has sent me a set. I therefore concluded, that the six volumes which I have received are those mentioned by his Lordship, and especially as the pamphlet on wool, by Sir John Sinclair, which you observed in your letter accompanied the books which you sent, was not with those which I received. I mention these circumstances in order that, if there is any mistake in the transmission of the books, it may be set right.

I feel no less grateful, Sir, for your polite attention, whether the books which I have received be those sent by yourself or by the Earl. I must beg your acceptance of my best thanks for the Swedish turnip seed, and the particular account which you were so Edition: current; Page: [137] good as to give me respecting it. As I have spent a great part of my life, and that not the least pleasing, in rural affairs, I am always obliged by receiving such communications or novelties in that way, as may tend to promote the system of husbandry in this country.

When you first determined upon publishing The Bee, the Earl of Buchan had the goodness to transmit to me the plan of the work, with which I was much pleased; and, from the answer which I then gave to his Lordship’s letter, I have considered myself as a subscriber to the publication, and must beg to be informed to whom, or in what manner, I shall cause payment to be made for it.

I have not yet had it in my power to peruse those volumes of The Bee, which I have received, but I promise myself much entertainment and information from them; for the extensive and liberal ground, upon which you appear to have undertaken the work, must make it interesting to the good citizens of every country, and for your complete success in it you have my best wishes. I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
30 June, 1792
Philadelphia
Henry Lee
Lee, Henry

TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 15th came duly to hand, but at a time when I was much engaged with the Secretary of State in despatching Mr. Pinckney to the court of Edition: current; Page: [138] London, and in considering other business of importance.

I shall repeat in this letter, what I have declared to you on a former occasion, vizt., that, wishing to promote the public weal, and to make justice and impartiality the lines by which to walk to accomplish this, every information that can enable me to tread on such firm ground, or which would enable me to investigate with more accuracy the characters of public men, or the utility of public measures, cannot fail of being acceptable to me, whilst I have any thing to do with either, particularly the latter.1

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Having premised these truths, I shall add, on the subject of your letter, that I can no more condemn G. K.1 on the evidence of Colonel D.’s2 letter to you, than I am disposed to go into a full vindication of his conduct against the implications, which are contained in that letter. When assertion stands against assertion, recourse must be had to collateral circumstances to come at the truth, or the preponderating Edition: current; Page: [140] weight; but these are not necessary in the instance before us, for it will not be unfair to declare, that the conduct of Colonel D. is uncandid, and that his letter is equivocal. He acknowledges in it, that, when I asked if he would serve if you should be appointed to the chief command, he gave no answer; but does not in any part of his letter tell you what answer he gave G. K. to the same question, unless you take the following for one, when he was applied to, to know if he would accept of an appointment. “I told him I first wanted to know who would command the army, and said something of you and some others.” But are these equivocal expressions to be placed against the positive declarations of the other? Especially, too, when Colonel D., in relating the conversation which passed between himself and me, has mistaken both the substance and tendency of it. For you may be assured, Sir, I never mentioned your name, or the name of any man living, to him as one who was in the smallest degree fixed on for the command. The Secretary of War himself was unacquainted with the final decision, when Colonel D. left this city. The truth is, I never was more embarrassed in any appointment; and the object of my conversation with the latter was, to learn the public sentiment, as far as it could be obtained from him, with respect to this matter. To questions of this tendency, he said he had heard Morgan, Scott, and yourself mentioned on his journey through and from Kentucky to his own house; and, if I understood the significancy of things not expressed, he complimented Edition: current; Page: [141] himself. I took an occasion then to observe, that I conceived few men were better qualified for such a command than you were, and asked if he thought your junior rank in the late army would be an objection with those, who had been your seniors in it, to serve under you. His reply, (when a little pushed by bringing the case home to himself, for I wanted to draw an explicit declaration from him), was, that he believed it would be an unpleasant or grating thing, or words to that effect; but the manner, more than the expression, throughout the whole of the conversation, which was after dinner, and when we were alone, led me to conclude that it would not be relished by him. What his real intentions might be at that time, when he was speaking to G. K., or lastly to you, no one but himself is master of.

I have no hesitation in declaring to you, that the bias of my inclination was strongly in your favor; but that the result of my inquiries, direct and indirect, of military and indeed of other characters, (who were well disposed to see you in nomination,) was, that, if you were appointed to the command, it would be vain to look for senior officers to act subordinately, or, if they consented, it would be so grudgingly as that more than probably the seeds of sedition would be coeval with the formation of the army, such being the nature of military pride. Admitting this, then, one of two things would inevitably have followed; either an army composed of discontented materials, or of junior characters. The first might be attended Edition: current; Page: [142] with fatal consequences; the other, (however excellent the officers might be,) if any disaster should befall the army, it would instantly be ascribed to the inexperience of the principal officers in stations to which they had never been accustomed, thereby drawing a weight upon my shoulders too heavy to be borne. This was my own view of the subject, and the principle upon which I acted; not, be assured, because G. K. was of this or of that opinion. The fact, I sincerely believe, is, that he was as much puzzled as I was to fix on the first officer, under the circumstances that existed.

How far the appointment of G. W.1 is a popular or an unpopular measure is not for me to decide. It was not the determination of a moment, nor was it the effect of partiality or of influence; for no application (if that in any instance could have warped my judgment) was ever made in his behalf from any one, who could have thrown the weight of a feather into his scale, but because, under a full view of all circumstances, he appeared most eligible. To a person of your observation and intelligence it is unnecessary to remark, that an appointment, which may be unpopular in one place, and with one set of men, may not be so in another place, or with another set of men, and vice versâ; and that to attempt to please every body is the sure way to please nobody; of course, the attempt would be as idle, as the execution would be impracticable. G. W. has many good points as an Edition: current; Page: [143] officer, and it is to be hoped, that time, reflection, good advice, and, above all, a due sense of the importance of the trust, which is committed to him, will correct his foibles, or cast a shade over them. With esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 July, 1792
Mount Vernon
John Francis Mercer
Mercer, John Francis

TO JOHN FRANCIS MERCER.

Sir,

Your favor of the 10th did not get to my hands until Saturday last, although I sent to the Post Office regularly, every Post day since I came to this place for the letters which I expected.

Your letter conveys no specific assurance of the time, or manner of discharging the bal’e which is due to me.—I am placed on no better, indeed on no worse ground, than I stood years ago with respect to this debt; and you cannot have forgotten that these were my apprehensions, which I expressed to you upon more occasions than one.—Why then should I be told at this late day, after every endeavor on my part to accommodate matters to your convenience, of your intention of offering all your property for sale when part of it ought to have been applied to my use years since?—or to what purpose (for me I mean) is it that you should offer property for sale, if the price set thereon will admit no purchasers,—or if sold that the money is to be converted to other uses than for my benefit? The latter you must be sensible I know to have been the case, and the other, as it respects Edition: current; Page: [144] negroes which you offered to me formerly, and from other circumstances, I have no reason to disbelieve.

It is not from inclination, that I become acquainted with any Gentleman’s circumstances, and far is it from my practice to investigate what he owes; but you must excuse me when I tell you that I have heard enough of yours to give me some uneasiness, as well on your acct. as on mine.—To two facts I shall glance.—A Gentn. in Phila., without having the least suspicion (I believe) how matters stood between you and me, was enquiring into the value of your Marlborough Estate; and through another channel I understd. the reason was that your debt to him was considerable; and that that was the mean by which he was to be secured.—The other is the agency of Mr. Montague, who I know is determined to push the settlement of that business.—Others I have also heard of: but nothing, I beg you to be persuaded, Sir, but my own interest in the case would have induced me to mention them to you.—Hard indeed then would it be upon me, if after twenty odd years endulgence and receiving any thing and driblets as they were offered, which dissipated as inscru bly as the morning dew, that I should be still postponed, or put off with vague promises, until perhaps you and your property may have parted.

There can be no difficulty in settling this, or any account where the debits and credits are regular, and the intentions of the parties are fair; and I am persuaded if you will be at the trouble of riding to this Edition: current; Page: [145] place, a few hours will ascertain the bal’e which is due to me—Or in case a disagreement should arise on any point, it might be so stated as that an impartial umpire might decide it for us, witht. trouble or lawsuit.—Besides, I have at this place a number of Letters, Papers, and the Mill Books, which might throw light upon things which to you may seem to want explanation, and cannot be had elsewhere. Other matters also might be more clearly explained, and better understd. by oral conversation than is practicable by letter.—I know of nothing (at present) that will call me from home soon, unless I should go to the New City the first day of next month; of which I gave the Commrs. some, but no positive intimation.—However if you are inclined to comply with this request, and will name the precise day you will be here, I will not be from home.

I beg you to be assured, that it will be extremely irksome and painful to me to go into a Court of Justice for the recovery of what is due to me, and for which I have with very great inconvenience and disadvantage to myself, waited so long; but it must be the case unless it can be averted by some measure wch. possibly may be adopted at the meeting, wch. is now proposed, and which it may be well for you to think on previous thereto.

I have not yet been called upon legally to answer the complaint of Henshaw; but shall be ready to do it whenever it shall be found necessary or expedient, and for that purpose shall keep the Bill, and the answer which you have drawn until I either see you, or hear Edition: current; Page: [146] from you again.—The answer as drawn mistated a fact with respect to the power vested in Mr. Lund Washington.—The truth of that matter stands thus—the sale as you have recited, was made in Novr., 1774, on 12 month’s credit.—In May following, I went to the second Congress, as a member thereof, without giving Lund Washtn., then or at any time thereafter powers, fully expecting to return as soon as the business of the session should close; but being chosen to commd. the Army, I proceeded to Cambridge and from thence—as soon as it became apparent to me that my absence from home was likely to be of much longer continuance than I had calculated upon, I wrote to Col. Tayloe informing him thereof, and desiring him to take the sole management of the trust wch. had been commitd. to us, upon himself, as my situation would no longer permit me to pay any further attention to it, and because I should not consider myself responsible for any transaction subsequent to the sale—previous to which he had thrown the whole burthen upon me, and nothing remained for him to do but appoint a collector (if he did not chuse to be at the trouble himself), and submit the money to the decision of the court, agreeably to its decretal order—What he did—or rather what he neglected to do, would be tedious to relate, and I presume can compose no part of my answer.—And with respect to the particular instance of depreciation as stated in the answer my memory is not furnished with the circumstance at present. I am, Sir, Yr. most obedt. Hble. Servt.

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George Washington
Washington, George
29 July, 1792
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

My dear Sir,

I have not yet received the new regulations of allowances to the surveyors or collectors of the duties on spirituous liquors; but this by the by. My present purpose is to write you a letter on a more interesting and important subject. I do it in strict confidence, and with frankness and freedom.

On my way home, and since my arrival here, I have endeavored to learn from sensible and moderate men, known friends to the government, the sentiments which are entertained of public measures. These all agree, that the country is prosperous and happy, but they seem to be alarmed at that system of policy, and those interpretations of the constitution, which have taken place in Congress. Others less friendly, perhaps, to the government, and more disposed to arraign the conduct of its officers (among whom may be classed my neighbor and quondam friend Colonel M.1), go further, and enumerate a variety of matters, which, as well as I recollect, may be adduced under the following heads, viz.:

1. “That the public debt is greater than we can possibly pay, before other causes of adding new debt to it will occur; and that this has been artificially created by adding together the whole amount of the debtor and creditor sides of the accounts, instead of taking only their balances, which could have been paid off in a short time.

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2. “That this accumulation of debt has taken for ever out of our power those easy sources of revenue, which, applied to the ordinary necessities and exigencies of government, would have answered them habitually, and covered us from habitual murmurings against taxes and tax-gatherers, reserving extraordinary calls for extraordinary occasions, would animate the people to meet them.

3. “That the calls for money have been no greater than we must generally expect for the same or equivalent exigencies, yet we are already obliged to strain the impost till it produces clamor, and will produce evasion, and war on our own citizens to collect it; and even to resort to an excise law, of odious character with the people, partial in its operation, unproductive, unless enforced by arbitrary and vexatious means, and committing the authority of the government in parts where resistance is most probable and coercion least practicable.

4. “They cite propositions in Congress, and suspect other projects on foot, still to increase the mass of the debt.

5. “They say, that by borrowing at two thirds of the interest we might have paid off the principal in two thirds of the time; but that from this we are precluded by its being made irredeemable but in small portions and long terms.

6. “That this irredeemable quality was given it for the avowed purpose of inviting its transfer to foreign countries.

7. “They predict, that this transfer of the principal, when completed, will occasion an exportation of three millions of dollars annually for the interest, a drain of coin, of which as there has been no example, no calculation can be made of its consequences.

8. “That the banishment of our coin will be completed by the creation of ten millions of paper money in the form of bank bills, now issuing into circulation.

9. “They think the ten or twelve per cent. annual profit, paid to the lenders of this paper medium, are taken out of the pocket of the people, who would have had without interest the coin it is banishing.

10. “That all the capital employed in paper speculation is barren and useless, producing, like that on a gaming-table, no accession to itself, and is withdrawn from commerce and agriculture, Edition: current; Page: [149] where it would have produced an addition to the common mass.

11. “That it nourishes in our citizens vice and idleness instead of industry and morality.

12. “That it has furnished effectual means of corrupting such a portion of the legislature, as turns the balance between the honest voters, whichever way it is directed.

13. “That this corrupt squadron, deciding the voice of the legislature, have manifested their dispositions to get rid of the limitations imposed by the constitution on the general legislature; limitations, on the faith of which the States acceded to that instrument.

14. “That the ultimate object of all this is to prepare the way for a change, from the present republican form of government to that of a monarchy, of which the British constitution is to be the model.

15. “That this was contemplated in the Convention they say is no secret, because its partisans have made none of it. To effect it then was impracticable, but they are still eager after their object, and are predisposing every thing for its ultimate attainment.

16. “So many of them have got into the legislature, that, aided by the corrupt squadron of paper-dealers, who are at their devotion, they make a majority in both houses.

17. “The republican party, who wish to preserve the government in its present form, are fewer, even when joined by the two, three, or half-dozen antifederalists, who, though they dare not avow it, are still opposed to any general government; but, being less so to a republican than a monarchical one, they naturally join those whom they think pursuing the lesser evil.

18. “Of all the mischiefs objected to the system of measures before mentioned, none, they add, is so afflicting and fatal to every honest hope, as the corruption of the legislature. As it was the earliest of these measures, it became the instrument for producing the rest, and will be the instrument of producing in future a king, lords, and commons, or whatever else those who direct it may choose. Withdrawn such a distance from the eye of their constituents, and these so dispersed as to be inaccessible Edition: current; Page: [150] to public information, and particularly to that of the conduct of their own representatives, they will form the worst government upon earth if the means of their corruption be not prevented.

19. “The only hope of safety, they say, hangs now on the numerous representation, which is to come forward the ensuing year; but, should the majority of the new members be still in the same principles with the present, show so much dereliction of republican government, and such a disposition to encroach upon or explain away the limited powers of the constitution in order to change it, it is not easy to conjecture what would be the result, nor what means would be resorted to for the correction of the evil. True wisdom, they acknowledge, should direct temperate and peaceable measures; but, they add, the division of sentiments and interest happens unfortunately to be so geographical, that no mortal can say that what is most wise and temperate would prevail against what is more easy and obvious. They declare they can contemplate no evil more incalculable, than the breaking of the Union into two or more parts; yet when they view the mass, which opposed the original coalescence, when they consider that it lay chiefly in the southern quarter, and that the legislature have availed themselves of no occasion of allaying it, but, on the contrary, whenever northern and southern prejudices have come into conflict, the latter have been sacrificed and the former soothed.

20. “That the owers of the debt are in the southern, and the holders of it in the northern division.

21. “That the antifederal champions are now strengthened in argument by the fulfilment of their predictions, which has been brought about by the monarchical federalists themselves; who, having been for the new government merely as a stepping-stone to monarchy, have themselves adopted the very constructions of the constitution, of which, when advocating the acceptance before the tribunal of the people, they declared it unsusceptible; whilst the republican federalists, who espoused the same government for its intrinsic merits, are disarmed of their weapons, that which they denied as prophecy being now become true history. Who, therefore, can be sure, they ask, that these things may not proselyte the small number, which was wanting to place the Edition: current; Page: [151] majority on the other side? And this, they add, is the event at which they tremble.”1

These, as well as my memory serves me, are the sentiments, which directly and indirectly have been disclosed to me. To obtain light and to pursue truth being my sole aim, and wishing to have before me explanations of, as well as the complaints on, measures, in which the public interest, harmony, and peace is so deeply concerned, and my public conduct so much involved, it is my request, and you would oblige me by furnishing me with your ideas upon the discontents here enumerated; and for this purpose I have thrown them into heads or sections, and numbered them, that those ideas may be applied to the correspondent numbers. Although I do not mean to hurry you in giving your thoughts on occasion of this letter, yet, as soon as you can make it convenient to yourself, it would for more reasons than one be agreeable and very satisfactory to me.

The enclosure in your letter of the 16th was sent back to the post, after I received it, with my approving signature, and in a few days I will write to the purport mentioned in your letter of the 22d, both to the Secretary of War and yourself. At present all my business public and private is on my own shoulders; the two young gentlemen who came home with me, being on visits to their friends, and my nephew, the Major, too much indisposed to afford me any aid.

With affectionate regard, I am, &c.
Edition: current; Page: [152]
George Washington
Washington, George
1 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your despatches of the 14th and 21st ultimo came duly to hand; and it is probable the servant, who carries this letter to the post-office, will bring me a third of this week’s date. I did not acknowledge the receipt of the first letter at an earlier date, because there was nothing contained in it, which required a reply; and I am too little acquainted with the authority, under which Colonel Henry Kerr detached Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips, or the cause or the object of that detachment, to form so good an opinion of the propriety of the measure, as it is easy for me to predict the probable consequences of it. I hope Major Gaither has before this embarked for that quarter, strongly impressed with the views of the general government, and the disposition of it to preserve peace, if it can be done upon just and honorable grounds.

The tranquillity, which, (by your last accounts handed to me,) prevails on our northwestern frontiers, gives me much satisfaction, and affords a pleasing prospect, that the exertions of government to bring the hostile Indian tribes into a pacific mood will not have been made in vain. This, however, is not to relax any preparation for a contrary event. Proceed as if war was inevitable; but do it, I entreat you, with all the economy which can result from system and good regulations. Our finances call for it, and, if these did not, our reputation does. The supplies Edition: current; Page: [153] of an army, through so long and rugged a land transportation, must under the best management be expensive; our attention, therefore, ought to be proportionate. That I may form some ideas of the former, I desire you would report to me the regulations, which you have adopted for providing, forwarding, and issuing of them, and the mode of having them accounted for to the department of war. I have written to the Secretary of the Treasury for similar information on these points, so far as any of them may come within the purview of his department. Reiterate, in your letters to General Wayne, the necessity of employing the present calm in disciplining and training the troops under his command for the peculiar service for which they are destined. He is not to be sparing of powder and lead, in proper and reasonable quantities, to make the soldiers marksmen.

There is no propriety, that I can perceive, in giving the rank of brigadier to Major Sargent; nor do I conceive that General Wilkinson would, or indeed ought to relinquish his present command. I have turned this matter in my thoughts, but as yet have not been able to hit upon a character to my mind for the office of adjutant-general. I will think again and again on the subject, and will inform you of the result.

So long as the vice of drunkenness exists in the army, so long, I hope, ejections of those officers, who are found guilty of it, will continue; for that and gaming will debilitate and render unfit for active service any army whatsoever. I am, Sir, &c.

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P. S. Would Major Fish accept the appointment of adjutant-general with the rank of lieutenant-colonel? He strikes me as an eligible character. Colonel Posey, also, who wants to be employed, might, if ready at his pen, make a good one; for, in other respects, (and I do not know that he is deficient in this,) he is said to be an excellent officer.

George Washington
Washington, George
5 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

Since the date of my last despatch to you of the 1st instant, I have received your letters of the 26th and 30th ultimo, and have affixed my signature to the arrangement of compensations to the officers of inspection, in consequence of additional latitude given to the President of the United States by the act of the last session, entitled “An act concerning the duties on spirits distilled within the United States.”

I have done this on full conviction, that the best information the nature of the case would admit has been obtained at the treasury, to keep the aggregate within the limitations of the law, and to proportion the compensations to the services of the respective officers; presuming, also, that it appeared essential, (from a full view of circumstances, and the benefits likely to be derived from the measure to the public,) that an increase of the officers of revenue was really Edition: current; Page: [155] necessary; for I should be unwilling to add to the former establishment, unless the propriety of it was apparent. Unless the attorney-general should be of opinion, that the President of the United States has power, under the act of March, 1791, or the subsequent one of last session, to appoint, (in the recess of the Senate,) an inspector of the survey newly constituted in Maryland, it must remain, as is proposed, under the immediate direction of the supervisor.

If, after these regulations are in operation, opposition to the due exercise of the collection is still experienced, and peaceable procedure is no longer effectual, the public interest and my duty will make it necessary to enforce the laws respecting this matter; and, however disagreeable this would be to me, it must nevertheless take place. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
13 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

My last to you was dated the 5th instant, since which I have received your letters of the 4th, 5th, and 7th, and shall reply to such parts of them as appear to require it.

It is painful to find the recruiting service advancing so slowly as your last letters indicate. Endeavor to rouse the officers, who are engaged in this business, to fresh exertions. The unhappy fate of our messengers is a lamentable proof of Indian barbarity, and a strong evidence of the bad dispositions of at least Edition: current; Page: [156] some of their tribes.1 This ought to stimulate every nerve to prepare for the worst.

If the banditti, which made the successful stroke on the station at Nashville, could be come at without involving disagreeable consequences with the tribes to which they respectively belong, an attempt to cut them off ought by all means to be encouraged.2 An enterprise judiciously concerted, and spiritedly executed, would be less expensive to the government, than keeping up guards of militia, which will always be eluded in the attack, and never be overtaken in a pursuit.

No measures should be left unessayed to treat with the Wabash Indians; nor can the goods be better applied, than in effectuating this desirable purpose; but I think a person of more dignified character than Major Hamtranck should be employed in the negotiation. No idea of purchasing land from them ought to be admitted; for no treaty or other communications with the Indians have ever been satisfactory to them when this has been the subject. The principles Edition: current; Page: [157] and general outlines of all these treaties ought to be given to the negotiator, notwithstanding the right of disannulling is reserved to the government. Illiterate people are not easily made sensible of the propriety or policy of giving a power, and rejecting what is done under it. These may be contained in General Putnam’s instructions.1

General Putnam merits thanks, in my opinion, for his plan, and the sentiments he has delivered on what he conceives to be a proper mode of carrying on the war against the hostile nations of Indians; and I wish he would continue to furnish them without reserve in future. But in the present instance two reasons are so strongly opposed to the measure recommended by him, as to render it unadvisable and dangerous. One of which, the collision it might occasion, and the consequences thereof in the pending negotiation with Great Britain, he could not be acquainted with. The other, the inadequacy of our force to admit a division, and thereby running the hazard of being beaten in detail by encountering the enemy’s whole strength with part of our own, are such as not to be overcome. The other reasons assigned by you are not without weight, but less in degree; for peace and war are now in balance. Which will preponderate, remains to be known. If the latter, (which heaven avert!) we must expect to encounter a powerful confederacy, and ought not to put any thing to hazard, which can be avoided by military foresight.

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I can form no judgment of the object or propriety of establishing the post on the Muskingum, mentioned in General Putnam’s letter to you of the 9th of July, as no copy of that letter has been sent to me. Equally unable am I to give any opinion on the speeches and wishes of Fish-carrier, as I know not the contents of them; twenty copies having accompanied the letter of General Chapin.

General Wilkinson has displayed great zeal and ability for the public weal since he came into service. His conduct carries strong marks of attention, activity, and spirit, and I wish him to know the favorable light in which it is viewed. With esteem, I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

In my letter of the 15th, I promised you my sentiments on Mr. Seagrove’s1 communications; and, though I am not enabled to do it so fully as I could wish, I shall nevertheless give them as fully as I can.

His letters, and the enclosures therein contained, with the evidence in support, go to points which may be classed under six heads.

1st. Spanish interferences to prevent the treaty between the United States and the Creek nation from being carried into effect. To accomplish which, these Indians, together with the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws, are invited to a grand council at Edition: current; Page: [159] Pensacola; where, if they will attend, it is intimated to them, they shall be furnished with arms, ammunition, and goods of all sorts. An agent of Spain, a Captain Oliver, who is established at Little Tellassee in the Creek nation, and supposed to be acting in concert with McGillivray, has forbid their running the line, that was established by treaty with these people, promising them the support of Spain against any measures, which may be pursued by the United States, in case of their refusal; and, in a word, aided by McGillivray and Panton,1 is stimulating all the southern Indians to acts of hostility against the United States; to facilitate which, he is distributing goods and holding talks with the chiefs. Three things, it is said, will be attempted at the proposed meeting at Pensacola: 1st, to establish posts in the Indian country. 2d, to fix three agents amongst them, of whom McGillivray is to be the principal. And, 3d, to exclude the citizens of the United States from having any trade with these Indians. To carry the whole of this plan into effect, it is further said, that five regiments of about six hundred men each, and a large quantity of ordnance and stores, are actually arrived from Old Spain, and the like number of troops are expected from the Havana; and suspicions are alive, that the capture of Bowles2 was a preconcerted scheme between the Spanish government and himself.

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2d. The turbulent disposition of the settlers on the western frontier of Georgia, and their endeavors (as appears by the declaration of Colonel Alexander and others, which could be adduced,) to oppose the measures of the general government, and to bring on a war between the United States and the Creek nation; with the nefarious means practised by them to accomplish this project, and the effect it has had upon the latter who are afraid, though generally welldisposed towards the United States, and in all their public talks have given strong assurances of their intention to execute the treaty, and the attempts to induce them to meet at Rock Landing on the Oconee, in the vicinity of these characters.

3d. His conditional engagement to meet the lower Creeks on the head of St. Mary’s River in November next. His opinion, that, with more extensive powers, and a larger field to display in, he should be able not only to counteract the unprovoked interference of the Spaniards, by keeping the Indians in our interest, but could even engage them to act for Edition: current; Page: [161] us, if circumstances should make it desirable; but, to do this, he must be furnished with goods, and be authorized to distribute them as occasion should require. That, but for his endeavors to support the authority of McGillivray, and to reinstate him in the good opinion of his nation, who began to see into his views, and nine tenths of it to despise him, this might have been in a more progressive state than it is at present.

4th. The necessity of restricting the licenses of traders, and passes to people of other descriptions, who, under various pretences, (but oftentimes with bad intentions,) go into the Indian villages; and the expediency and the advantages, which would result from having proper forms for both, with checks to prevent counterfeits and impositions on the Indians.

5th. The probable consequence of a severe drought to the Indians, and the policy of relieving them from impending famine.

6th. The intemperance of Major Call; his improper conduct in raising three troops of horse, with promise of payment from the general government; leaving a party on the southwestern frontier of Georgia without an officer, or even a sergeant; and the agent’s opinion of the necessity of a respectable force on the southwestern frontier of that State, and the little use of them in its present stations.

These heads, as well as I can recollect, contain the substance of Mr. Seagrove’s communications, on which I give the following sentiments and observations.

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1st. The conduct of Spain in this business is so unprovoked (by any event that has come to my knowledge,) so mysterious, and so hostile in appearance, that, although the evidence is strong and corroborated by a variety of information through a variety of channels, and even confirmed by McGillivray himself, yet the mind can scarcely realize a procedure so base and inhuman, as the encouraging (not only without the exhibition of complaint, but under professions of good neighborhood and friendship towards us) a war, which must expose helpless women and children to the relentless fury of savages, and to the cruelties of the tomahawk and scalpingknife; but the evidence of their intrigues to set aside the treaty, to exclude the United States from having trade or intercourse with the southern Indians, will scarcely admit of a doubt; and there is too much reason to suspect that McGillivray has an agency in promoting these measures.

My opinion, therefore, is, that the commissioners of Spain, in Philadelphia, should be informed, delicately, and perhaps informally, (until matters can be more fully investigated or developed,) that, though we are ready to acquit the Spanish government of measures so unfriendly to the United States, yet the evidence of these proceedings in some of its officers is too strong to admit of a doubt, and of too important a nature to pass over in silence; that it creates serious alarms in the minds of our citizens in the southern quarter, and gives much trouble to the government of the United States, which has no views incompatible Edition: current; Page: [163] with good faith towards Spain, and with justice and honor towards the Indians.

Something to this effect was written or spoken to these gentlemen by the Secretary of State, on the first representation of this matter from the southern agent for Indian affairs; but what notice was taken of it by them, or whether any, I do not recollect to have been informed. Inquiry, however, should be made; but, whether documents respecting it are to be found in his office, or are deposited among the private transactions in his own keeping, is uncertain. In the latter case no information can be obtained in time.

2d. My opinion on this head is, that Governor Tellfair should be written to, and informed in delicate, but in firm and unequivocal terms, that the United States, from a concatenation of causes are so delicately circumstanced as to render peace in the southern quarter indispensably necessary, if it be possible to preserve it upon just and honorable terms; that government has received information, unequivocal in its nature, of designs in some of the frontier inhabitants of Georgia, not only to impede but absolutely to oppose running the line, which was agreed upon as a boundary between that State and the Creeks; and of conduct, in some of them, tending to provoke war, rather than to promote peace with these Indians; that it was (and subsequent events have proved it) with great difficulty the boundary, then agreed on, could be obtained; that now it has become a law of the land, and, if the Indians can be prevailed on to carry it into execution, it must be enforced; and, Edition: current; Page: [164] lastly, to exhort him by every motive to peace and good order, that he would use his influence and address to redress all turbulent and illegal proceedings in this behalf, as the consequences cannot fail to be distressing from a contrary conduct.

3d. Although the opinions and propositions of the southern agent ought, in this case, to be received with a due degree of caution, inasmuch as he is removing the theatre of action from Rock Landing to his own or brother’s store, at the head of the St. Mary’s, covering thereby that frontier where his interest is more immediately affected; building his own consequence upon the ruins of another, as occasion and circumstances may require; acquiring a power to distribute goods, which, though they are limited and issued under certain restrictions, may nevertheless be abused; and investing himself with more ample power to act from the circumstances of the moment; I say, notwithstanding the liability to abuse in some or all of these cases, I am of opinion from the circumstances which exist and press, and from the delay which would result from references, at the distance he is from the seat of the government, that he ought, as far as I have the power of doing it, to be instructed—

To hold a meeting with the Indian chiefs, at the time and place mentioned in his letter of the 27th ultimo,—and,

That he should, under defined restrictions, have authority given him to distribute goods as circumstances and his own judgment shall dictate.

That he ought to counteract the nefarious schemes Edition: current; Page: [165] of Spain, by all the influence and address he is master of.

That if, upon further and more unequivocal proof, McGillivray’s duplicity and treachery should appear more evident, that he is, in that case, to destroy as far as it is in his power the consequence of that man in the Creek nation; and, as the most effectual step towards it, and serving the United States, to take, if he can, his place in the nation.

4th. The propriety of this restrictive proposition is apparent, but to draw the line is difficult. To vest it solely (which I believe would be the least evil) with the Indian agents would increase their consequence amazingly, and would give them in a manner, if they are indirectly engaged in trade, a monopoly thereof, and all other intercourse with the Indians; and, in the instance before us, would create much jealousy and disgust in the executive of the State of Georgia. Under this impression of my sentiments, decide as shall appear best upon a full view of the case. The idea of an engraving, with the proposed check, to prevent counterfeit passes and impositions, is a good thought, and merits adoption.

5th. If the Indians should be reduced to the deplorable situation, which is apprehended, by an act of Providence, which human foresight is unable to avert, it is my opinion, that we ought, if they exhibit signs of good dispositions towards us, as well from motives of policy as those of humanity, to afford them relief. But the power of the executive to do this, the state of the treasury, the extent of the evil, and Edition: current; Page: [166] the consequences of giving to one nation and not to all, if it should be asked, are matters to be considered before any explicit assurance is given, that supplies will be granted.

6th. There can be no doubt of the propriety of bringing Major Call before a general court-martial for his intemperate conduct, for authorizing the raising of three troops of horse at the expense of the Union (unless as commanding officer he was instructed or empowered to do it, of which I have no recollection), and for leaving a party of soldiers on the southwestern frontier, without an officer, or even a sergeant, to command and provide for them.

As to the necessity of having a respectable force on the southwestern frontier of Georgia, and of the little use of those on the more western part of the State, no reasons are assigned for either by which a judgment can be formed; and, having no accurate map of that country with me, I am unable to give any other sentiment on either of these points, than that, for the reason which has been given under another head, this measure should be decided on with caution.

I do not give these opinions, or any one of them, as decisive, or as directions to be implicity followed; because that would render deliberation, and the request contained in my letter of the 15th, nugatory. They are given as crude and undigested first thoughts only, to be closely examined, compared, and combined with other information, which may be found in the public offices, and the letters and instruction drafted accordingly.

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Let these (except the communication, if any, to the commissioners of Spain) pass through my hands unsealed. I am persuaded there will be no delay on account of disapprobation and consequent alterations. The express not expecting, as he says, to have proceeded further than Mount Vernon, will want a supply of money to take him back, to be accounted for with the Indian agent. He has already received two guineas from me.

I presume Mr. Seagrove would wish to be placed upon some more permanent establishment, with respect to his pay; but, if there be any doubt of my power to fix this, and to render his office more stable, matters, with assurances that his services will neither pass unnoticed nor unrewarded, must remain as they are until the meeting of Congress. And as he appears to have acted with zeal and intelligence, he ought to be informed of the satisfaction his conduct has given, and to be requested, in a particular and pointed manner, to have some one or more persons in whom entire confidence can be placed, as well in their ability as fidelity, to attend the meeting at Pensacola, to watch the motions of Oliver, and to be informed precisely and accurately of the Spanish movements in both East and West Florida. Money (reasonably bestowed) must not be spared to accomplish these objects.

What is become of the surveyor Ellicott, and what is proper to be done with him? He ought not to be retained in that country at a certain expense, awaiting a very uncertain event.

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I did not think of it when I was writing my letter of the 15th, but now request, that the attorney-general may be called on to aid with his sentiments in the several matters, which are referred for your consideration and decision.1

Not having thought of any character more eligible for adjutant-general than Major Fish, I request that he may be sounded, or even directly applied to. Should he be indisposed to the office, some other must be appointed without delay. With esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir:

In my letter of the 15th I acknowledged the receipt of yours of the 11th; since which your despatches of the 16th are come to hand, and convey but a gloomy prospect of peace with the Indians, but show the necessity of preparing more vigorously if possible for the dernier resort. That the western Indians are stimulated to acts of hostility on one side, and every mean, which can be devised, to set aside the treaties, which exist between the southern Indians and the United States, and to encourage them to break with us, on the other, admits of no doubt in my mind; and that it may be a concerted plan between certain Edition: current; Page: [169] powers to check the growth of this rising country, is far from improbable, diabolical as it may seem.

The enclosure of General Putnam’s letter of the 9th of July enables me (which I could not do before) to form some idea of his proposition to establish a post on the Muskingum; and, though I shall give no decided opinion on this particular case, my sentiments generally with respect to posts are not changed, and are shortly these; that, except for the preservation of stores, and the security of convoys upon a communication, they are of no use but to protect the people within them; for unless the garrison is of such strength, and can detach in such force, as to bid defiance to the enemy, it is always cooped up. Except for the purposes I have mentioned, of what advantage are Forts Hamilton, St. Clair, and Jefferson? The strength of stationary parties is soon discovered by the Indians, and, when discovered, they are liable to be cut off, unless they confine themselves solely to the defence of the post; and of what avail would this be on the Muskingum or elsewhere? Posts can be insulted or avoided at the option of the enemy in a covered country; but the best vigilance of the most cautious enemy cannot prevent scouting parties falling on their trail. Besides, we shall never be respectable at any point, if the troops are divided and subdivided for the quietude of particular settlements or neighborhoods; nor will they ever be disciplined and under due subordination, whilst they are scattered over the country in small parties under subaltern officers; except when Edition: current; Page: [170] they are employed in ranging, which is an essential part of their military education in the service for which they are designed.

If all the measures, which have been pursued by government to convince the hostile Indians of the just and honorable intentions the United States towards them, should prove ineffectual, we may certainly calculate upon a powerful opposition from their combined force; in which case we shall not only be unprepared to penetrate their country this year, but there appears to me to be very little prospect of doing it early in the next, unless there can be some stimulus to the recruiting service, and the officers absolutely restrained from enlisting improper men. I am told, notwithstanding the pointed instructions, which have been issued to them on this head, that boys in many instances, and the worst miscreants in others, are received; to the latter of which may be attributed the number of desertions, that are reported to the war office. Under this view of the matter, your intimation to General Wayne, respecting the Chickasaws and Choctaws, was prudent and proper; but I conceive, nevertheless, if a few of each southern nation, say six or eight respectable characters, were to visit and remain with the army as long as should be agreeable to themselves, be well fed and clothed, and in all respects treated with attention and kindness, it would be an effectual inducement to the coming of the number that might be required next year.

I perceive by Mr. Belli’s1 letter, that the difference Edition: current; Page: [171] between supplying the troops with their rations by contracts, and by a purchasing commissary, must be very great indeed, although he has not given the wages and other charges of the latter gentry. I am of opinion, that the difference in favor of the latter will be found, from the nature of things, much greater on the exterior than it would be in the interior country; and as the public pays for all lost provisions (by the enemy), is at the expense of stores and guards, it is a matter worthy of serious investigation and consequent decision. Consult, therefore, with the Secretary of the Treasury, and act as in the result may appear best.

The hair must have stood on Major S.’s head, and a stake full in his view, when his letter of the 8th of July was writing to General Wilkinson, or the style of it would certainly have been varied. With esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Your letters of the 12th and 13th came duly to hand, as did that enclosing Mr. Blodget’s plan of a Capitol. The latter I forwarded to the commissioners, and the enclosures of the two first are now returned to you.

I believe we are never to hear from Mr. Carmichael, nor of him, but through the medium of a third Edition: current; Page: [172] person. His — I really do not know with what epithet to fill the blank, is, to me, amongst the most unaccountable of all the unaccountable things! I wish much to hear of the arrival of Mr. Short at Madrid, and the result of their joint negotiations at that court, as we have fresh and much stronger representations from Mr. Seagrove of the extraordinary interference of the Spaniards in West Florida to prevent running the boundary line, which had been established by treaty between the United States and the Creeks; of their promising them support in case of their refusal; and of their endeavoring to disaffect the four southern tribes of Indians towards this country. In these projects Seagrove is convinced McGillivray and his partner Panton are embarked, and have become principal agents; and there are suspicions, he adds, that the capture of Bowles was a preconcerted measure between the said Bowles and the Spaniards. That the former is gone to Spain (and to Madrid I think) is certain. That McGillivray has removed from Little Tellassee to a place he has within or bordering on the Spanish line; that a Captain Oliver, a Frenchman (but an officer in a Spanish regiment at New Orleans), has taken his place at Tellassee, and is holding talks with the chiefs of the several towns in the nation; and that every exertion is making by the governor of West Florida to obtain a full and general meeting of the southern tribes at Pensacola, are facts that admit of no doubt. It is also affirmed that five regiments of about six hundred men each, and a large quantity of ordnance Edition: current; Page: [173] and stores, arrived lately at New Orleans, and that the like number of regiments (but this can only be from report) was expected at the same place from the Havana. Recent accounts from Arthur Campbell, I hope without much foundation, speak of very hostile dispositions in the lower Cherokees, and of great apprehension for the safety of Governor Blount and General Pickens, who had set out for the proposed meeting with the Chickasaws and Choctaws at Nashville, and for the goods which were going down the Tennessee by water for that meeting.

Our accounts from the western Indians are not more favorable than those just mentioned. No doubt remains of their having put to death Major Trueman and Colonel Hardin, and the harbingers of their mission. The report from their grand council is, that war was, or soon would be, decided on, and that they will admit no flags. The meeting was numerous, and not yet dissolved, that we have been informed of. What influence our Indian agents may have at it, remains to be known. Hendricks left Buffalo Creek between the 18th and 20th of June, accompanied by two or three of the Six Nations. Some of the chiefs of those nations were to follow in a few days, only waiting, it was said, for the Caughnawaga Indians from Canada; and Captain Brant would not be long after them. If these attempts to disclose the just and pacific disposition of the United States to these people should also fail, there remains no alternative but the sword to decide the difference; and recruiting goes on heavily. If Spain is really Edition: current; Page: [174] intriguing with the southern Indians, as represented by Mr. Seagrove, I shall entertain strong suspicions that there is a very clear understanding in all this business between the courts of London and Madrid, and that it is calculated to check, as far as they can, the rapid increase, extension, and consequence of this country; for there cannot be a doubt of the wishes of the former (if we may judge from the conduct of its officers) to impede any éclaircissement of ours with the western Indians, and to embarrass our negotiations with them, any more than there is of their traders and some others, who are subject to their government, aiding and abetting them in acts of hostility.1

How unfortunate, and how much is it to be regretted then, that, while we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies and insidious friends, internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals. The last, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming, and the most afflicting of the two; and, without more charity for the opinions and acts of one another in governmental matters, or some more infallible criterion by which the truth of speculative opinions, before they have undergone the test of experience, are to be forejudged, than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I believe it will be difficult, if not impracticable, to manage the reins of government, or to keep the parts of it together; for if, instead of Edition: current; Page: [175] laying our shoulders to the machine after measures are decided on, one pulls this way and another that, before the utility of the thing is fairly tried, it must inevitably be torn asunder; and in my opinion the fairest prospect of happiness and prosperity, that ever was presented to man, will be lost perhaps for ever.

My earnest wish and my fondest hope, therefore, is, that instead of wounding suspicions and irritating charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual forbearances, and temporizing yieldings on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly, and, if possible, more prosperously. Without them, every thing must rub; the wheels of government will clog; our enemies will triumph, and, by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabric we have been erecting.

I do not mean to apply this advice, or these observations, to any particular person or character. I have given them in the same general terms to other officers of the government; because the disagreements, which have arisen from difference of opinions, and the attacks, which have been made upon almost all the measures of government, and most of its executive officers, have for a long time past filled me with painful sensations, and cannot fail, I think, of producing unhappy consequences at home and abroad.

The nature of Mr. Seagrove’s communications was such, and the evidence in support of it so strongly corroborative, that I gave it as my sentiment to General Knox, that the commissioners of Spain ought to Edition: current; Page: [176] have the matter brought before them, in the manner it was before, but in stronger, (though not in committing) language; as the government was embarrassed, and its citizens in the southern States made uneasy by such proceedings, however unauthorized they might be by their courts.

I pray you to note down, or rather to frame into paragraphs or sections, such matters as may occur to you as fit and proper for general communication at the opening of the next session of Congress, not only in the department of state, but on any other subject applicable to the occasion, that I may in due time have every thing before me. With sincere esteem and friendship, I am always your affectionate, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
26 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 18th, enclosing answers to certain objections communicated to you in my letter of the 29th ultimo, came duly to hand; and although I have not as yet, from a variety of causes, been able to give them the attentive reading I mean to bestow, I feel myself much obliged by the trouble you have taken to answer them; as I persuade myself, from the full manner in which you appear to have taken up the subject, that I shall receive both satisfaction and profit from the perusal.

Differences in political opinions are as unavoidable, Edition: current; Page: [177] as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary; but it is exceedingly to be regretted, that subjects cannot be discussed with temper on the one hand, or decisions submitted to without having the motives, which led to them, improperly implicated on the other; and this regret borders on chagrin, when we find that men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view, and the same upright intentions to prosecute them, will not exercise more charity in deciding on the opinions and actions of one another. When matters get to such lengths, the natural inference is, that both sides have strained the cords beyond their bearing, and that a middle course would be found the best, until experience shall have decided on the right way, or (which is not to be expected, because it is denied to mortals) there shall be some infallible rule by which we could forejudge events.

Having premised these things, I would fain hope, that liberal allowances will be made for the political opinions of each other; and, instead of those wounding suspicions, and irritating charges, with which some of our gazettes are so strongly impregnated, and cannot fail, if persevered in, of pushing matters to extremity, and thereby to tear the machine asunder, that there might be mutual forbearances and temporizing yieldings on all sides. Without these, I do not see how the reins of government are to be managed, or how the Union of the States can be much longer preserved.

How unfortunate would it be, if a fabric so goodly, erected under so many providential circumstances, and in its first stages having acquired such respectability, Edition: current; Page: [178] should, from diversity of sentiments, or internal obstructions to some of the acts of government (for I cannot prevail on myself to believe, that these measures are as yet the deliberate acts of a determined party), be harrowing our vitals in such a manner as to have brought us to the verge of dissolution. Melancholy thought! But, at the same time that it shows the consequences of diversified opinions, when pushed with too much tenacity, it exhibits evidence also of the necessity of accommodation, and of the propriety of adopting such healing measures as may restore harmony to the discordant members of the Union, and the governing powers of it.

I do not mean to apply this advice to any measures, which are passed, or to any particular character. I have given it in the same general terms to other officers of the government. My earnest wish is, that balsam may be poured into all the wounds, which have been given, to prevent them from gangrening, and from those fatal consequences, which the community may sustain if it is withheld. The friends of the Union must wish this. Those, who are not, but wish to see it rended, will be disappointed, and all things, I hope, will go well.

We have learnt, through the medium of Mr. Harrison to Dr. Craik, that you have some thoughts of taking a trip this way. I felt pleasure at hearing it, and hope it is unnecessary to add, that it would be considerably increased by seeing you under this roof; for you may be assured of the sincere and affectionate regard of yours, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [179]

P. S. I pray you to note down whatever may occur to you, not only in your own department, but other matters also of general import, that may be fit subjects for the speech at the opening of the ensuing session.1

George Washington
Washington, George
26 August, 1792
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

The purpose of this letter is merely to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 5th2 and 13th instant, and to thank you for the information contained in both, without entering into the details of either.

Edition: current; Page: [180]

With respect, however, to the interesting subject treated on in that of the 5th, I can express but one sentiment at this time, and that is a wish, a devout one, that, whatever my ultimate determination shall be, it may be for the best. The subject never recurs to my mind but with additional poignancy; and, from the declining state in the health of my nephew, to whom my concerns of a domestic and private nature are entrusted, it comes with aggravated force. But as the All-wise Disposer of events has hitherto watched over my steps, I trust, that, in the important one I may soon be called upon to take, he will mark the course so plainly, as that I cannot mistake the way. In full hope of this, I will take no measures yet a while, that will not leave me at liberty to decide from circumstances, and the best lights I can obtain on the subject.

I shall be happy, in the mean time, to see a cessation of the abuses of public officers, and of those attacks upon almost every measure of government, with which some of the gazettes are so strongly impregnated; and which cannot fail, if persevered in with the malignancy with which they now teem, of rending the Union asunder. The seeds of discontent, distrust, and irritation, which are so plentifully sown, can scarcely fail to produce this effect, and to mar that prospect of happiness, which perhaps never beamed with more effulgence upon any people under the sun; and this too at a time, when all Europe are gazing with admiration at the brightness of our prospects. And for what is all this? Among other things, Edition: current; Page: [181] to afford nuts for our transatlantic (what shall I call them?) foes.

In a word, if the government and the officers of it are to be the constant theme for newspaper abuse, and this too without condescending to investigate the motives or the facts, it will be impossible, I conceive, for any man living to manage the helm or to keep the machine together. But I am running from my text, and therefore will only add assurances of the affectionate esteem and regard, with which I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

The last post brought me your letter of the 1st instant, with the enclosures respecting the disorderly conduct of the inhabitants of the western survey of the district of Pennsylvania, in opposing the execution of what is called the excise law; and of the insults which have been offered by some of them to the officers, who have been appointed to collect the duties on distilled spirits agreeably thereto.1

Such conduct in any of the citizens of the United States, under any circumstances that can well be conceived, would be exceedingly reprehensible; but, when it comes from a part of the community for whose protection the money arising from the tax was principally designed, it is truly unaccountable, and the spirit of it much to be regretted.

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The preliminary steps taken by you in ordering the supervisor of the district to repair to the survey, where these disorders prevail, with a view to ascertain in person “the true state of the survey; to collect evidences respecting the violences that have been committed, in order to a prosecution of the offenders; to ascertain the particulars as to the meeting which appears to have been held at Pittsburg; to encourage the perseverance of the officers in their duty, and the well-disposed inhabitants in discountenancing such violent proceedings,”1 are prudent and proper, and I earnestly wish they may have the desired effect. But if, notwithstanding, opposition is still given to the due execution of the law, I have no hesitation in declaring, if the evidence of it is clear and unequivocal, that I shall, however reluctantly I exercise them, exert all the legal powers with which the executive is invested to check so daring and unwarrantable a spirit. It is my duty to see the laws executed. To permit them to be trampled upon with impunity would be repugnant to it; nor can the government longer remain a passive spectator of the contempt, with which they are treated. Forbearance, under a hope that the inhabitants of that survey would recover from the delirium and folly into which they were plunged, seems to have had no other effect than to increase the disorder.

If it shall be the attorney-general’s opinion, under a full consideration of the case (adverting, as I presume he will, as well to the laws and constitution of Pennsylvania, Edition: current; Page: [183] as to those of the United States), that the meeting, which appears to have been held at Pittsburg, was illegal, and the members of it indictable, and it shall further appear to you from such information as you may be able to obtain from a comparative view of all circumstances, that it would be proper to bring the matter before the circuit court to be holden at Yorktown in October next, you have all the sanction and authority I can give to do it. I am, Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
7 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your letters of the 31st of August, and the 1st of the present month, have been duly received. The enclosures in the first for Governor Tellfair and Mr. Seagrove have been approved and forwarded. Those of the second I have read, but will give them a second and more attentive consideration before I express any decisive opinion upon General Wayne’s plan for carrying on the war.

My first impression of it however is, that it differs immaterially, if in any thing, from the basis or principal features of the one that has been and now is Edition: current; Page: [184] pursuing; except in the establishing of a post on Big Beaver Creek, and in the two desultory strokes to be aimed at Sandusky and St. Joseph’s. The latter will be right or wrong according to the actual state of things at those places at the time it is proposed to make them (to be ascertained from indubitable information), and by a comparison of the hazards, which must be run, of failure, with the advantages to be gained in case of success. In all other respects, I see little more than the incidents and detail of the original plan; for, if all the pacific overtures are rejected by the hostile Indians, and the troops are neither in force nor discipline to make a forward movement the ensuing fall, it follows of course, that it must be delayed till the spring, and every exertion used, in the establishment of posts, magazines, &c., for as early an expedition as high water and the state of the forage will permit at that period. If General Wayne has any doubt of this, and his power to arrange and effectuate these, you have, I perceive by the copy of your letter to him, very properly removed; and it is my wish and desire, that his exertion to accomplish the objects he has contemplated may be commensurate to the importance of them.

With respect to the proposition for establishing a magazine on Big Beaver, there is but one objection to it in my mind, admitting that it does not look forward to the event contemplated by General Wayne, and provided the position is judiciously chosen, and that is, the multiplication of posts; for it has for a great length of time been my opinion, that a strong Edition: current; Page: [185] post at that place would cover much more effectually the western frontier of Pennsylvania and the northern parts of Virginia, than a post at Pittsburg. But habit, and the deep root the latter has taken, to which may be added its being a convenient deposit, and a place of more safety with a small garrison, (on account of its inhabitants,) than any other, have restrained my mentioning of it before. But in case of a movement towards Sandusky, one there does in that design become important.

If, upon more mature consideration of the ideas submitted by General Wayne, I should find cause to change the sentiments herein expressed, the alterations shall be communicated in my next; if not, you will consider what I have here said as the substance of my opinion thereon. * * *

A caution, both to General Wayne, and through him to General Wilkinson, ought to be given to guard effectually the hay at the outposts. Unless this is done, the Indians will most assuredly set fire to it; and to do it without having the stacks in the range of their defences, or as a cover to the approaches of the enemy, is no easy matter. I am, Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [186]
George Washington
Washington, George
16 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

Your private letter of the 11th, accompanying an official one of the 9th, came safe, as did your other private letter of the 9th, and I feel myself obliged by the observations contained in the first respecting the proclamation.

As the former proclamations on similar occasions have been countersigned by the Secretary of State, I have for that reason, and for another which has some weight in my mind, thought it best not to depart in this instance from the precedent, which has been set; and therefore, as it cannot, (unless unforeseen delays happen,) be withheld from you more than six days longer than if it had been returned by this day’s post, I despatched by express the proclamation to Mr. Jefferson for the purpose above mentioned.

I have no doubt but that the proclamation will Edition: current; Page: [187] undergo many strictures; and, as the effect proposed may not be answered by it, it will be necessary to look forward in time to ulterior arrangements. And here not only the constitution and laws must strictly govern, but the employing of the regular troops avoided, if it be possible to effect order without their aid; otherwise there would be a cry at once, “The cat is let out; we now see for what purpose an army was raised.” Yet, if no other means will effectually answer, and the constitution and laws will authorize these, they must be used as the dernier resort.1

If you remain in opinion, that it would be advisable for the President to transmit the proclamation to the governors of North and South Carolina, and to the governor of Pennsylvania, I pray you to draft such letters to them, to be forwarded from hence (with proclamations, which must also be sent to me), as you may think best calculated to produce the end proposed. I am, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [188]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

Your letters of the 8th and 9th inst. are received. The latter came to me on Saturday morning by express, from the post office in Alexandria. I gave the proclamation my signature, and forwarded it in the afternoon of the same day, by a special messenger, to the Secretary of State, for his countersign. If no unforeseen delay happens, the return of it may be in time for Friday’s post, so as to be with you on the Tuesday following.

It is much to be regretted that occurrences of a nature so repugnant to order and good government should not only afford the occasion, but render such an interference of the executive indispensably necessary. When these happen, and lenient and temporizing means have been used, and serve only to increase the disorder, longer forbearance would become unjustifiable remissness, and a neglect of that duty which is enjoined on the President. I can have no hesitation, therefore, under this view of the case, to adopt such legal measures to check the disorderly opposition which is given to the execution of the laws laying a duty on distilled spirits, as the constitution has invested the executive with; and however painful the measure would be, if the Proclamation should fail to produce the effect desired, ulterior arrangements must be made to support the laws, and to prevent the prostration of government.

Edition: current; Page: [189]

Were it not for the peculiar circumstances of my family, I would return to the seat of Government immediately; at any rate, I hope to do it in the early part of next month, or before the middle thereof.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your letter of the 15th instant with its enclosures came duly to hand. It is exceedingly to be regretted, that all the attempts of government to bring the hostile Indians acquainted with the real designs of it, (so far as it respects the disputes with them,) should be so pointedly marked with misfortune, disappointment, or delay. Captain Brant’s illness, and the sickness and delays of the other chiefs of the Six Nations, are inauspicious of a favorable result; for much is not to be expected from the single attempt of Captain Hendricks, however zealously he may labor in the cause of humanity and peace. As present appearances are so ominous of a continuation of the war, no pains nor no expense within the bounds of moderation ought to go unessayed to ascertain the nature, extent, and strength of the confederation, against which we are to contend, that our measures may be regulated accordingly. Without a competent knowledge of these facts we shall grope in the dark, and may meet disaster when danger is not expected. To this end General Wayne should be particularly instructed, and the Indian agents also; nor would it Edition: current; Page: [190] be amiss, if some expedient could be devised to obtain intelligence from Detroit that the British, accounts of these matters might be likewise known. From the nature and circumstances of this war, good information is scarcely to be obtained, at least not to be relied on, but from a comparison of the intelligence, which is obtained through different channels.

In your letter to General Wayne of the 7th instant, a copy of which is among the enclosures you have forwarded to me, he is informed that you will “immediately write to the President of the United States, and request his orders on certain conditional statements relatively to the proportion of troops which it may probably be necessary to retain on the upper parts of the Ohio.” No such statement is yet come to my hands. Of course I am unprovided with the means by which to form a judgment on this head; but, under my present view of the matter, and the uncertainty in which we seem to be of the final and positive result of the grand council of the Indians holden at the Miami, the longer the decision is withheld the better; provided sufficient time is allowed the troops to cover themselves comfortably for the winter. And here, while it occurs, let me ask why the same kind of huts and mode of covering, that was adopted by the army in the last war, may not be again used, except permanent barracks for sufficient garrisons at the established posts? If scantling, brick, &c., are to be provided by the quartermaster, it will be attended with considerable expense, and, if for a temporary purpose only, will be thought injudiciously incurred. Besides, how can this be done Edition: current; Page: [191] conveniently before the disposition of the troops is resolved on?

I am in sentiment with you, that sub-legionary paymasters and sub-legionary adjutants, the latter aided by the sergeant-majors, are competent to their respective duties without battalion officers of this description. At any rate, I conceive that the experiment ought to be made with the latter in the first instance.

My observation on every employment in life is, that, wherever and whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty by close application thereto, it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein; besides, as you have very properly observed, the danger of money is increased in proportion to the number of hands into which it is committed. * * *

If the evidence in the case of Ensign Morgan is all given in, it becomes proper he should be ordered to the army for his trial; and, if it is necessary in this case, and will not be establishing a bad precedent to do it in the name of the President, I have no objection to the measure. If discretion was a trait of this officer’s character, or fairness the view of his advisers, I should hope he would abandon the idea of presenting a memorial to be tried in Philadelphia, and that he would not hesitate a moment to go where he is ordered. If, however, the latter should happen, it would be well, before it is reported to me, to have him and his friends admonished in a friendly way of the consequences, that must follow disobedience; for neither the military nor civil government shall be Edition: current; Page: [192] trampled upon with impunity whilst I have the honor to be at the head of them. I have no objection to his being tried at Pittsburg, and if there are no reasons opposed to it, unknown to me, I would advise it. That it cannot happen in Philadelphia is certain. Military propriety, the public service, and the precedent such a measure would establish, are so strongly opposed to it, that it is wonderful he should ever have suffered the idea to enter into his mind. Why might not another officer, if indulgence was granted in this instance, apply for a similar one? Nay, why not be carried to Boston, or Charleston, as inclination, or the expectation of benefits to be derived from it, might prompt.

I perceive by the copy of General Wayne’s letter to you before mentioned, that there has been some remissness on the part of the contractors at Pittsburg. This ought not to be suffered in the smallest degree, for one neglect or omission is too apt to beget another, to the discontentment of the troops and injury of the service; whereas a rigid exaction in every case checks a departure on their part from the contract in any; and no indulgence is ever allowed by them to the public. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
26 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
John Francis Mercer
Mercer, John Francis

TO JOHN FRANCIS MERCER.

Sir,

Your Letter of the 15th inst. was presented to me by Mr. Carlin, on his return from Philadelphia.

As my object in taking your Land near Monocacy (in payment of the debt due from the Estate of your Edition: current; Page: [193] decd. Father to me) is to convert it into cash as soon as possible without loss, I can have no other objection to an advantageous portion of the Tract than what might result from the uncertainty of the price that may be affixed to it, and the consequent possibility that the amount of a moiety may exceed the Sum which is due to me by the last Settlement of the accts., thereby occasioning a payment of money instead of receiving it. If these difficulties were removed, I have none other to your proposal of dividing the Tract into two equal parts, and fixing the property therein by Lot. A mean of doing this, I will suggest. It is—if you have not heard the sentiments of the Gentlemen, or either of them, who were chosen to affix a ready money price on the land (and I give you my honor I have not—and moreover that I have never exchanged a word on the subject with any one, except what I told you was Colo. Wm. Deakins’s opinion of it’s worth)—I will allow you seven Dollars per acre for a moiety; to be ascertained in the manner before mentioned. I name seven Dollars for the following reasons: 1st. because I have been assured by the above Gentleman (who professes to be well acquainted with the Land) that, in his judgment, it would not sell for more than six Dollars cash, or seven Dollars on credit, and 2d. because you have set it at Eight Dollars yourself, without being able to obtain that price. Five hundred and fifty acres (if the Tract contains 1100) would then be within the compass of my claim; and the surplus, if any, I would receive in young cows, or full grown heifers from Marlborough at Edition: current; Page: [194] three pounds a head, if more agreeable to you than to pay the cash. Your answer to this proposal, soon, would be convenient to me, as I shall be on my return to Philadelphia in a short time.

I come now to another part of your letter, and in touching upon it, do not scruple to declare to you that I was not a little displeased to find by a letter from Captn. Campbell, to a gentleman in this neighborhood, that my name had been freely used by you or your friends for electioneering purposes, when I had never associated your name and the election together; and when there had been the most scrupulous and pointed caution observed on my part, not to express a sentiment respecting the fitness or unfitness of any candidate for representation that cou’d be construed, by the most violent torture of the words, into an interference in favor of one, or to the prejudice of another. Conceiving that the exercise of an influence (if I really possess any) however remote would be highly improper; as the people ought to be entirely at liberty to chuse whom they pleased to represent them in Congress. Having pursued this line of conduct steadily, my surprise, and consequent declaration can be a matter of no wonder, when I read the following words in the letter above alluded to.

“I arrived yesterday from Philada. since which I find Colo. Mercer has openly declared, that Mr. Richd. Sprigg, Junr., informed him, that Bushrod Washington told him that the President in his presence declared, that he hoped Colo. Mercer would not be left out of the next representation in Congress; and added that he thought him the best representative that now goes or ever did go to that Body from this State.”

Edition: current; Page: [195]

I instantly declared to the person who shewed me the Letter;—“that to the best of my recollection, I never had exchanged a word to, or before Bushrod Washington on the subject of your election, much less to have given such a decided opinion. That such a measure would have been incompatible with the rule I had prescribed to myself, and which I had invariably observed, of not interfering directly, or indirectly with the suffrages of the people, in the choice of their representatives,—and added, that I wished B. Washington might be called upon to certify what, or whether any conversation had ever passed between us on this subject, as it was my desire that every thing should stand upon its proper foundations.” Other sentiments have been reported as mine, that are equally erroneous.1

Whether you have, upon any occasion, expressed Edition: current; Page: [196] yourself in disrespectful terms of me, I know not—it has never been the subject of my enquiry. If nothing impeaching my honor or honesty is said, I care little for the rest. I have pursued one uniform course for three score years, and am happy in believing that the world have thought it a right one—of it’s being so, I am so well satisfied myself, that I shall not depart from it by turning either to the right or to the left, until I arrive at the end of my pilgrimage.

I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
28 September, 1792
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your letter of the 22d inst. and the enclosures came to my hands by Wednesday’s post.

I adhere to my resolution of commencing my journey for Philadelphia the 8th of next month, if the condition of my servants will admit of it. Two of them, one a postilion, having been extremely ill with remittent fevers, which have not yet left them. My order for the carriage from Philadelphia, to be here by the 8th for my accommodation back, is not countermanded on this account.

But as my journey may be delayed something longer than was expected, as the cold is approaching, I shall, in addition to what I said on the subject in my last, give you in general terms my ideas for the disposition of the troops for the winter, under the uncertainty in which we are of peace with the western Indians.

My first wish would be to keep the army as compact Edition: current; Page: [197] as possible, for the purpose of disciplining and training the men to such kinds of manœuvres and firings, as are proper for Indian warfare. But, as this would involve one of two evils of magnitude, namely, an exposed frontier, or an expensive militia for its protection, this wish is scarcely attainable. How to dispose of the troops, then, to the best advantage for defence is next to be considered; and, to do this properly, the ulterior movements of the army must be held in view, and the period of their commencement also.

There are two principal and one intermediate points on the Ohio, which claim particular attention, to wit, Pittsburg, or some place not far from it, Fort Washington, and Marietta. The grand movement, in the present train of things, must certainly proceed from Fort Washington; but it does not follow, unless circumstances should point to advantages to be derived from a winter campaign, when frost would prevent the descent of the Ohio, that the force ought necessarily to be assembled at that place, until about to make a forward movement. 1st, because the enemy’s attention would be less fixed to it. 2dly, because the magazines of provisions, military stores, and forage, would accumulate with more ease at that place by lessening the consumption there. And, 3dly, because the river from Pittsburg to that post might be descended when the waters are up in six or eight days, and, matters being previously arranged thereat, the army might march as soon as the junction should be formed; whilst the desultory movement, which has been contemplated, Edition: current; Page: [198] might proceed, if from good intelligence it might be thought advisable, from Big Beaver to Sandusky. Under this idea of the matter, one sublegion might be posted under the command of General Wilkinson at the post below; one at Marietta, under the command of General Putnam; and the other two in the upper part of the river, under the commander-in-chief, with whom the intercourse would be easy from Philadelphia, and his orders quickly despatched to the subordinate parts of the army below.

Without being decided, I ask whether the upper division of the army, (except the garrison of Fort Franklin and a sufficient one for the stores, &c., at Pittsburg,) had not better be hutted in a secure manner on some convenient spot near the mouth of, or somewhere on, Big Beaver Creek; keeping out, as ought also to be the case at other stations, a regular succession of scouts to scour the country above and below, as well for defence as an essential part of their tactics? Such a disposition of the force, if the real movements and plan of operations is kept secret, which they undoubtedly ought to be, would embarrass the enemy not a little, and more than probably be attended with solid advantages. I do not, however, convey these sentiments to you as an order, but give them rather as thoughts, that have arisen from the incomplete state of our force and the uncertainty of the result of the Indian councils, and for free observations and remarks both by yourself and General Wayne, if there is time to obtain them, than from any other motive at present.

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Perhaps a sufficient garrison might be better at Marietta, (as the intermediate post,) than a larger force; and two sub-legionary corps, including the said garrison and all others lower down, as the calls for troops below are great on account of the communication with the advanced posts, be wintered in huts secured by intrenchments, or a fortified camp at Fort Washington, if there are not barracks sufficient to contain them at that place. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 October [1792]
Mount Vernon
Betty Lewis
Lewis, Betty

TO MRS. BETTY LEWIS.

My dear Sister:

As Mrs. Washington and myself expect to set out to-morrow for Philadelphia, I have taken advantage of the good opportunity afforded by Mr. Robt. Lewis of sending Harriet to Fredericksburg. It is done at this time (notwithstanding your proposed visit to Albemarle), 1st. because it would be improper to leave her here after we are all gone; 2nd. because there would be no person to accompany her down afterwards; and 3rd. because it might be inconvenient for her to travel alone.

She comes, as Mrs. Washington informs me, very well provided with everything proper for a girl in her situation. This much I know, that she costs me enough. I do not however, want you (or any one else) to do more by her than merely to admit her into your family, whilst this House is uninhabited by a female white woman, and thereby rendered an unfit Edition: current; Page: [200] place for her to remain at. I shall continue to do for her what I have already done for seven years past, and that is to furnish her with such reasonable and proper necessaries as she may stand in need of, notwithstanding I have had both her brothers upon my hands and I have been obliged to pay several hundred pounds out of my own pocket for their board, schooling, and cloathing, &c., for more than the period aforementioned, their father’s estate being unable to discharge the executions as fast as they are issued against it.

Harriet has sense enough but no disposition to industry, nor to be careful of her cloathes. Your example and admonition may with proper restraints overcome the two last; and to that end I wish you would examine her cloathes, and direct her in their use and application of them, for without this they will be (I am told) dabbed about in every hole and corner, and her best things always in use. Fanny was too easy, too much of her own indolent turn, and had too little authority to cause either by precept or example any change in this for the better, and Mrs. Washington’s absence has been injurious to her in many respects. But she is young and, with good advice, may yet make a fine woman. If, notwithstanding the suggestion that she is well provided with everything (except a cloak which may not be had in Alexandria and may be got at Fredericksburg,) a deficiency is found and you wish to supply it, there will be no occasion for your laying in advance more than ten days, as I could at any time remit a bank Edition: current; Page: [201] note in a letter in four days after I was made acquainted with the amount. I do not mean by this to launch into expensiveness; she has no pretensions to it, nor would the state of my finances enable me to indulge her in that if she had.

Mrs. Washington joins me in best wishes for the perfect restoration of your health, and every other blessing.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 October, 1792
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

I did not require the evidence of the extracts, which you enclosed to me, to convince me of your attachment to the constitution of the United States, or of your disposition to promote the general welfare of this country; but I regret, deeply regret, the difference in opinions, which have arisen and divided you and another principal officer of the government; and wish devoutly there could be an accommodation of them by mutual yieldings.

A measure of this sort would produce harmony and consequent good in our public councils. The contrary will inevitably introduce confusion and serious mischiefs; and for what? Because mankind cannot think alike, but would adopt different means to attain the same ends. For I will frankly and solemnly declare, that I believe the views of both of you to be pure and well-meant, and that experience only will decide, with respect to the salubrity of the measures, which are the Edition: current; Page: [202] subjects of dispute. Why, then, when some of the best citizens in the United States, men of discernment, uniform and tried patriots, who have no sinister views to promote, but are chaste in their ways of thinking and acting, are to be found, some on one side and some on the other of the questions, which have caused these agitations, should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions, as to make no allowances for those of the other? I could, and indeed was about to add more on this interesting subject, but will forbear, at least for the present, after expressing a wish, that the cup, which has been presented to us may not be snatched from our lips by a discordance of action, when I am persuaded there is no discordance in your views. I have a great, a sincere esteem and regard for you both, and ardently wish that some line could be marked out by which both of you could walk. I am, always, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20 October, 1792
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Although your letter of the 10th of June, which I have received, did not paint the prospects of France in the most pleasing colors, yet the events which have Edition: current; Page: [203] since taken place give a more gloomy aspect to the public affairs of that kingdom, than your letter gave reason to apprehend.

A thousand circumstances, besides our distance from the theatre of action, made it improbable that we should have, in this country, a fair statement of facts and causes through the medium of the public prints; and I have received no other accounts, than what have come in that channel. But, taking up the most favorable of these, and gloomy indeed appears the situation of France at this juncture, it is hardly probable, that even you, who are on the spot, can say with any precision how these things will terminate; much less can we, at this distance, pretend to augur the event. We can only repeat the sincere wish, that much happiness may arise to the French nation, and to mankind in general, out of the severe evils which are inseparable from so important a revolution.

In the present state of things we cannot expect, that any commercial treaty can now be formed with France; but I have no doubt of your embracing the proper moment of arrangement, and of doing whatever may be in your power for the substantial interests of our country.

The affairs of the United States go on well. There are some few clouds in our political hemisphere, but I trust the bright sun of our prosperity will disperse them.

The Indians on our southern and western frontiers are still troublesome, but such measures are taking as will, I presume, prevent any serious mischief from Edition: current; Page: [204] them; I confess, however, that I do not believe these tribes will ever be brought to a quiescent state, so long as they may be under an influence, which is hostile to the rising greatness of these States.

From the complexion of some of our newspapers, foreigners would be led to believe, that inveterate political dissensions existed among us, and that we are on the very verge of disunion; but the fact is otherwise. The great body of the people now feel the advantages of the general government, and would not, I am persuaded, do any thing that should destroy it; but these kind of representations is an evil, which must be placed in opposition to the infinite benefits resulting from a free press; and I am sure you need not be told, that in this country a personal difference in political sentiments is often made to take the garb of general dissensions.

From the department of State you are, I am told, furnished with such papers and documents from time to time, as will keep you more particularly informed of the state of our affairs. I shall therefore add nothing further to this letter, than assurances of being, with very sincere regard, yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 October, 1792
Philadelphia
David Stuart
Stuart, David

TO DAVID STUART.

Dr. Sir,

You informed me when I was at Georgetown on my way to this city that Colo. Mercer upon receiving, or being told of Colo. Hamilton’s letter to him, requesting to know if the words with which he was Edition: current; Page: [205] charg’d by Major Ross as having uttered in his public harangues against the conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury, were true; expressed, if I understand you rightly, much surprize at the application; as he, Colo. Hamilton, must be conscious of his having attempted to bribe him, Colo. Mercer, to vote for a further assumption of the State debts,—and that this surprize was expressed at a public table before many gentlemen.

This is a charge of so serious a nature that it is incumbent on Colo. Hamilton to clear it up, or for the President of the United States to take notice of it. For this reason, before I communicate the matter to Colo. Hamilton, I beg to be informed whether I precisely understand the information you gave me, and in that case, who were the persons that heard Colo. Mercer express himself to that effect. It was my intention to have asked this at the time you mentioned the matter, but I was diverted from it by something that occurred at the moment and the variety of things which have been thrown in my way since I came to this place have prevented it till now.

With great esteem and regard, &c.

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, NOVEMBER 6th, 1792.

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

It is some abatement of the satisfaction, with which I meet you on the present occasion, that, in felicitating you on a continuance of the national prosperity generally, I am not able to add to it Edition: current; Page: [206] information, that the Indian hostilities, which have for some time past distressed our northwestern frontier, have terminated.

You will, I am persuaded, learn, with no less concern than I communicate it, that reiterated endeavors towards effecting a pacification have hitherto issued only in new and outrageous proofs of persevering hostility on the part of the tribes with whom we are in contest. An earnest desire to procure tranquillity to the frontiers, to stop the further effusion of blood, to arrest the progress of expense, to forward the prevalent wish of the nation for peace, has led to strenuous efforts through various channels to accomplish these desirable purposes; in making which efforts I consulted less my own anticipations of the event, or the scruples which some considerations were calculated to inspire, than the wish to find the object attainable, or, if not attainable, to ascertain unequivocally, that such is the case.

A detail of the measures which have been pursued, and of their consequences, which will be laid before you, while it will confirm to you the want of success thus far, will, I trust, evince that means, as proper and as efficacious as could have been devised, have been employed. The issue of some of them, indeed, is still depending; but a favorable one, though not to be despaired of, is not promised by any thing that has yet happened.

In the course of the attempts which have been made, some valuable citizens have fallen victims to their zeal for the public service. A sanction commonly respected, even among savages, has been found, in this instance, insufficient to protect from massacre the emmissaries of peace; it will, I presume, be duly considered, whether the occasion does not call for an exercise of liberality towards the families of the deceased.

It must add to your concern to be informed, that, besides the continuation of hostile appearances among the tribes north of the Ohio, some threatening symptoms have of late been revived among some of those south of it.

A part of the Cherokees, known by the name of Chickamagas, inhabiting five villages on the Tennessee River, have long been in the practice of committing depredations on the neighboring settlements.

It was hoped that the treaty of Holston, made with the Edition: current; Page: [207] Cherokee nation in July, 1791, would have prevented a repetition of such depredations; but the event has not answered this hope. The Chickamagas, aided by some banditti of another tribe in their vicinity, have recently perpetrated wanton and unprovoked hostilities upon the citizens of the United States in that quarter. The information which has been received on this subject will be laid before you. Hitherto, defensive precautions only have been strictly enjoined and observed.

It is not understood that any breach of treaty, or aggression whatsoever, on the part of the United States, or their citizens, is even alleged as a pretext for the spirit of hostility in this quarter.

I have reason to believe, that every practicable exertion has been made (pursuant to the provision by law for that purpose) to be prepared for the alternative of a prosecution of the war, in the event of a failure of pacific overtures. A large proportion of the troops authorized to be raised have been recruited, though the number is still incomplete; and pains have been taken to discipline and put them in condition for the particular kind of service to be performed. A delay of operations (besides being dictated by the measures which were pursuing towards a pacific termination of the war) has been in itself deemed preferable to immature efforts. A statement, from the proper department, with regard to the number of troops raised, and some other points which have been suggested, will afford more precise information as a guide to the legislative consultations; and, among other things, will enable Congress to judge whether some additional stimulus to the recruiting service may not be advisable.

In looking forward to the future expense of the operations, which may be found inevitable, I derive consolation from the information I receive, that the product of the revenues for the present year is likely to supersede the necessity of additional burthens on the community for the service of the ensuing year. This, however, will be better ascertained in the course of the session; and it is proper to add, that the information alluded to proceeds upon the supposition of no material extension of the spirit of hostility.

I cannot dismiss the subject of Indian affairs, without again recommending to your consideration the expediency of more Edition: current; Page: [208] adequate provision for giving energy to the laws throughout our interior frontier, and for restraining the commission of outrages upon the Indians; without which all pacific plans must prove nugatory. To enable, by competent rewards, the employment of qualified and trusty persons to reside among them as agents, would also contribute to the preservation of peace and good neighborhood. If, in addition to these expedients, an eligible plan could be devised for promoting civilization among the friendly tribes, and for carrying on trade with them upon a scale equal to their wants, and under regulations calculated to protect them from imposition and extortion, its influence in cementing their interests with ours could not but be considerable.

The prosperous state of our revenue has been intimated. This would be still more the case, were it not for the impediments, which in some places continue to embarrass the collection of the duties on spirits distilled within the United States. These impediments have lessened, and are lessening, in local extent; and, as applied to the community at large, the contentment with the law appears to be progressive.

But, symptoms of increased opposition having lately manifested themselves in certain quarters, I judged a special interposition on my part proper and advisable; and under this impression have issued a proclamation, warning against all unlawful combinations and proceedings having for their object, or tending, to obstruct the operation of the law in question, and announcing that all lawful ways and means would be strictly put in execution for bringing to justice the infractors thereof, and securing obedience thereto.

Measures have also been taken for the prosecution of offenders. And Congress may be assured, that nothing within constitutional and legal limits, which may depend on me, shall be wanting to assert and maintain the just authority of the laws. In fulfilling this trust, I shall count entirely upon the full co-operation of the other departments of government, and upon the zealous support of all good citizens.

I cannot forbear to bring again into the view of the legislature the subject of a revision of the judiciary system. A representation from the judges of the Supreme Court, which will be laid Edition: current; Page: [209] before you, points out some of the inconveniences that are experienced. In the course of the execution of the laws, considerations rise out of the structure of that system, which in some measure tend to relax their efficacy. As connected with this subject, provisions to facilitate the taking of bail upon processes out of the courts of the United States, and supplementary definition of offences against the constitution and laws of the Union, and of the punishment for such offences, will, it is presumed, be found worthy of particular attention.

Observations on the value of peace with other nations are unnecessary. It would be wise, however, by timely provisions, to guard against those acts of our own citizens which might tend to disturb it, and to put ourselves in a condition to give that satisfaction to foreign nations, which we may sometimes have occasion to require from them. I particularly recommend to your consideration the means of preventing those aggressions by our citizens on the territory of other nations, and other infractions of the law of nations, which, furnishing just subject of complaint, might endanger our peace with them. And, in general, the maintenance of a friendly intercourse with foreign powers will be presented to your attention by the expiration of the law for that purpose, which takes place, if not renewed, at the close of the present session.

In execution of the authority given by the legislature, measures have been taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the establishment of our mint; others have been employed at home. Provision has been made for the requisite buildings, and these are now putting into proper condition for the purposes of the establishment. There has also been a small beginning in the coinage of half-dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them.

The regulation of foreign coins, in correspondency with the principles of our national coinage, as being essential to their due operation, and to order in our money concerns, will, I doubt not, be resumed and completed.

It is represented that some provisions in the law, which establishes the post-office, operate, in experiment, against the transmission of newspapers to distant parts of the country. Should Edition: current; Page: [210] this, upon due inquiry, be found to be the fact, a full conviction of the importance of facilitating the circulation of political intelligence and information will, I doubt not, lead to the application of a remedy.

The adoption of a constitution for the State of Kentucky has been notified to me. The legislature will share with me in the satisfaction, which arises from an event, interesting to the happiness of the part of the nation to which it relates, and conducive to the general order.

It is proper likewise to inform you, that, since my last communication on the subject, and in further execution of the acts, severally making provision for the public debt, and for the reduction thereof, three new loans have been effected, each for three millions of florins; one at Antwerp, at the annual interest of four and one half per cent, with an allowance of four per cent, in lieu of all charges; and the other two at Amsterdam, at the annual interest of four per cent, with an allowance of five and one half per cent, in one case and of five per cent, in the other, in lieu of all charges. The rates of these loans and the circumstances under which they have been made, are confirmations of the high state of our credit abroad.

Among the objects to which these funds have been directed to be applied, the payment of the debts due to certain foreign officers, according to the provision made during the last session, has been embraced.

GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I entertain a strong hope that the state of the national finances is now sufficiently matured to enable you to enter upon a systematic and effectual arrangement for the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt, according to the right which has been reserved to the government. No measure can be more desirable, whether viewed with an eye to its intrinsic importance, or to the general sentiment and wish of the nation.

Provision is likewise requisite for the reimbursement of the loan, which has been made for the Bank of the United States, pursuant to the eleventh section of the act by which it is incorporated. In fulfilling the public stipulations in this particular, it is expected a valuable saving will be made.

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Appropriations for the current service of the ensuing year, and for such extraordinaries as may require provision, will demand, and I doubt not will engage, your early attention.

GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I content myself with recalling your attention, generally, to such objects not particularized in my present, as have been suggested in my former communications to you.

Various temporary laws will expire during the present session. Among these, that which regulates trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes will merit particular notice.

The results of your common deliberations hitherto will, I trust, be productive of solid and durable advantages to our constituents; such as, by conciliating more and more their ultimate suffrage, will tend to strengthen and confirm their attachment to that constitution of government, upon which, under Divine Providence, materially depend their union, their safety, and their happiness.

Still further to promote and secure these inestimable ends, there is nothing which can have a more powerful tendency, than the careful cultivation of harmony, combined with a due regard to stability in the public councils.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 November, 1792
Philadelphia
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN STODDERT.

Sir,

Your favor of the 24th ultimo came duly to hand, but the variety of important matters, which pressed between the receipt of it and the meeting of Congress, allowed me no time to give it an earlier acknowledgment; and now I pray you to consider what I am about to say, as coming from me in my private capacity.

It has always been my opinion, and still is so, that Edition: current; Page: [212] the administration of the affairs of the Federal City ought to be under the immediate direction of a judicious and skilful superintendent, appointed by and subject to the orders of the commissioners (who, in the eye of the law, are the responsible characters), one in whom is united knowledge of men and things, industry, integrity, impartiality, and firmness; and that this person should reside on the spot. This, I believe, is also the opinion of the commissioners; and, if they think Mr. Blodget possesses these qualifications (I know very little of him myself, and after what has happened shall be cautious in recommending), or that he is the most competent character that presents, who is willing to undertake and ready to enter upon the duties of such an office, their appointment of him will meet my entire approbation.

I can readily conceive, Sir, that the motives to your communication were pure and laudable, and shall give you credit for them accordingly. On my part, permit me to add, that I have a mind open to information, and a disposition always to correct abuses, (that shall come properly before me,) as far as I am able; but I am sure it is unnecessary to remark to a person of your observation, that, from the two great interests, which divide the Federal City, and the lesser ones into which these are branched, it will be found difficult, if not impossible, for any set of commissioners whatsoever to steer clear of censure. One wants this thing, another wants that thing, and all, or most of them, perhaps, want things which our resources are incompetent to the accomplishment of. You Edition: current; Page: [213] will excuse my candor, therefore, my good Sir, for observing that there is, in my own judgment, but one line of conduct proper for these gentlemen to pursue, and that is to take a comprehensive view of the trust reposed in them, the general expectation of the community at large and the means to effect it, form their plans agreeably thereto, upon sound and just principles, and to see that they are carried into effect by whomsoever they shall employ in the execution thereof, without regard to any local concern or interest whatsoever. Such a conduct will meet general approbation, and of none, I am persuaded, more than your own. With esteem, I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
17 November, 1792
Philadelphia,

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.

Gentlemen,

I have duly received your letter of the 13th of October, enclosing a list of the sale of Lots in the federal City with the prices, of which I am more gratified than I am by the numbers which have been disposed of. I am pleased to find that several of your mechanics were among the purchasers of Lots, as they will not only, in all probability, be among the first improvers of them, but will be valuable citizens.

I agree with you in opinion that ground in such eligible places as about the Capitol and the President’s house, should not be sold in squares, unless there are some great and apparent advantages to be derived from specified buildings—immediate improvement, Edition: current; Page: [214] or something which will have a tendency to promote the advancement of the City.

The circumstances under which Mr. Blodget bid off the square near the Capitol, were such as occur at almost every public sale,—and, in that instance his having done so appeared very proper for the interest of the public. I agree, however, with you that it wou’d be best for the circumstance, not to be generally known.

How far the idea which Mr. Blodget suggests of having an Agent to pass through the several States to dispose of Lots, might be beneficial or not, I am unable to say; but it appears to me that if a respectable and responsible character in the principal town of each State, could be authorised to dispose of the public Lots, as purchasers might appear; provided the matter could be so arranged that no confusion or inconvenience should arise from the same Lot being disposed of by two or more Agents (which might possibly be done by monthly returns being made to the Commissioners, from the several Agents, ascertaining the day and even hour, of each sale, to be by them confirmed previous to any payment—a small per centum to be allowed the vendor—and all private sales to cease a month before every public sale,) it would be a means of accommodating persons in different parts of the Union,—and would expedite the sales of the Lots. But this, as well as Mr. Blodget’s suggestion (which rather appears to me to be hawking the Lots about,) must be weighed and determined upon according to your best judgment and information.

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I think that a further public sale in the Spring, or early in the summer would be advantageous—for it is desirable that every opportunity which could be made convenient, on account of the season and other circumstances, to dispose of Lots in this way, should be embraced.

In proportion as numbers become interested in the Federal City and the public works advance, a constant attendance at the spot will be more and more requisite on the part of those who superintend or direct the business thereof; and I am of opinion it will be found necessary, as neither of the Commissioners reside there, that some active and competent character vested with proper authority by them should be constantly on the ground to superintend the business carrying on there. But who this person shall be, is altogether with yourselves to choose, and the various and essential qualifications requisite in him will readily occur to you. With great esteem,

I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
18 December, 1792
Philadelphia,

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.
[PRIVATE.]

Gentlemen,

Your letter to the Secretary of State dated if I recollect rightly the 5th instant intimating among other things that you had failed in an attempt which had been made to import workmen from Scotland, equally with that for obtaining them from Holland, fills me Edition: current; Page: [216] with real concern; for I am very apprehensive if your next campaign in the Federal City is not marked with vigor, it will cast such a cloud over this business and will so arm the enemies of the measure, as to enable them to give it (if not its death blow) a wound from which it will not easily recover. No means therefore, in my opinion, should be left unessayed to facilitate the operations of next year. Every thing, in a manner, depends upon the celerity with which the public buildings are then carried on.—Sale of Lots—private buildings—good or evil report—all, all will be regulated thereby.—Nothing therefore short of the absolute want of money, ought to retard the work.

The more I consider the subject, the more I am convinced of the expediency of importing a number of workmen from Europe to be employed in the Federal City. The measure has not only œconomy to recommend it, but is important by placing the quantity of labor which may be performed by such persons upon a certainty for the term for which they shall be engaged.

Upon more minute enquiry I am informed that neither the merchants here nor in Holland will undertake to procure redemptioners from Germany; and that the most eligible and certain mode of obtaining from thence such mechanics and laborers as may be thought advisable to procure from that quarter, will be to engage some person, a German, to go from hence into Germany, where he is acquainted, to procure the requisite number of men and bring them to Edition: current; Page: [217] the shipping port, which is generally Amsterdam or Rotterdam, and that any merchant here (who is engaged in shipping trading to Holland) will engage to have a vessel ready to take them on board at a time which shall be fixed, and bring them to any port of the United States that may be specified and receive the amount of their passage on delivery of them. The person who may be employed to go over to Germany will expect, it is said, an advance of one guinea per head for the number wanted, to enable him to pay the expenses of such as may not be able to bear their own from the place where he procures them to the shipping Port, and this advance is accounted for and taken into consideration at the time of paying for their passage when they arrive here. The customary passage it seems, is Eleven guineas per head—and the compensation of the person employed to procure them, is either one guinea a head for as many as he may deliver, part of which is paid by those who employ him to go over, and part by the merchant who furnishes the vessel to bring them, as he receives a benefit by the freight—or the person employed keeps an account of his necessary expences while on this business, which is paid by his employers, and a consideration for his services is made him according to a previous agreement.

The term of time for which these people are bound to serve, depends much, it is added, upon their age, or ability as laborers, or their skill as mechanics—the former generally serve three or four years; and the latter, if good workmen at their trade, Edition: current; Page: [218] two.—But in this case that it would be better for the person employed to get them, to have them indented at the time of engaging them—Specifying the number of years they are to serve to commence at the time of their landing in the United States; and that he ought to be furnished with the necessary forms of indentures and particular instructions on this head before he goes over. And if mechanics of a particular description are most essential it would be well, in order to secure their services beyond the term for which they might be engaged for their passages, to stipulate at the time of engaging them that they should serve one, two or three years over and above that time at £— per annum. And, as it may happen, that some good mechanics may be willing to come over, who are able to pay their own passage, might it not be well to empower them at per year for (say) four years? In all cases to provide, that if those who engage as mechanics should be found incompetent to the business for which they engage from a want of skill or knowledge in it, and shall appear to have used imposition in engaging themselves as such, they shall be obliged to serve the time of common laborers.

Should you be of opinion that it would be expedient to import a number of workmen and the mode here pointed out, meets your ideas, no time should be lost in carrying it into effect;—and if you have not contemplated a proper character for this business and will inform me thereof, I will endeavor to obtain one in this City to go over to Germany, and a Edition: current; Page: [219] merchant also to furnish the vessel at the time and place which shall be agreed on between them.1

It is not however, my wish that the idea of importing workmen should be confined solely to Germany—I think it ought to be extended to other places particularly Scotland, from whence many good and useful mechanics may undoubtedly be had. I have been more particular in respect to Germany because they may probably be obtained from thence on better terms than from other quarters, and they are known to be a steady, laborious people. It will be necessary, if you should determine upon an importation from Germany, to state the number of mechanics you would wish in each trade, to be brought from thence, as well as the number of Laborers.

Mr. George Walker, who is in this City informs me, that he shall sail for Scotland about the first of January, and says if he could render any service in this business he would willingly do it. To get workmen is part of the business which carries him over; but how far, after the part he has acted with respect to yourselves you may chuse to confide in him, is fitter for you than it is for me to decide; especially as I know no more of his private character and circumstances, than I do of the terms on which he would undertake to render the service.

A thought has also occurred to me and altho’ crude and almost in embryo, I will nevertheless mention Edition: current; Page: [220] it.—It is, if the character of Mr. Hallet (from the knowledge you have acquired of it) is such as to have impressed you with confidence in his abilities and activity, whether in the unsettled state of things in France, he might not be employed this winter in engaging from that country and bringing over in the Spring such workmen, and on such terms as might be agreed upon.

Boston too has been mentioned as a place from whence many and good workmen might be had; but the reasons which have been assigned for the failure here are not within my recollection, if I ever heard them.

Upon the whole it will readily be perceived in what a serious light I consider delay in the progress of the public buildings, and how anxious I am to have them pushed forward.—In a word, the next is the year that will give the tone to the City,—if marked with energy, individuals will be inspirited,—the sales will be enhanced—confidence diffused and emulation created. Without it I should not be surprized to find the Lots unsaleable, and every thing at a stand. With great and sincere regard and esteem. I am.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 December, 1792
Philadelphia
Robert Lewis
Lewis, Robert

TO ROBERT LEWIS.

Dear Sir,

I have been informed within these few days, that Major Harrison of Loudoun County who owns a piece of Land adjoining mine in Fairfax, is disposed Edition: current; Page: [221] to sell it; and to convert the money to more useful purposes.

I am led from the rascally set of tenants who occupy that land, and by no other consideration whatsoever, to become the purchaser of it, that I may be relieved by that means from the villainies which the livers thereon are frequently committing on my property, in the practice of which their art and cunning is too great for detection.—I have said my only motive to this purchase is to get rid of this pest of society, and in saying so I have declared the honest truth; for the land would not answer for a farm, being without timber, and too poor for cultivation—nor would it be profitable in Tenements, because men who intended a livelihood by honest industry, would give little or no rent for it—and my inducement to buy is to get rid of those of a contrary description.

Major Harrison must be sensible that no one can be better acquainted with the land than I am; it would be unnecessary therefore (if he has any inclination to sell it) to ask a price which it will not bear; but if he is disposed to take a reasonable price, and will act the part of a frank and candid man in fixing it, I would not have you higgle (which I dislike) in making a bargain. I will pay ready money, if we can agree—but it must be on two conditions—first, that the title is good—and secondly, that it is not under the incumbrance (any part of it) of a lease; for that would defeat the sole end I should propose by the purchase—namely, to purge the neighborhood of these impure characters.

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Under this view of my ideas, and the knowledge you have of my sentiments respecting the Land, any bargain you shall make in my behalf with Major Harrison, shall be binding on me.

Your Aunt unites with me in best regards for yourself and Mrs. Lewis, and I am, &c.

AGRICULTURAL CORRESPONDENCE.

Certainly, one of the most interesting characteristics of Washington was his intense love of the country and his eagerness in the pursuit of agriculture. In the early years of his life he was a thorough student of agricultural writings, and he made very full summaries in note-books of what he read. Tull’s and Duhamel’s Husbandry and The Farmer’s Compleat Guide were thus digested, and the MS. shows that this was done when he was still a youth. The absence, also, of any notes or comments, comparison of views, or records of his own experiments, points to a very early date for these note-books. Not only was he an excellent farmer, but a gardener as well; and the voluminous notes among his papers attest the zeal, and often the profit, with which he pursued his fancies.

This constituted but a very small part of his activity in agriculture, but it was probably the influence that made him one of the pioneers in modifying the culture in Virginia. During the colonial days, English interest had imposed upon Virginia and Maryland the culture of tobacco, and legislation had been called into action to create, as far as possible, a British monopoly in the commerce and marketing of that commodity. This was enormously profitable to English and Scotch factors, into whose hands the navigation and tariff laws of the mother country had turned the colonial trade, both export and import. Adam Smith noted that of the 96,000 hogsheads of tobacco annually imported into Great Britain from the colonies of Virginia and Maryland, only 14,000 hogsheads were consumed in that country, and the rest was sent to the markets of continental Europe. The prosperity of Glasgow was based upon this tobacco trade. There was a “Virginia walk” on the Royal Exchange, in London, where transactions in that commodity were conducted; and at the “Virginia Coffee House” the planters (when in England), ship captains, and factors would congregate and arrange for future operations. This compression of a very large trade into one channel was greatly to the profit of the British merchant, factor, and ship-owner, but ruinous to the planter. The latter sold his commodity in a monopoly market, at prices determined by those who were interested in keeping them low. He bought all the manufactured articles used on the Edition: current; Page: [223] the plantation, in the same market, not only at high prices, but under the risk of getting an indifferent article, made principally for the colonial market, and technically known as “colonials.” The lack of market towns in Virginia for the establishment of prices based upon the fluctuating conditions of crops, supply, etc., the infrequent opportunities for shipping and receiving goods, and the length of time that must elapse before an error could be rectified or complaint made, placed the planter in a very disadvantageous position, and practically at the mercy of the English agent. There are many proofs of this in the letters printed in the early volumes of this collection.

Nor were outside relations alone responsible. The tastes of the planters were extravagant, and their style of living inclined to lavishness of expense. But few of the plantations raised a sufficiency to cover even the necessary cost of keeping them in condition, and a partial failure of the crop would throw the planter into the hands of the usurer, and induce him to mortgage his tobacco crops years in advance; while a total failure meant ruin. That is to say, most of the planters were not only poor (except in land, which might almost be had for the asking), but they were continually becoming poorer, and estate after estate passed by foreclosure into the hands of factors, who had made advances to the planters. More than this, the land itself was deteriorating, because of the insistance upon taking crop after crop of tobacco from it—exhausting in itself—and without undertaking by intensive culture to restore the land to heart. The usual course of Virginia agriculture is accurately described by Washington in his letter to Arthur Young, November, 1787, vol. xi, p. 178, ante.

At a very early period Washington became convinced that tobacco was not a very profitable crop, and he began to look to the English writers on agriculture for some suggestions. If I may judge of the writing, etc., Tull’s Husbandry was the first systematic work on agriculture that he studied, and the important improvements suggested by that experimenter in drilling and horse and hand hoeing, were adopted by him. David Henry’s Complete English Farmer [1772], Duhamel’s work based upon Tull’s, and Henry Home’s popular work, The Gentleman Farmer [1776] exercised an influence in preparing for the better understanding of what ought to be done to improve his estate. In all these years before the Revolution he was experimenting in a small way, and had come to the conclusion that tobacco culture was to be practically abandoned, only sufficient quantity being raised each year to pay for what he imported from England.

The Revolution intervened and prevented his continuing his experiments at Mount Vernon, but greatly increased his knowledge of different cultures. For in the course of that contest he had abundant opportunity of noting what was the practice in the different Eastern and Middle States and the results, a fund of information to be used in later years. He was not only confirmed in his intention of abandoning the culture of tobacco as a staple, but he was convinced of the necessity of high farming if profit was the end. In New England and Pennsylvania he noted the importance of cattle and sheep to an Edition: current; Page: [224] estate, and in Pennsylvania and Delaware the milling industry attracted his notice. Grains, roots, and live stock, a succession or rotation of crops, and the value of flour as an article of export, may be said to sum up in a few words, the results of his observations. More important still was the realization that slave labor was far more costly and inefficient than free, that the cheapness of slave labor was disproved by economic reasons of the gravest weight. But saddled as he was with this quality of labor, and disapproving of it on moral as well as economic grounds, he saw no way of making a change without selling his negroes—a step he was unwilling to take.

Washington returned to Mount Vernon after the war better prepared to carry out a new plan of farming his estates than he was in 1775, and into this new plan he threw himself heart and soul, for he loved Mount Vernon and delighted in schemes for improving and beautifying it. From Europe he received many seeds and cuttings, and his friends at home and abroad were constant in supplying him with novelties, and in keeping him acquainted with what improvements in methods were being devised. He corresponded with Arthur Young, who had just begun to publish his Annals of Agriculture [1784], and with Doctor James Anderson, whose journal, the Bee, never attained the reputation that the Annals justly gained. In closely written notebooks Washington jotted down what attracted his notice in the Annals, classifying his notes by articles, and particular attention being paid to grains and roots, courses of crops, and cattle. In Maryland, he watched with interest the experiments of John Beale Bordley, who was working upon the same lines, and was among the first to publish the results—A View of the Courses of Crops in England and Maryland [1784].1 An elaborate record of his plowings, sowings, and crops extending from 1785 to 1789 is preserved, in which was noted every detail that could enable him to come to a conclusion on the best available system. First came a day-to-day record of what was done, as follows:—

NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.

April 7th, 1785.—Cut two or three rows of the wheat (Cape wheat) within six inches of the ground, it being near eighteen inches high, that which was first sown, and the blades of the whole singed with the frost.

8th.—Sowed oats to-day in drills at Muddy Hole with my barrel plough. Ground much too wet; some of it had been manured, but had been twice ploughed, then listed, then twice harrowed before sowing; which, had it not been for the frequent rains, would have put the ground in fine tilth. Ploughed up the turnip patch at home for orchard grass.

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10th.—Began bricklaying to-day. Completed sowing, with twenty-four quarts of oats, thirty-eight rows at Muddy Hole ten feet apart, in the ground intended for corn.

11th.—Sowed twenty-six rows of barley in the same field at Muddy Hole in the same manner, with the drill plough, and with precisely the same workings the oats had adjoining thereto. This was done with twelve quarts of seed. After three ploughings and three harrowings, sowed millet in eleven rows three feet apart, opposite to the overseer’s house in the Neck. Perceived the last sowed oats at Dogue Run, and those sown in the Neck, were coming up.

12th.—Sowed sixteen acres of Siberian wheat, with eighteen quarts, in rows between corn, eight feet apart. This ground had been prepared in the following manner. 1. A single furrow; 2. another in the same to deepen it; 3. four furrows to throw the earth back into the two first, which made ridges of five furrows. These, being done some time ago, and the sowing retarded by frequent rains, had got hard; therefore, 4. before the seed was sown, these ridges were split again by running twice in the middle of them, both times in the same furrow; 5. after which the ridges were harrowed; and, 6. where the ground was lumpy, run a spiked roller with a harrow at the tail of it, which was found very efficacious in breaking the clods and pulverizing the earth, and would have done it perfectly, if there had not been too much moisture remaining from the late rains. After this, harrowing and rolling were necessary, the wheat was sown with the drill plough on the reduced ridges eight feet apart, as above mentioned, and harrowed in with the small harrow belonging to the plough. But it should have been observed, that, after the ridges were split by the middle double furrows, and before they were closed again by the harrow, a little manure was sprinkled in them.

At Dogue Run, listing the ground intended for Siberian wheat, barley, &c., a second time.

At Muddy Hole sewed with the drill plough two rows of the Albany pease between the corn rows, to see whether they would come to any thing for want of the support which they give one another when sown broad-cast. The same management given the ground as for oats and barley at this place.

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13th.—Sowed oats in drills ten feet apart, between corn rows in the Neck, twenty-four rows, in the following manner. 1. A single furrow; 2. another and deep furrow in this; 3. four bouts to these; 4. ploughed again in the same manner; 5. a single furrow in the middle of these; 6. manure sprinkled in this furrow; 7. the great harrow over all these; and, 8. the seed sowed after the harrow with the drill or barrel plough, and harrowed in with the harrow at the tail of it. Note.—It should have been observed, that the field intended for experiments at this plantation is divided into three parts, by bouting rows running crosswise; and that manure, and the last single furrow, are (at least for the present) bestowed on the most westerly of those nearest the Barn.

14th.—Harrowed the ground at Muddy Hole, which had been twice ploughed, for Albany pease in broad-cast. At Dogue Run began to sow the remainder of the Siberian wheat, about fourteen quarts, which had been left at the Ferry; run deep furrows in the middle, and made five-feet ridges. Did the same for carrots in the same field on the west side next the meadow. Ordered a piece of ground, two acres, to be ploughed at the Ferry around the old corn-house, to be drilled with corn and potatoes between, each ten feet apart, row from row of the same kind. Sowed in the Neck, or rather planted, next to the eleven rows of millet, thirty-five rows of the rib-grass seeds, three feet apart and one foot asunder in the rows.

At the end of the season the pages of notes and observations (thirty-one folio pages closely written) were carefully indexed, and the results for each crop on each plantation were summarized, particular attention being paid to the dates of sowing, first appearance and gathering of the different crops, and finally were entered his “conclusions, drawn from the foregoing statement of facts,” of which a few extracts are given.

Clover. That it is not worth raising for the seed, to get which out is very troublesome.1

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Corn. On rows 10 feet one way, and 18 Inches thick single stalks; will yield as much to the Acre in equal ground, as at 5 feet each way with two stalks in a hill; & that Potatoes, Carrots & Pease between the drilled Corn, if not exhaustive, which they are declared not to be, are nearly a clear profit, except in putting them in, and taking them from the ground—the same labor—which is necessary for the Corn, being sufficient for the other things. Corn ought, if practicable, to be planted by the 15th of May at furthest; by the 10th would be better—perhaps by the first preferable to either—In short as soon as the ground has acquired warmth enough to vegetate the plant, the grain ought to be put in. It should be kept clean and well worked in the early part of its growth—till it shoots and tassels at least; this when the sod is light may be done with the Hoe Harrow.—

The Corn blades to be pulled before the tops are cut & when there are two stalks in a hill laid between them untied, that they may cure quick and without moulding under the band.—

* * * * * *

Carts.—Should be well supplied with oxen, that by shifting them they may be always in good heart, & do the work well, without grain, or extra feed.—They should carry rails, or other materials for fencing to the spot where the fences are to be erected in the Winter (whilst the grd.—is froze) that they may not be interrupted in carting out dung in the Spring, before the last plowing is given to the land.

Flax. That which was sowed on the 28th of April was very good, but whether this was owing to the proper time of sowing, or the very moist weather that followed is not certain.

Farm-Pens.—To be made by the first, or at furthest the middle of November well covered with mud; and this spread over with broom straw or whatever is intended for litter of which a plentiful store should be laid up by the yard. After the middle of Novr. the Cattle ought never to go out of the Pens but to water, if it is not provided in them.—The dung by this management is more than an equivalent for the extra feed; little food being to be got in common Pastures after the middle of November,—when it is too late in the season (the nights being too long & cold) to confine them in open pens at night.—

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An Acct. of the number and kind of Cattle to be taken at the times of putting them up in the fall, & turning them out to grass in the Spring.—

Fallows. As soon as the Corn is laid by and the Winter grain and seeds in the ground, the Plows shd. be breaking it up for Barley, Oats, Turnips, and other Spring & Summer Crops.—& as soon as these are in the ground should be plowed for Wheat, Rye, and Winter sowing; unless sowing on lay land is adopted and found to answer.—In a word the Plows should never stop when the ground is in order to be worked; for if they do, the business of a farm will never be carried on fully and to advantage. * * *

Meadows. To get them cut in due Season, & that Hay making may be over before harvest commences,—begin as soon as the head of the Timothy appears through the blade—and the clover as soon as it gets pretty fully into the blossom.—The Orchard grass will all be wanted for seed. * * *

Plowing.—This business should never stop.—For Spring and Summer Crops, the ground shd. be broke in the Fall & Winter;—and for Winter grain, in the Spring and Summer.—From the experience of this spring’s sowing as also from the fall’s sowing, on lay land (but the weather in the fall being uncommonly moist, might have occasioned the latter) it appears that the quicker the sowing and harrowings after it, follow the Plow the mellower & more crumbling the land works.—When much time intervenes between the Plowing & sowing, hard rains beat and high winds dry the ground in such a manner as to make it work rough and cloddy.—quære then.—Would it not be better, instead of plowing a whole field through (before the sowing commences) to lay it off by the furrows of a Plow into such squares, as that the Plowing, sowing, harrowing, and cross harrowing, may all be accomplished in 3 or 4 days—or at most not to exceed a week. This too wd. be a means of detecting idleness in, & keeping the Plowmen to their duty.—When Oats, or other grain is to be sown on a single plowing, the furrow ought to be narrow—when the ground is to be cross plowed, this is not so necessary.—It is always best when circumstances will admit not to plow when the ground is wet—but (when not bound together Edition: current; Page: [229] by the sward) when it will crumble as it is turned from the mould board.

* * * * * *

Wheat.—The earlier it is sown the better. The latter end of July is to be preferred to any sown after the middle of September. August is a good seed month.—If it is sown on lay land Plow (as has been mentioned under the article plowing) in no larger squares than may be compleated in a week, at farthest. Try the experimt. of sowing with a six foot barrel, and with grain dropped 6 Inches square,—to be harrowed in.—Water drains should be cut to let the Water pass of freely from all low places; otherwise those that would yield most wheat produce none at all. Begin to cut it, if circumstances will admit, as soon as the Milk is out of the grain,—and manage it as directed page 20. Where there is no Barn and the grain must be tred out, begin this operation before the Corn is gathered; for if it is delayed beyond it the Weather rarely admits of its being done to advantage—and where the fly is, it may be lost.

Additional.

A Weekly allowance of Meat to the Negro Oversrs. is preferable to an Annual one—because the annual one is not taken care of but either profusely used, or stolen.—

By having the Corn & Rye, for the Negros and horses sent to the Mill from the several Plantations, and the weekly allowance for both delivered from thence, great saving will accrue and no embezzlement can well take place—because by this means no more will go throw the Mill than is allowed—and the Miller passing receipts for what is sent to the Mill, the remainder of the Crop which was measured and lofted must be accted. for by the Overseer—or the Doors may be locked and the keys taken away.

That this may be done with greater propriety leave no horses on the Plantations but those which work—and such horse Colts as are to be raised without grain; and

Raise no more Hogs on them than can be supported with the offal—and these only to the age of a year old when they may be bro’t to a place to be provided & properly constructed at the Mansion house to fat them for Bacon.

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Such a record, kept for six years by an enthusiastic and very practical observer, would prove an invaluable guide and lead to a system of cultivation, in which the different uses of each field could be accurately laid down for years in advance, and every contingency provided for as far as care and intelligence could provide. And so long as Washington was in person superintending his estate, good results were obtained. A steady advance in product, more labor accomplished by the slaves, and a marked improvement in live stock, were the immediate issues; while the increasing diversity of crops and a milling industry promised in the near future to give a surplus over expenditure.

The election to the Presidency came when the new order was progressing, and made it necessary for Washington to entrust the care of his estate to the hands of agents, but acting under his specific directions. Not only did he draw up with great care a schedule of what was to be done, leaving it for the guidance of his agent, but each week he received a full report of what was done on the different properties, and each week he wrote with his own hand such additional instructions as might seem necessary. A failure to remit the report was to him a grievous fault, and his replies, often extending over sixteen closely written pages, would constitute, if complete, one of the most noticeable features of the man’s character. Two series of these letters have been preserved, one to Anthony Whiting, and the other to William Pearce, and from these, extending as they do from 1792 to 1797, I shall make such extracts as may illustrate their general nature. The letters to Pearce have been published by the Long Island Historical Society, under the editorship of Moncure D. Conway. That there may be a certain continuity, the general instructions given to his first agent, George Augustine Washington, and a specimen weekly report of the manager or agent, are inserted.

DIRECTIONS FOR GEORGE A. WASHINGTON.

Having given very full and ample details of the intended crops, and my ideas of the modes of managing them at the several plantations, little, if these are observed, needs be added on this subject. But as the profit of every farm is greater or less, in proportion to the quantity of manure, which is made thereon, or can be obtained by keeping the fields in good condition, these two important requisites ought never to be lost sight of.

To effect the former, besides the ordinary means of farm-yards, cow-pens, sheep-folds, stables, &c., it would be of essential use, if a certain proportion of the force of each plantation could be appropriated, in the summer or early part of autumn, to the purpose of getting up mud to be ameliorated by the frosts of winter Edition: current; Page: [231] for the spring crops, which are to follow. And to accomplish the latter, the gullies in these fields, previous to their being sown with grain and grass-seeds, ought invariably to be filled up. By so doing, and a small sprinkling of manure thereon, they will acquire a green sward, and strength of soil sufficient to preserve them. These are the only means I know of, by which exhausted lands can be recovered, and an estate rescued from destruction.

Although a precise number of tobacco hills is by my general directions allotted to each plantation, yet my real intention is, that no more ground shall be appropriated to this crop, than what is either naturally very good (for which purpose small spots may be chosen), or what can be made strong by manure of some kind or other; for my object is to labor for profit, and therefore to regard quality, instead of quantity, there being, except in the article of manuring, no difference between attending a good plant and an indifferent one. But in any event, let the precise number of hills be ascertained, that an estimate may be formed of their yield to the thousand.

Being thoroughly convinced, from experience, that embezzlement and waste of crops (to say nothing of the various accidents to which they are liable by delays) are increased proportionably to the time they are suffered to remain on hand, my wish is as soon as circumstances will permit after the grain is harvested, that it may be got out of the straw, especially at the plantations where there are no barns, and either disposed of in proper deposits, or sold, if it is wheat, and the price is tolerable, after it has been converted into flour. When this work is set about as the sole, or as a serious business, it will be executed properly. But when a little is done now, and a little then, there is more waste, even if there should be no embezzlement, than can well be conceived.

One or two other matters I beg may be invariably attended to. The first is to begin harvest as soon as the grain can be cut with safety; and the next, to get it in the ground in due season. Wheat should be sown by the last of August; at any rate by the 10th of September; and other fall grain as soon after as possible. Spring grain and grass seeds should be sown as soon as the ground can possibly, with propriety, be prepared for their reception.

For such essential purposes as may absolutely require the aid of Edition: current; Page: [232] the ditchers, they may be taken from that work. At all other times they must proceed in the manner, which has been directed formerly; and in making the new roads from the Ferry to the Mill, and from the Tumbling Dam across the Neck, till it communicates with the Alexandria road, as has been pointed out on the spot. The ditch from the Ferry to the Mill along this road may be a common four-feet one. But from the Mill to the Tumbling Dam, and thence across to the head of the old field by Muddy-Hole fence, it must be five feet wide at top, but no deeper than the four-feet one, and the same width at bottom as the latter.

After the carpenters have given security to the old barn in the Neck, they must proceed to the completion of the new one at the Ferry, according to the plan and the explanations, which have been given. Gunner and Davis should get bricks made for this purpose; and if John Knowles could be spared (his work, not only with respect to time, but quantity and quality to be amply returned) to examine the bilged walls, and the security of them, but to level and lay the foundations of the other work, when the bricks are ready, it would be rendering me an essential service; and, as the work might be returned in proper season, would be no detriment to your building.

When the brick work is executed at the Ferry Barn, Gunner and Davis must repair to Dogue Run, and make bricks there; at the place and in the manner, which have been directed, that I may have no salmon bricks in that building.

Oyster shells should be bought, whenever they are offered for sale, if good and on reasonable terms.

Such moneys as you may receive for flour, barley, fish, as also for other things, which can be spared and sold; and for rents, the use of the jacks, &c.; and for book debts, which may be tried, though little is expected from the justice of those who have been long indulged; may be applied to the payment of workmen’s wages as they arise, Fairfax,1 and the taxes, and likewise to the payment of any just debts, which I may be owing in small sums, and have not been able to discharge previous to my leaving the State. The residue may await further orders.

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As I shall want shingles, plank, nails, rum for harvest, scantling, and such like things, which would cost me money at another time, fish may be bartered for them. The scantling, if any is taken, must be such as will suit for the barn now about to be built, or that at Dogue Run, without waste and of good quality.

I find it is indispensably necessary, for two reasons, to save my own clover and timothy seed; first, because it is the only certain means of having it good and in due season; and, secondly, because I find it is a heavy article to purchase.

Save all the honey-locusts you can, of those which belong to me; if more could be obtained, the better. And, in the fall, plant them on the ditches where they are to remain, about six inches apart, one seed from another.

The seeds, which are on the case in my study, ought, without loss of time, to be sown and planted in my botanical garden, and proper memoranda kept of the times and places.

You will use your best endeavors to obtain the means for support of G. and L. Washington, who, I expect, will board, till something further can be decided on, with Dr. Craik; who must be requested to see that they are decently and properly provided with clothes from Mr. Porter’s store. He will give them a credit on my becoming answerable to him for the payment. And, as I know of no resource, that H. has for supplies but from me, Fanny will, from time to time, as occasion may require, have such things got for her, on my account, as she shall judge necessary. Mrs. Washington will, I expect, leave her tolerably well provided with common articles for the present.

My memorandum books, which will be left in my study, will inform you of the times and places, when, and where, different kinds of wheat, grass-seeds, &c., were sown. Let particular attention be paid to the quality and quantity of each sort, that a proper judgment of them may be formed. To do this, great care must be taken to prevent mixture of the several sorts, as they are so contiguous to each other.

The general superintendence of my affairs is all I require of you; for it is neither my desire nor wish, that you should become a drudge to it, or that you should refrain from any amusements or visitings, which may be agreeable, either to Fanny or yourself to Edition: current; Page: [234] make or receive. If Fairfax the farmer, and Thomas Green on each of whom I have endeavored to impress a proper sense of their duty, will act their part with propriety and fidelity, nothing more will be necessary for you to do, than would comport with amusement and that exercise which is conducive to health. Nor is it my wish, that you should live in too parsimonious a manner. Frugality and economy are undoubtedly commendable, and all that is required. Happily for this country, these virtues prevail more and more every day among all classes of citizens. I have heard of, and I have seen with pleasure, a remarkable change in the mode of living from what it was a year or two ago; and nothing but the event, which I dreaded would take place soon, has prevented my following the example. Indeed, necessity, if this had not happened, would have forced me into the measure, as my means are not adequate to the expense at which I have lived since my retirement to what is called private life. Sincerely wishing you health and happiness, I am ever your warm friend and affectionate uncle.

MANAGER’S WEEKLY REPORT.
April 14th, 1792.

Meteorological Table.
Morning.Noon.Night.
April 8th, E. Clear. S. E. Cloudy. S. E. Rain.
April 9th, S. E. Rain. S. E. Cloudy. S. E. Cloudy.
April 10th, S. W. Cloudy. S. W. Rain. 60 S. E. Rain.
April 11th, 58 E. Rain. S. E. Rain. 58 S. E. Rain.
April 12th, 57 N. E. Rain. 56 N. E. Hard Rain 54 N. E. Cloudy.
April 13th, 52 N. E. Cloudy. 56 N. E. Rain. 58 N. E. Rain.
April 14th, 54 N. W. Cloudy. 58 N.W. Cloudy. 52 N.W. Clear.
DR. Days.
MANSION-HOUSE FARM for the work of 12 men, 6 boys, and 4 girls, amounting per week to 132
CR.
By a wagon hauling posts and rails to Ferry-Barn lane, 1
By do. hauling hay 1, stocks 1, timber for shafts for carts and moving park rails 1, 3
By hauling six barrels salt to Major Washington’s landing, and bringing home straw, 1
By carts hauling manure from Ferry Barn to No. 2 French’s, 6
By cleaning loose manure about stables, and hauling it to lot intended for lucerne, 5
By hauling corn from Ferry, and bran and meal from Mill wood to Mansion, 2
By hauling stones to repair the crossing-place of Muddy-Hole Swamp, at the head of French’s meadow, 2
By Old Jack in care of granary 6, Old Frank in care of stock 6, 12
By Peter, in care of mares, mules, and jacks, 6
By Gunner digging brick earth 3, cutting poles to build a brick house 2, 5
By putting up post-and-rail fence leading to Ferry Barn, 5
By hauling seine, cleaning, striking, and packing fish, 41
By Easter Monday, 22
By sickness Boatswain 6, Mima 3, Richmond, 3, Postilion Joe 3, Synna 3, Sam 3, 21
Total, 132

Increase, 2 Calves and 2 Mules. Received from Mill, 22 bushels of Meal, and 29 bushels of Bran; from Ferry, 3 barrels of Corn. Stock, 11 head of Cattle, 4 Calves, 60 Sheep, 28 Lambs, 4 working Mares, 4 working Horses, 5 Colts, 4 Spring Colts, 2 Jacks, 2 old Jennies, 1 do. three years old, 1 do. two years old, 1 do. one year old. 15 Mules, 10 one year old, 2 spring do.; and 11 Mares.

DR. Days.
Ditchers, for the work of 6 men, amounting per week to 36
CR.
By Baths and Paschal mortising posts 1, fencing Ferry-Barn new lane 4, 10
By Boatswain and Robin mauling Rails 1, and fencing as above 4, 10
By Charles hauling seine 5
By Dundee sawing trunnels with Dogue Run hands, 5
By Easter Monday 6
Total, 36

N. B. There has been almost one day and part of another lost by rain this week.

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DR. Days.
MUDDY-HOLE FARM for the work of 3 men and 9 women, amounting per week to 72
CR.
By listing in No. 2, 4
By a cart hauling stakes and trunnels to the fence between Nos. 1 and 7, 3
By hauling rails to No. 1 Lane fence, 1
By raising the bank with a plough and hoes between No. 1 and No. 7, 11
By putting up fences on said bank 19, cutting stakes and trunnels for No. 7, 26
By taking down and new setting the Lane fence of No. 1, 7
By Easter Monday, 12
By sickness, Kate 3, Amy 2, Molly 3, 8
Total, 72

Received from Mill 6 bushels of Meal, and 6 bushels of Rye Meal.—Stock, 37 head of cattle, 5 Calves, 30 Sheep, 8 working Horses, and 1 Mule.

DR. Days.
FERRY AND FRENCH’S FARMS for the work of 7 men, 16 women, and 4 boys, amounting per week to 162
CR.
By listing new ground in French’s meadow, 16
By carts hauling stakes, rails, and trunnels to different fences, 6
By hauling manure to No. 2 French’s 3, hauling corn to Mill 1, 4
By repairing fences, 34, burning logs and brush in the swamp, 30, 64
By heaping manure 4, beating out corn 4, cutting and mauling stakes and trunnels 4, 12
By spinning 3, hauling seine 5, French’s Tom at Mansion-House 5, 13
By Easter Monday, 27
By sickness, Doll 6, Old Daph 5, Betty 4, Rose 3, Delia 2, 20
Total, 162
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Increase 2 Calves, and 5 Lambs.—Received from Mill, 12¼ bushels of Meal, sent do. 54 bushels of Corn. To Mansion-House 3 barrels of do. feed to Horses 1 barrel of do.—Stock, 83 head of Cattle, 5 Calves, 136 Sheep, 60 Lambs, 16 working Horses, and 2 Mules.

DR. Days.
RIVER FARM for the work of 9 men, 18 women, and 1 girl, amounting per week to 168
CR.
By listing in No. 6, 10
By carts hauling manure on do., 6
By hauling rails 2, going to Mill 1, 3
By loading carts with manure 6, cutting straw 3, 9
By plashing thorn hedge 4, repairing the bank of Lane fence No. 6, 2, 6
By stopping hog-hole in do. 6, putting up new fence next to the woods of do. 18, 24
By cutting cornstalks, and getting them off, 56
Lost by rain, or very little done, 20
By Easter Monday 28
By Cornelia in childbed 6
Total, 168

Increase, 2 Calves.—Received from Mill, 9¾ bushels of Meal, and 10 bushels of Rye Meal.—Stock, 83 head of Cattle, 5 Calves, 221 Sheep, 45 Lambs, 4 working Mares, 13 working Horses, and 1 Mule.

DR. Days.
DOGUE-RUN FARM for the work of 6 men, 8 women, and 2 girls, amounting per week to 96
CR.
By listing in No. 2, 5, by ploughing in Mill meadow 2, 7
By raising a bank with a plough and hoes in Mill meadow for the fence, 19
By sawing trunnels 5, mauling do. 5, cutting in Mill meadow 2, 12
By repairing fence around the middle meadow, 10
By repairing fence around No. 2, 7, by spinning 2, 9
By hauling post and rails to Ferry-Barn new lane, 5
By hauling rails to Mill meadow fence, 3
By hauling rails to the middle meadow fence, 2
By Easter Monday, 16
By sickness, Grace 3, Molly 3, Sall 3, Cicely 4, 13
Total, 96

Received from Mill, 6¾ bushels of Meal.—Stock, 57 head of Cattle, 1 Calf, 124 Sheep, 9 working Horses, and 1 Mule.

DR. Days.
JOINERS AND CARPENTERS for the work of 6 men and 2 boys, amounting per week to 48
CR.
By Thomas Green making sashes for the new quarter, 5
By Mahony putting up the berths in do. 5
By Isaac making and mending ploughs 4, getting ash for rake-handles 1, 5
By Jam making a new cart and shafts, and getting beach stocks for planes, 5
By Sambo and David sawing gate stuff 2, getting stocks and ash for rake-handles, 6, 8
By Sambo ripping plank on account of rain, 1
By David with Isaac on account of do., 1
By Joe planing plank, 5
By Christopher at do. 4, and 1 day with the wagon, 5
By Easter Monday, 8
Total, 48
DR. MILL FOR SUNDRIES. CR.
Corn. Meal. Bran. Rye Meal.
Ferry and French’s, 53 By Dogue-Run Plantation,
Toll Corn received, By River Plantation, 10
By Muddy Hole, 6 6
Total received, 62½ By Ferry and French’s, 12¼
By Mansion House, 22
Toll Corn ground, 56
Total delivered, 56¾ 20 16
By Coopers and Miller, 1
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George Washington
Washington, George
14 October, 1792
Anthony Whiting
Whiting, Anthony

LETTERS TO ANTHONY WHITING, 1792.1

I would have the gardener also, with these people, if the autumn is a proper season for it, if not, without fail, in the Spring, plant cuttings of the weeping willow, yellow willow or Lombardy poplar, preferring the first and last mentioned, at a distance of a foot or 18 inches apart from the Smith’s shop, quite as the post and rail fence runs around both these inclosures;—and also the vine yard inclosure;—also that lately sown in Lucern from the ster-corary to the river fence; that by entwining them as they grow up I may have a substitute for the fences that are now there. To do this, is of the utmost importance to my interest; as it also is in a more essential degree, to supply by hedges of this, or some other kind all my other fences; as well the exterior ones as those which separate the different fields from one another. I have labored to effect this latter point for years. I have pressed it, and pressed it again, but, strange to tell! the season has either been suffered to pass away before it is set about; or it has either been set about improperly; or no care has been taken afterwards to preserve and nourish the young plants so as to fit them for the purpose they were intended. Let me therefore in the strongest terms possible, call your attention to this business, as one, than which nothing is nearer both to my interest and wishes; first, because it is indispensably necessary to save timber and labor; and secondly, because it is ornamental to the farm, and reputable to the farmer. * * *

Let the hands at the Mansion House grub well, and perfectly prepare the old clover lot at the Mansion House for whatever you may incline to put into it, preparatory for grass, with which it is to be laid down. When I say grub well, I mean that everything, which is not to remain as trees, should be taken up by the roots, so as that the plow may meet with no interruption, and the field lye perfectly smooth for the scythe. Let this, I earnestly request, be received as a general and positive direction; for I seriously assure Edition: current; Page: [240] you, that I had rather have one acre cleared in this manner, than four in the common mode; especially in all grounds designed for grass; and for the reasons which I have often mentioned to you. It is a great and very disagreeable eye-sore to me, as well as a real injury in the loss of labor and the crop (ultimately), and the destruction of scythes, to have foul meadows. * * *

Although it is last mentioned it is foremost in my thoughts, to desire you will be particularly attentive to my negros in their sickness; and to order every overseer positively to be so likewise; for I am sorry to observe that the generality of them view these poor creatures in scarcely any other light than they do a draught horse or ox; neglecting them as much when they are unable to work; instead of comforting and nursing them when they lye on a sick bed. I lost more negros last winter than I had done in 12 or 15 years before, put them altogether. If their disorders are not common, and the mode of treating them plain, simple and well understood, send for Doctor Craik in time. In the last stage of the complaint it is unavailing to do it. It is incurring an expense for nothing.

I shall now briefly say, that the trust I have reposed in you is great, and my confidence that you will faithfully discharge it, is commensurate thereto. I am persuaded of your abilities, industry and integrity; cautioning you only against undertaking more than you can execute well, under almost any circumstances, and against (but this I have no cause to suspect) being absent from your business; as the example, be it good or bad, will be followed by all those who look up to you. Keep every one in their places, and to their duty; relaxation from, or neglects in small matters, lead to like attempts in matters of greater magnitude, and are often trials in the under-overseers to see how far they durst go. * * * 14 October, 1792.

* * * It is not to be wondered at that the field No. 7 at the River Plantation should want a new post and rail fence, when it is seen what kind my people make (in spite of all I can do to prevent it); that is, posts when morticed that a strong man could break across his knee, and rails so long, and so weak, as to warp or be unable to bear the weight of a child in getting over them. This custom I hope you will get the better of. * * *

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I suppose it was owing to the hurry and distress in which Mrs. Fanny Washington was at the time she left Mount Vernon that a little wine, &c., was not left out for extraordinary occasions; because I know it was intended—but not for sick negros, unless it might be in particular cases which rendered it indispensably necessary; for Dr. Craik never practiced anything of this kind when Mrs. Washington and myself were at home, or even suggested it as necessary. Nor was it my intention to leave it for the purpose of entertaining travellers, because there is a striking impropriety in travellers making use of it as a house of convenience, knowing, as they certainly must do, that neither my family nor the Major’s, is there; and when it is far removed from the post, or any other public road. And if people were led there by curiosity, as soon as that was satisfied, they would retire, without expecting, under the circumstances just mentioned, to be invited to lodge, dine, or spend their time there. However, as it may happen that characters to whom one would wish to shew civility, and others, that may have a line from me (as was the case the other day with the Hon’ble Judge Cushing) may call there, I shall, by a vessel which will leave this according to the master’s account on Thursday next, send you a little wine, tea and coffee, along with the iron, and some things which will accompany it.

When I recommended care of, and attention to my negros in sickness, it was that the first stage of, and the whole progress through the disorders with which they might be seized (if more than a slight indisposition) should be closely watched, and timely applications and remedies be administered; especially in the pleurisies, and all inflammatory disorders accompanied with pain, when a few days’ neglect, or want of bleeding, might render the ailment incurable. In such cases sweeten’d teas, broths and (according to the nature of the complaint, and the doctor’s prescription) sometimes a little wine, may be necessary to nourish and restore the patient; and these I am perfectly willing to allow, when it is really requisite. My fear is, as I expressed to you in a former letter, that the under overseers are so unfeeling, in short viewing the negros in no other light than as a better kind of cattle, the moment they cease to work, they cease their care of them. * * * 28 October, 1792.

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I was very glad to receive your letter of the 31st ultimo, because I was afraid, from the accounts given me of your spitting blood, by my nephews George and Lawrence Washington, that you would hardly have been able to have written at all. And it is my request that you will not, by attempting more than you are able to undergo, with safety and convenience, injure yourself, and thereby render me a disservice. For if this should happen under present circumstances, my affairs, in the absence of both the Major and myself, will be thrown into a disagreeable situation. I had rather therefore hear that you had nursed than exposed yourself. And the things which I sent from this place (I mean the wine, tea, coffee and sugar), and such other matters as you may lay in by the doctor’s directions for the use of the sick, I desire you will make use of as your own personal occasions may require. * * *

It would be difficult for me, if I was ever so well disposed, to procure the full quantity of clover seed mentioned in your memorandum, as it is (from such information as I have received) both scarce and dear in these parts. But while I am on this subject, I beg that whatever you do sow (if covered at all) may be very slightly covered. Harrowing clover seed, in the vicinity of this city [Philadelphia], is quite disused, and I never saw better clover any where than is about it. Five or six pounds of seed, if they can depend upon its goodness, is all they allow to an acre, and in no case more than 10 lbs., or as many pints. I mention these things for your government; and that from experience they find no better season for sowing than towards the last of winter, or opening of the spring, on winter grain, leaving it to the snow or frosts to bury the seeds. * * *

Doll at the Ferry must be taught to knit, and made to do a sufficient day’s work of it—otherwise (if suffered to be idle) many more will walk in her steps. Lame Peter, if no body else will, must teach her, and she must be brought to the house for that purpose.

Tell house Frank I expect he will lay up a more plentious store of the black common walnut than he usually does. Nor ought he to spend his time wholly in idleness. 4 November, 1792.

* * * I send you also, under cover with this letter, some seeds, which were given to me by an English farmer from the Edition: current; Page: [243] county of Essex, in England, lately arrived in this country to settle, and who appears to be a very sensible and judicious man, and a person of property. He also gave me a pamphlet upon the construction of the kind of plough, which he has used for many years; and the principles for putting the parts together, to make it work true and easy, which I will send to you so soon as I shall receive it from a gentlemen to whom I lent it. The plough is simple in its make. The oats, which he gave me as a sample, exceed very little, if any, what I have grown myself. They may, however, in the spring be put into the ground by single seeds, to try what can be made of them. The cattle cabbage may also be tried.

Mr. Lambert, the name of the farmer from whom I had these things, says that the land, on which he and his father before him have lived for fifty or sixty years, is a stiff white clay; and, being at a distance from any source of manure, besides that which is made on the farm, they have pursued a different mode of cropping from that which is usually followed in England; and by so doing, with the aid of the internal manure of the farm, they have brought their poor, stiff land, which originally did not yield them more than five or six bushels of wheat to the acre, and other grain in proportion, to produce very generally from twenty-five to thirty of wheat, and from forty to fifty of barley. Their method has been to keep the arable land always perfectly clean, and alternately in crop or fallow; that is, to take a corn crop from it one year, and have it under the plough in a naked fallow, by way of preparation for the next crop, the next year; beginning this fallow in the autumn, when the ground is dry, again in the spring, as soon as it becomes dry, and three or four times after, before seeding for wheat (if wheat is the crop); never ploughing it wet, which is the cause, he says, of its running. He seems to understand the principles as well as the practice of husbandry, being a sensible man, and inured for a number of years (I suppose he is sixty) to the labor and practice of it. He has travelled a good deal about this country, and is of opinion that our great error lies in not keeping our arable land clean, and free from weeds. I observed to him, that the people of this country are of opinion, that naked fallows under our hot Edition: current; Page: [244] sun are injurious. He will not by any means admit the principle or the fact; but ascribes the impoverished state of our lands and bad crops to the weeds which he everywhere sees, and which both exhaust and foul it. By constant ploughing, these, he says, are eradicated; and when the fields come to be laid in grass, which is sown, the hay will be pure and unmixed with any thing hurtful to it. * * *

Desire Thomas Green to date his reports. That of the week before last I send back for explanation of his measurement of the sawing. I fancy it will puzzle him to make out 508 feet in the twenty-four plank there set down; for, as plank, length and breadth only could be measured. This would amount to no more than 296 feet. As scantling, length and side and edge would be measured, and this would give only about 310 or 312 feet. If he goes on at this rate, he will, in appearance, amend their work, though it will not in reality be any better. But, admitting that the true admeasurement was 508 feet, this would make but a miserable quantity for the time they were about it. That these people (sawyers I mean) may have no pretence for such idleness, not only get them two saws, but let them be of the largest and best kind. * * *

How does your growing wheat look at this time? I hope no appearance of the Hessian fly is among it. On Patuxent, not far from you, I am told it is making such havoc amongst the growing wheat, as to render it necessary to sow over again. I am sorry to find No. 1, at French’s, turn out so poor a crop of wheat, and that the fields at Muddy Hole have yielded still worse. How much wheat at that place came off the lot by the overseer’s house?

In ploughing fields No. 3 and No. 4, Dogue Run, let them be so begun as that the rows when planted may run north and south, or as nearly so as the situation of the fields will admit.

In making your weekly reports, instead of referring to the preceding week or weeks, for the state of your stock of different kinds, enumerate the number of each. I shall have it in my power then to see at one view the precise state of it without resorting to old accounts. And let me entreat, that you will examine them yourself, frequently, as a check upon the overseers; without which, rather than be themselves at the trouble Edition: current; Page: [245] of counting them, they will make you that kind of general report. * * *

P. S. In clearing the wood, mark a road by an easy and graduated ascent from the marsh or low ground, up the hollow which leads into the lot beyond the fallen chestnut, about midway of the lot; and leave the trees standing thick on both sides of it, for a shade to it. On the west side of this hollow, if I recollect rightly, there was an old road formerly, but not laid out agreeably to the directions here given. It would look well, and perhaps might be convenient, if there was a road on both sides of this hollow, notwithstanding the hill-side on the east is steep. At any rate, trees where the road would go, if made, might be left for future decision, as they might also be along the side of the low land at the foot of the hill quite from the wharf to the gate by Richard’s house. If that meadow should ever be thoroughly reclaimed, and in good grass, a walk along the edge of it would be an agreeable thing; and leaving trees for this purpose may not be amiss, as they may at any time be removed, although time only can restore them if taken away in the first instance. And this would be a good general rule for you to observe in other parts of the same ground; as, if too thick, they can always be thinned; but, if too thin, there is no remedy but time to retrieve the error. 11 November, 1792.

Your letter of the 9th came to my hands last night, and though I am much hurried will briefly observe that I had rather repair my seins and fish myself, than hire the landing with the negros. If a good price could be obtained for the landing without the negros, and an express prohibition of wagons coming thither, I should like and would prefer that. But at any rate repair and keep the seins dry and out of the way of mice, that you may have an alternative. In the meanwhile give it out, and make it as public as you can, that the landing alone, or landing and boat (with the prohibition above) is to be rented; but that the person renting it is to furnish me with a certain quantity of shad and herring, to be specified in the early part of the season. Or if the boat is reserved, I could easily catch what fish I should want at the landing by Bishop’s house, which used to be, and no doubt still is, a good fishery. * * * 14 November, 1792.

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* * * As you think (as I do also) that the new part of the old clover lot at the Mansion House had better be in potatoes, perhaps it would be well to apply those you have to this purpose; and instead of cultivating field No. 4 at Dogue Run in this article, let it lay over, and in lieu thereof, fallow (with buckwheat for manure) No. 1. at that place, for wheat. This is the rotation I had marked out for that plantation before you suggested potatoes for No. 4 next year. By this alteration the last mentioned field will, as was intended, come into corn in 1794; succeeding No. 3, which will be in that article next year, and succeeded by No. 5 the year following, that is in 1795, and so on, bringing them all on with corn, in the order of their numbers. And this, considering you have not a sufficiency of potatoes for both purposes (and I find it too expensive, and too much unlike a farmer to be always upon the purchase of my seeds), and that by the double dressing with green manure may be got in fine order for wheat, if you can prepare and sow it with buckwheat early in the Spring, to be plowed in before harvest, when seed enough is ripe to bring forward a second crop for plowing in timously for wheat seeding. I feel more inclination for the adoption of this plan than I do for planting No. 4. at Dogue Run with the potatoes you have, especially as the quantity on hand are inadequate to the demands of that field, and because they are at the Mansion House in readiness for the other purpose. * * *

I am very willing, nay desirous, that part of the vineyard inclosure should be appropriated to raising any and all kind of plants fit for hedging, or to repair hedges. Those of the most valuable and scarcer kind of plants for this purpose may receive nourishment in my little garden, as the firze, for instance. But I am of opinion that all such hedges as are to be raised from the seed, for instance, cedar, honey locust, white thorn, sycamore, &c. &c., had better be sown in places where they are to remain, having the ground well prepared previous to the reception of it, and well attended to afterwards, for I have been very unsuccessful in all my transplantation. * * *

I perceive by the last report that 8 sheep are missing, but that it is not known whether taken from Dogue Run, or the Ferry, or French’s. This confirms what I observed to you, in my last, or Edition: current; Page: [247] one of my last letters, viz, that the overseers know very little of what relates to their own stock, giving in the number from old reports instead of from actual weekly counting; by which means half my stock may be stolen, or eaten, before they are missed:—whereas a weekly, or even a more frequent count of the sheep, and inspection of the hogs (articles most likely to be depredated upon) would prevent, or if not prevent, enable them to pursue while the scent was hot, those atrocious villainies, and either bring them to light or so alarm the perpetrators of them, as to make them less frequent. As the overseers, I believe, conduct matters, a sheep or hog or two, may every week be taken without suspicion of it for months. An enquiry then comes too late; and I shall have to submit to one robbery after another, until I shall have nothing left to be robbed of. * * *

It is now, I believe, ten or 12 months ago, since I desired that ten or 12 shoats might be put into a stye, as soon as they were weaned, and well fed; to see what they could be brought to at a year old (keeping an exact account of the expence), but whether it was ever done, or what the result of it was, I know not. I wish however that directions of this kind may be always duly attended [to]. Few things will bear delay, but those of experiment worst of all; as it defeats the ascertaining of facts which might be of infinite importance, as in this very instance; for as the case now is, I am raising hogs to a certain age for others, not for myself. Whereas, if this method would succeed, a stye by a house could not be robbed, and fewer sows would raise more hogs, and I believe at infinite less expence. I am your friend and well wisher. 25 November, 1792.

* * * You were perfectly right in discharging Jones.1 He always appeared to me to be incapable of the management of a plantation from his want of capacity; but for his insolent and Edition: current; Page: [248] wilful neglects, there can be no excuse; and he would meet with no more than his deserts if he was made to pay for the damage my wheat fields have sustained: for he had sufficient warning from myself, before I left home, to guard him against this evil. It is to such inattention, and want of exertion, together with the opportunities that are given to my negros, that robberies have got to the height they are. If some of the nights in which these overseers are frolicking at the expense of my business and to the destruction of my horses, were spent in watching the barns, visiting the negro quarters at unexpected hours, waylaying the roads, or contriving some device by which the receivers of stolen goods might be entrapped, and the facts proved upon them, it would be no more than the performance of a duty which I have a right to expect for the wages they draw from me; and it would redound much more to their own credit and reputation as good and faithful overseers than running about. * * *

That you may never forget directions that are given, it would be well to extract them from my letters, and place them in a pocket memorandum book, that they may be easily and frequently resorted to; without this, they may when a letter is laid by go out of your mind, to my disappointment. And I would have nothing left undone which is required to be done, without being informed of it, and the reasons assigned, that I may judge of their weight. * * *

In one of my last letters, I think I desired (I know I intended to do it) that you would, after you had finally designated the Mansion House gang, keep them steadily at work at that place, suffering them on no occasion (unless very immergent ones) to be sent to any of the plantations to work. For besides loosing much time in marching and countermarching, it weakens the exertion, and destroys the ambition of the different overseers to excel one Edition: current; Page: [249] another in the good condition of their respective plantations, when by extraneous force they are relieved from difficulties which, more than probable, their own idleness has been the cause of. I can conceive nothing except ditching (which is a kind of trade) that the hands of every plantation are not competent to, and should be made to execute. * * *

Perhaps you may not know that if the Thursday post (which leaves Alexandria before day) is missed, no letter if sent to the office even half an hour afterwards, will reach this place before Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday’s post from that place reaches this on Thursdays, Thursday’s comes in on Saturdays, and Saturday’s not till Tuesdays, on account of Sundays intervening. You will see by this the necessity of sending up your reports in time always on Wednesdays. It is more convenient for me to receive them on Saturdays than any other day, because between that and the departure of the post on Monday, which gets into Alexandria on Wednesday, I can write with less interruption than at any other time. 2 December, 1792.

* * * Put long litter against the cellar windows; Frank knows how, and should be made to do it, as well as the other things; otherwise he will be ruined by idleness. And can Lucy find sufficient employment in the kitchen? It was expected her leizure hours, of which, I conceive, she must have very many from cooking, would be employed in knitting, of which both Peter and Sarah do too little. I expected Sinah was one of those who would have been sent to one of the plantations; whether she remains at the Mansion House or not, it is my desire that when Kitty is unable to attend the dairy alone, that Anna may be the assistant. The other, besides idling away half the day under that pretence, never failed, I am well convinced, to take a pretty ample toll of both milk and butter.

I hope the overseer you have got from Boggess’s will answer your expectations; but I have no opinion of any recommendation from that person;—and besides, a stayed, elderly man, for such an important plantation as Dogue Run would have been to be preferred to a young one, although the latter should be a married man. But I am sensible any one would be better than Jones, and Edition: current; Page: [250] that the season was too for advanced to look for many to chuse from. * * *

I do not know what quantity of wheat is yet to go to the mill, but wish it may not fall short of your expectation of 5,000 bushels in the whole, for market. It appears to me that the miller must have been very inattentive to his duty to have manufactured only 102 barrels of flour, besides 15 barrels of middlings and 19 of ship stuff, out of 2,387½ bushels of wheat, which has been delivered into the mill. I wish he may not have forgot what is usual for all millers to do, and what I am sure he must have done himself, and that is to grind of nights, as well as days, when the water and seasons will admit. A little time more and the frosts will stop the mill, and in a little time after the frosts are over, the droughts will stop it, and my grain will remain unground. He has, it must be acknowledged, a fine time of it. Whether he works at night or not, I hope particular charge will be given him respecting fire. The loss of the mill, and its contents, would be too heavy for me to support; and I find the accident of fires is already begun—the loss sustained by which and how it happened at the house kennels, ought to have been more particularly detailed than by the simple mention of it in the report, as if it was a thing of course. * * *

You ask directions from me respecting your conduct in the building of my poor nephew, Major Geo. A. Washington’s house. From every account we receive, his disorder is at a crisis, and must soon (if that is not the case already) change for the better, or terminate in his speedy dissolution: and as the latter is most likely to happen, I think you had better not (until further orders) procure any more scantling, especially such as must be cut to waste. It may be proper for Gunner to continue throwing up brick earth, and for the Major’s two men to be preparing plank for the floors, because these (especially the latter) cannot be lost. A very few weeks (before the end of the ensuing holidays) will enable him or his friends to decide more accurately on the measures necessary to be pursued. 9 December, 1792.

If (or whenever) you can obtain a good price for the middlings or ship-stuff in Alexandria, I would have you sell them to raise cash for such purposes as indispensably call for it; but I earnestly Edition: current; Page: [251] exhort you to buy nothing you can either make within yourselves, or can do well without. The practice of running to stores, &c., for everything that is wanting, or thought to be wanting, is the most ruinous custom that can be adopted, and has proved the destruction of many a man before he was aware of the pernicious consequences. There is no proverb in the whole catalogue of them more true than that a penny saved is a penny got. I well know that many things must be bought, such for instance as you have enumerated in your letter; but I know also that expedients may be hit upon, and things (though perhaps not quite so handsome) done within ourselves, that would ease the expences of any estate very considerably. * * *

I observed to you in my last, that I thought the miller was very negligent and inattentive to his duty in not having more wheat manufactured than what appeared by the report of the preceding week;—and I now desire you will let him know that I am by no means well pleased at the delay. I fear he makes so large a portion of flour superfine, as to endanger, or at least to impoverish the fine. This will not be good policy for either kind. And I perceive he makes the wheat weigh only 58 lbs. per bushel. I wish you would, now and then, see a load tried. 58 is less than I have heard of any wheats weighing this year. Tell Davenport1 it is my desire that he would immediately try with 100 bushels of wheat (carefully measured, and as it is received at the mill), what quantity of superfine, fine, middlings, shipstuff, and bran, will come from it. This 100 bushels of wheat (after it is measured and weighed) is to pass as usual through the mill screen and fan. My object you will readily perceive is to compare the prices of the wheat before and after it is manufactured, together, that I may be enabled to form a precise judgment of the value of each. He must therefore be very careful that no mistake is made, and the experiment such as he can be responsible for. It is for this reason I have directed the wheat to be measured and weighed before it goes through the mill operations for cleaning. A similar experiment to this was made last year, but I want another, and to have it done without delay and with great exactness.

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If Isaac had his deserts he would receive a severe punishment for the house, tools, and seasoned stuff, which has been burned by his carelessness. He must have left the fire in a very unjustifiable situation or have been a fine time absent from it, for such an accident to have happened before it was too late to have extinguished it. I wish you to inform him, that I sustain injury enough by their idleness; they need not add to it by their carelessness. * * *

I am not less concerned to find that I am forever sustaining loss in my stock, of sheep (particularly). I not only approve of your killing those dogs which have been the occasion of the late loss, and of thinning the plantations of others, but give it as a positive order, that after saying what dog, or dogs, shall remain, if any negro presumes under any pretence whatsoever, to preserve, or bring one into the family, that he shall be severely punished, and the dog hanged. I was obliged to adopt this practice whilst I resided at home, and from the same motives, that is, for the preservation of my sheep and hogs; but I observed when I was at home last, that a new set of dogs was rearing up, and I intended to have spoke about them; but one thing or another always prevented it. It is not for any good purpose negros raise, or keep dogs, but to aid them in their night robberies; for it is astonishing to see the command under which their dogs are. I would no more allow the overseers than I would the negros to keep dogs. One, or at most two on a plantation is enough. The pretences for keeping more will be various and urgent, but I will not allow more than the above notwithstanding.

I hope your new overseer will turn out well. His age (although he now has, or soon may have, a wife) is much against him, for a large concern, in my estimation; but the season made it almost Hobson’s choice—him or none. I have engaged an elderly man1 who may probably be with you on Sunday next, to look after the home house gang. He is an Irishman, and not long from that country. According to his own, and the account given of him by others, he is well practiced in both farming and grazing. He is old enough to be steady, and to have had much experience in both these branches; though old, and clumsy withall, he promises Edition: current; Page: [253] that activity shall not be wanting, nor obedience to any directions you may give him. I have agreed to allow him seventy dollars for the ensuing year, and have told him that further encouragement, either in an augmentation of wages, or removal to a better place, will depend altogether upon his own conduct and good behavior. If he is such a man as is represented he may be useful to me, having it is said a perfect knowledge in horses and stock of all kinds. * * * I have informed Mr. Butler (that is his name) that sobriety, industry and honesty are such indispensable qualifications in my eyes, that he will remain but a short time with me, if he is found deficient of either, and I request you, not only in his case, but with all the other overseers likewise, to pass over no faults without noticing and admonishing them against the commission of the like or similar ones; for in this as in everything else, it is easier to prevent evils than to apply remedies after they have happened. One fault overlooked begets another, that a third, and so on; whereas a check in the first instance might prevent a repetition, or at any rate cause circumspection. * * * 16 December, 1792.

By Mr. James Butler, who left this city on Friday last, I wrote you a few lines, enclosing the agreement I had entered into with him. I request that the Smith’s book may be put into his hands, and a regular account taken every night of what they have done in the day; and that he will see they do as much as they ought. Let an account be raised in that book, or some other, for each plantation, and everything done for it as regularly charged to it as if it had been done for one of the neighbors, who was to pay therefore. A practice of this sort answers two purposes: first, to see that the smiths do their duty; and secondly, as a check upon the plantations who ought to account for what is received from thence, as well as for everything else that is furnished them in the course of the year, as soon as it shall have expired.

It is my desire also that Mr. Butler will pay some attention to the conduct of the gardener and the hands who are at work with him; so far as to see that they are not idle. For though I will not charge them with idleness, I cannot forbear saying, and I wish you to tell the gardener so (provided you shall think there Edition: current; Page: [254] is cause for it) that the matters entrusted to him appear to me to progress amazingly slow. * * * If it is found that the hands with the gardener are not usefully (I mean industriously) employed, I shall withdraw them; as I did not give them to him for parade, to be idle, or to keep him in idleness. * * *

It is observed, by the weekly reports, that the sewers make only six shirts a week, and the last week Carolina (without being sick) made only five. Mrs. Washington says their usual task was to make nine with shoulder straps and good sewing. Tell them therefore from me, that what has been done, shall be done by fair or foul means; and they had better make choice of the first, for their own reputation, and for the sake of peace and quietness. Otherwise they will be sent to the several plantations, and be placed as common laborers under the overseers thereat. Their work ought to be well examined or it will be most shamefully executed, whether little or much of it be done, and it is said, the same attention ought to be given to Peter (and I suppose to Sarah likewise,) or the stockings will be knit too small for those for whom they are intended; such being the idleness and deceit of those people. 23 December, 1792.

* * * Amongst which, none I think call louder for it [particular attention] than the smiths, who, from a variety of instances which fell within my own observation whilst I was at home, I take to be two very idle fellows. A daily account (which ought regularly to be) taken of their work, would alone go a great way toward checking their idleness; but, besides this, being always about the house (except at haymaking and harvest) and not far from them he might have a pretty constant eye both to them, and to the people who are at work with the gardener, some of whom I know to be as lazy and deceitful as any in the world (Sam particularly). My horses too, (in the management of which he [Butler] professes to have some skill) might derive much benefit from a careful attention to them; not only to those which work, but to the young ones, and to the breeding mares:—for I have long suspected that Peter under pretence of riding about the plantations to look after the mares, mules, &c., is in pursuit of other objects; either of traffic or amusement, more advancive of his own pleasures than my benefit. It is not otherwise Edition: current; Page: [255] to be conceived that with the number of mares I have, five and twenty of which were bought for the express purpose of breeding, though now considerably reduced from that purpose alone, should produce not more than six or eights colts a year. This I say will hardly be believed by any person who has ever been in a similar practice. The evil stands much in need of a remedy. * * *

All such work as you have enumerated, I think is the duty of every overseer to render; and if he [Butler] is a man of an industrious turn, he will do it, whether he is compelled by articles or not. On the other hand, if he is of an indolent cast (such as Jones was,) all the articles in the world would not enforce the measure longer than he himself was under the observation of an overlooker: and probably to avoid working himself, (the negros knowing it to be his duty to do so, by agreement) he would suffer them to be idle, to bribe them against a discovery of his own idleness. For these reasons I have always had doubts (where there is a large gang of hands to overlook) of the propriety of attempting to compell by articles an overseer to do more work than his own inclination would naturally prompt him to do voluntarily. Indeed, where there are a number of hands, his time probably would be better employed in seeing them well engaged than in working himself, especially if all are not within his full view at the time. * * *

You speak of the quantity of lime which it has taken to repair the overseer’s house in the Neck. It is occasioned in a great measure by the profuse use of it by Davis,1 and the unnecessary strength which he gives to the mortar, in which he ought to be corrected. Of stone lime, and the lime made from oyster shells, the quantity differs, but the proportion of each are well ascertained for different kinds of work. For here again, mortar is made stronger or weaker according to the nature of it. Rules for all these might easily be obtained, and observed. Another bad practice which he is in, ought to be corrected; and that is, laying his mortar too thick in the joints. This hurts the look of a building, rather diminishes than adds to the strength of it, and consumes much lime.

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If, as you suppose is the case, the miller spends more time than he ought to do in his dwelling house, it is justice due to me, to inform him of it; and to add, that if the practice is continued your duty will require that I should be informed of it. The slow progress made by him in manufacturing my wheat in such an open and mild fall and winter as we have had is, if there was water, the strongest evidence that can be given of his indolence, and the bad use he has made of so favorable a season. * * * 30 December, 1792.

1793.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 January, 1793
Philadelphia
Henry Lee
Lee, Henry

TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.

Dear Sir,

I have been favored with your letter of the 6th instant, congratulatory on my re-election to the chair of government. A mind must be insensible indeed, not to be gratefully impressed by so distinguished and honorable a testimony of public approbation and confidence; and as I suffered my name to be contemplated on this occasion, it is more than probable that I should, for a moment, have experienced chagrin, if my re-election had not been by a pretty respectable vote.1 Edition: current; Page: [257] But to say I feel pleasure from the prospect of commencing another tour of duty would be a departure from truth; for, however it might savor of affectation in the opinion of the world (who, by the by, can only guess at my sentiments, as it never has been troubled with them), my particular and confidential friends well know, that it was after a long and painful conflict in my own breast, that I was withheld, (by considerations which are not necessary to be mentioned,) from requesting in time, that no vote might be thrown away upon me, it being my fixed determination to return to the walks of private life at the end of my term.

I am sorry to be informed by your letter, that death has snatched from us my old acquaintance and friend Colonel Bassett. The manner of it adds to the regret.1 We shall all follow; some sooner and some later; and, from accounts, my poor nephew is likely to be amongst the first.

Mrs. Washington joins me in wishing you the return of many new and happy years. With very great esteem and regard, I am always your affectionate servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 January, 1793
Philadelphia
Charles Carroll
Carroll, Charles

TO CHARLES CARROLL, OF CARROLLTON.

Dear Sir,

The western Indians having proposed to us a conference at Auglaise, not far distant from Detroit, in the ensuing spring, I am now about to proceed to Edition: current; Page: [258] nominate three commissioners to meet and treat with them on the subject of peace. What may be the issue of the conference it is difficult to foresee; but it is extremely essential, that, whatever it be, it should carry with it the perfect confidence of our citizens, that every endeavor will have been used to obtain peace, which their interests would permit. For this reason it is necessary, that characters be appointed, who are known to our citizens for their talents and integrity, and whose situation in life places them clear of every suspicion of a wish to prolong the war; or say rather, whose interest in common with that of their country is clearly to produce peace. Characters, uniting these desiderata, do not abound. Some of them too are in offices inconsistent with the appointment now in question, and others under impediments of health or other circumstances, so as to circumscribe the choice within a small circle. Desirous in the first instance, that you should be in this commission, I have mentioned these difficulties to show you, in the event of your declining, how serious they are, and to induce you to come forward and perform this important service to your country, a service with which its prosperity and tranquillity are intimately connected.

It will be necessary to set out from this place about the 1st of May. The route will be by the North River and Niagara. It will be safe, and the measures for your comfortable transportation and subsistence taken as effectually as circumstances will admit. Will you then permit me, Sir, to nominate you as one of Edition: current; Page: [259] the commissioners, with a certain reliance on your acceptance? Your answer to this by the first post will oblige, dear Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
27 January, 1793
Philadelphia
George Augustine Washington
Washington, George Augustine

TO GEORGE AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.

My dear George,

I do not write to you often, because I have no business to write upon,—because all the news I could communicate is contained in the papers which I forward every week—because I conceive it unnecessary to repeat the assurances of sincere regard and friendship, I have always professed for you—or the disposition I feel to render every service in my power to you and yours;—and lastly, because I conceive the more undisturbed you are, the better it is for you.

It has given your friends much pain to find that change of air has not been productive of that favorable change in your health which was the wish of them all. But the will of Heaven is not to be controverted or scrutinized by the children of this world. It therefore becometh the creatures of it to submit to the will of the Creator, whether it be to prolong or to shorten the number of our days, to bless them with health, or afflict them with pain.

My fervent wishes attend you, in which I am heartily Edition: current; Page: [260] joined by your Aunt, and these are extended with equal sincerity to Fanny and the children.

I am always your affectionate Uncle.
George Washington
Washington, George
31 January, 1793
Philadelphia,

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.
[PRIVATE.]

Gentlemen,

I have had under consideration Mr. Hallet’s plans for the Capitol, which undoubtedly have a great deal of merit. Doctor Thornton has also given me a view of his. These last come forward under some very advantageous circumstances—The grandeur, simplicity, and beauty of the exterior; the propriety with which the apartments are distributed, and œconomy in the whole mass of the structure, will I doubt not give it a preference in your eyes, as it has done in mine, and those of several others whom I have consulted, and who are deemed men of skill in architecture. I have therefore thought it better to give the Doctor time to finish his plan and for this purpose to delay ’till your next meeting a final decision. Some difficulty arises with respect to Mr. Hallet, who you know was in some degree led into his plan by ideas we all expressed to him. This ought not to induce us to prefer it to a better; but while he is liberally rewarded for the time and labor he has expended on it, his feelings should be saved and soothed as much as possible.

I leave it to yourselves how best to prepare him Edition: current; Page: [261] for the possibility that the Doctor’s plan may be preferred to his. Some ground for this will be furnished you by the occasion you probably will have for recourse to him as to the interior of the apartments, and the taking him into service at a fixed allowance, and I understand that his necessities render it material that he should know what his allowance is to be. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
31 January, 1793
Philadelphia
Marchioness de Lafayette
de Lafayette, Marchioness

TO THE MARCHIONESS DE LAFAYETTE.

Madam,

If I had words that could convey to you an adequate idea of my feelings on the present situation of the Marquis de Lafayette, this letter would appear to you in a different garb. The sole object in writing to you now is, to inform you that I have deposited in the hands of Mr. Nicholas Van Staphorst, of Amsterdam, two thousand three hundred and ten guilders, Holland currency, equal to two hundred guineas, subject to your orders.

This sum is, I am certain, the least I am indebted for services rendered to me by the Marquis de Lafayette, of which I never yet have received the account. I could add much, but it is best perhaps that I should say little on this subject. Your goodness will supply my deficiency.

The uncertainty of your situation, after all the inquiries I have made, has occasioned a delay in this address and remittance; and even now the measure adopted is more the effect of a desire to find where Edition: current; Page: [262] you are, than from any knowledge I have obtained of your residence.

At all times and under all circumstances, you and yours will possess the affectionate regards of him, who has the honor to be, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
24 February, 1793
Philadelphia
Frances Washington
Washington, Frances

TO FRANCES WASHINGTON.2

My dear Fanny,

To you, who so well know the affectionate regard I had for our departed friend, it is unnecessary to describe the sorrow with which I was afflicted at the news of his death, although it was an event I had expected many weeks before it happened. To express this sorrow with the force I feel it, would answer no other purpose than to revive in your breast that poignancy of anguish, which by this time I hope is abated.

Edition: current; Page: [263]

The object of this letter is to convey to your mind the warmest assurances of my love, friendship, and disposition to serve you. These also I profess to have, in an eminent degree, for your children.

What plan you have contemplated, or whether, in so short a time, you have contemplated any, is unknown to me; and therefore I add, that the one which strikes me most favorably, by being best calculated to promote the interest of yourself and children, is to return to your old habitation at Mount Vernon. You can go to no place where you will be more welcome, nor to any, where you can live at less expense or trouble. Matters at Mount Vernon are now so arranged, as to be under the care of responsible persons, and so they may continue; which would ease you of that anxiety, which the care of so large a family otherwise would naturally involve you in. It is unnecessary to observe to you, that housekeeping, under any circumstances and with the best economy, is expensive; and, where provision for it is to be made, will be found, I fear, beyond your means.

You might bring my niece, Harriot Washington, with you for a companion, whose conduct I hear with pleasure has given much satisfaction to my sister. I shall, under my present view of things, be at Mount Vernon about the 1st of April, for perhaps a fortnight; but your aunt and family will not, I expect, be there before the middle of July. My affectionate regards attend you and your children; and I shall always be your sincere friend.

Edition: current; Page: [264]
George Washington
Washington, George
27 February, 1793
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON AND HENRY KNOX.

Sir,

As the day is near at hand, when the Presidentelect is to take the oath of qualification, and no mode is pointed out by the Constitution or law; I could wish that you, Mr. Jefferson (Genl. Knox, or Colo. Hamilton) and Mr. Randolph could meet to-morrow morning, at any place which you may fix between yourselves; and communicate to me the result of your opinions as to time, place and manner of qualification.

P. S. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Randolph have suggested the idea of meeting at the War office at nine o’clock to-morrow morning; if this is convenient and agreeable to you you will be there accordingly—If otherwise you will be so good as to let me know.1

Edition: current; Page: [265]
George Washington
Washington, George
3 March, 1793
Philadelphia
David Stuart
Stuart, David

TO DAVID STUART.

Dear Sir,

The official Letter from the Commissioners to me, dated the eighth of last month, promising their sentiments on the subject of compensation so soon as a meeting was had with Mr. Johnson, prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your private letter of the same date and on the same subject until now,—nor Edition: current; Page: [266] shall I do more than slightly touch on it until I receive the further sentiments of the Board thereupon.

It may not be amiss, however, in this friendly and confidential manner, previously to regret that the expectations of the Commissioners, and the opinions of those who were consulted on the compensation proper to be made them for past and future services should accord so little. It is to be observed (as was mentioned in my last) that the Law authorizing the appointment contemplates no pay;—justice, however, requires it—and therefore, such as it was conceived wou’d meet the concurrence of the public was allotted.1 In similar cases it rarely happens, if ever, that high, if any salaries are allowed—instance the Directors of the Potomac Company, of the Canal Navigations of this State, the Bank, &c, &c. I do not quote these cases, however, to prove that salaries ought not to be allowed, in the case of the Commissioners of the Federal District, for the past,—and compensation for their future services; but only to shew the necessity of their being as low as could comport with justice. With respect to your ideas of a future allowance, I am bold in assuring you, that no fixed salary in the United States (however they have been reprobated for their extravagance) from the Chief Magistrate to the Door Keeper of the House of Representatives, is equal to One thousand Edition: current; Page: [267] Dollars clear of expences. The reasons are too obvious to stand in need of enumeration; and I must candidly declare that I see little use for a Superintendent, if more will be requir’d of the Commissioners than either to form or to adopt plans, give the great out-lines thereof in instruction, and leave the detail, and execution to the Superintendent; who ought as I have declared in a Letter to you dated the 30 of November last, to be always on the spot—(unless the duties of the trust should take him away to facilitate the objects of it). Under this idea, could it suit any person better than yourself to visit the Federal City, once every three or four months—suppose every two months—when you have an Estate opposite to it, which has a claim to a share of your attention? As to the suspicion which may arise, if you serve for daily pay, that your sessions will be prolonged by it, they are not worth regarding. The malevolence of man is not to be avoided—but instead of touching the subject only, in the manner I proposed, I find I am enlarging upon it, and therefore will change it.

Mr. Jefferson is at a loss to discover what could have proceeded from him to Mr. Ellicott, that should have occasioned any discontent in the mind of the latter with the Commissioners, and having shewn me the only Letter which (he says) he has written to him for many months I see nothing therein on which to found the conjecture contained in the latter part of your Letter of the 8 of February. * * *

Edition: current; Page: [268]
George Washington
Washington, George
4 March, 1793
Philadelphia
Burwell Bassett
Bassett, Burwell

TO BURWELL BASSETT.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 18th ultimo, and its enclosure, came duly to hand. Expected as the death of my departed relation and friend was, I could not but feel sensibly when the news of it arrived; and I take the present occasion to offer you my condolence on your own late loss of your father and my friend, for whom, when alive, I had the sincerest regard.

I wish some other person, competent and more active than I can be, had been placed as an executor of the will of my nephew. All the aid I can give by advice, in the management of the estate and whatever may respect it, would have been afforded without being named in it. More cannot be done by me from that circumstance, for my situation will preclude me from qualifying as an executor, and from incurring any responsibility in the management of the estate.

The time for proving the will, and qualifying as an executrix, must depend upon your sister. I expect to be at Mount Vernon about the first week in April, and will make a point of it, if public duties do not forbid it, to be in the county on the court-day of that month, which I think happens on the 15th day of it; provided she chooses to be up then, either temporarily or permanently; and with much pleasure and satisfaction to myself will give her every aid in my power to arrange the business of the estate. My returning thither again will depend upon circumstances, Edition: current; Page: [269] which are not always under my control, and probably will not admit it before July or August. With these things be pleased to bring Fanny acquainted. Offer my love to her and the children, my respects and good wishes to Mrs. Bassett, and be assured of the esteem and regard with which I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
13 March, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

The returned draft of a letter to Mr. Gouverneur Morris accords with my sentiments,1 taking it for granted that the words “we suppose this will rather overpay the instalments and interest due on the loans of eighteen, six, and ten millions,” mean all that could be demanded by the French government to the close of last year; this being the idea I have entertained of the payments and engagements.

If it has not been done in a former letter, it would be agreeable to me, that Mr. Morris should be instructed to neglect no favorable opportunity of expressing, informally, the sentiments and wishes of this country respecting the Marquis de Lafayette; and I pray you to commit to paper, in answer to the enclosed letter from Madame de Lafayette to me, all the consolation I can with propriety give, consistent with my public character and the national policy, circumstanced Edition: current; Page: [270] as things are. My last and only letter to her is herewith sent, that you may see what has been written heretofore. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
17 March, 1793
Philadelphia
Frances Washington
Washington, Frances

TO FRANCES WASHINGTON.

My dear Fanny,

I have duly received your letter, dated Hanover, March 5th, and was happy to hear, that yourself and the children were well. It is not by any means a wish of mine, that you should come to Mount Vernon next month, on account of my short visit to that place. It was merely on your own account, and that of the estate, that I suggested the measure; more indeed for consideration, than by way of advice; for either of your brothers, or Mr. John Dandridge, can speak to the latter with more propriety than I am able to do, as they know in what time and in what manner the Edition: current; Page: [271] will of our departed friend ought to be proved, and the execution of the trust entered upon.

My last to you, enclosing the copy of a letter, which I had previously written to your brother Burwell, would have conveyed to you fully my ideas on this subject; and to that communication I now beg leave to refer you.

The offer of a residence at Mount Vernon was made to you with my whole heart; but it is with you, nevertheless, to consider whether any other plan will comport better with the views, which my nephew had, or with such as you may have entertained for your own ease, for the education of your children, or for the interest of the estate. And your decision thereon will be perfectly agreeable to me; for I can assure you with much truth I have no wish in the case, beyond that of seeing you settled to your entire satisfaction; the means for doing which, either in Alexandria or elsewhere, you have no doubt considered and calculated. With the best economy, I conceive it must be expensive to purchase furniture and keep a house.

The carriage which I sent to Mount Vernon for your use, I never intended to reclaim, and therefore now making you a more formal present of it, it may be sent for whenever it suits your convenience, and be considered as your own, and I shall, when I see you, request that Fayette may be given up to me, either at that time, or as soon after as he is old enough to go to school. This will relieve you of that portion of attention, which his education would otherwise call for.

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It is to be feared, that your overseer in Fairfax is neither the best of that description, nor the honestest of men. A month or more ago, Mr. Whiting informed me, that this said overseer had one, if not two horses of his own on the plantation, fed no doubt, (whatever his declarations to the contrary might be,) at your expense. I immediately directed Mr. Whiting to go to him, and in my name to order the horse, or horses, (if more than one,) to be sent away instantly, unless he could show a written permission for their being kept on the place; and to inform him, moreover, if they were to be found on it when I came home, I would not only send the horses off, but himself along with them. Since then, some suspicions have also been entertained of his not dealing fairly by the wheat under his care, which was for market. Such is the villainy of these sort of people, when they have it in their power, as they conceive, to cheat with impunity. What has been done in either of these cases, I remain unadvised; as poor Whiting, by a letter which I received from Doctor Craik, dated the 6th instant, was then confined to his bed by a more violent return of his old disorder (spitting blood) than ever. Since that date, I have heard nothing from thence, which is presumptive evidence, that he is not able to write himself; and of this there is the evidence also of the Doctor’s letter, pronouncing his case critical and dangerous; the effect of these to be avoided by extreme care only.

From what Mr. Bassett said to Mr. Whiting, respecting the materials for the building, which had Edition: current; Page: [273] been begun at your place, I directed him to have them put away securely, and to let your carpenters work along with mine, keeping an account of the time, that I might allow you the usual hire. There they may remain, unless you have other employment for them, as I have work on hand that requires despatch; and I would, to facilitate the execution thereof, hire others if I do not retain these.

Your aunt joins me in every affectionate regard for you and the children, and in best wishes for the friends among whom you are. At all times, and under all circumstances, I shall always remain, your sincere friend.

George Washington
Washington, George
21st March, 1793
United States,

TO THE SECRETARIES OF STATE, OF THE TREASURY, OF WAR AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.
[CIRCULAR.]

Gentlemen,

The treaty, which is agreed to be held on or about the 1st of June next at the Lower Sandusky of Lake Erie, being of great moment to the interests and peace of this country, and likely to be attended with difficulties arising from circumstances (not unknown to you,) of a peculiar and embarrassing nature, it is indispensably necessary that our rights under the treaties, which have been entered into with the Six Nations—the several tribes of Indians now in hostility with us,—and the claims of others, should be carefully investigated and well ascertained, that the commissioners, who are appointed to hold it, may be well informed and clearly instructed on all the points that are likely to be discussed, thereby knowing what they are to insist upon, with or without compensation, and the amount of the compensation if any, and what for the sake of peace they may yield.

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You are not to learn from me the different views, which our citizens entertain of the war we are engaged in with the Indians, and how much these different opinions add to the delicacy and embarrassments alluded to above, nor the criticisms, which more than probable will be made on the subject, if the proposed treaty should be unsuccessful.

Induced by these motives, and desirous that time may be allowed for a full and deliberate consideration of the subject before the departure of the commissioners, it is my desire that you will on the 25th of this month meet together at the war office (or at such other time and place as you may agree upon) where the principal documents are, with whatever papers you may respectively be possessed of on the subject and such others as I shall cause to be laid before you, and then and there decide on all the points, which you shall conceive necessary for the information and instruction of the commissioners, and having drawn them into form, to revise the same, and have them ready in a finished state for my perusal and consideration when I return, together with a digest of such references as shall be adjudged necessary for the commissioners to take with them.

And as it has been suggested to me, that the Society of Quakers are desirous of sending a deputation from their body to be present at the aforesaid treaty, which, if done with pure motives, and a disposition accordant with the sentiments entertained by government respecting boundary, may be a mean of facilitating the good work of peace, you will consider how far, if they are approved characters, they ought to be recognised in the instructions to the commissioners, and how proper it may be for them to participate therein, or be made acquainted therewith. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [275]
George Washington
Washington, George
23 March, 1793
Philadelphia
David Humphreys
Humphreys, David

TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.

My dear Sir,

Closely engaged in the business incident to my office during the session of Congress, and as closely employed since in making arrangements for carrying into effect the laws then passed, and in discharging other public duties, I have not till this moment found myself enough at leisure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23d to July; and, being now on the eve of setting out for Mount Vernon,1 I shall be able to do but little more than barely acknowledge the receipt of it, and of your favors of the 23d of January and the 8th of February, both of which have reached my hands within these few days.

Even if I had time, it might not be proper for me to reply particularly to the several parts of your letters, especially to that of the 23d July. I shall therefore content myself at present, my dear Sir, with making a few general observations on the existing state of things, and rely upon your being assured, that, however concise my letter may be, it does not become so from any diminution of my regard for you.

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If it can be esteemed a happiness to live in an age productive of great and interesting events, we of the present age are very highly favored. The rapidity of national revolutions appear no less astonishing, than their magnitude. In what they will terminate is known only to the Great Ruler of events; and, confiding in his wisdom and goodness, we may safely trust the issue to him, without perplexing ourselves to seek for that, which is beyond human ken; only taking care to perform the parts assigned us, in a way that reason and our own consciences approve of.

All our late accounts from Europe hold up the expectation of a general war in that quarter. For the sake of humanity I hope such an event will not take place; but, if it should, I trust that we shall have too just a sense of our own interest to originate any cause, that may involve us in it. And I ardently wish we may not be forced into it by the conduct of other nations. If we are permitted to improve without interruption the great advantages, which nature and circumstances have placed within our reach, many years will not revolve before we may be ranked, not only among the most respectable, but among the happiest people on this globe. Our advances to these points are more rapid, than the most sanguine among us ever predicted. A spirit of improvement displays itself in every quarter, and principally in objects of the greatest public utility, such as opening the inland navigation, which is extensive and various beyond conception, improving the old roads and making new ones, building bridges and Edition: current; Page: [277] houses, and, in short, pursuing those things, which seem eminently calculated to promote the advantage and accommodation of the people at large. Besides these, the enterprises of individuals show at once what are the happy effects of personal exertions in a country, where equal laws and equal rights prevail.

For myself, you see me again entering upon the arduous duties of an important office, to which the unanimous voice of my country has once more called me. To you, who know my love of retirement and domestic life, it is unnecessary to say, that, in accepting this re-appointment, I relinquish those personal enjoyments to which I am peculiarly attached. The motives, which induced my acceptance, are the same which have ever ruled my decision, when the public desire, or, (as my countrymen are pleased to denominate it, the public good,) was placed in the scale against my personal enjoyment or private interest. The latter I have ever considered as subservient to the former; and perhaps in no instance of my life have I been more sensible of the sacrifice than in the present; for at my age the love of retirement grows every day more and more powerful, and the death of my nephew, the poor Major, will, I apprehend, cause my private concerns to suffer very much. This melancholy event took place on the 5th of last month, at Colonel Bassett’s, where he had gone, hoping to benefit from a change of air and situation. Although it had been long expected, and indeed to me of late appeared inevitable, yet I have felt it very keenly.

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You will receive from Mr. Jefferson every official communication necessary for your conduct, together with laws, public papers, &c. He will also inform you, that the steps which you took in consequence of Mr. Barclay’s death met my entire approbation.1

I set out with intimating, that my letter would be very short, but upon looking back I find it can hardly be said to have that fault; and, lest it should partake of another at least as bad, I shall close it with assuring you that you have the best wishes, for your health and happiness, of your sincere friend and affectionate servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 April, 1793
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 7th was brought to me by the last post. War having actually commenced between France and Great Britain, it behoves the government of this country to use every means in its power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with either of those powers, by endeavoring to maintain a strict neutrality. I therefore require, that you will give the subject mature consideration, that such measures as shall be deemed most likely to effect this Edition: current; Page: [279] desirable purpose may be adopted without delay; for I have understood, that vessels are already designated privateers, and are preparing accordingly.

Such other measures as may be necessary for us to pursue against events, which it may not be in our power to avoid or control, you will also think of, and lay them before me at my arrival in Philadelphia; for which place I shall set out to-morrow, but will leave it to the advices, which I may receive to-night by the post, to determine whether it is to be by the most direct route, or by the one I proposed to have come, that is, by Reading, the canals between the rivers of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Carlisle, &c., &c.1 With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 April, 1793
Philadelphia,

TO THE SECRETARIES AND ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
[CIRCULAR.]

The posture of affairs in Europe, particularly between France and Great Britain, places the United States in a delicate situation, and requires much consideration, of the measures which will be proper for them to observe in the war between those powers. With a view to forming a general plan of conduct for the executive, I have stated and enclosed sundry questions, to be considered preparatory to a meeting at my house to-morrow, where I shall expect to see you at 9 o’clock, and to receive the result of your reflections thereon. I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [280]

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY THE PRESIDENT.

I. Shall a proclamation issue for the purpose of preventing interferences of the citizens of the United States in the war between France and Great Britain, &c.? Shall it contain a declaration of neutrality or not? What shall it contain?

II. Shall a minister from the Republic of France be received?

III. If received, shall it be absolutely or with qualifications; and, if with qualifications, of what kind?

IV. Are the United States obliged by good faith to consider the treaties heretofore made with France as applying to the present situation of the parties? May they either renounce them, or hold them suspended till the government of France shall be established?

V. If they have the right, is it expedient to do either, and which?

VI. If they have an option, would it be a breach of neutrality to consider the treaties still in operation?

VII. If the treaties are to be considered as now in operation, is the guarantee in the treaty of alliance applicable to a defensive war only, or to war either offensive or defensive?

VIII. Does the war in which France is engaged appear to be offensive or defensive on her part? Or of a mixed and equivocal character?

IX. If of a mixed and equivocal character, does the guarantee in any event apply to such a war?

X. What is the effect of a guarantee such as that to be found in the treaty of alliance between the United States and France?

XI. Does any article in either of the treaties prevent ships of war, other than privateers, of the powers opposed to France from coming into the ports of the United States to act as convoys to their own merchantmen? Or does it lay any other restraint upon them more than would apply to the ships of war of France?

XII. Should the future regent of France send a minister to the United States, ought he to be received?

XIII. Is it necessary or advisable to call together the two Edition: current; Page: [281] Houses of Congress, with a view to the present posture of European affairs? If it is, what should be the particular object of such a call?1

PROCLAMATION OF NEUTRALITY.

Whereas it appears, that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands, on the one part, and France on the other; and the duty and interest of the United States require, that they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial towards the belligerent powers;

I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid towards those powers respectively, and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever, which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.

And I do hereby also make known, that whosoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations, by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles, which are deemed contraband Edition: current; Page: [282] by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States against such punishment or forfeiture; and further, that I have given instructions to those officers, to whom it belongs, to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons, who shall within the cognizance of the courts of the United States violate the law of nations with respect to the powers at war, or any of them.

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 22d day of April, 1793, and of the independence of the United States of America the seventeenth.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 April, 1793
Philadelphia,

TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN.

My Lord,

* * * * * *

The favorable wishes which your Lordship has expressed for the prosperity of this young and rising country, cannot but be gratefully received by all its Edition: current; Page: [283] citizens and every lover of it. One mean to the contribution of which, and its happiness, is very judiciously portrayed in the following words of your letter, “To be little heard of in the great world of politics.” These words, I can assure your Lordship, are expressive of my sentiments on this head; and I believe it is the sincere wish of United America to have nothing to do with the political intrigues, or the squabbles, of European nations; but, on the contrary, to exchange commodities and live in peace and amity with all the inhabitants of the earth. And this I am persuaded they will do, if rightly it can be done. To administer justice to, and receive it from, every power with whom they are connected will, I hope, be always found the most prominent feature in the administration of this country; and I flatter myself that nothing short of imperious necessity can occasion a breach with any of them. Under such a system, if we are allowed to pursue it, the agriculture and mechanical arts, the wealth and population of these States will increase with that degree of rapidity as to baffle all calculation, and must surpass any idea your Lordship can hitherto have entertained on the occasion.

To evince that our views, whether realized or not, are expanded, I take the liberty of sending you the plan of a new city, situated about the centre of the Union of these States, which is designated for the permanent seat of the government. And we are at this moment deeply engaged and far advanced in extending the inland navigation of the River Potomac, Edition: current; Page: [284] on which it stands, and the branches thereof, through a tract of as rich country for four hundreds of miles, as any in the world. Nor is this a solitary instance of attempts of the kind, although it is the only one which is near completion, and in partial use. Several other very important ones are commenced, and little doubt is entertained, that in ten years, if left undisturbed, we shall open a communication by water with all the lakes northward and westward of us, with which we have territorial connexion; and inland navigation in a very few years more from Rhode Island to Georgia inclusively; partly by cuts between the great bays and sounds, and partly between the islands and sand-banks and the main from Albemarle Sound to the River St. Mary’s. To these may also be added the erection of bridges over considerable rivers, and the commencement of turnpike roads, as further indications of improvements in hand.

The family of Fairfax in Virginia, of whom you speak, is also related to me by several marriages before it came to this country, (as I am informed,) and since; and what remain of the old stock are near neighbors to my estate of Mount Vernon. The late Lord (Thomas), with whom I was perfectly acquainted, lived at the distance of sixty miles from me, after he had removed from Belvoir, the seat of his kinsman, which adjoins my estate just mentioned, and is going to be inhabited by a young member of the family as soon as the house, which was some years ago burnt down, can be rebuilt. With great esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [285]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 May, 1793
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Before you despatch the circular letter, of which you enclosed me a copy, to the several collectors, I would speak to you respecting a particular clause in it.1

In the conversation you may have with a certain gentleman2 to-day, I pray you to intimate to him gently and delicately, that, if the letters or papers, which he has to present, are (knowingly to him) of a nature which relates to public matters, and not particularly addressed to me, or if he has any verbal communications to make of a similar kind, I had rather they should come through the proper channel. Add thereto, generally, that the peculiar situation of European affairs at this moment, my good wishes for his nation aggregately, my regard for those of it in particular, with whom I have had the honor of an acquaintance, my anxious desire to keep this country in peace, and the delicacy of my situation, render a Edition: current; Page: [286] circumspect conduct indispensably necessary on my part. I do not, however, mean by this, that I am to withhold from him such civilities as are common to others. Those more marked, notwithstanding our former acquaintance, would excite speculations, which had better be avoided; and if the characters similarly circumstanced, could be introduced by any other than himself, especially on Tuesday next, in the public room, when it is presumed the officers of the French frigate will be presented, it would unquestionably be better. But how this can be brought about, as they are strangers, without embarrassment, as the F. M.1 is shy on the occasion, I do not at this moment see; for it may not escape observation, as every movement is watched, if the head of any department should appear prompt in this business, in the existing state of things. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 May, 1793
Philadelphia
Henry Lee
Lee, Henry

TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

On Saturday last your favor of the 29th ultimo was handed to me. My visit to Mourt Vernon, (intended to be short when I set out,) was curtailed by the declaration of war by France against Great Britain and Holland; for I foresaw, in the moment information of that event came to me at that place, the necessity for announcing the disposition of this country towards the belligerent powers, and the propriety Edition: current; Page: [287] of restraining, as far as a proclamation would do it, our citizens from taking part in the contest. This proclamation, I presume, must have reached you soon after the date of your letter.1

It gives me inexpressible pain to receive such frequent and distressing accounts from the western frontiers of this Union, occasioned by Indian hostilities; more especially as our hands are tied to defensive measures, and little if any thing more to be expected from the proposed negotiation of peace with the hostile tribes, to be assembled at Sandusky, (though perhaps it is best for me to be silent on this head,) than in case of failure to let the good people of these States see, that the executive has left nothing unessayed to accomplish this desirable end; to remove those suspicions, which have been unjustly entertained, that peace is not its object; and to evince to them, that the difficulties which it has had to encounter, (from causes which at present can only be guessed), has been greater than was apprehended; and lastly, if the sword is to decide, that the arm of government may be enabled to strike home.

I come now to a more difficult part of your letter.2 Edition: current; Page: [288] As a public character, I can say nothing on the subject of it. As a private man, I am unwilling to say much. Give advice I shall not. All I can do, then, towards complying with your request is to declare, that, if the case which you have suggested was mine, I should ponder well before I resolved; not only for private considerations, but on public grounds. The latter, because, being the first magistrate of a respectable State, much speculation would be excited by such a measure, and the consequences thereof not seen into at the first glance. As it might respect myself only, because it would appear a boundless ocean I was about to embark on, from whence no Edition: current; Page: [289] land is to be seen. In other words, because the affairs of [France] would seem to me to be in the highest paroxysm of disorder; not so much from the pressure of foreign enemies, (for in the cause of liberty this ought to be fuel to the fire of a patriot soldier, and to increase his ardor,) but because those in whose hands the government is intrusted are ready to tear each other to pieces, and will more than probably prove the worst foes the country has. To all which may be added the probability of the scarcity of bread, from the peculiar circumstances of the contending parties, and which, if it should happen, would accelerate a crisis of sad confusion, and possibly of entire change in the political system.

The enclosed came under cover to me by one of the late arrivals. If the date of it is as old as the one to me, which accompanied it, it can contain nothing new. Although no name will appear to this letter, I beg it may be committed to the flames as soon as it is read. I need not add, because you must know it, that I am always yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 May, 1793
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

As I perceive there has been some misconception, respecting the building of vessels in our ports, which vessels may be converted into armed ones; and as I understand from the attorney-general there is to be a meeting to-day or to-morrow of the gentlemen on Edition: current; Page: [290] another occasion, I wish to have that part of your circular letter, which respects this matter, reconsidered by them before it goes out.

I am not disposed to adopt any measure, which may check ship-building in this country; nor am I satisfied that we should too promptly adopt measures in the first instance, that are not indispensably necessary. To take fair and supportable ground I conceive to be our best policy, and it is all that can be required of us by the powers at war; leaving the rest to be managed according to circumstances and the advantages to be derived from them. I am, &c.

Quere—Is it not expedient that the District Attornies should be written to, requiring their attention to the observance of the injunctions of the Proclamation?

George Washington
Washington, George
[23?] May, 1793
Philadelphia
M. Ternant
Ternant, M.

TO M. TERNANT.

Sir,

The first intimation, which I received of your mission to the United States in the capacity you lately filled, gave me pleasure. I anticipated on your part a conduct, which, while it was calculated to promote the objects of your duty, would, in its manner, be pleasing to the government and citizens of this country. My anticipations have not been disappointed. Uniformly attentive to the advancement of the interests confided to your care, (notwithstanding the agitations and vicissitudes experienced in the government of your country,) the tenor of your official and Edition: current; Page: [291] private conduct throughout the course of your mission has appeared to me deserving of approbation, and has acquired to you a new title to my regard.

I give you this private and personal mark of my satisfaction and esteem in remembrance of your services as an officer in the army of the United States, and in consideration of the peculiar and extraordinary circumstances under which you have acted. With sentiments of attachment and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
1 June, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

To call upon Mr. Hammond without further delay, for the result of the reference to his court concerning the surrender of the western posts, or to await the Edition: current; Page: [292] decision of the trial at Richmond on the subject of British debts before it be done, is a question on which my mind has balanced for some time.

If your own judgment is not clear in favor of one or the other, it is my desire, as the heads of the departments are now together, that you would take their opinions thereupon and act accordingly.

I am, Sir, &c.1
George Washington
Washington, George
10 June, 1793
Philadelphia
Frances Washington
Washington, Frances

TO FRANCES WASHINGTON.

My dear Fanny:

Your Aunt has lately received a Letter from you, to which an answer was given about a week ago.

As this answer, so far as it respected the renting of the Estate in Berkeley, of which you are possessed, was dictated by me, in a hurry, I will now give you my ideas more at large on that subject; altho’ they will still appear, from my immersion in other business, to carry with them strong marks of indignation.

Edition: current; Page: [293]

The will of my deceased Nephew, if I have sufficient recollection of it, directs a second plantation to be settled in Berkeley County. This may and I think ought to be done in conformity therewith; and in so doing it might be well to include some, if not all the hands which are in Fairfax County, as well to comply with the dictates of the Will, as because there are too many at the latter place to be employed to good profit—the Farm being small, poor and worn. As a mere small grain, or grass farm, it might be turned to good account, if an industrious man, who would work constantly himself, was fixed on it, with a negro fellow and boy only; with an allowance of four plough horses, two ploughs and a yoke of oxen, with other stock proportioned thereto. This force would be adequate to the cultivation of the whole of that Farm, in small grain and grass; and might raise as much (and ought to do no more) Indian Corn as would suffice for themselves. And if you found it more convenient, the old woman there, for whom I presume no hire could be obtained, with Edition: current; Page: [294] such young children as have no mothers living and others that cou’d not be well disposed of—might be placed there; and would be at hand to receive your own attentions.

The force I have mentioned would be able to put in as much small grain annually, as the size of the Farm would admit, to be kept in proper order; and in case you should do what you have talked of doing for the sake of your children’s education—that is, to live in Alexandria, would furnish you with poultry, pigs, lambs, &c., which, if always to be bought from the Butcher and others, would be more expensive than you at present have any conception of.

I have not sufficient knowledge of the Estate in Berkeley to give any other advice respecting it, than merely to say that renting it instead of keeping it in your own hands, has a preference in my mind for many reasons, which might be assigned; and as the Will enjoins a division of the Land, I should suppose the negroes had better be allotted to each parcel, and rented therewith. But of this you, with the advice of your friends on the spot, must be a better judge than I am. Among these George S. Washington, who has already acted the part you are about to do, will be able to give you useful information, as by this time he may have perceived the good, or felt the inconveniences of the measures he pursued. It would, however, seem best to me, that the lands and negroes should go together, in the manner already mentioned. The latter might hire for more singly, but then the trouble of collecting would also be greater; nor could Edition: current; Page: [295] there be the same attention paid to them as when together, and under the immediate eye of your brother-in-law.

You will readily see the necessity of insisting upon ample security for the performance of whatever agreement you may enter into; for the Land, negroes and stock thereon will be none, because they are your own already; and as the transaction is important, and will be interesting to yourself and the children, I advise you to pay a Lawyer of note to draw the articles, rather than hazard an imperfect instrument, which may be turned to your disadvantage hereafter.

Besides the usual covenants to compel payments when they become due, there ought to be a clause making all sums in arrear to carry interest. This will be some compensation for the want of punctuality, but forfeiture of the Lease, in case of non-performance of the conditions, should be strongly expressed, as it will be the principle hold you will have on the Tenant. Reservation of woodland, limitation with respect to clearing, restraint upon selling or disposing of any timber or wood except for the purposes of the plantations, and prevention of all sorts of abuse; keeping the Houses, fences and meadows in order; care of the negroes in sickness and in health; clothing them properly, and feeding them as negroes usually are;—are all matters which should be noticed in the Instrument. Nor ought there to be any transfer of the Lease, or re-hire of the negroes without your consent first had and obtained in writing.

Edition: current; Page: [296]

The number of years for which you would part with the Estate deserves consideration, and a consultation of circumstances, of which you can judge as well or better than I. My own opinion, however, is, that it ought not to go for more than five or seven; for less than three, I presume no good tenant would take it. The Horses, cattle and other stock, together with the implements of the Farm, you might either sell, or let go with the places at the valuation of two, or more judicious and impartial men, to be returned in equal numbers, and in the specific articles of equal value, when the places are surrendered, paying in the mean while a regular annual interest on the aggregate valuation as above.

The peculiar situation of our public affairs is such, and likely to remain such, that I see no prospect of my being able to leave the Seat of Government but for a mere flying visit home; which I am more than ever called upon to do, as, by a letter received on Saturday, it appears that Mr. Whiting is in a confirmed consumption, and so much reduced as to be scarcely able to mount a horse. What I am to do under a circumstance of this kind, I really know not; not being able, in the short time I have had to reflect upon this disagreeable event, to call to mind a single character (if to be obtained) that would answer my purposes.

I shall strive hard to be at Mount Vernon by the first of next month, but to say positively I shall accomplish it, is more than I dare do. My stay there cannot exceed, if it should amount to ten days.

Edition: current; Page: [297]

I request you to remember me in the most affectionate manner to my Brother, Sister and the rest of the family; my love to the Children—compliments to Mrs. Warner Washington and family if you should see them. In all which your Aunt, Nelly &c. join me. With much truth I am, your sincere friend and affte. relation.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 June, 1793
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.
[PRIVATE.]

Sir,

By the Gazettes of to-day, I perceive a Vessel is just arrived in this Port from New Orleans, on board of which are several of our citizens; who, having passed down the Mississippi, are now on their return to the Ohio, their place of residence.

It is of great importance that this Government should be fully informed of the Spanish force in the Floridas, the number of their Posts, and the strength and situation of each, together with such other circumstances as would enable it to adopt correspondent measures in case we should, in spite of our endeavors to avoid it, get embroiled in a dispute with that Nation. It would be too improvident, might be too late, and certainly would be disgraceful, to have this information to obtain when our plans ought to be formed. I desire therefore, that you would cause in as unsuspected a manner as the case will admit, the above persons to be examined touching the Edition: current; Page: [298] above points, and what number of Troops have lately arrived at New Orleans; and commit the result to Paper. Were they to be examined separately, advantages might follow by comparing their accounts. I point you to the above as one source only of information; my desire to obtain a knowledge of these facts, lead me to request with equal earnestness, that you would improve every other to ascertain them with certainty. No reasonable expence should be spared to accomplish objects of such magnitude in times so critical.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 June, 1793
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

I have received and paid attention to your report of the 15th instant. The result is, that the loan of two millions of florins ought, in my opinion, to be urged without delay, if it can be obtained within the limitations of the law. The further proposal of borrowing three millions of florins in addition, I shall, (seeing no inconvenience that will arise from the delay,) take a few days longer to consider; as some reasons occur against as well as for the measure, in the present unsettled state of credit, and military and other operations in Europe.1

Edition: current; Page: [299]

In the mean time it would contribute to my understanding of the subject better, if you was to let me know how the whole sum borrowed under the acts of the 4th and 12th of August, 1790, (instead of the sums which have been transferred to the United States,) has been applied; and whether the two hundred thousand dollars, “first instalment to the Bank of the United States,” is a legal charge, Edition: current; Page: [300] under those acts or any other, in the account A. referred to in the report; also, whether the two hundred and eighty-four thousand nine hundred and one dollars and eighty-nine cents, expended in the purchase of the public debt, does not appear in the report of the commissioners of the sinking fund, or some other report made to Congress last session, as appertaining more properly to the surplus revenue.

I ask these questions for information; because, if the answer should be in the affirmative, the difference will be very material, and, when added to the balance of five hundred and sixty-five thousand four hundred and eighty-four dollars and twenty-eight cents, as per your statement A, would, with the two millions of florins negotiating, cover all the ascertained demands upon the United States for the years 1793 and 1794, exclusive of what may be required for the sinking fund; for which you have made no specific appropriation whereby to form an estimate of the aggregate sum required. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [301]
George Washington
Washington, George
30 June, 1793
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

The enclosed letter from the governor of New York, covering a communication to him from the consul of the French Republic at that place, respecting the continuance of a British letter of marque in the harbor of New York, reached my hands by the post of last evening; and I now transmit it to you, that it may be taken into consideration by yourself and the other heads of the departments, as soon as may be after this letter gets to your hands. If you should be unanimous in your opinions, as to the measures which ought to be pursued by the government, in the case now communicated, you, or the Secretary at War, to whose department it belongs, will transmit in my name the result of your deliberations on the subject to the governor of New York for his information, and to be communicated by him to the French consul at that place.

But, in case there should be a difference of sentiment among the gentlemen on the matter, I must request that the several opinions may be sent to me for my consideration, and the governor of New York informed, that a decision will be had in the case as soon as I return to the seat of government, which I expect will be about the 10th of next month, notwithstanding the death of my manager, and the consequent derangement of my concerns, would make my presence here for a longer time, at this important season, almost indispensable. But I know the urgency Edition: current; Page: [302] and delicacy of our public affairs at present will not permit me to be longer absent. I must therefore submit with the best grace I can to the loss and inconvenience, which my private affairs will sustain from the want of my personal attention, or that of a confidential character, the obtaining of whom I have no prospect at present. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
11 July, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

After I had read the papers, (which were put into my hands by you,) requiring “instant attention,” and before a messenger could reach your office, you had left town.

What is to be done in the case of the Little Sarah now at Chester? Is the minister of the French Republic to set the acts of this government at defiance with impunity? And then threaten the executive with an appeal to the people? What must the world think of such conduct, and of the government of the United States in submitting to it?

These are serious questions. Circumstances press for decision, and, as you have had time to consider them, (upon me they come unexpectedly,) I wish to know your opinion upon them, even before to-morrow, for the vessel may then be gone. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [303]
George Washington
Washington, George
21 July, 1793
Philadelphia
Burges Ball
Ball, Burges

TO BURGES BALL.

Dear Sir,

I have, in due course of post, been favored with your letter of the 11th inst.

I thank you for the prompt compliance with my request—as I do Mr. Fitzhugh also for the ready belief he yielded that I would do nothing unfriendly, or ungenteel in the case you were desired to mention to him.

Before the receipt of your letter I had dispatched Howell Lewis (who was first to go to Fredericksburgh for purposes of his own) to Mount Vernon; but had I known at the time that his brother Lawrence would have undertaken the business, I should have thought him (on account of his age) the most eligible, and would have preferred him accordingly; for, possibly, if he had chosen to continue there, his Edition: current; Page: [304] conduct might have been found such, as to supercede the necessity of employing any other; because, as I could place entire confidence in his integrity, and presume I may do so in his sobriety, industry, care and œconomy, with strict attention to the conduct of the overseers, and to the plans marked out for their government, my business might progress as well under his auspice, as under that of any other I am likely to get; for a married man would not only be inconvenient for me, but (by keeping a separate house) would add considerably to my expences. Whereas a single man whether at my first (if from his walk of life he should be entitled to it) or at my second table, would with respect to his board be not more than a drop in the bucket.

But after all, is not Lawrence Lewis on the point of matrimony? Report says so, and if truly, it would be an effectual bar to a permanent establishment in my business, as I never again will have two women in my house when I am there myself. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
21 July, 1793
Philadelphia
William Tilghman
Tilghman, William

TO WILLIAM TILGHMAN.

Dear Sir,

The death of my late manager, Mr. Anthony Whiting, making it necessary for me to look out for some person to supply his place, I take the advantage of your polite tender of your services which you have heretofore been so obliging as to make me, to beg your assistance in obtaining and conveying to Edition: current; Page: [305] me information of such characters in your part of the country, as are qualified to fill that station, and who can be obtained for that purpose.

Altho’ my affairs at Mount Vernon suffer much at present for want of a manager, yet I have thought it better to bear this temporary evil, than to engage one immediately who might not have all the necessary qualifications for that place. I have directed my enquiries for a manager to different parts of the country; but I think there is a greater probability that a person may be found in the best farming counties on the Eastern shore of Maryland to answer my purposes, than in almost any other quarter; for there seems to be more large Estates cultivated altogether in the farming system there, than in other parts of the Country; and that reclaiming Swamps, raising grass, Ditching, Hedging, &c., are the greatest pursuits on my Estate.

It is hardly possible, and indeed it is not necessary here to point out minutely all the qualifications required in, or duties expected from, a man of the character wanted. The leading points in such a person must be a compleat knowledge of the farming business in its various branches; an ability to plan and direct generally the business of four or five large farms, adjoining each other, but under separate overseers; and a sufficient acquaintance with business and accounts to enable him to buy and sell, with discretion and judgment, such things as may be wanted for the use of the Estate, and to be disposed of from it; and to keep an account of the same. An experience Edition: current; Page: [306] of many years can alone give the first qualification mentioned; and a residence of some years in a part of the country where the labor is done by negroes, and having had the management of pretty extensive business in that line, can only give the second. For the third, it is not necessary that a man should be a complete Clerk, or particularly conversant in mercantile transactions. Perfect honesty, sobriety and industry are indispensable. In fine, if I could [find] a man as well qualified for my purposes as the late Mr. Whiting (whom I presume you know, as he managed an Estate of Genl. Cadwalader’s in your neighborhood for some years) I should esteem myself very fortunate. A single man would suit me much better than one with a family—indeed is almost indispensable, as he would live at the mansion house; and I should like the age between 35 and 45, as that period seems most likely to unite experience with activity.

The names of the following persons in your quarter have been mentioned to me as well qualified to manage a large Estate, vizt. William Pierce [Pearce], who has done, and still continues to do business for Mr. Ringgold, recommended by Mr. Ringgold himself.

Owen Craw, said to have been a manager for Mr. Chew for some years, and now rents land and negroes from him.

James Cannon, said to have been an overseer, and in some measure a manager for Mr. Chew. But I would here observe, that a man may be a good Edition: current; Page: [307] farmer and an excellent overseer for a single plantation, who would be wholly unequal to the duties of a manager.

Brisco, on an Estate of the deceased Mr. Chew of Herring-bay, in Cecil County, which, I am informed, he means to quit. This person is rather out of your neighborhood; but it is possible you may know or hear something of him. From Mr. Jacob Hollingworth of Elkton—I have his character.

I have understood also, that Mr. Lloyd’s manager, of the name of Bryant, intends leaving him. If this should be the case, and he can be well recommended by Mr. Lloyd, I confess I should feel a predilection for him, because I know Mr. Lloyd is considered as one of the largest and best farmers in the country, and so good a manager himself, that he would not employ a man who did not fully understand his business. But it must be remembered, that I speak of this person merely as having heard that he intended leaving Mr. Lloyd, and was well qualified for my purposes; for I would not, upon any consideration, have a measure taken in my behalf that would look like drawing a man from the service of another, to whom he was engaged, with a view of taking him into mine.

I have now, Sir, given you a pretty full detail of my wants and wishes on this subject, and shall feel obliged by any information you may give me relative to it; as well as for the mention of the terms upon which persons of the character before described, are employed upon large Estates on the Eastern shore, Edition: current; Page: [308] and for what they may be induced to go to Virginia. The Estate for which I want a manager lies about nine miles below Alexandria on the river Potowmac—and 12 from the Federal City. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 July, 1793
Philadelphia
Henry Lee
Lee, Henry

TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

I should have thanked you at an earlier period for your obliging letter of the 14th ultimo, had it not come to my hands a day or two only before I set out for Mount Vernon, and at a time when I was much hurried, and indeed, very much perplexed with the disputes, memorials, and what not, with which the government were pestered by one or the other of the petulant representatives of the powers at war, and because, since my return to this city, nine days ago, I have been more than ever overwhelmed with their complaints. In a word, the trouble they give is hardly to be described.1

Edition: current; Page: [309]

My journey to and from Mount Vernon was sudden and rapid, and as short as I could make it. It was occasioned by the unexpected death of Mr. Whiting, my manager, at a critical season for the business with which he was intrusted. Where to supply his place I know not; of course my concerns at Mount Vernon are left as a body without a head; but this by the by.

The communications in your letter were pleasing and grateful; for, although I have done no public act with which my mind upbraids me, yet it is highly satisfactory to learn, that the things which I do, of an interesting tendency to the peace and happiness of this country, are generally approved by my fellow citizens. But, were the case otherwise, I should not be less inclined to know the sense of the people upon every matter of great public concern; for, as I have no wish superior to that of promoting the happiness and welfare of this country, so, consequently, it is only for me to know the means to accomplish the end, if it be within the compass of my powers.

Edition: current; Page: [310]

That there are in this, as well as in all other countries, discontented characters, I well know; as also that these characters are actuated by very different views; some good, from an opinion that the measures of the general government are impure; some bad, and, if I might be allowed to use so harsh an expression, diabolical, inasmuch as they are not only meant to impede the measures of that government generally, but more especially, (as a great mean towards the accomplishment of it,) to destroy the confidence, which it is necessary for the people to place, (until they have unequivocal proof of demerit,) in their public servants. For in this light I consider myself, whilst I am an occupant of office; and, if they were to go further and call me their slave, during this period, I would not dispute the point.

But in what will this abuse terminate? The result, as it respects myself, I care not; for I have a consolation within, that no earthly efforts can deprive me of, and that is, that neither ambitious nor interested motives have influenced my conduct. The arrows of malevolence, therefore, however barbed and well pointed, never can reach the most vulnerable part of me; though, whilst I am up as a mark, they will be continually aimed. The publications in Freneau’s and Bache’s papers are outrages on common decency; and they progress in that style, in proportion as their pieces are treated with contempt, and are passed by in silence, by those at whom they are aimed. The tendency of them, however, is too obvious to be mistaken by men of cool and dispassionate minds, and, in my opinion, ought to alarm Edition: current; Page: [311] them; because it is difficult to prescribe bounds to the effect.

The light in which you endeavored to place the views and conduct of this country to M. Genet, and the sound policy thereof, as it respected his own, was unquestionably the true one, and such as a man of penetration, left to himself, would most certainly have viewed them in; but mum on this head. Time may unfold more than prudence ought to disclose at present. As we are told that you have exchanged the rugged and dangerous field of Mars for the soft and pleasurable bed of Venus I do in this, as I shall in every thing you may pursue like unto it, good and laudable, wish you all imaginable success and happiness. With esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 July, 1793
Philadelphia,

TO THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT.

Gentlemen,

The circumstances, which had induced me to ask your counsel on certain legal questions interesting to the public, exist now as they did then; but I by no means press a decision, whereon you wish the advice and participation of your absent brethren. Whenever, therefore, their presence shall enable you to give it with more satisfaction to yourselves, I shall accept it with pleasure. With sentiments of high respect, I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [312]
George Washington
Washington, George
25 July, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

A letter from Colonel S. Smith of Baltimore to the Secretary of the Treasury, giving information of the conduct of the privateers Citizen Genet and Sans Culotte, is sent for your perusal; after which it may be returned, because contained therein is a matter, which respects the treasury department solely.1

As the letter of the minister of the Republic of France, dated the 22d of June, lies yet unanswered, and as the official conduct of that gentleman, relatively, to the affairs of this government, will have to undergo a very serious consideration (so soon as the special court at which the attorney-general is now engaged will allow him to attend with convenience), in order to decide upon measures proper to be taken thereupon, it is my desire that all the letters to and from that minister may be ready to be laid before me, the heads of departments, and the attorney-general, whom I shall advise with on the occasion, together with the minutes of such official oral communications, as you may have had with him on the Edition: current; Page: [313] subject of those letters. And as the memorials from the British minister and answers thereto are materially connected therewith, it will be proper, I conceive, to have these ready also. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 July, 1793
Philadelphia,

TO THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

Gentlemen,

It will not be amiss, I conceive, at the meeting you are about to have to-day, to consider the expediency of directing the custom-house officers to be attentive to the arming or equipping vessels, either for offensive or defensive war, in the several ports to which they belong, and make report thereof to the governor or some other proper officer.

Unless this, or some other effectual mode is adopted to check this evil in the first stage of its growth, the executive of the United States will be incessantly harassed with complaints on this head, and probably when it may be difficult to afford a remedy. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
31 July, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

As there are several matters, which must remain in a suspended state, perhaps not very conveniently, until a decision is had on the conduct of the minister of the French Republic, and as the attorney-general will, more than probably, be engaged at the Supreme Court next week, it is my wish, under these circumstances, to enter upon the consideration of the letters of that minister to-morrow at nine o’clock. I therefore Edition: current; Page: [314] desire you will be here at that hour, and bring with you all his letters, your answers, and such other papers as are connected therewith.

As the consideration of this business may require some time, I should be glad if you and the other gentlemen would take a family dinner with me at four o’clock. No other company is or will be invited. I am, dear Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
4 August, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

If the heads of departments and the attorney-general, who have prepared the eight rules, which you handed to me yesterday, are well satisfied that they are not repugnant to treaties, or to the laws of nations, and moreover are the best we can adopt to maintain neutrality, I not only give them my approbation, but desire they may be made known without delay for the information of all concerned.2

Edition: current; Page: [315]

The same expression will do for the other paper, which has been subscribed as above, and submitted to my consideration, for restoring or making restitution Edition: current; Page: [316] of prizes under the circumstances therein mentioned.1

It is proper you should be informed, that the minister of France intends to leave this city for New York to-morrow; and not amiss, perhaps, to know, that, in mentioning the seasonable aid of hands, which the Ambuscade received from the French Indiaman the day preceding her meeting the Boston, he added, that seamen would no longer be wanting, as he had now fifteen hundred at his command. This being the Edition: current; Page: [317] case, (although the allusion was to the subject he was then speaking upon,) some of these men may be employed in the equipment of privateers, other than those now in existence, as the right of fitting out such in our ports is asserted in unequivocal terms.

Was the propriety of convening the legislature at an earlier day, than that on which it is to assemble by law, considered yesterday?1

The late decree of the National Convention of France, dated the 19th of May, authorizing their ships Edition: current; Page: [318] of war and armed vessels to stop any neutral vessel loaded in whole or in part with provisions, and send them into their ports, adds another motive for the adoption of this measure. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 August, 1793
Philadelphia
Hiland Crow
Crow, Hiland

TO HILAND CROW.

By a Letter which I have just received from my nephew, Mr. Lewis, at Mount Vernon, he informs me that you are applying to have your wages raised. This, I think, was the case last year, and may be the case another year. Nor is this all. For when one succeeds, another comes forward; a stop therefore might as well be put to these kind of cravings at one time as at another. However, as your crop was the most productive of any I made last year; and as I hope the present one will not be bad, if properly taken care of, I agree, by way of encouraging your future exertions, to raise your wages to forty pounds next year; and make you the same allowance of provisions and other things as, by agreement, you were to receive this year.

To make an attempt after this, to encrease your wages, will be fruitless; and I mention it, that whenever Edition: current; Page: [319] you want more, you must seek for it elsewhere. Forty pounds per annum, clear of all expenses, whether the wind blows high or blow low—whether the ground is deluged with rain, or laid waste by a parching drought; by either of which, and by many other casualties, crops may be destroyed, though the expences incurred in the making do not lessen, nor the mouths which are to be fed, nor the backs which are to be clothed do not decrease—is equal to the chance of double that sum in a proportion of the crop; which, was it not for the labor spent in making meadows, and other jobs, some on and others off the farm, I had much rather give; but have been restrained from doing it to avoid grumbling; and because I may apply the hands at such places and in such a manner as to me, or my manager, should seem most conducive to my interest, when no other was to be affected by it. With this explanation of my sentiments, I remain, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 August, 1793
Philadelphia
Burges Ball
Ball, Burges

TO BURGES BALL.

Dear Sir:

Previously to the receipt of your letter of the 25th ulto: some persons have been mentioned to me as one well qualified for the superintendence of my business at Mount Vernon, and until something is decided with respect to them (letters having passed on the subject) I can say nothing further with respect to Mr. Lawrence Lewis. So much am I engaged in Edition: current; Page: [320] public business, and so little have I it in my power to visit or attend to my private concerns that it becomes extremely necessary (besides fidelity) to have an experienced and skilful man of some weight to manage my business—one whose judgment is able to direct him in cases which may arise out of circumstances that can neither be foreseen nor previously guarded against.

What the age of Mr. Lawrence Lewis is, what opportunities he may have had to acquire any knowledge in the management of a farm, what his disposition, whether active or indolent, whether clear in his perceptions and of good judgment, whether sober and sedate, or fond of amusements and running about, with other queries which might be asked as well applying to a young man just entering on the career of life, are all matters to which I am an entire stranger, and if you can give me information respecting them, I shall thank you.

You will readily perceive that my sole object in these enquiries is to ascertain the competency of a character to whom I should commit an important trust. Consequently going no further can operate nothing to the prejudice of my nephew, whatever you may say to me on the foregoing points and such others as may occur to you.

So far as integrity and I presume sobriety, would qualify him, I should give him my entire confidence; but though these are very essential, something more, circumstanced as I am, is equally necessary. Was I at home myself, I should prefer a person connected Edition: current; Page: [321] with me, as he is, to a more skilful man that was not (provided he had no thoughts of soon forming a matrimonial alliance) because he could aid me in attention to company, which I should stand as much in need of as of one to look after my estate, as my disposition would lead me to endulge in retirement whenever I shall quit my public walks. My love to Mrs. Ball and your family, in w’ch Mrs. Washington joins. With sincere regard and friendship, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 August, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.1

Dear Sir,

I clearly understood you on Saturday, and of what I conceive to be two evils must prefer the least, that is, to dispense with your temporary absence in the autumn, in order to retain you in office till January, rather than part with you altogether at the close of September.

Edition: current; Page: [322]

It would be an ardent wish of mine, that your continuance in office, even at the expense of some sacrifice of inclination, would have been through the whole of the ensuing session of Congress, for many, very many weighty reasons, which present themselves to my mind; one of which, and not the least, is, that in my judgment the affairs of this country, as they relate to foreign powers, Indian disturbances, and internal policy, will have taken a more decisive and I hope agreeable form than they now bear before that time, when perhaps other public servants might also indulge in retirement. If this cannot be, my next wish is, that your absence from the seat of government in the autumn may be as short as you conveniently can make it.

With much esteem and regard, I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
19 August, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I send, for the consideration and opinion of the heads of departments and the attorney-general of the United States, a communication from the governor of Pennsylvania respecting the privateer Citizen Genet, together with copies of two letters from the French consul to the governor on the same subject, and a report of persons, who had examined the aforesaid privateer by the governor’s order, which were enclosed in the governor’s letter to me.

The gentlemen will decide, whether these circumstances Edition: current; Page: [323] reported respecting the unfitness of the said privateer to proceed to sea are such, as would make it proper to depart from the rules already adopted, and allow a longer time for her to prepare to depart, than is granted by the governor, or whether the orders given by him on this head shall be executed.

It will be seen that the subject requires despatch, and the Secretary of War will inform the governor of the result of your deliberations on this subject as soon as it is given. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 September, 1793
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

It was the opinion of the gentlemen at their meeting on Saturday last, if I mistake not, that Mr. Wolcott should be desired to request Mr. Webster to substantiate the language of the minister of the French republic, as related by him in the enclosed letter.

Colonel Hamilton’s situation, for which I feel extreme regret,1 does not permit his having any agency in the matter at present. I therefore send the letter, which he forwarded to me, from Mr. Webster to Mr. Wolcott, to your care, being persuaded that whatever measure shall be deemed right and proper will be put in train by you.2

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I think it would not be prudent either for you, or the clerks in your office, or the office itself, to be too much exposed to the malignant fever, which, by well authenticated report, is spreading through the city. The means to avoid [it,] your own judgment under existing circumstances must dictate.

As the spreading and continuance of the disorder may render it unadvisable for me to return to this city so soon as I at first intended, I would thank you, in case you should remain in the vicinity of it, to write me a line by every Monday’s post, informing me concisely of the then state of matters, with other occurrences, which may be essential for me to be made acquainted with. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
10 September, 1793
Chester
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I return from this place the papers, which you put into my hands on the road to-day. The unpromising state of the negotiation at Madrid, and the opinion of the commissioners, that their commission should be withdrawn, and matters in that court placed in statu quo, deserve very serious consideration. I pray you to give it; and if it rests altogether with the executive, after the agency the Senate [have taken] in the business, let me know the result.

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Mr. Carmichael must not be the person left there; for from him we should never hear a tittle of what is going forward at the court of Madrid.

I am yours, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
23 September, 1793
Mount Vernon
Edmund Pendleton
Pendleton, Edmund

TO EDMUND PENDLETON.

My dear Sir,

With very sincere pleasure I received your private letter of the 11th instant. This pleasure was not a little enhanced by your reiterated assurance of my still holding that place in your estimation, of which, on more occasions than one, you have given me the most flattering testimony, highly gratifying to my mind. This assurance came opportunely, as I had begun to conceive, though unable to assign a cause, that some part of my public conduct, (however well-meant my endeavors,) had appeared unfavorably in your eyes; for you will please to recollect, that formerly you promised me, and I always expected, an annual letter from you. It is now, (if my memory has not failed me,) at least four years since I have had that pleasure.

Sequestered you say you are from the world, and know little of what is transacting in it, but from newspapers. I regret this exceedingly. I wish you had more to do on the great theatre, and that your means of information were co-equal to your abilities and the disposition I know you to possess to judge properly of public measures. It would be better, perhaps, for that public, it should be so; for, be Edition: current; Page: [326] assured, we have some infamous papers, calculated to disturb the public mind, if not absolutely intended to do mischief.

With respect to the fiscal conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury, I will say nothing, because an inquiry, more than probable, will be instituted next session of Congress into some of the allegations against him, which eventually may involve the whole; and because, if I mistake not, he will seek, rather than shrink from an investigation. A fair opportunity will, in that case, be offered the impartial world to form a just estimate of his acts, and probably of his motives. No one, I will venture to say, wishes more devoutly than I do, that they may be probed to the bottom, be the result what it will.1

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With the most scrupulous truth I can assure you, that your free and unreserved opinion, upon any public measure of importance, will always be acceptable to me, whether it respects men or measures; and on no man do I wish it to be expressed more fully than on myself, for, as I can conscientiously declare, I have no object in view incompatible with the constitution, and the obvious interests of this country, nor no earthly desire half so strong as that of returning to the walks of private life; so, of consequence, I only wish, whilst I am a servant of the public, to know the will of my masters, that I may govern myself accordingly.

You do me no more than justice when you suppose, that, from motives of respect to the legislature (and I might add from my interpretation of the constitution), I give my signature to many bills, with which my judgment is at variance. In saying this, however, I allude to no particular act. From the nature of the constitution I must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto. To do the latter can only be justified upon the clear and obvious ground of propriety; and I never had such confidence in my own faculty of judging, as to be ever tenacious of the opinions I may have imbibed in doubtful cases.1

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Mrs. Washington, who enjoys tolerable health, joins me most cordially in best wishes to you and Mrs. Pendleton. I wish you may live long, continue in good health, and end your days, as you have been wearing them away, happily and respected. Always and very affectionately yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 September, 1793
Mount Vernon
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias

TO TOBIAS LEAR.

My dear Sir,

I have not written to you since we parted, but had just set down to do it when your letter of the 13th instt. was brought to me from the Post office in Alexandria.

It gave Mrs. Washington, myself and all who knew him, sincere pleasure to hear that our little favourite1 had arrived safe, and was in good health at Portsmouth. We sincerely wish him a long continuance of the latter—that he may always be as charming and promising as he now is—and that he may live to be a comfort and blessing to you, and an ornament to his country. As a testimony of my affection for him I send him a ticket in the lottery which is now drawing in the Federal City; and if it should be his fortune to draw the hotel it will add to the pleasure I have in giving it.

We remained in Philadelphia until the 10th instant.—It was my wish to have continued there longer; but as Mrs. Washington was unwilling to leave me Edition: current; Page: [329] surrounded by the malignant fever which prevailed, I could not think of hazarding her, and the Children any longer by my continuance in the City, the house in which we lived being, in a manner blockaded, by the disorder, and was becoming every day more and more fatal; I therefore came off with them on the above day and arrived at this place the 14th, without incountering the least accident on the road.

You will learn from Mr. Greenleaf, that he has dipped deeply in the concerns of the Federal city.—I think he has done so on very advantageous terms for himself, and I am pleased with it notwithstanding on public ground; as it may give facility to the operations at that place, at the same time that it is embarking him and his friends in a measure which, although [it] could not well fail under any circumstances that are likely to happen, may be considerably promoted by men of Spirit with large Capitals. He can, so much better than I, detail his engagements and the situation of things in and about the city, that I shall not attempt to do it at this time.

Mrs. Washington having decided to let Nelly Custis have her watch and chain, is disposed to receive substitutes in lieu thereof at about 25 guineas price; and leaves the choice of them to you, the plainness of the watch she will not object to. 120 dollars in Bank notes are inclosed for the purchase of them.

If it should be convenient and perfectly safe for you to engage for me, on reasonable terms a complete Black Smith you would oblige me by doing so. But as there are Laws in England prohibiting such Edition: current; Page: [330] engagements under severe penalties, and such may exist in other countries, you will understand me clearly, that for no consideration whatever would I have you run the smallest risk of encountering them. You know full well what kind of a Smith would Suit my purposes; it is unnecessary therefore for me to be particular on this head. He must however have a character on which you can rely, not only as a compleat workman for a Farm, but as an honest, sober and Industrious man. If he comes on wages they must be moderate—and with, or without wages, he must be bound to serve me 3 years; 4 would be better.

Mrs. Washington thanks you for your kind recollection of her request with respect to Lincoln, and desires me to assure you of her sincere love for him, in which I join, and of her friendship and regard for you. In whatever place you may be, or in whatever walk of life you may move, my best wishes will attend you, for I am, and always shall be,

Your sincere friend, &c.

P. S. I have just received a letter from the Earl of Buchan in which he says, my letter intended to accompany the Portrait had got safe to his hands but that he had heard nothing of the Picture. If you should, while in New York, see the Painter of it, be so good as to mention this circumstance to him and enquire into the cause of the failure.

The District Attorney of New Hampshire has sent his resignation.—I am entirely unacquainted with the characters in that line in that State and Edition: current; Page: [331] would thank you to name the Person whom you think best qualified to succeed Mr. Shelburne and most likely to give general satisfaction.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir:

It appearing to me that the public business will require the executive officers to be together sometime before the meeting of Congress, I have written to the Secretaries of the Treasury and War to meet me at Philadelphia or vicinity, say Germantown, by the first of November, and should be glad to see you there at the same time. The Attorney General is advised of this also.

In a letter from General Knox of the 24th ulto., who was then performing quarantine at Elizabethtown before he could be admitted into New York, is the following paragraph:

“The French fleet is still in New York, in a wretched state of disorganization, which prevents its sailing. Mr. G—t has been low spirited for ten days past. The fleet have been told by him that the Executive of the United States prevents their selling their prizes, and Citizen Bompard, who belongs to a club in France, as well as his sailors, say that they shall represent the matter upon their return in its proper colors. I do not find Mr. G—t has promulgated the last letter of the Secretary of State, excepting as to the effect of the measure with the consuls; which prevent their selling their prizes. Would to God it had been thought proper to publish the letter to Mr. Morris. The minds of our own people would have been convinced of the propriety of the measures which have been adopted, and all cavil at the meeting of Congress prevented.”

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I should be of this opinion likewise, if there is danger of the public mind receiving unfavorable impressions from the want of information on one hand, whilst the insidious attempts to poison it, are so impudently and unweariedly practised on the other.

In another letter from Gen’l Knox, dated the 1st. inst., at the same place, after having performed quarantine from the 19th of September to that date, he says:

“The French fleet, excepting the Ambuscade, will sail tomorrow from New York, upon some cruise unknown. The Surveillant sailed on the 29th ulto. for France with despatches from Mr. G[ene]t and such is his desire that they should arrive safely, that he will in a day or two despatch the Ceres, an armed brig, with duplicates.”

If our despatch boat should fail, and duplicates are not sent, he will play the whole game himself. * * *1

George Washington
Washington, George
11 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Your despatch of the 3d, with its several enclosures, reached Alexandria on Wednesday evening, and got to my hands yesterday morning. This afternoon I Edition: current; Page: [333] shall send to the post office the letters from Mr. Bankson, with my signature to the exequatur for Mr. Dannery and Letters Patent revoking that of Mr. Duplaine. Your letter to the latter, two to the French Minister, one to his secretary Mons. Bournonville, and another to Mr. Morris being approved, are also forwarded.

To a letter written to you a few days ago, I refer for the time and place mentioned for the meeting of the heads of departments, and hope it will be convenient for you to attend. If I do not take a circuitous route by Fredericktown in Maryland, &c., I shall not leave this before the 28th, and in that case should be glad of your company, if it is not inconvenient for you to call. Since writing that letter, however, I have received the enclosed from the attorney-general, which may make a change of place necessary; but I shall wait further advices before this is resolved on.

I have also received a letter from the late Speaker, Trumbull,1 and as I understand, sentiments similar to his are entertained by others. What had I best do? You were of opinion when here, that neither the constitution nor laws gave power to the President to convene Congress at any other place, than where the seat of government is fixed by their own act. Twelve Edition: current; Page: [334] days ago I wrote to the attorney-general for an official opinion on this head, but have received no answer.1 If the importance and urgency of the case, arising from the unabating fever in Philadelphia, would justify calling the legislature at any other place, where ought it to be? This, if Germantown is affected with the malady, involves the executive in Edition: current; Page: [335] a serious and delicate decision. Wilmington and Trenton are equidistant in opposite directions, both on the great thoroughfare, equally dangerous, and would, (I presume,) be equally obnoxious to one or other set of members, according to their situations. Annapolis has conveniences, but it might be thought I had interested and local views in naming this place. What sort of a town then is Reading? And how would it answer? Neither northern nor southern members would have cause to complain of its situation. Lancaster favors the southern ones most.

You will readily perceive, if any change takes place, not a moment is to be lost in the notification, whether by a simple statement of facts (among which, I presume, the house intended for them in Philadelphia will be unfinished), and an intimation that you shall be at a certain place days before the 1st of December to meet them in their legislative capacity, or to advise with them on measures proper to be taken in the present exigency. If something of this sort should strike you favorably, draw, (and if necessary sign,) a proper instrument, to avoid delay, leaving the place blank, but giving your opinion thereon. Germantown would certainly have been the best place for them to have met in the first instance, there to take ulterior resolutions without involving the executive.

I have no objection to the director of the mint, with your concurrence, choosing an engraver in place of Mr. Wright. No report has been made to me relative to the tonnage of the French ships from St. Domingo.

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Major Lenox, I perceive by the papers, is marshal of the district of Pennsylvania. Limits of jurisdiction and protection must lie over till we meet, when I request you would remind me of it. I am, Sir, yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
13 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Thomas Sim Lee
Lee, Thomas Sim

TO THOMAS SIM LEE, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND.

Sir,

The letter, with which your Excellency was pleased to favor me, dated the 7th instant, was received on the 10th, and might have had an acknowledgment the next day; but I waited the arrival of Friday’s mail, in hopes that I should have had a report from the Secretary of War relatively the ship Rochampton. Disappointed in this, I am not able to give you any opinion thereon, uninformed as I am of the specific articles of charges exhibited by the British consul. The French minister complains of the detention.

With respect to the second case mentioned in your letter, and these of the British consuls, I have only to observe, that, as these gentlemen cannot but know, that the custom-house officers in every port are instructed to keep a vigilant watch upon all armed vessels, and the presumption being, that they also are not inattentive, there seems to have been no necessity for lodging a complaint unaccompanied with proofs.

It is scarcely possible to give instructions, which will embrace minutely every case that may arise during the war; nor do I conceive it essential. Your Excellency will readily perceive, by the communications which have been made to you, the principles Edition: current; Page: [337] upon which the general government act, in the recess of Congress, respecting the belligerent powers. These principles are, to adhere strictly to treaties, according to the plain construction and obvious meaning of them, and, regarding these, to act impartially towards all the nations at war. Keeping these principles in view, and observing the rules which are founded on them, with your disposition to do justice, and to preserve this country in peace, I persuade myself you can be at no loss, that your decisions will be always right; and I hope they will always be prompt.

Being removed from the public offices, intending when I left Philadelphia not to be absent more than fifteen or eighteen days, I brought no public papers of any sort (not even the rules which have been established in these cases,) along with me. Consequently I am not prepared at this place to decide points, which may require a reference to papers not within my reach. But, as I find cases are daily occurring, which call for attention and decision, I have requested the heads of the departments to attend at Philadelphia or vicinity, by the 1st of next month, whither I shall go and be present myself. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON.

My dear Sir,

The calamitous situation of Philadelphia, and the little prospect, from the present appearance, of its eligibility to receive Congress by the first Monday in Edition: current; Page: [338] December, involve a serious difficulty. It has been intimated by some, that the President ought, by proclamation, to convene Congress a few days before the above period, at some other place; and by others, (although in extraordinary cases he has the power to convene,) yet that he has none to change the place. Mr. Jefferson, when here on his way home, was of the latter opinion; but the laws were not fully examined, nor was the case at that time so serious as it now is. From the attorney-general, to whom I have since written on this subject, requesting an official opinion, I have received no answer, nor is it likely I shall soon, as I believe he has no communication with Philadelphia.1

Time presses, and the malady, at the usual place of meeting, is becoming more and more alarming. What, then, do you think is the most advisable course for me to pursue in the present exigency? Summon Congress to meet at a certain time and place, in their legislative capacity? Simply to state facts and say I will meet the members at the time and place just mentioned for ulterior arrangements? Or leave matters as they are, if there is no power in the executive to alter the place legally? In the first and second cases, especially the first, the delicacy of my naming a place will readily occur to you. My wish would be, that Congress could be assembled at Germantown, to show I meant no partiality, leaving it to themselves, (if there should appear to be no prospect of getting Edition: current; Page: [339] into Philadelphia soon,) to decide what should be done thereafter. But accounts say, that some people have died in Germantown also of the malignant fever. Every death, now, however, is now ascribed to that cause, be the disorder what it may. Wilmington and Trenton are nearly equidistant from Philadelphia, in opposite directions; but both are on the great thoroughfare, and equally exposed to danger from the multitude of travellers; and neither may have a chamber sufficient for the House of Representatives. Annapolis and Lancaster are more secure, and have good accommodations. But to name either, especially the first, would be thought to favor the southern convenience; and, perhaps, might be attributed to local views, especially as New York is talked of for this purpose. Reading, if there are proper conveniences at it, would favor neither the southern nor northern interest most, but would be alike to both.

I have written to Mr. Jefferson on this subject. Notwithstanding which, I would thank you for your opinion, and that fully, as you see my embarrassment. I even ask more. I would thank you, (not being acquainted with forms,) to sketch some instrument for publication, adapted to the course you may think it would be most expedient for me to pursue in the present state of things, if the members are called together as before.

The difficulty of keeping clerks in the public offices had in a manner put a stop to business before I left Philadelphia; and the heads of departments having matters of their own, which called them away, has Edition: current; Page: [340] prevented my return thither longer than I had intended. I have now desired the different Secretaries to meet me there, or in the vicinity, the 1st of next month, for which I shall set out the 27th or the 28th of the present one.

The accounts from the city are really affecting. Two gentlemen now here from New York, (Colonels Platt and Sergeant,) say, that they were told at the Swedes’ Ford of Schuylkill, by a person who had it from the Governor (Mifflin), that, by an official report from the mayor of the city, upwards of three thousand and five hundred had died, and the disorder raging more violently than ever. If cool weather, accompanied by rain, does not put a stop to the malady, distressing indeed must be the case of that city, now almost depopulated by removals and deaths.

I am, dear Sir, &c.1
George Washington
Washington, George
16 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Henry Lee
Lee, Henry

TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Since my arrival at this place I have been favored with your letters of the 17th ultimo and 7th instant. For your kind attentions to me I pray you to receive my sincere acknowledgments.

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I have always, (from the accounts given of it,) entertained a high opinion of Colonel Taliaferro’s threshing machine, but knew at the same time I had no stream that could supply water for one on any of my farms. This was confirmed when Mr. Payne came hither and examined them. The model brought over by the English farmers may also be a good one, but the utility of it among careless negroes and ignorant overseers will depend absolutely upon the simplicity of the construction; for, if there is any thing complex in the machinery, it will be no longer in use than a mushroom is in existence. I have seen so much of the beginning and ending of new inventions, that I have almost resolved to go on in the old way of treading, until I get settled again at home, and can attend myself to the management of one. As a proof in point, of the almost impossibility of putting the overseers of this country out of the track they have been accustomed to walk in, I have one of the most convenient barns in this, or perhaps any other country, where thirty hands may with great ease be employed in threshing. Half of the wheat of the farm was actually stowed in this barn in the straw, by my order, for threshing; notwithstanding, when I came home about the middle of September, Edition: current; Page: [342] I found a treading-yard not thirty feet from the barndoor, the wheat again brought out of the barn, and horses treading it out in an open exposure, liable to the vicissitudes of weather. I am now erecting a building for the express purpose of treading. I have sanguine expectations of its utility; and, if I am not deceived in them, it may afford you some satisfaction, when you come into this part of the country, to call and look at it.

I have a grateful sense of your kind offer of Mr. Workman. Previous, however, to the communication, I had engaged a manager from the eastern shore of Maryland; but the impression on my mind for the favor intended me is not lessened on that account.

I have not, as you will perceive, touched the subject of politics in this letter. The reasons are, your letter of the 17th has expressed precisely my ideas of the conduct and views of those, who are aiming at nothing short of the subversion of the government of these States, even at the expense of plunging this country in the horrors of a disastrous war; and because I wish to wait a little longer to see what may be the sense of legally constituted bodies, at the meetings which are about to take place.

The public service requiring it, I shall set off in about ten days for Philadelphia or the vicinity. Though unknown to your lady, I beg my respectful compliments may be presented to her. I wish an agreeable and harmonious session, and am, with much truth, your affectionate humble servant.

Edition: current; Page: [343]
George Washington
Washington, George
23 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 14th instant only came by the post of last night to Alexandria, and this is sent thither today, that it may go by to-morrow’s mail, and thereby reach you as soon as the nature of the case will admit.

As you have given no positive opinion respecting the power of the executive to change the place for Congress to meet at,1 and as it is uncertain what will be the result of this business, I am really at a loss to decide which of the three houses, mentioned in the postscript to your letter of the above date, would best suit me, or whether either of them would.

If, from the present state of the malady, with which Philadelphia is visited, and there is an unfavorable prospect of its ceasing, Germantown should be thought unsafe, and of course an ineligible spot for Congress to sit in or meet at, even in the first instance, any kind of lodging and board would suffice for the short stay I should have to remain there, especially as all the time, not employed in business with the heads of departments and yourself, might be spent in little excursions to places at a small distance therefrom. Of course all idea of furnishing and keeping a house myself, being entirely unprovided with servants or means of any sort, ought to be banished entirely, if it be practicable, and some rooms, even in a tavern, if I could be retired in them, taken in preference. On the other hand, if my stay Edition: current; Page: [344] there is likely to be of any continuance, then unquestionably Colonel Franks’s (if to be had) would suit me best, because more commodious for myself and the entertainment of company; and, next to this, Bensel’s.

This is the light in which the matter strikes me at this distance. But, as you are on the spot, know more precisely than I possibly can do the real state of things, and besides, have been in the way of having the various opinions of people on the subject of what Congress ought to do, I would leave much to your judgment. I shall set out, so as to be in Germantown or thereabouts the 1st of November, if no difficulties should be encountered on the road. As there can be but a short interval between your receipt of this letter and my arrival, any place might do for my first reception.

It is not in my power to despatch a servant before me. I shall have but two, neither of which can be spared for such a purpose. These, with five horses, Mr. Dandridge, and myself, form the total of my family and equipage. It would be very convenient for me, therefore, to meet a letter from you at Wilmington, that I may know better how to proceed from thence, and where to cross the Schuylkill.

My best wishes, in which Mrs. Washington unites, attend you, Mrs. Randolph, and family. We are glad to hear, that your apprehensions on account of Peyton have subsided. With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [345]
George Washington
Washington, George
24 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Richard Henry Lee
Lee, Richard Henry

TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of yesterday was handed to me upon my return from my usual ride, and almost at the moment I was sitting down with company to dinner, which prevented my acknowledging the receipt of it by your servant. I am sorry, I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you and your lady before I return to the northward, and regret the cause. On Sunday, if I can previously arrange some business that presses, I shall commence my journey; and, if I can render you any service whither I am going, I should be happy in doing it.

On fair ground, it would be difficult to assign Edition: current; Page: [346] reasons for the conduct of those, who are arraigning and, constantly so far (as they are able) embarrassing the measures of government, with respect to its pacific disposition towards the belligerent powers in the convulsive dispute, which agitated them. But their motives are too obvious to those, who have the means of information, and have viewed the different grounds they have taken, to mistake their object. It is not the cause of France, nor I believe of liberty, which they regard; for, could they involve this country in war (no matter with whom) and disgrace, they would be among the first and loudest of the clamorers against the expense and impolicy of the measure.

The specimens you have seen of M. Genet’s sentiments and conduct in the gazettes form a small part only of the aggregate. But you can judge from these to what test the temper of the executive has been put, in its various transactions with this gentleman. It is probable that the whole will be exhibited to public view in the course of the next session of Congress. Delicacy towards his nation has restrained doing it hitherto. The best that can be said of this agent is, that he is entirely unfit for the mission on which he is employed; unless, contrary to the express and unequivocal declaration of his country (which I hope is not the case), made through himself, it is meant to involve ours in all the horrors of a European war. This, or interested motives of his own, or having become the dupe and the tool of a party formed on various principles, but to effect local Edition: current; Page: [347] purposes, is the only solution that can be given of his conduct. I sincerely wish that Mrs. [Lee] and yourself may soon and effectually recover your health; and with very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
25 October, 1793
Mount Vernon
Francis Willis
Willis, Francis

TO FRANCIS WILLIS.

Sir,

Your letter of the 4th of August had to go to Philadelphia and come back, before I received it.

The mistakes which have happened respecting the Negroes of the late Mrs. Samuel Washington are somewhat singular; and it is not a little surprizing after the first mistake had happened, and so much pains had been taken to account for, and set it right, that now, after a lapse of five or six years, the whole matter should assume quite a different face. It should be Discovered at this late hour that, that lady herself had no right to the Negroes, which by the bye, I believe possession alone would give her.

If I had ever intended to avail myself of the Law for my own benefit (which made me heir to those Negroes,) I would not have relinquished my claim without a thorough investigation of the subject of defective title. For presuming that all Law is founded on equity, and being under a conviction that if Mrs. Washington had survived her husband, Edition: current; Page: [348] she would have released nothing to which she would have been entitled by law, I saw no injustice or impropriety upon the ground of reciprocity of receiving for my Brother’s Children that which in the other case would have been taken from them. But not having finally resolved in my own mind (as you may readily infer from my long silence) whether to take from Mrs. Washington’s family for the benefit of my Brother’s only daughter (who, from the involved state of his affairs, had left her by his will a very small pittance; and the obtainment of that, even doubtful) the whole or only part of what the law entitled me to, I let the matter rest till your second letter had revived the subject.

I now, in order to close the business finally, have come to the following conclusions. Pay me one hundred pounds which I shall give to my Niece for her immediate support, and I will quit claim to all the Negroes which belonged to Mrs. Saml. Washington, and will release them accordingly. I am, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
1 December, 1793
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Is there no clue to Mr. Morris’s meaning respecting Monsieur Merlino? The next paragraph of his letter is enigmatical to me from the want of my recollecting perfectly the subjects alluded to. What are the orders given him, which he will implicitly obey, and which were, according to his account, received so very opportunely? Has not a letter of his, of subsequent date to that laid before me yesterday, acknowledged the receipt of the plans of the Federal City.

There can be no doubt, since the information which has come to hand from our ministers at Paris and London, of the propriety of changing the expression of the message as it respects the acts of France. And if any bad consequences, (which I still declare I see no cause to apprehend,) are likely to flow from a public communication of matters relative to Great Britain, it might be well to revise the thing again in your own mind before it is sent in, especially as the Secretary of the Treasury has more than once declared, and has offered to discuss and prove, that we receive more substantial benefits (favors are beside the question with any of them, because they are not intended as such,) from British regulations, with respect to the commerce of this country, than we do from those of France; antecedent, I mean, to those of very recent date. We should be very cautious, if Edition: current; Page: [350] this be the case, not to advance any thing that may recoil, or take ground we cannot support.

Yours always.1

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, DECEMBER 3D, 1793.

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

Since the commencement of the term, for which I have been again called into office, no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to my fellow-citizens at large, the deep and respectful sense, which I feel, of the renewed testimony of public approbation. While, on the one hand, it awakened my gratitude for all those instances of affectionate partiality, with which I have been honored by my country; on the other, it could not prevent an earnest wish for that retirement, from which no private consideration should ever have torn me. But influenced by the belief, that my conduct would be estimated according to its real motives, and that the people, and the authorities derived from them, would support exertions having nothing personal for their object, I have obeyed the suffrage, which commanded me to resume the executive power; and I humbly implore that Being, on whose will the Edition: current; Page: [351] fate of nations depends, to crown with success our mutual endeavors for the general happiness.

As soon as the war in Europe had embraced those powers, with whom the United States have the most extensive relations, there was reason to apprehend, that our intercourse with them might be interrupted, and our disposition for peace drawn into question, by the suspicions too often entertained by belligerent nations. It seemed, therefore, to be my duty to admonish our citizens of the consequences of a contraband trade, and of hostile acts to any of the parties; and to obtain, by a declaration of the existing legal state of things, an easier admission of our right to the immunities belonging to our situation. Under these impressions, the Proclamation, which will be laid before you, was issued.

In this posture of affairs, both new and delicate, I resolved to adopt general rules, which should conform to the treaties and assert the privileges of the United States. These were reduced into a system, which will be communicated to you. Although I have not thought myself at liberty to forbid the sale of the prizes, permitted by our treaty of commerce with France to be brought into our ports, I have not refused to cause them to be restored, when they were taken within the protection of our territory, or by vessels commissioned or equipped in a warlike form within the limits of the United States.

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It rests with the wisdom of Congress to correct, improve, or enforce this plan of procedure; and it will probably be found expedient to extend the legal code, and the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States, to many cases, which, though dependent on principles already recognised, demand some further provisions.

Where individuals shall within the United States array themselves in hostility against any of the powers at war; or enter upon military expeditions or enterprises within the jurisdiction of the United States; or usurp and exercise judicial authority within the United States; or where the penalties on violations of the law of nations may have been indistinctly marked, or are inadequate; these offences cannot receive too early and close an attention, and require prompt and decisive remedies.

Whatsoever those remedies may be, they will be well administered by the judiciary, who possess a long-established course of investigation, effectual process, and officers in the habit of executing it. In like manner, as several of the courts have doubted, under particular circumstances, their power to liberate the vessels of a nation at peace, and even of a citizen of the United States, although seized under a false color of being hostile property; and have denied their power to liberate certain captures within the protection of our territory; it would seem proper to regulate their jurisdiction in these points. But if the executive is to be the resort in either of the two last-mentioned cases, it is hoped, that he will be authorized by law to have facts ascertained by the courts, when, for his own information, he shall request it.

I cannot recommend to your notice measures for the fulfilment of our duties to the rest of the world, without again pressing upon you the necessity of placing ourselves in a condition of complete defence, and of exacting from them the fulfilment of their duties towards us. The United States ought not to indulge a persuasion, that, contrary to the order of human events, they will for ever keep at a distance those painful appeals to arms, with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we Edition: current; Page: [353] desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for war.

The documents, which will be presented to you, will show the amount and kinds of arms and military stores now in our magazines and arsenals; and yet an addition even to these supplies cannot with prudence be neglected, as it would leave nothing to the uncertainty of procuring a warlike apparatus in the moment of public danger. Nor can such arrangements, with such objects, be exposed to the censure or jealousy of the warmest friends of republican government. They are incapable of abuse in the hands of the militia, who ought to possess a pride in being the depository of the force of the Republic, and may be trained to a degree of energy, equal to every military exigency of the United States. But it is an inquiry, which cannot be too solemnly pursued, whether the act “more effectually to provide for the national defence by establishing a uniform militia throughout the United States,” has organized them so as to produce their full effect; whether your own experience in the several States has not detected some imperfections in the scheme; and whether a material feature, in an improvement of it, ought not to be to afford an opportunity for the study of those branches of the military art, which can scarcely ever be attained by practice alone.

The connexion of the United States with Europe has become extremely interesting. The occurrences, which relate to it, and have passed under the knowledge of the executive, will be exhibited to Congress in a subsequent communication.

When we contemplate the war on our frontiers, it may be truly affirmed, that every reasonable effort has been made to adjust the causes of dissension with the Indians north of the Ohio. The instructions given to the commissioners evince a moderation and equity proceeding from a sincere love of peace, and a liberality having no restriction but the essential interests and dignity of the United States. The attempt, however, of an amicable negotiation having been frustrated, the troops have marched to act offensively. Although the proposed treaty did not arrest the progress of military preparation, it is doubtful how far the advance of the season, before good faith justified active movements, may Edition: current; Page: [354] retard them, during the remainder of the year. From the papers and intelligence, which relate to this important subject, you will determine, whether the deficiency in the number of troops, granted by law, shall be compensated by succors of militia; or additional encouragements shall be proposed to recruits. An anxiety has been also demonstrated by the executive for peace with the Creeks and the Cherokees. The former have been relieved with corn and with clothing, and offensive measures against them prohibited, during the recess of Congress. To satisfy the complaints of the latter, prosecutions have been instituted for the violences committed upon them. But the papers, which will be delivered to you, disclose the critical footing on which we stand in regard to both those tribes; and it is with Congress to pronounce what shall be done.

After they shall have provided for the present emergency, it will merit their most serious labors, to render tranquillity with the savages permanent by creating ties of interest. Next to a rigorous execution of justice on the violators of peace, the establishment of commerce with the Indian nations on behalf of the United States is most likely to conciliate their attachment. But it ought to be conducted without fraud, without extortion, with constant and plentiful supplies, with a ready market for the commodities of the Indians, and a stated price for what they give in payment, and receive in exchange. Individuals will not pursue such a traffic, unless they be allured by the hope of profit; but it will be enough for the United States to be reimbursed only. Should this recommendation accord with the opinion of Congress, they will recollect, that it cannot be accomplished by any means yet in the hands of the Executive.

GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

The commissioners, charged with the settlement of accounts between the United and individual States, concluded their important functions within the time limited by law; and the balances, struck in their report, which will be laid before Congress, have been placed on the books of the treasury.

On the first day of June last, an instalment of one million of florins became payable on the loans of the United States in Holland. Edition: current; Page: [355] This was adjusted by a prolongation of the period of reimbursement, in the nature of a new loan, at interest at five per cent. for the term of ten years: and the expenses of this operation were a commission of three per cent.

The first instalment of the loan of two millions of dollars from the bank of the United States has been paid, as was directed by law. For the second, it is necessary that provision should be made.

No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt; on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.

The productiveness of the public revenues hitherto has continued to equal the anticipations which were formed of it; but it is not expected to prove commensurate with all the objects, which have been suggested. Some auxiliary provisions will, therefore, it is presumed, be requisite; and it is hoped that these may be made, consistently with a due regard to the convenience of our citizens, who cannot but be sensible of the true wisdom of encountering a small present addition to their contributions, to obviate a future accumulation of burdens.

But here I cannot forbear to recommend a repeal of the tax on the transportation of public prints. There is no resource so firm for the government of the United States, as the affections of the people, guided by an enlightened policy; and to this primary good, nothing can conduce more than a faithful representation of public proceedings, diffused without restraint throughout the United States.

An estimate of the appropriations necessary for the current service of the ensuing year, and a statement of a purchase of arms and military stores made during the recess, will be presented to Congress.

GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

The several objects, to which I have now referred, open a wide range to your deliberations, and involve some of the choicest interests of our common country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of your task. Without an unprejudiced Edition: current; Page: [356] coolness, the welfare of the government may be hazarded; without harmony, as far as consists with freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But as the legislative proceedings of the United States will never, I trust, be reproached for the want of temper or candor; so shall not the public happiness languish from the want of my strenuous and warmest coöperations.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS; RESPECTING THE FRENCH MINISTER GENET, AND THE RELATIONS WITH FRANCE, DECEMBER 5, 1793.

As the present situation of the several nations of Europe, and especially of those with which the United States have important relations, cannot but render the state of things between them and us matter of interesting inquiry to the legislature, and may indeed give rise to deliberations, to which they alone are competent, I have thought it my duty to communicate to them certain correspondences which have taken place.

The representative and executive bodies of France have manifested generally a friendly attachment to this country, have given advantages to our commerce and navigation, and have made overtures for placing these advantages on permanent ground; a decree, however, of the National Assembly, subjecting vessels laden with provisions to be carried into their ports, and making enemy goods lawful prize in the vessel of a friend, contrary to our treaty, though revoked at one time as to the United States, has been since extended to their vessels also, as has been recently stated to us. Representations on the subject will be immediately given in charge to our minister there, and the result shall be communicated to the legislature.

It is with extreme concern I have to inform you, that the proceedings of the person, whom they have unfortunately appointed their minister plenipotentiary here, have breathed nothing of the friendly spirit of the nation, which sent him; their tendency, on the contrary, has been to involve us in war abroad, and discord and anarchy at home. So far as his acts, or those of his agents, have threatened our immediate commitment in the war, or Edition: current; Page: [357] flagrant insult to the authority of the laws, their effect has been counteracted by the ordinary cognizance of the laws, and by an exertion of the powers confided to me. Where their danger was not imminent, they have been borne with, from sentiments of regard to his nation; from a sense of their friendship towards us; from a conviction, that they would not suffer us to remain long exposed to the action of a person, who has so little respected our mutual dispositions; and, I will add, from a reliance on the firmness of my fellow-citizens in their principles of peace and order.

In the mean time, I have respected and pursued the stipulations of our treaties, according to what I judged their true sense; and have withheld no act of friendship, which their affairs have called for from us, and which justice to others left us free to perform. I have gone further; rather than employ force for the restitution of certain vessels, which I deemed the United States bound to restore, I thought it more advisable to satisfy the parties, by avowing it to be my opinion, that, if restitution were not made, it would be incumbent on the United States to make compensation. The papers, now communicated, will more particularly apprize you of these transactions.

The vexations and spoliation, understood to have been committed on our vessels and commerce by the cruisers and officers of some of the belligerent powers, appeared to require attention. The proofs of these, however, not having been brought forward, the description of citizens supposed to have suffered were notified, that, on furnishing them to the executive, due measures would be taken to obtain redress of the past, and more effectual provisions against the future. Should such documents be furnished, proper representations will be made thereon, with a just reliance on a redress proportioned to the exigency of the case.

The British government having undertaken, by orders to the commanders of their armed vessels, to restrain, generally, our commerce in corn and other provisions to their own ports and those of their friends, the instructions now communicated were immediately forwarded to our minister at that court. In the mean time, some discussions on the subject took place between him and them. These are also laid before you; and I may Edition: current; Page: [358] expect to learn the result of his special instructions, in time to make it known to the legislature, during their present session.

Very early after the arrival of a British minister here, mutual explanations on the inexecution of the treaty of peace were entered into with that minister; these are now laid before you for your information.

On the subjects of mutual interest between this country and Spain, negotiations and conferences are now depending. The public good requiring that the present state of these should be made known to the legislature in confidence only, they shall be the subject of a separate and subsequent communication.1

George Washington
Washington, George
12 December, 1793
Philadelphia
Arthur Young
Young, Arthur

TO ARTHUR YOUNG.

Sir:

I wrote to you three months ago, or more, by my late secretary and friend, Mr. Lear; but as his departure from this country for Great Britain, was delayed longer than he or I expected, it is at least probable that that letter will not have reached your hands at a much earlier period than the one I am now writing.

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At the time it was written, the thoughts which I am now about to disclose to you, were not even in embryo; and whether, in the opinion of others, there be impropriety, or not, in communicating the object which has given birth to them, is not for me to decide. My own mind reproaches me with none; but if yours should view the subject differently, burn this letter, and the draught which accompanies it, and the whole matter will be consigned to oblivion.

All my landed property, east of the Apalachian mountains, is under rent, except the estate called Mount Vernon. This, hitherto, I have kept in my own hands; but, from my present situation, from my advanced time of life, from a wish to live free from care, and as much at my ease as possible, during the remainder of it, and from other causes, which are not necessary to detail, I have, latterly, entertained serious thoughts of letting this estate also, reserving the mansion house farm for my own residence, occupation and amusement in agriculture; provided I can obtain what is, in my own judgment, and in the opinions of others whom I have consulted, the low rent which I shall mention hereafter; and provided also I can settle it with good farmers.

The quantity of ploughable land (including meadow), the relative situation of the farms to one another, and the division of those farms into separate inclosures, with the quantity and situation of the woodlands appertaining to the tract will be better delineated by the sketch herewith sent (which is made Edition: current; Page: [360] from actual surveys, subject, nevertheless, to revision and correction), than by a volume of words.

No estate in United America, is more pleasantly situated than this. It lies in a high, dry and healthy country, 300 miles by water from the sea, and, as you will see by the plan, on one of the finest rivers in the world. Its margin is washed by more than ten miles of tide water; from the bed of which, and the innumerable coves, inlets, and small marshes, with which it abounds, an inexhaustible fund of rich mud may be drawn, as a manure, either to be used separately, or in a compost, according to the judgment of the farmer. It is situated in a latitude between the extremes of heat and cold, and is the same distance by land and water, with good roads, and the best navigation (to and) from the Federal City, Alexandria, and Georgetown; distant from the first, twelve, from the second, nine, and from the last sixteen miles. The Federal City, in the year 1800, will become the seat of the general government of the United States. It is increasing fast in buildings, and rising into consequence; and will, I have no doubt, from the advantages given to it by nature, and its proximity to a rich interior country, and the western territory, become the emporium of the United States. The soil of the tract of which I am speaking, is a good loam, more inclined however, to clay than sand. From use, and I might add, abuse, it is become more and more consolidated, and of course heavier to work. The greater part is a greyish clay; some part is a dark mould; a very little is Edition: current; Page: [361] inclined to sand; and scarcely any to stone.1 A husbandman’s wish would not lay the farms more level than they are; and yet some of the fields (but in no great degree) are washed into gullies, from which all of them have not yet been recovered.

This river, which encompasses the land the distance above-mentioned, is well supplied with various kinds of fish, at all seasons of the year; and, in the spring, with the greatest profusion of shad, herrings, bass, carp, perch, sturgeon, &c. Several valuable fisheries appertain to the estate; the whole shore, in short, is one entire fishery.

There are, as you will perceive by the plan, four farms besides that at the mansion house: these four contain 3260 acres of cultivable land, to which some hundreds more, adjoining, as may be seen, might be added, if a greater quantity should be required; but as they were never designed for, so neither can it be said they are calculated to suit, tenants of either the first, or of the lower class; because, those who have the strength and resources proportioned to farms of from 500 to 1200 acres (which these contain), would Edition: current; Page: [362] hardly be contented to live in such houses as are thereon; and if they were to be divided and subdivided, so as to accommodate tenants of small means, say from 50 to one or 200 acres, there would be none, except on the lots which might happen to include the present dwelling-houses of my overlookers (called bailiffs with you), barns, and negro cabins; nor would I choose to have the wood-land (already too much pillaged of its timber) ransacked, for the purpose of building many more. The soil, however, is excellent for bricks, or for mud walls; and to the building of such houses, there would be no limitation, nor to that of thatch for the cover of them.

The towns already mentioned (to those who might incline to encounter the expense) are able to furnish scantling, plank and shingles, to any amount, and on reasonable terms; and they afford a ready market also for the produce of the land.

On what is called the Union Farm (containing 928 acres of arable and meadow), there is a newly erected brick barn, equal, perhaps, to any in America, and for conveniences of all sorts, particularly for sheltering and feeding horses, cattle, &c., scarcely to be exceeded any where. A new house is now building in a central position, not far from the barn, for the overlookers; which will have two rooms, 16 by 18 feet, below, and one or two above, nearly of the same size. Convenient thereto is sufficient accommodation for fifty odd negroes, old and young; but these buildings might not be thought good enough for the workmen, or day-laborers, of your country.

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Besides these, a little without the limits of the farm (as marked in the plan), are one or two other houses, very pleasantly situated, and which, in case this farm should be divided into two (as it formerly was), would answer well for the eastern division. The buildings thus enumerated, are all that stand on the premises.

The Dogue Run Farm (650 acres) has a small, but new, building, for the overlooker; one room only below, and the same above, 16 by 20 each; decent and comfortable for its size. It has also covering for forty odd negroes, similar to what is mentioned on Union Farm. It has a new circular barn, now finishing, on a new construction; well calculated, it is conceived, for getting grain out of the straw more expeditiously than in the usual mode of threshing. There are good sheds also erecting, sufficient to cover 30 work-horses and oxen.

Muddy-hole Farm (476 acres) has a house for the overlooker, in size and appearance nearly like that of Dogue Run, but older; the same kind of covering for about 30 negroes, and a tolerable good barn, with stables for the work-horses.

River Farm, which is the largest of the four, and separated from the others by Little Hunting Creek, contains 1207 acres of ploughable land, has an overlooker’s house, of one large and two small rooms below, and one or two above; sufficient covering for 50 or 60 negroes, like those before-mentioned; a large barn, and stables, gone much to decay, but will be replaced next year with new ones.

I have deemed it necessary to give this detail of Edition: current; Page: [364] the buildings, that a precise idea might be had of the conveniences and inconveniences of them; and I believe the recital is just in all its parts. The inclosures are precisely and accurately delineated in the plan; and the fences now are, or soon will be in respectable order.

I would lett these four farms to four substantial farmers of wealth and strength sufficient to cultivate them, and who would ensure to me the regular payment of the rents; and I would give them leases for seven or ten years, at the rate of a Spanish milled dollar, or other money current at the time in this country, equivalent thereto, for every acre of ploughable and mowable ground, within the inclosures of the respective farms, as marked in the plan; and would allow the tenants, during that period, to take fuel; and use timber from the woodland to repair the buildings and to keep the fences in order, until live fences could be substituted in place of dead ones; but, in this case, no sub-tenants would be allowed.

Or, if these farms are adjudged too large, and the rents, of course, too heavy for such farmers as might incline to emigrate, I should have no insuperable objection against dividing each into as many small ones, as a society of them, formed for the purpose, could agree upon, among themselves; even if it should be by the fields as they are now arranged (which the plan would enable them to do), provided such buildings as they would be content with, should be erected at their own expence, in the manner already mentioned. In which case, as in the former, fuel, and Edition: current; Page: [365] timber for repairs, would be allowed; but, as an inducement to parcel out my grounds into such small tenements, and to compensate me, at the same time, for the greater consumption of fuel and timber, and for the trouble and expence of collecting small rents, I should expect a quarter of a dollar per acre, in addition to what I have already mentioned. But in order to make these small farms more valuable to the occupants, and by way of reimbursing them for the expence of their establishment thereon, I would grant them leases for 15 or 18 years; although I have weighty objections to the measure, founded on my own experience, of the disadvantage it is to the lessor, in a country where lands are rising every year in value. As an instance in proof, about 20 years ago, I gave leases for three lives, in land I held above the Blue Mountains, near the Shenandoah river, seventy miles from Alexandria, or any shipping port, at a rent of one shilling per acre (no part being then cleared); and now land of similar quality, in the vicinity, with very trifling improvements thereon, is renting, currently, at five and more shillings per acre, and even as high as eight.

My motives for letting this estate having been avowed, I will add that the whole (except the mansion-house farm), or none, will be parted with, and that upon unequivocal terms; because my object is to fix my income (be it what it may) upon a solid basis, in the hands of good farmers; because I am not inclined to make a medley of it; and, above all, because I could not relinquish my present course, without Edition: current; Page: [366] a moral certainty of the substitute which is contemplated; for to break up these farms, remove my negroes, and to dispose of the property on them, upon terms short of this, would be ruinous.

Having said thus much, I am disposed to add further, that it would be in my power, and certainly it would be my inclination (upon the principle above), to accommodate the wealthy, or the weak-handed farmer (and upon reasonable terms) with draught-horses, and working mules and oxen; with cattle, sheep, and hogs; and with such implements of husbandry, if they should not incline to bring them themselves, as are in use on the farms. On the four farms there are 54 draught-horses, 12 working mules, and a sufficiency of oxen, broke to the yoke; the precise number I am unable this moment to ascertain, as they are comprehended in the aggregate of the black cattle; of the latter there are 317; of sheep, 634; of hogs, many; but as these run pretty much at large in the woodland (which is all under fence), the number is uncertain. Many of the negroes, male and female, might be hired by the year, as laborers, if this should be preferred to the importation of that class of people; but it deserves consideration, how far the mixing of whites and blacks together is advisable, especially where the former are entirely unacquainted with the latter.

If there be those who are disposed to take these farms in their undivided state, on the terms which have been mentioned, it is an object of sufficient magnitude for them, or one of them, in behalf of the Edition: current; Page: [367] rest, to come over and investigate the premises thoroughly, that there may be nothing to reproach themselves or me with, if (though unintentionally) there should be defects in any part of the information herein given; or, if a society of farmers are disposed to adventure, it is still more incumbent on them to send over an agent, for the purposes above-mentioned; for with me the measure must be so fixed, as to preclude any cavil or discussion thereafter. And it may not be mal apropos to observe in this place, that our overlookers are generally engaged, and all the arrangements for the ensuing crops are made before the first of September in every year; it will be readily perceived, then, that if this period is suffered to pass away, it is not to be regained until the next year. Possession might be given to the new-comers at the season just mentioned, to enable them to put in their grain for the next crop; but the final relinquishment could not take place until the crops are gathered, which of Indian corn (maize) seldom happens till towards Christmas, as it must endure hard frosts before it can be safely housed.

I have endeavored, as far as my recollection of facts would enable me, or the documents in my possession allow, to give such information of the actual state of the farms, as to enable persons at a distance to form as distinct ideas as the nature of the thing is susceptible, short of one’s own view: and having communicated the motives which have inclined me to a change in my system, I will announce to you the origin of them.

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First. Few ships, of late, have arrived from any part of Great Britain, or Ireland, without a number of emigrants, and some of them by report very respectable and full-handed farmers. A number of others, they say, are desirous of following, but are unable to obtain passages; but their coming in that manner, even if I was apprized of their arrival in time, would not answer my views, for the reason already assigned; and which, as it is the ultimatum at present, I will take the liberty of repeating, namely, that I must carry my plan into complete execution, or not attempt it; and under such auspices, too, as to leave no doubt of the exact fulfillment; and,

2dly, Because, from the number of letters which I have received myself (and, as it would seem, from respectable people), inquiring into matters of this sort, with intimations of their wishes, and even intentions of migrating to this country, I can have no doubt of succeeding. But I have made no reply to these inquiries; or, if any, in very general terms, because I did not want to engage in correspondences of this sort with persons of whom I had no knowledge, nor indeed leisure for them, if I had been so disposed.

I shall now conclude as I began, with a desire, that if you see any impropriety in making these sentiments known to that class of people who might wish to avail themselves of the occasion, that it may not be mentioned. By a law, or by some regulation of your government, artisans, I am well aware, are laid under restraints; and, for this reason, I have Edition: current; Page: [369] studiously avoided any overtures to mechanics, although my occasions call for them. But never having heard that difficulties were thrown in the way of husbandmen by the government, is one reason for my bringing this matter to your view. A second is, that having yourself expressed sentiments which shewed that you had cast an eye towards this country, and was not inattentive to the welfare of it, I was led to make my intentions known to you, that if you or your friends, were disposed to avail yourselves of the knowledge, you might take prompt measures for the execution.—And 3dly, I was sure, if you had lost sight of the object yourself, I could, nevertheless, rely upon such information as you might see fit to give me, and upon such characters, too, as you might be disposed to recommend.

Lengthy as this epistle is, I will crave your patience while I add, that it is written in too much haste, and under too great a pressure of public business, at the commencement of an important session of Congress, to be correct, or properly digested. But the season of the year, and the apprehension of ice, are hurrying away the last vessel bound from this port to London. I am driven therefore to the alternative of making the matter known in this hasty manner, and giving a rude sketch of the farms, which is the subject of it; or to encounter delay. The first I preferred. It can hardly be necessary to add, that I have no desire that any formal prolongation of these sentiments should be made.

To accomplish my wishes, in the manner expressed, Edition: current; Page: [370] would be agreeable to me; and in a way that cannot be exceptionable, would be more so. With much esteem and regard, &c.1

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS; RELATIVE TO TRANSACTIONS WITH SPAIN, DECEMBER 16TH, 1793.

The situation of affairs in Europe, in the course of the year 1790, having rendered it possible that a moment might arrive favorable for the arrangement of our unsettled matters with Spain, it was thought proper to prepare a representative at that court to avail us of it. A confidential person was therefore despatched to be the bearer of instructions to him, and to supply, by verbal Edition: current; Page: [371] communications, any additional information of which he might find himself in need. The government of France was at the same time applied to for its aid and influence in this negotiation. Events, however, took a turn, which did not present the occasion hoped for.

About the close of the ensuing year I was informed, through the representatives of Spain here, that their government would be willing to renew at Madrid the former conferences on these subjects. Though the transfer of scene was not what would have been desired, yet I did not think it important enough to reject the proposition; and therefore, with the advice and consent of the Senate, I appointed commissioners plenipotentiary for negotiating and concluding a treaty with that country on the several subjects of boundary, navigation, and commerce, and gave them the instructions now communicated. Before these negotiations, however, could be got into train, the new troubles which had arisen in Europe had produced new combinations among the powers there, the effects of which are but too visible in the proceedings now laid before you.

In the meantime, some other points of discussion had arisen with that country, to wit, the restitution of property escaping into the territories of each other, the mutual exchange of fugitives from justice, and above all the mutual interferences with the Indians lying between us. I had the best reason to believe that the hostilities threatened and exercised by the southern Indians on our border were excited by the agents of that government. Representations were thereon directed to be made by our commissioners to the Spanish government, and a proposal to cultivate with good faith the peace of each other with those people. In the mean time, corresponding suspicions were entertained, or pretended to be entertained, on their part, of like hostile excitements by our agents to disturb their peace with the same nations. These were brought forward by the representatives of Spain here in a style which could not fail to produce attention. A claim of patronage and protection of those Indians was asserted; a mediation between them and us by that sovereign assumed; their boundaries with us made a subject of interference; and at length, at the very moment when these savages were committing Edition: current; Page: [372] daily inroads upon our frontier, we were informed by them, that “the continuation of the peace, good harmony, and perfect friendship of the two nations was very problematical for the future unless the United States should take more convenient measures and of greater energy than those adopted for a long time past.”

If their previous correspondence had worn the appearance of a desire to urge on a disagreement, this last declaration left no room to evade it, since it could not be conceived we would submit to the scalping-knife and tomahawk of the savage without any resistance. I thought it time, therefore, to know if these were the views of their sovereign; and despatched a special messenger with instructions to our commissioners, which are among the papers now communicated. Their last letter gives us reason to expect very shortly to know the result. I must add, that the Spanish representatives here, perceiving that their last communication had made considerable impression, endeavored to abate this by some subsequent professions, which being also among the communications to the legislature, they will be able to form their own conclusions.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 December, 1793
Philadelphia
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

It was my wish, for many reasons (needless to enumerate) to have retained Mr. Jefferson in administration, to the end of the present Session of Congress, but he is so decidedly opposed to it, that I can no longer hint this to him.

I now wish for your permission to nominate you to it, the office of Secretary of State, and will add, that your compliance would give me pleasure. Mr. Jefferson will quit it the last day of this month and proposes to set out for Virginia a few days afterwards.

I am always, &c.
Edition: current; Page: [373]
George Washington
Washington, George
31 December, 1793
Philadelphia
William White
White, William

TO WILLIAM WHITE.1
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

It has been my intention ever since my return to the city, to contribute my mite towards the relief of the most needy inhabitants of it. The pressure of public business hitherto has suspended, but not altered my resolution. I am at a loss, however, for whose benefit to apply the Little I can give, and in whose hands to place it; whether for the use of the fatherless children and widows, made so by the late calamity, who may find it difficult, whilst provisions, wood, and other necessaries are so dear, to support themselves; or to other and better purposes, if any, I know not, and therefore have taken the liberty of asking your advice.

I persuade myself justice will be done to my motives for giving you this trouble. To obtain information, and to render the little I can afford, without ostentation or mention of my name, are the sole objects of these inquiries. With great and sincere esteem and regard, I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [374]
George Washington
Washington, George
13 January, 1793
Anthony Whiting
Whiting, Anthony

LETTERS TO ANTHONY WHITING, 1793.1

I never had it in contemplation to withdraw the hands from the river, or any other Plantation to aid at the mansion house, if their work should be required at home: therefore I find no difficulty in releasing the river force from this service, if there is really work enough to employ them at home; which is indeed very probable, as they have spent all the fall and half the winter in getting in their corn:—a thing hardly ever heard of before in the worst of weather, much less in such as we have had, and which perhaps never was seen before. If there was any way of making such a rascal as Garner2 pay for such conduct, no punishment would be too great for him. I suppose he never turned out of morning’s until the sun had warmed the earth;—and if he did not, the negros would not:—and if you do not watch the motions of such people (now and then) in the mornings, it will, more than probably be the case with the rest who are on standing wages; and who feel no interest in the crop, whether it be great or small. For in this case principle, and a regard for reputation, are the only motives to stimulate industry, and unfortunately, too few of that class of (common) overseers, are overburthened with either of those.

I am perfectly sensible of the scarcity of timber at the River Plantation, and the distance it is to draw at some others; and this principally (but aided by many others) is the reason why for many years back, I have been laboring, but in vain, to substitute live, instead of dead fences; and which I will no longer, under any pretences whatsoever, delay doing. My frequent and long absences from home prevented my attending to the business personally; and no recommendation, nor indeed orders, could draw the attention of those to whom I entrusted my affairs in the manner it ought—for the seasons were either suffered to pass away before the measure was thought of by them, or the work executed in such a manner as to produce no good effect. Now, as I mean to make hedging a business and a primary one, and when I add that I cannot be more disappointed, or disobliged by anything, than in neglecting the season, and the means to accomplish Edition: current; Page: [375] the measure, I shall hope to be relieved in a few years from the great consumption of timber which such a quantity of fencing as I have, will occasion; and the consequent transportation of the rails to such a variety of cross-fences as there are, but which in the first instances at least, might be made of any sort or kind of hedge that would turn horses, cattle and sheep—hogs not being admitted. * * *

Mr. Butler’s ideas may require correction, and to be assimilated a little more to the nature of our climate and soil; but I by no means disapprove of the idea of trying the efficacy of the mud which may be extracted from Hell hole, if he can contrive to get it up. I do not mean on a large scale; this would be expensive; but if the attempt was made on a few square rods of the poorest ground in the adjacent lot, with different quantities of each, the experiment might and unquestionably would, ascertain a fact which may be of great importance to know; and as experiments of this sort can be made at a small expence, it is wonderful and inexcusable they are not oftener attempted. And though it may be imprudent to risk a whole field of turnips for the purpose of folding upon (until the land can be brought into better order), yet it would certainly be right to practice this upon a small scale at first: and advance by degrees and according to the utility and advantages which are found to flow from it. Mr. Young (of Suffolk in England) who unquestionably understands the principles of farming as well as any man in England, and who has had as much practical knowledge, has given it as his decided opinion that the stock of every farm ought to be supported by the fallows. By fallows (for he reprobates the idea of naked fallows) he means turnips, cabbage, beans, clover, and such like, as are adapted to the soil, and which are part of his rotation crops. His great desiderata is, that large crops cannot be raised without large stocks of cattle and sheep. Nor large stocks of these without the fallows above mentioned; which are the best, if not the only, proper preparation for crops of grain. To get fully into a practice of this sort, in this country, must be more than the work of a year, two or three; but if it is never begun, it can never be executed. Turnips (where the land is fit for it) folded on, and clover, seems to be his plan. * * *

Edition: current; Page: [376]

Let Mr. Crow know that I view with a very evil eye the frequent reports made by him of sheep dying. When they are destroyed by dogs, it is more to be regretted than avoided perhaps—but frequent natural deaths is a very strong evidence to my mind of the want of care, or something worse, as the sheep are culled every year, and the old ones drawn out. * * * 13 January, 1793.

It is a little extraordinary that Davenport should delay making the experiment I directed so long as he did1; and then to do it in so unsatisfactory a manner; when he knew or might have known, that my object in making it was to ascertain whether my interest would be most promoted by manufacturing the wheat, or selling it in the grain. I fear he is too lazy to give the necessary attention to the business which is entrusted to him; for it was my full expectation that he would have mixed the common and white wheat by some uniform proportion together, through the whole manufactury of them; as they do at Brandywine and other mills in this State; where, it is the opinion of the millers that superfine flour, of the first quality, cannot be made without some white wheat. To do this would have given him a little trouble; and trouble, I presume, is what he is not overfond of. The price, as well as quantity of shorts and bran, ought to be inserted in the account to give it accuracy and fairness:—and this price ought to be regulated by their proportionate value to corn and oats, in feeding the work horses. After the danger of having the navigation of the creek interrupted by ice is over, it might not be amiss to save me the expence of storage of this article flour in Alexandria:—as it can, when sold, be sent from the mill in the first instance.

I am concerned to find that the crop of wheat is likely, ultimately, to fall so much below expectation;—and it is singular that all the stacks, latterly, though equal in size and appearance, should be so unequal in their yield, when compared with those which were first got out, in August and September. Disappointment in the wheaten crop I did not—I must own—expect. My apprehension that the Indian corn crop would fall short of the calculation was always great, even before the frost, and more so Edition: current; Page: [377] afterwards. You will, I am persuaded, have every care possible taken of it; and the bran, which will be a valuable aid to it.

I do not disapprove your sowing the new ground at Dogue Run with oats (in such quantity to the acre as you may judge best) along with the clover. It will, unquestionably, add to the profit which is to be derived from the ground; and I think the clover is always better sown with grain that will protect it (in its infant state) from the sun, and preserve it against weeds, than when it is sown quite alone. When you speak of clover for this ground, I presume you mean to mix timothy with it—this, in my opinion ought uniformly to be the case; except where it is sown for the purpose of seed. I do not care by what means, or in what way, the grass seeds are sown, so as that it is done with regularity; and the quantity allotted, bestowed to the acre. To mix it well with sand, or dry earth (sand is best), and the quantity of seed designed to the acre given to a bushel, say rather a bushel when mixed; and this sown by stakes where there be no regular furrows, is the best way I have ever tried;—for where the seedsman walks by stakes, and has been accustomed to sow wheat at the rate of a bushel to the acre, there can be no mistake in this mode. But he must possess more skill than falls to the lot of our common overseers, who can sow the naked seed regularly, and in due proportions: and without furrows or stakes, no man living can do it well, unless it be by chance.

It will be highly pleasing to me if the swamps at the Ferry and French’s could be so well prepared, as to be laid down this spring in oats and grasses. * * * Let this plantation henceforward be called “Union Farm or Plantation,” instead of “Ferry and French’s.” * * * 27 January, 1793.

Under cover with this letter you will receive some beans which Mrs. Washington desires may be given to the gardener;—also Panicum or Guinea corn, from the Island of Jamaica, which may be planted merely to show the uses it can be applied to; and the white bent grass, with the description of it by Mr. Hawkins (one of the Senators, who had it from Mr. Bassett, of Delaware State, another of the Senate). If the account of it be just it must be a valuable grass:—I therefore desire it may be sowed in drills, and to the best advantage for the purpose of seed. These things which Edition: current; Page: [378] are intended for experiments, or to raise as much seed from, as can be, should never be put in fields or meadows; for there (if not forgot) they are neglected; or swallowed up in the fate of all things within the inclosures that contain them. This has been the case of the choricum (from Mr. Young), and a grass which sold for two guineas a quart in England, and presented to me. And the same, or some other fate equally as bad has attended a great many curious seeds which have been given to and sent home by me at different times—but of which I have heard nothing more; either from the inattention which was given to them in the first instance, neglect in the cultivation, or not watching the period of their seeding, and gathering them without waste. The intention of the little garden by the salt house, &c., was to receive such things as required but a small space for their cultivation;—and what is called the vineyard inclosure was designed for other articles of experiment, or for seed which required still greater space before they were adopted upon a large scale; yet the plants which are deposited there are, generally, so over-run with grass and weeds as to be destroyed before a judgment can be formed of their utility. This, I know has absolutely been the case with many things which have been given to me as curiosities, or for their value. From the fancy grass (of which I have [being told that both horse and cattle are fond of it] a high opinion), I have been urging for years (it being more than five since I sowed it myself) the saving of seed; yet, it is almost in statu quo, because the necessary measures have not been taken to propagate and save the seed, and because it will not, I believe, be overcome by anything else—whilst other things not so hardy have been eradicated by the grass and weeds. I now desire that all these things may be attended to by the gardener and those who are with him, aided, if necessary, by the house-gang. * * *

I hope the delivery to and the application of nails by the carpenters, will undergo a pretty strict comparative scrutiny, without expressing any suspicion, unless cause shall be given for it. I cannot conceive how it is possible that 6000 twelve penny nails could be used in the corn house at River Plantation; but of one thing I have no great doubt, and that is, if they can be applied Edition: current; Page: [379] to other uses, or converted into cash, rum, or other things, there will be no scruple in doing it.

I can conceive no latch (sufficient to answer the purpose, and not always out of sorts) more simple or cheaper than those to the White gates, unornimented, which is unnecessary. A thin plate of iron, kept in place by an old iron hoop (of which I presume hundred could be got in Alexandria for a mere song) and staple for it to catch in, is, in my opinion, as cheap as anything that (will not always be a plague) can be devised. The advantage of this latch is, that let the gate swag as it may, it always catches. The top of the flat iron ought to shew, that strangers may know how to open it on either side, but there is not the least occasion for the round like that at the Gumspring, nor of the curl, like those at the White gates; nor is there any occasion to make the flat part longer or stiffer than is necessary for the spring. Most other kinds of latches, after the gates settle, are not only insecure but exceedingly troublesome;—instance that at the ferry, which was vexing to every one who went in. I was obliged always to dismount either to open or shut it. However, if you know of any other kind more simple than the above, equally secure, and which will not be troublesome to open, I have no objection to the adoption. * * *

Sarah Flatfoot (you call her Lightfoot) has been accustomed to receive a pair of shoes, stockings, a country cloth petticoat, and an oznabrig shift, all ready made, annually, and it is not meant to discontinue them. You will therefore furnish them to her. * * * 3 February, 1793.

The Major was permitted to cut cord wood from the tops of the trees which had been felled for rails; either for burning bricks or other purposes; but it is not unlikely that his overseer (Taylor) may cord it for sale, if he is not watched; for it is established as a maxim in my mind, that a man who will do wrong to another in one instance knowingly, will have no scruple in doing it in every instance where it can be done without being liable to discovery. And with respect to his keeping a horse, no matter whether (as I suppose he will say, at his own expense) it is on his own provender, or that of his employer, it is my express request that you will, immediately upon the receipt of this letter, inform Edition: current; Page: [380] him (unless he can shew a written permission for the purpose, which I am sure he is not able to do) that if the horse, or mare, or any other animal, he is not allowed to keep, is not instantly sent away, that I will, as soon as I reach Mount Vernon, not only turn him off the Plantation, but cause him to be sued for a breach of covenant;—and for his knavery;—for it is not less so, than would be the opening of the Major’s desk, and taking his money;—nay, in my estimation, the crime is greater; because a man who will defraud another who confides in him, is surely a greater villain than one who robs boldly, at the risque of his life. You may assure Mr. Taylor in the strongest language you can devise,—you may even read this part of my letter to him,—that no pretence of verbal permission to keep a horse will avail him; for I know from various conversations with the Major on this subject, that it is next to impossible he ever should have given such leave;—and I again add, that the pretext (if it should be offered) of feeding him at his own expense, will not way one moment. * * * 10 February, 1793.

Unless you have received, or may receive any directions from Mrs. Fanny Washington respecting the building my deceased nephew was carrying on, it is my opinion that an entire suspension of it had better take place. And with respect to the conduct of the overseer there, it is my wish and desire that you would attend to him as much as to any of my own. And, in addition to what was mentioned in one of my last letters to you concerning him, if he should be detected in any knavish pranks I will make the country too warm for him to remain in.

Your accounts of Davenport’s sloth, impress me more strongly with the idea of his laziness. I therefore request you to tell him from me, that I expect the season will not be suffered to slip away, and my wheat left unground; but on the contrary, that he will work of nights, as well as in the day, as all merchant mills do; and which he himself must have done before he fell into the idle habits he has acquired since he has basked in the sunshine of my mill. * * *

The correction you gave Ben, for his assault on Sambo, was just and proper. It is my earnest desire that quarrels may be stopped, or punishment of both parties follow, unless it shall appear Edition: current; Page: [381] clearly, that one only is to blame, and the other forced into [a quarrel] from self-defence. * * * 24 February, 1793.

I am as apprehensive as you can be, that Green never will overcome his propensity to drink; that it is this which occasions his frequent sickness, absences from work, and poverty. And I am convinced, moreover, that it answers no purpose to admonish him. But if the work in hand cannot be carried on without a head to execute it, and no other presents, in whom confidence can be placed, there is no alternative but to keep him, unless he should get too bad to be longer borne with;—and even then, a house so framed as the Dogue Run barn is intended to be, ought not to be entrusted to my negro carpenters, or any other bungler. * * *

I am very sorry to hear that so likely a young fellow as Matilda’s Ben should addict himself to such courses as he is pursuing. If he should be guilty of any atrocious crime, that would affect his life, he might be given up to the civil authority for trial; but for such offences as most of his color are guilty of, you had better try further correction, accompanied with admonition and advice. The two latter sometimes succeed where the first has failed. He, his father and mother (who I dare say are his receivers) may be told in explicit language, that if a stop is not put to his rogueries and other villainies, by fair means and shortly, that I will ship him off (as I did Wagoner Jack) for the West Indies, where he will have no opportunity of playing such pranks as he is at present engaged in. * * * 3 March, 1793.1

I did not suppose that this was the season for demanding payment of taxes of any kind. I may be mistaken, however; but as I do sincerely believe the under sheriffs in Virginia to be among the greatest rascals in the world; it is my desire that you will get their demands from them in writing, and lay these before some gentleman well acquainted with these matters, and know from him, first, when they have a right to distrain for the levies;—for until that time you may withhold payment, so as to give yourself time to provide the tobacco, or money. 2dly. Whether the quantity of tobacco demanded by them is just. 3dly, whether they have a right to fix 3d. or any other cash price by way of Edition: current; Page: [382] commutation. And 4thly, to know if you cannot discharge their just claims, to get the tobacco for less than 3d. per lb. * * *

The middlings and ship stuff may be sold to answer the money calls which you will have upon you; but I entreat that these may be as few as you can possibly make them. For I acknowledge, although I have no doubt of the justness of the account you handed to Mr. Dandridge, that the amount was beyond what I expected to see in so short a time; but as I had not the particular articles to refer to, it was not in my power to form an accurate judgment of the necessity for them. But there is one rule, and a golden rule it is, that nothing should be bought that can be made, or done without. People are often ruined before they are aware of the danger, by buying everything they think they want, without adverting to a Scotch adage—than which nothing in nature is more true—“that many mickles make a muckle.” I am more pointed in giving this sentiment, because I perceive many things were yet to be got at the instance of Green, from the stores in Alexandria. He will not care what cost I am run to for carpenter’s tools. * * *

I wish to know precisely, what ground you have sown, or mean to sow with clover, or clover and timothy this Spring. And as I do not believe it was done before I left home, I desire you will have the ox-eye window in the green house so secured as to guard against another robbery of that loft. The same with respect to the corn loft, for that I know (intending several times to speak about it, but forgot to do so) is in the same situation as when the corn was stolen from it. I wish also to know the quantity of clover seed that has been given to each field, or lot, which has been sown there with the past winter or present spring. And here I cannot help expressing, that I felt both mortification and vexation, to find an ignorant Negro sowing these seeds, contrary to my reiterated direction to have them mixed with sand or dry earth. The consequence of not doing it will be, I expect, that the fields will either be loaded with, or so barren of, seed, as to be wasteful in the one case, or unproductive and useless in the other:—whereas, if the quantity of seed intended for half an acre had been put into half a bushel, and that half bushel filled with sand or earth as above, and well mixed; the same cast that would have sewed Edition: current; Page: [383] wheat (which he was used to) would exactly have answered for the grass seed:—and if this admixture of them had been made by the overseer, there could have been no embezzlement of the seed when so mixed. Without it, is there any reason to hope that the seeds were more secure in the hands of a negro seedsman, suspected of being a rogue, than it was under a good lock? I am thus explicit on this occasion, because I would have it clearly understood that when I do give positive directions, in any case whatsoever, they are not to be dispensed with. * * * 21 April, 1793.

In looking over the last weekly report that has been forwarded to me, I perceive the allowance of meal to Muddy Hole is increased one peck, Union Farm and River farm two pecks each, and Dogue Run Farm, three pecks. Whether this addition with what goes to their absent hands, is sufficient, I will not undertake to decide;—but in most explicit language I desire they may have plenty; for I will not have my feelings again hurt with complaints of this sort, nor lye under the imputation of starving my negros, and thereby driving them to the necessity of thieving to supply the deficiency. To prevent waste or embezzlement is the only inducement to allowancing of them at all—for if, instead of a peck they could eat a bushel of meal a week fairly, and required it, I would not withhold or begrudge it them. 28 April, 1893.

I did not entertain the most distant suspicion of your having charged any thing in the acct. exhibited to Mr. Dandridge but what you had actually paid, for my use.—For if I could suppose you capable of such a violation of the principles of honesty, and so lost to the trust reposed in you, my confidence in you would depart, and I should think my concerns very unsafe in your hands.—I only meant to guard you against an error which is but too common, and the ill effects of which, oftentimes not foreseen, before they are severely felt; I mean that of not avoiding the purchase of things, that can be done without, or made within oneself. “A penny saved, is a penny got”—from experience I know, that no under overseer I have ever yet had, nor any of my black people who have not the paying for the articles they call for, can be impressed (as it respects me) with these ideas. Edition: current; Page: [384] On the contrary, things are seldom taken care of by them, when they are lost, broke, or injured with impunity;—and are replaced, or renewed, by asking for more.—For these reasons as far as it is consistent with just propriety, make the overseers, Green and others, who have the sub management of parts of my business, responsible for whatever is committed to their care; and whenever they apply for a new thing, that you will be satisfied of the necessity there is for granting it;—if to supply a worn thing, to see the condition of, and to take in the old one.—Unless this care and attention is used, you will be greatly imposed upon yourself, and I shall feel the evil of it.—I am perfectly satisfied that as much is made by saving (or nearly so) as there is by the Crops; that is, by attention to the crops when made, stocks of all sorts; working cattle; Plantation utensils; Tools; fences; and though last, not least, to the Negros:—first by seeing that they have every thing that is proper for them, and next, that they be prevented, as far as vigilance can accomplish it, all irregularities and improper conduct.—And this oftentimes is easier to effect by watchfulness and admonition, than by severity;—and certainly must be more agreeable to every feeling mind in the practice of them.—Speaking of accts., and finding some articles of my deceased nephews mixed with mine; I request that, although they are, or may be, paid with my money, yet that they may be kept entirely distinct from my accounts.

I cannot say that the Rams were not seperated (as they ought to have been) from the ewes at shearing time last year, but from my own view I can (I think at Union Farm) say I saw Rams with my sheep in the month of August last.—Whether my own, or belonging to others, I know not. The last would be worse than the first, as I believe my sheep are above mediocrity, when most others are below it.—As I am constantly loosing sheep I wish this year, you would cull them closer.—The flock would be benefitted thereby, whilst I might get something for the refuse; instead of the frequent reports of their deaths.—And I wish you would reprehend the overseers severely for suffering the sheep under their respective care, to get so foul as I saw some when I was at home, particularly at Dogue run Farm.—It is impossible for a sheep to be in a thriving condition when he is carrying six Edition: current; Page: [385] or eight pounds at his tale.—And how a man who has them entrusted to his care, and must have a sight of this sort every day before his eyes can avoid being struck with the propriety and necessity of easing them of this load, is what I have often wondered at.

Having sheep at five different places it has often occurred to my mind whether for a certain part of the year—say from shearing time or before until the first of December (or until the end of the period for folding them), they were, except the Rams, brought into one flock—distinguishing before hand those of the seperate farms by conspicuous marks made by tar, or red lead in different parts, and placed under the care of a trusty negro, if there be such an one, whose sole business it should be to look after and fold them every night in hurdles made light and removed with the sheep from farm to farm; as the food at each would be eaten by them, and become scant.—I think I should get my fields dunged sooner and better by this means (with other common assistance) than by any other.—Shifting their walks frequently would certainly be serviceable to the sheep, if so great a number together would not be injurious;—especially as thefts, and other depredations might be committed without the knowledge of their keeper; for I know not the negro among all mine, whose capacity, integrity, and attention could be relied on for such a trust as this.—I do no more than suggest the idea for consideration; when you have given it consideration let me know the result of your thoughts on the occasion.

I was afraid the heavy rains and long easterly winds would prove injurious to the fruit, and probably to the grain, if they should continue; but I did not expect to find that I was to loose calves by it;—four of wch. I find by the River Farm Report are dead.—This, and looking over the other Reports, and finding thereby the small number of Calves I have, leads me to apprehend that there is some defect in the management of this part of my Stock; for it is inconceivable that out of 300 head of cattle I should have but about 30 calves, as appears by the last week’s report.—This must proceed from the want of, or from old and debilitated Bulls.—Let me know whether the fruit (of different kinds) is injured by the easterly winds which have blown so constantly;—and Edition: current; Page: [386] whether the wheat, &ca., appear to have received any hurt.—The Oats, Buck wheat and grass will, I hope, be benefitted by the Rains, and it would give me pleasure to hear that your White thorn, Willow, Poplar, and other Cuttings were coming on well?—Does the last and present years planting of Honey locust seed come up well—and is there any appearance of the Cedar berries, Furze seed, Lucern, &c., &c., coming up and answering expectation?—and is your corn coming up—or likely to rot in the ground with the wet weather we have had? 5 May, 1793.

I am satisfied from what you have said, that it would not be proper to bring all my sheep into one flock, and so to be penned;—and if you think drawing off two score of the latter, and most indifferent lambs is proper, it may be done, but not till they are weaned, or actually seperated with their mothers from the rest of the flock;—for unless one of these is done, I am sure, that so far from havg. 40 of the worst disposed of, I shall have that number of the choicest taken, if from the flock at large,—so well am I acquainted with the practices and contrivances of the Butchers;—and the inattention and carelessness of the Overseers, to whom they may go, if taken away as they are wanted.—I had rather not part with one, unless this apprehension of mine is fully, and compleatly guarded against.—All the declining sheep of every sort might be disposed of, after they can, by good pasture and attention, be got in order for it. In a word, I wish every possible care may be used to improve the breed of my sheep; and to keep them in a thriving and healthy state.—The same with regard to my Cattle; and there is no measure so likely to effect this as by a judicious choice of the subjects that are bred from.—It is owing to this that Bakewell and others, are indebted for the remarkable quality and sales of their cattle and sheep;—the like attention would produce the like effect in this, as well as in other Countries.—I am fully persuaded, if some of my best cows were selected, and put to (what is called) the Callico Bull, and all the calves which took their shape and appearance from him set apart for Breeders (for I am told his make is exactly that which Bakewell prefers and aims at getting,) that I should, in a few years have a very valuable breed of Cattle.—Such conduct will apply equally to sheep.—The Edition: current; Page: [387] quantity of either species of stock—that is Cattle and sheep—ought, in my opinion, to depend wholly upon the support which can be provided—and that, the more you have of both with an eye to this consideration, the more you may have, as they do, in themselves, afford the means, by the manure they make.

If for the sake of making a little butter (for which I shall get scarcely anything) my calves are starved, and die; it may be compared to stopping the spigot, and opening the faucit,—that is to say, I shall get two or three shillings by butter,—and loose 20 or 30/ by the death, or injury done to my calves. Milk sufficient should be left for them,—or a substitute provided; otherwise, I need not look forward either to the increase or improvement of my Stock.

Not a moment should be lost, after the Wool is taken from the Sheeps’ backs, in having it spun and wove, that it may be made up in time for the negros clothing:—and Grey1 should be told that if he does not weave it as fast as it is carried to him, that he shall not only loose my custom, but, must look out for some other tenement;—because this, and not the Rent, was the inducement for placing him there.—However, speaking of the Rent, let me enquire whether he pays it regularly or not.

I have no intention of Renting any of my fishing landings for a term of years,—consequently, have no objection to your providing a new, and repairing the old sein, against another season—and approve of your laying in a number of Fish Barrels agreeably to your suggestion; especially if you can buy them at what you suppose, which will be much better than making of them by my coopers.

If Mr. Butler is the kind of man you describe him to be, he certainly can be of no use to me;—and sure I am, there is no obligation upon me to retain him from charitable motives; when he ought rather to be punished as an impostor: for he well knew the services he had to perform, and which he promised to fulfil with zeal, activity, and intelligence.—A stirring, lively and spirited man, who will act steadily and firmly, being necessary; I authorise you to get one if you should part with Butler2; for it is indispensably Edition: current; Page: [388] necessary that a stop should be put to that spirit of thieving and house breaking which has got to such a height among my People, or their associates.—As one step towards the accomplishment of which, I desire you will absolutely forbid the slaves of others resorting to the Mansion house;—such only excepted as have wives or husbands there, or such as you may particularly license from a knowledge of their being honest and well disposed. All others, after sufficient forewarning, punish whensoever you shall find them transgressing these orders.— * * *

My mind is impressed with many things, which you have been required to give answers to, which have never been received;—and this will forever be the case if you depend upon the mere reading a letter over when you set down to answer it; without first noting on a slate or a piece of waste paper, every point as you come to it, that requires to be touched upon;—crossing it when complied with;—or to stand uncrossed if you are unable to give an answer at that moment until you can do it at another time. Among these things is one of a very interesting nature to me—namely—an exact experiment and worth of an hundred bushels of wheat when manufactured, compared with the price of it in grain—that I might decide therefrom whether it would have been best to sell my wheat or manufacture it into flour, before it was too late to decide.—After frequently writing and pressing this matter, I at length got an imperfect statement made from light wheat; but was promised a more perfect one, but which has never been recd.; although it is months since it was promised.—I mention Edition: current; Page: [389] this as one instance, because, if 100 bushels had, in time, have given me the same evidence of the fact, which I fear the whole quantity of my crops has done or will do, I should have sold my wheat in grain; which would I presume have commanded a dollar pr. Bushl. at any time; and this on 4009½ bushls. wch. I perceive has been delivered at the mill, would have amounted to in Virg. Curry. £1202. 8. 0; whereas the quantity of flour made from it, viz 283 barls. of superfine, and 317 of fine, the first at 33/ and the other at 31/, which I believe, is the highest that has been given, comes to no more than £988. 6—difference £214. 2—Now, if the midlings, ship stuff, shorts and bran does not amount to this difference, all short of it is loss; besides lying out of my money—the hazard of selling the flour, and risk of its souring if I cannot dispose of it to advantage before the warm weather sets in.—I have selected this as an important instance of suffering things to escape. I could enumerate many more of no other or greater moment than as they would have gratified me; not being able to see things myself. But the reason why I mention this, (as I am fully satisfied you have every disposition in the world to comply with my wishes) is merely to let you see that it is by trusting too much to your memory, that these things happen. I am persuaded no instance has happened of your asking me a question by letter—or applying for directions without receiving an answer.—The reason is, that whenever I set down to write you, I read your letter, or letters carefully over, and as soon as I come to a part that requires to be noticed, I take a short note on the cover of a letter, or piece of waste paper;—then read on to the next, noting that in like manner;—and so on until I have got through the whole letter and reports.—Then in writing my letter to you, as soon as I have finished what I have to say on one of these notes, I draw my pen through it and proceed to another, and another, until the whole is done—crossing each as I go on, by which means if I am called off twenty times whilst I am writing, I can never with these notes before me finished, or unfinished, omit anything I wanted to say; and they serve me also, as I keep no copies of letters I write to you, as Memorandums of what has been written if I should have occasion at any time to refer to them. * * * 19 May, 1793.

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Although I am very anxious to hasten the New Barn at Dogue run, yet as Hay time and Harvest will not wait, and is of the highest importance to me, every thing else must yield to them:—and if I thought it was necessary, I should, in strong terms, urge you to begin the latter as soon as you shall think it safe, by lying a day or two in the swarth.—The advantage of cutting the grain early last year was evident;—and will always be found safest and best in all cases, especially where there is a large harvest:—the latter part of which besides shattering much, is often, very often indeed, laid down and lost from the Rains which frequently happen at that season, whilst the straw is rendered of no use; having no substance left in it.—I hope, and do expect, that the overseers will be pointedly charged this year to see that the ground is raked clean.—In Garner’s fields last year I was really shocked to see the waste that appeared there.—It is not to close harvest soon, but to accomplish it well, that ought to be the aim, and the pride of these people, notwithstanding they receive standing wages instead of shares. I told Garner last year that if the latter had been the case, I was very certain such waste would not have appeared.

Although others are getting out of the practice of using spirits at Harvest, yet, as my people have always been accustomed to it, a hogshead of Rum must be purchased; but I request at the same time, that it may be used sparingly.—Spirits are now too dear to be used otherwise.

It is not my wish, or desire, that my negros should have an oz. of meal more, nor less, than is sufficient to feed them plentifully. This is what I have repeated to you over and over again; and if I am not mistaken, requested you to consult the Overseers on this head, that enough, and no more than enough, might be allowed.—Sure I am I desired this with respect to Davy.—To ask me whether this, or that, quantity is enough, who do not know the number of mouths that are to be fed, is asking a question that it is not possible for me to resolve.—Formerly, every working negro used to receive a heaping and squeezed peck at top of unsifted meal; and all others (except sucking children) had half a peck, like measure, given to them;—with which I presume they were satisfied, inasmuch as I never heard any complaint of their wanting Edition: current; Page: [391] more.—Since the meal has been given to them sifted, and a struck peck only, of it, there has been eternal complaints; which I have suspected arose as much from the want of the husks to feed their fowls, as from any other cause, ’till Davy assured me that what his people received was not sufficient, and that to his certain knowledge several of them would often be without a mouthful for a day, and (if they did not eke it out) sometimes two days before they were served again; whilst they (the negros) on the other hand assured me, most positively, that what I suspected, namely feeding their fowls with it, or sharing it with strange negros, was not founded.—Like complaints were made by the People at Dogue run and at Union Farm; which altogether hurt my feelings too much to suffer this matter to go on without a remedy.—Or at least a thorough investigation into the cause and justice of their complaints;—for to delay justice is to deny it.—It became necessary therefore to examine into the foundation of the complaints, at once, and not to wait until a pretext should offer to increase the allowance.—Justice wanted no pretext, nor would admit of delay.—If the application for more was unjust no alteration at all, ought to have been made; for, as I at first observed, I am no more disposed to squander, than to stint; but surely the case is not so difficult but that the true and just quantity may be ascertained; which is all they have a right to ask, or I will allow them.—Neither the people at River Plantation, nor any about M. Hole did, to the best of my recollection make any complaints, but only knowing the quantity of meal which was served to them, and not the number of mouths to be fed with it, I supposed, especially in the latter case (the first having little opportunity of making known their wants, as I was not more than once or twice on the Farm) that enough was allowed them.—I have been thus particular, because I would wish to be clearly and fully understood on this head, that you may act accordingly.1

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I am surprized to find by your letter that the Gardener has thoughts of leaving me; For when I was last at home, he put the question himself to know if I would retain him;—and being answered that I had no desire to part with him, he said he was very glad of it.—I did not, it is true, nor did he say on what terms; but I took it for granted it would be at the wages of his last year, with a just and proper allowance for the services rendered by his wife, which I always intended, and am still willing to make.—It becomes necessary, however, to know immediately and decidedly too, what his intentions are; and when his term expires; that, if he is not disposed to remain upon such, and lay as I like, I may take measures in time to supply his place.—I wish you therefore (after communicating the unexpectedness of his intention to go) to apply in my name, and know what I have to depend upon.—He, like many others, I presume has golden dreams, which nothing but experience can demonstrate to be the vision only of an uninformed, or indigested imagination.—Time, and the expences arising from Rent, provisions to be purchased, liquor, of which probably he will take too much, Fuell, and a hundred other items of which probably he has never estimated, will convince him, too late perhaps, that he has left a safe and easy berth to embark on a troubled ocean,—where soon he may find no rest.

What color and sex is the coach mare’s colt with you?—Nancy (the other coach mare) foaled on Whitmonday in like manner. Take great care of the one with you. What is become of those mules set apart for my use, and how do they look? Let them be kept well. I am your friend. 26 May, 1793.

It is the duty of the Miller, the moment he has closed his annual manufacture, to render me an exact acct. thereof;—and this, let him know I expect he will do without delay, and with exactitude, with his signature annexed to it.—charging the mill with every bushel of wheat that has been received into it, and from whence; and at the Alexandria price for large crops:—and crediting it with all the superfine and fine flour that has been made; the first at 34/ and the other at 32/ pr. barl.—with all the middlings, ship stuff, shorts and Bran, at what they have actually sold—or would sell for.—Such an acct. as this is the only true criterion by which to decide whether I have gained or lost by manufacturing my Edition: current; Page: [393] crop.—The trial of 100 bushels was only for an experiment, to enable me to judge before hand, whether it would have been best to have sold, or manufactured my wheat.—Nor is cleaning of it in the manner you speak of, a way to make the experiment a fair one.—A hundd. bushels of such wheat as would have been indisputably merchantable in Alexandria, without extra: cleaning to bring it to 60 lbs. pr. bushl. or any other given weight, ought to have been the exact quality for the experiment; because every oz of this, whether shrivelled or light, dust or what not, would have gone into the measure, and so much pr. Bushl. or pr. lb. would have been allowed for it at that place; whereas if you extract all this and make up the quantity afterwards 100 bushls., the profit by manufacturing will unquestionably appear greater than it is in reallity: because what is blown away by the different operations for cleaning in the mill is a deduction from the wheat if sold in grain, and no addition to it when manufactured.—I mention this to guard you against deception in the experiment you were about to make with 500 bushls. (cleaned in the manner you speak of) and which you had prepar’d for grinding.—repeating again, that to ascertain this point now, or at any time hereafter, the wheat with which the experiment is made, should receive no other cleaning than such as to give it a good character with the merchant, if sold in grain; because all that is blown out of it at the mill is lost; unless the miller’s Poultry or my Hogs derive a benefit from it.

I never was more surprized than to find only 1457 lbs. of wool from the shearing of 568 sheep (2½ pound pr. Fleece only).—From the beginning of the year 1784 when I returned from the army, until shearing time of 1788, I improved the breed of my sheep so much by buying and selecting the best formed and most promising Rams, and putting them to my best ewes, by keeping them always well culled and clean, and by other attentions, that they averaged me as will appear by Mr. Lear’s acct. (my present secretary, and) who then lived with me, rather over than under five pounds of washed wool each.—And in the year 1789, being requested by Mr. Arthur Young to send him a fleece of my Wool, I requested my nephew to see that Mr. Bloxham took one from a sheep of average appearance at shearing time, and send it to New York where Edition: current; Page: [394] I then was, to be forwarded to that Gentleman.—This was accordingly done, and weighed 5¼.—How astonished must I be then at the miserable change that has taken place since; and but for the caution I gave you to guard against the roguery of my negros, who formerly have been detected in similar practices, I should have concluded at once that between the time of taking the wool from the sheep and the delivery of it into your hands, a very large toll indeed had been taken from each fleece; for I do not suppose (for fear of detection) that whole fleeces would be taken; the number from each Farm being known. I hope, and expect they will be got up again to their former standard, as I know it to be practicable with care and attention to do it; particularly with respect to the Rams.—It is painful to receive no report unaccompanied with the death of some of these animals;—and I believe no man is more unlucky in the deaths or in the accidents to Horses than I am; for I am continually losing them by one means or another. 2 June, 1793.

In due course of Post I have received your letter of the 31st of May and 5th instant; and was equally surprized and concerned to find by the last, that your health was in the declining and precarious state you describe it to be, because you had not given the least intimation thereof in any other letter, since my departure from Mount Vernon.—I can only repeat now, what I have often done before, that it is by no means my desire that you should expose yourself in the discharge of my business;—or use greater exertions than your strength will bear;—or more exercise than is good for your health;—or, in a word, to attempt anything that the Doctr. shall not think proper for you:—for having a full view of the state of my Plantations in your mind, and knowing the design for each, you can, from the weekly reports (which may be made to you oftener by the overseers, if necessary) give such directions us would naturally result from them,—which is the best expedient both for yourself and me, that occurs to me at this moment—being unable since the receipt of your letter to think of a single person whose qualifications would fit him for the superintendence of my business.—If any such has occurred to you, I would thank you for naming him, hoping, nevertheless, that occasion will not require one; but having a proper character in Edition: current; Page: [395] view may not be amiss, whether wanting or not.—From my own experience (and the measure was recommended to me by eminent Physicians) wearing flannel next the skin is the best cure for, and preventative of the Rheumatism I ever tried,—and for your other complaint, which you suppose to be in your lungs, a vegitable and milk diet I should suppose would be proper; avoiding as much as possible animal food,—of this however the Doctors must be a better judge;—and if you chuse to have any in these parts consulted and will state, or get your case stated, I will lay it before the person highest in reputation here as a Physician, and send you the result.—I shall endeavor to be at Mount Vernon by the first of next month;—but the nature of public business is, and likely to remain such, that I dare not promise at that, or any other time, to be there;—and happen when it will, my stay must be short, as I cannot be long absent from the seat of the Government whilst matters are so delicately situated as they are at present.—If you have, or could procure a few oats against I arrive, they would be acceptable to my Horses.—I shall bring only 4 or at most five with me;—nor shall I be able to stay more than 10 days at farthest.—

You may tell the Gardener1 that as I am not fond of changing—and as I am sure he would very soon find his error in leaving me—I will allow him £30 pr. ann, that is to say 100 dollars, provided he will engage to stay two years at that rate;—will allow him the same perquisite of the Garden, when I am from home, he now enjoys; and a horse six times a year to ride to Alexandria, provided he is not kept out of nights.—With respect to his wife, after increasing his own wages so considerably, I must be well informed what services she is to render before I shall agree to make any further allowance to him, in addition for her; for I should think that he himself, or the woman, or any other who is actuated by a just and honest way of thinking, will readily acknowledge that giving her Provisions is an adequate compensation for the trouble of weighing out, and receiving in, the work of the spinners once a week, if all the intermediate time is devoted to her own business.—If she does more than this for me the case differs from my conception of it;—and from what I had in view at the time she was first Edition: current; Page: [396] spoken to, for then it was my full expectation that after the 4th of March I should return to a permanent residence at Mount Vernon, and in that case to have made her the Housekeeper; which from the nature of the Office would have occupied her whole time, and of course would have entitled her to a proportionate reward.—But if she has not done, nor is likely to do more than weigh out and receive in work, and receives her provision for this, there is no cause that I am able to discover, for enhancing their wages on that acct. * * * 9 June, 1793.1

George Washington
Washington, George
6 October, 1793
William Pearce
Pearce, William

LETTERS TO WILLIAM PEARCE,2 1793.

* * * As I am never sparing (with proper œconomy) in furnishing my Farms with any and every kind of Tool and implement that is calculated to do good and neat work, I not only authorize you to bring the kind of plows you were speaking to me about, but any others, the utility of which you have proved from your own experience;—particularly a kind of hand rake which Mr. Stuart tells me are used on the Eastern shore of Maryland in lieu of Hoes for corn at a certain stage of its growth—and a scythe and cradle different from those used with us, and with which the grain is laid much better.—In short I shall begrudge no reasonable expence that will contribute to the improvement and neatness of my Farms;—for nothing pleases me better than to see them in good order, and every thing trim, handsome, and thriving about them;—nor nothing hurts me more than to find them otherwise, and the tools and implements laying wherever they were last used, exposed to injuries from rain, sun, &c. * * * 6 October, 1793.

The paper enclosed with this letter will give you my ideas, generally, of the course of crops I wish to pursue.—I am sensible more might be made from the farms for a year or two—but my object is to recover the fields from the exhausted state into Edition: current; Page: [397] which they have fallen by oppressive crops, and to restore them (if possible by any means in my power) to health and vigor. But two ways will enable me to accomplish this.—The first is to cover them with as much manure as possible (winter and summer).—The 2d. a judicious succession of crops.

Manure cannot be had in the abundance the fields require; for this reason, and to open the land which is hard bound by frequent cultivation and want of proper dressings, I have introduced buck wheat in the plentiful manner you will perceive by the table, both as a manure, and as a substitute for Indian corn for horses, &c.; it being a great ameliorater of the soil.—How far the insufferable conduct of my overseers, or the difficulty of getting buck wheat and oats for seeds, will enable me to carry my plan into effect, I am unable at this moment to decide. You, possibly, will be better able to inform me some time hence. * * *

I have already said that the insufferable conduct of my overseers may be one mean of frustrating my plan for the next year.—I will now explain myself.—You will readily perceive by the rotation of crops I have adopted, that a great deal of Fall plowing is indispensible,—of this I informed every one of them, and pointed out the fields which were to be plowed at this season. So anxious was I, that this work should be set about early, that I made an attempt soon after you were at Mount Vernon in September, to begin it; and at several times afterwards repeated the operation in different fields at Dogue Run farm; but the ground being excessively hard and dry, I found that to persevere would only destroy my horses without effecting the object, in the manner it ought to be, and therefore I quit it; but left positive directions that it should recommence at every farm as soon as there should be rain to moisten the earth—and to stick constantly at it, except when the horses were employed in treading out wheat (which was a work I also desired might be accomplished as soon as possible). Instead of doing either of these, as I ordered, I find by the reports that McKoy1 has, now and then, plowed a few days only as if it were for amusement. That Stuart has but just begun to do it.—and that neither Crow2 nor Davy at Muddy Hole, had put a plow into Edition: current; Page: [398] the ground so late as the 7th of this month.—Can it be expected then, that frosts, snow and rain will permit me to do much of this kind of work before March or April? * * *

I am the more particular on this head for two reasons—first to let you see how little dependence there is on such men when left to themselves (for under Mr. Lewis it was very little better)—and 2dly, to show you the necessity of keeping these overseers strictly to their duty—that is—to keep them from running about, and to oblige them to remain constantly with their people;—and moreover, to see at what time they turn out of a morning—for I have strong suspicions that this, with some of them, is at a late hour, the consequence of which to the negros is not difficult to foretell.—All these overseers as you will perceive by their agreements, which I herewith send, are on standing wages; and this with men who are not actuated by the principles of honor or honesty, and not very regardful of their characters, leads naturally to endulgences—as their profits, whatever may be mine, are the same, whether they are at a horse race or on the farm—whether they are entertaining company (which I believe is too much the case) in their own houses, or are in the field with the negros.

Having given you these ideas, I shall now add, that if you find any one of them inattentive to the duties which by the articles of agreement they are bound to perform, or such others as may reasonably be enjoined, admonish them in a calm, but firm manner of the consequences.—If this proves ineffectual, discharge them, at any season of the year without scruple or hesitation, and do not pay them a copper, putting the non-compliance with their agreement in bar.

To treat them civilly is no more than what all men are entitled to, but, my advice to you is, to keep them at a proper distance; for they will grow upon familiarity, in proportion as you will sink in authority, if you do not.—Pass by no faults or neglects (especially at first) for overlooking one only serves to generate another, and it is more than probable that some of them (one in particular) will try, at first, what lengths he may go.—A steady and firm conduct, with an inquisitive inspection into, and a proper arrangement of everything on your part, will, though it may give more trouble at first, save a great deal in the end—and you may rest Edition: current; Page: [399] assured that in everything that is just and proper to be done on your part, [you] shall meet with the fullest support on mine. Nothing will contribute more to effect these desirable purposes than a good example. Unhappily this was not set (from what I have learnt lately) by Mr. Whiting, who, it is said, drank freely—kept bad company at my house and in Alexandria—and was a very debauched person. Wherever this is the case, it is not easy for a man to throw the first stone for fear of having it returned to him;—and this I take to be the true cause why Mr. Whiting did not look more scrupulously into the conduct of the overseers, and more minutely into the smaller matters belonging to the Farms—which though individually may be trifling, are not found so in the aggregate; for there is no adage more true than an old Scotch one, that “many mickles make a muckle.”

I have had but little opportunity of forming a correct opinion of my white overseers, but such observations as I have made I will give.

Stuart appears to me to understand the business of a farm very well, and seems attentive to it. He is I believe a sober man, and according to his own account a very honest one. As I never found him (at the hours I usually visited the farm) absent from some part or another of his people, I presume he is industrious, and seldom from home. He is talkative, has a high opinion of his own skill and management, and seems to live in peace and harmony with the negros who are confided to his care. He speaks extremely well of them, and I have never heard any complaint of him. His work, however, has been behind hand all the year, owing he says, and as I believe, to his having too much plowing to do, and the last omission, of not plowing when he knew my motives for wishing it, has been extremely reprehensible. But upon the whole, if he stirs early and works late, I have no other fault to find than the one I have just mentioned. His talkativeness and vanity may be humored.

Crow is an active man, and not deficient in judgment. If kept strictly to his duty would, in many respects, make a good overseer. But I am much mistaken in his character, if he is not fond of visiting, and receiving visits. This, of course, withdraws his attention from his business, and leaves his people too much to Edition: current; Page: [400] themselves; which produces idleness, or slight work on the one side, and flogging on the other—the last of which besides the dissatisfaction which it creates, has, in one or two instances been productive of serious consequences. I am not clear either that he gives that due attention to his plow horses and other stock, which is necessary, although he is very fond of riding the former—not only to Alexandria, &c., but about the farm, which I did not forbid, as his house was very inconvenient to the scene of his business.

McKoy appears to me to be a sickly, slothful and stupid fellow. He had many more hands than were necessary merely for his crop, and though not 70 acres of corn to cultivate, did nothing else. In short, to level a little dirt that was taken out of the meadow ditch below his house seems to have composed the principal part of his fall work; altho’ no finer season could have happened for preparing the second lot of the mill swamp for the purpose of laying it to grass. If more exertion does not appear in him when he gets into better health, he will be found an unfit person to overlook so important a farm, especially as I have my doubts also of his care and attention to the horses, &c.

As to Butler, you will soon be a judge whether he will be of use to you or not. He may mean well, and for ought I know to the contrary, may in some things have judgment; but I am persuaded he has no more authority over the negros he is placed, than an old woman would have; and is as unable to get a proper day’s work done by them as she would, unless led to it by their own inclination, which I know is not the case.

Davy at Muddy Hole carries on his business as well as the white overseers, and with more quietness than any of them. With proper directions he will do very well; and probably give you less trouble than any of them, except in attending to the care of his stock, of which I fear he is negligent; as there are deaths too frequent among them.

Thomas Green (overlooker of the carpenters) will, I am persuaded, require your closest attention, without which I believe it will be impossible to get any work done by my negro carpenters. In the first place, because it has not been in my power, when I am away from home, to keep either him or them to any settled work; but they will be flying from one trifling thing to another, Edition: current; Page: [401] with no other design, I believe, than to have the better opportunity to be idle, or to be employed on their own business; and, in the next place, because, although authority is given to him, he is too much upon a level with the negros to exert it; from which cause, if no other, every one works, or not, as they please, and carve out such jobs as they like. 18 December, 1793.

1794.

George Washington
Washington, George
1 January, 1794
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

I yesterday received, with sincere regret, your resignation of the office of Secretary of State.1 Since it has been impossible to prevail upon you to forego any longer the indulgence of your desire for private life, the event, however anxious I am to avert it, must be submitted to.

But I cannot suffer you to leave your station without assuring you, that the opinion, which I had formed of your integrity and talents, and which dictated Edition: current; Page: [402] your original nomination, has been confirmed by the fullest experience; and that both have been eminently displayed in the discharge of your duty.

Let a conviction of my most earnest prayers for your happiness accompany you in your retirement; and while I accept, with the warmest thanks, your solicitude for my welfare, I beg you to believe that I always am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 January, 1794
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I would thank you for giving the papers herewith enclosed a perusal—and for the result of it.

I am now deliberating on the measure proper and necessary to be taken with respect to Mr. G—t and wish for aid in so doing; The critical State of things making me more than usually anxious to decide right in the present case.

None but the heads of Departments are privy to these papers, which I pray may be returned this evening, or in the morning—

With very sincere esteem &c.1
Edition: current; Page: [403]

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, 20 JANUARY 1794.

Having already laid before you a letter of the 16th of August, 1793, from the Secretary of State to our Minister at Paris, stating the conduct, and urging the recall of the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of France, I now communicate to you, that his conduct has been unequivocally disapproved, and that the strongest assurances have been given that his recall should be expedited without delay.1

Edition: current; Page: [404]
George Washington
Washington, George
22 January, 1794
Philadelphia
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

TO CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY.
[CONFIDENTIAL.]

My Dear Sir,

Although I am not encouraged by the joint letter, which I had the honor to receive from you and our friend Mr. E. Rutledge, (under date of the 12th of June, 1791,) yet, in a measure to which I am strongly prompted both by judgment and inclination, I am unable to restrain myself from making a second application to you, similar to the former one.

I have cause to believe, that the private concerns of the gentleman, who is now at the head of the department of war, will occasion his resignation of that office, unless imperious circumstances (which Heaven avert) should force us into a war with any of the belligerent powers, and, under such circumstances, he should hold it dishonorable to retreat from his post.

Edition: current; Page: [405]

Towards or at the close of the present session of Congress, (which is hardly to be expected before April, if then,) this event, if it takes place, is likely to happen. Will you, upon this hypothesis, allow me to indulge a hope, that you would fill his place? It is not for the mere detail duties of the office I am in pursuit of a character. These might be well executed by a less important one than yours; but, as the officer, who is at the head of that department, is a branch of the executive, and called to its councils upon interesting questions of national importance, he ought to be a man, not only of competent skill in the science of war, but possessing a general knowledge of political subjects of known attachment to the government we have chosen, and of proved integrity. To whom, then, can I turn my eyes with more propriety than to you? I mean not to compliment, but to express the real sentiments of my heart.1

The intention of writing this letter, and the purport of it, are unknown to any one but myself. The result may be equally so, since it is placed upon an hypothetical basis, and declared to be confidential. No more, therefore, than you choose, need be disclosed, Edition: current; Page: [406] until the event which has given rise to the application shall have taken place, although it is essential I should know, in the mean time, on what ground I rest; without which, inconveniences might result from the vacancy of the office. With much truth and sincerity, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 January, 1794
Philadelphia
Thomas Johnson
Johnson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JOHNSON.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 23d ult. came duly to hand. With regret I perceive your determination to withdraw from the Commission under which you have acted for executing the plan of the Federal City.—My wish was, and still is, if it could be made to comport with your convenience and inclination, that it should be changed, or at least suspended; for I should be sorry to see others (coming in at the eleventh hour as it were) reap the fruits of your difficult labors; but if this cannot be, I would thank you for naming (which may be in confidence) such persons as you shall think best qualified to succeed you in this interesting and important business.—My limited acquaintance with convenient characters does not enable me to do it to my own satisfaction; and even among those, which might happen to present themselves to my view, there might be local circumstances in the way, unknown to me which would render them ineligible in the opinion of the public; for the impartial execution of the trust reposed. Were it not for this I presume proper characters might be had in Georgetown, Edition: current; Page: [407] or among the Proprietors of the City, but how far their connections or jarring interests therein, may be a let to such appointments is worthy of that consideration which you can so well appreciate for my information.

With respect to Mr. Blodget I have not hesitated on former occasions to declare and I think to the Commisioners themselves from the moment his conduct began to unfold itself, that his appointment did not in my judgment answer the end which had been contemplated.—At first I was at a loss how to account for a conduct so distant from any of the ideas I had entertained of the duties of a Superintendent, but it appears evidently enough now, that speculation has been his primary object from the beginning.

My letters (if not to the Commissioners, to an individual member I am sure) when compared with the conduct of Mr. Blodget, will shew that he has in no wise answered my expectations as Superintendent for my ideas of these (in the exercise of a competent character, always on the spot with sufficient powers, and fully instructed) were, that it would render a meeting of the Commissioners oftener than quarterly, or half yearly, unnecessary in the ordinary course of the business; cases it is true might occur requiring occasional ones, but these, after the stated meetings were sufficiently promulgated, would very rarely happen. According to these ideas, fixing on a plan, giving the outlines of it, receiving the reports, inspecting the proceedings, examining the accounts, revising the instructions or furnishing new ones at Edition: current; Page: [408] the periodical meetings is all that appeared to me necessary for the Commissioners to do; leaving to the Superintendent, who ought to be competent thereto and responsible, the execution in detail.

I wish you may have yet seen the worst feature in Mr. Blodget’s conduct. Finding that he was determined to proceed in his second Lottery, notwithstanding the admonition that had been given him by the Commissioners;—that he had actually sold tickets in it—and for Georgia land;1 I directed the Secretary of State to inform him in explicit terms, that if he did not instantly suspend all further proceeding therein until the sanction of the Commissioners should be unequivocally obtained, I would cause the unauthorised mode in which he was acting to be announced to the public, to guard it against imposition. In consequence he has set out, it is said, to wait upon them. If this be true, the result you must know. Little confidence, I fear, is placed in Mr. Blodget and least where he is best known.

With much truth, I remain.
George Washington
Washington, George
31 March, 1794
Philadelphia
George Clinton
Clinton, George

TO GEORGE CLINTON, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 20th instant, with its enclosures, came duly to hand, for which you have my particular thanks. As there are those, who affect to believe, Edition: current; Page: [409] that Great Britain has no hostile intention towards this country, it is not surprising that there should be found among them characters who pronounce the speech of Lord Dorchester to the Indians to be spurious. No doubt, however, remains in my mind of its authenticity. But, as it is important to be satisfied (so far as the nature of the thing will admit,) of the fact, I would thank you for such information as you are enabled to give of this matter.1

How far the disappointments, experienced by the combined powers in Europe, may have wrought a change in the political conduct of Great Britain towards this country, I shall not take upon me to decide. That it has worn a very hostile appearance latterly, if it has not been so uniformly, no one, I conceive, will be hardy enough to deny; and that Lord Dorchester has spoken the sentiments of the British cabinet, at the period he was instructed, I am as ready to believe. But, foiled as that ministry has been, whether it may not have changed its tone, as it respects us, is problematical. This, however, ought not to relax such inquiries, on our part, into the existing state of things, as might enable us, if matters should come to extremities, to act promptly and with vigor.

Among these inquiries it appears important to me to know the present state of things in Upper and Lower Canada, that is, the composition of the inhabitants, Edition: current; Page: [410] especially in Upper Canada, how they stand affected to their government, and what part they would be disposed to act, if a rupture between this country and Great Britain should take place; the proximity of our settlements, from the northwestern to the northeastern part of the State of New York, with the Lake Ontario and the River St. Lawrence, the strength thereof, and of their neighbors on the other side of the line, regulars and militia, especially about Niagara and Oswego.

As you have, I am certain, a pretty accurate knowledge of many of these matters yourself, and have the means, from your acquaintance with characters, on whose adroitness and integrity you can rely, bordering on the British settlements, to obtain information from others, you would oblige me very much by such communications as relate to the above, or any other points that you may conceive worthy of attention. With great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 April, 1794
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

I cannot charge my memory with all the particulars which have passed between us relative to the disposition of the money borrowed. Your letters, however, and my answer, which you refer to in the foregoing statement, and have lately reminded me of, speak for themselves, and stand in need of no explanation.

Edition: current; Page: [411]

As to verbal communications, I am satisfied that many were made by you to me on this subject; and, from my general recollection of the course of proceedings, I do not doubt, that it was substantially as you have stated it in the annexed paper, that I have approved of the measures, which you from time to time proposed to me for disposing of the loans, upon the condition that what was to be done by you should be agreeable to the laws. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [412]
George Washington
Washington, George
8 April, 1794
Philadelphia
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your private letters of the 31st of March and 3d instant have been duly received. Although it is a rare, if not an entire new thing with me, to answer letters applying for appointments, yet, from motives of esteem and regard, and our former connexion in public life, I shall acknowledge the receipt of yours on this head; although I can say nothing more on the subject, than to explain the motives, which have imposed silence upon me on these occasions. They are,

First, because letters of this sort are so numerous, that to give them a civil answer would employ too much of my time.

Secondly, because civil answers might be construed to mean more than was intended; and,

Edition: current; Page: [413]

Thirdly, because coeval with my inauguration I resolved firmly, that no man should ever charge me justly with deception. Abundant reason I have had to rejoice at this determination; for I have experienced the necessity, in a variety of instances, of hardening my heart against indulgences of my warmest inclination and friendship, and, from a combination of causes, as well as mere fitness of character, to depart from first impressions and first intentions with regard to nominations; which has proved most unequivocally the propriety of the maxim I had adopted, of never committing myself, until the moment the appointment is to be made, when, from the best information I can obtain, and a full view of circumstances, my judgment is formed.

With respect to your second letter of the 3d of April, I have only to add, and that in confidence, that every thing which friendship requires, and which I could do without committing my public character, or involving this country in embarrassments, is and has been for some time in train, though the result is as yet unknown.1 I am very sorry to hear of your bad state of health, but hope the approaching pleasant season will restore you. With very great esteem, I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [414]
George Washington
Washington, George
9 April, 1794
Philadelphia
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE.1

Sir,

In reply to your letter of yesterday, I can assure you, with the utmost truth, that I have no other object in nominating men to offices, than to fill them with such characters as, in my judgment, or, when they are unknown to me, from such information as I can obtain from others, are best qualified to answer the purposes of their appointment.

Edition: current; Page: [415]

Having given you this assurance, I request, if you are possessed of any facts or information, which would disqualify Colonel Hamilton for the mission to which you refer, that you would be so obliging as to communicate them to me in writing, I pledge myself, that they shall meet the most deliberate, impartial, and candid consideration I am able to give them.

Colonel Hamilton and others have been mentioned, and have occurred to me, as an envoy, for endeavoring by negotiation to avert the horrors of war. No one, if the measure should be adopted, is Edition: current; Page: [416] yet absolutely decided on in my mind. But, as much will depend, among other things, upon the abilities of the person sent, and his knowledge of the affairs of this country, and as I alone am responsible for a proper nomination, it certainly behoves me to name such an one, as, in my judgment, combines the requisites for a mission so peculiarly interesting to the peace and happiness of this country. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 April, 1794
Philadelphia
Richard Henry Lee
Lee, Richard Henry

TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.

Dear Sir,

* * * * * *

The manners of M. Fauchet and of M. Genet, the present and former ministers from France, appear to have been cast in very different moulds.1 The former Edition: current; Page: [417] has been temperate and placid in all his movements hitherto. The latter was the reverse of it in all respects. The declarations made by the former, of the friendly dispositions of his nation towards this country, and of his own inclinations to carry them into effect, are strong and apparently sincere. The Edition: current; Page: [418] conduct of the latter is disapproved in toto by the governments of both. Yet it is time only, that will enable us to form a decisive judgment of each, and of the objects of their pursuit.

The British ministry (as you will have perceived by Mr. Pinckney’s letter to the Secretary of State, which is just published) disclaim any hostile intention towards this country, in the agency they had in bringing about a truce between Portugal and Algiers; yet the tenor of their conduct, in this business, has been such, added to their manœuvres with our Indian neighbors, but more especially with respect to the late orders of the King in council, as to leave very unfavorable impressions of their friendship, and little to expect from their justice, whatever may result from that of the interest of their nation.

The debates on what are commonly called Mr. Madison’s Resolutions, which no doubt you have seen, (they having been published in all the gazettes,) will give you the pro and con of that business more in detail, than I could do it, if my leisure were greater than it is. But these resolutions, like many other matters, are slumbering in Congress; and what may be the final result of them, no mortal I believe can tell.

I learn with regret that your health has continued bad ever since I had the pleasure of seeing you at Shuter’s Hill. Warm weather, I hope, will restore it. If my wishes could be of any avail, you assuredly would have them. With best respects to Mrs. Lee, and the rest of your family, in which Mrs. Washington unites, I am, with very great esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [419]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 April, 1794
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Let me know whether the message (which in the evening of yesterday) I requested you to draw, will be ready by eleven o’clock this forenoon? If you answer in the affirmative, I shall require the gentlemen, with whom I usually advise on these occasions, to attend me at that hour; for I consider that message, (both as to matter and form,) of such importance as to make it necessary, that every word of it should undergo due consideration.

My objects are, to prevent a war, if justice can be obtained by fair and strong representations (to be made by a special envoy) of the injuries which this country has sustained from Great Britain in various ways, to put it into a complete state of military defence, and to provide eventually for such measures, as seem to be now pending in Congress for execution, if negotiation in a reasonable time proves unsuccessful.

Such is the train of my thoughts; but how far all, or any of them, except the first, ought to be introduced into the message, in the present stage of the business in Congress, deserves, as I have said before, due consideration. Yours, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [420]
George Washington
Washington, George
27 April, 1794
Philadelphia
John Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, John

TO JOHN FITZGERALD.

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 14th instant came to hand in due course of post, and would have received an earlier acknowledgement had I not been pressed with other business.

I have no hesitation in declaring that the conduct of Mr. Thomas Digges towards the United States during the War (in which they were engaged with Great Britain) and since as far as the same has come to my knowledge, has not been only friendly, but I might add zealous.

When I conversed with you on this subject in Alexandria, I thought I recollected a special and pointed instance of beneficial service he had rendered this Country in sending me between the leather and pasteboard cover of a book, some important intelligence; but upon reflecting more maturely on the matter since, I am unable to decide positively whether it was from him, or another gentleman this expedient was adopted to elude the consequences of a search.1—Be Edition: current; Page: [421] this however as it may, it is in my recollection that various verbal communications came to me, as from him, by our captives, who had escaped from confinement in England; and I think I have recd. written ones also: but the latter (if at all) must have been rare on account of the extreme hazard of discovery, and the consequences which would follow, both to the writer and bearer of such correspondences.

Since the War, abundant evidence might be adduced of his activity and zeal (with considerable risque) in sending artizans and machines of public utility to this Country—I mean by encouraging and facilitating their transportation, as also of useful information to the Secretary of State, to put him on his guard against nefarious attempts to make Paper, &c.—for the purpose of counterfeiting our money. Until you mentioned the doubts which were entertained of Mr. Digges’ attachment to this country, I had no idea of its being questioned. With esteem and regard I am, &c.

P. S. Since writing the foregoing letter, I have seen and conversed with Mr. John Trumbull respecting Mr. T. Digges. The former, before he was committed to the Tower of London, was well acquainted with the latter in England, and much in his company. To him Mr. Digges always appeared well attached to the rights and interests of the United States; knows that he was active in aiding our citizens to escape from their confinement in England; and believes he was employed to do so by Doctor Franklin. Mr. Trumbull has never seen Mr. Digges since he left the Edition: current; Page: [422] Tower, but has heard that a difference arose between him and the Doctor not from any distrust entertained by the latter of disaffection in the former, but on the settlement of their accounts.

The preceding statement is made from the best recollection I have of the subject.—The expression might (if I had had more leisure) be more correct, but not more consonant with truth—Such as it is you are welcome to make what use you please of it.1

George Washington
Washington, George
29 April, 1794
Philadelphia
Jay John
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.
[SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

My Dear Sir,

Receive, I pray you, the suggestion I am going to impart, with the friendship and caution the delicacy of it requires.

You are already informed, that I am under the necessity of recalling Mr. Gouverneur Morris from France, and you can readily conceive the difficulty which occurs in finding a successor, that would be agreeable to that nation, and who, at the same time, would meet the approbation of the friends of that country in this.

These considerations have induced me to ask you, if it could be made to comport with your inclination, after you shall have finished your business as envoy, and not before, to become the resident minister Edition: current; Page: [423] plenipotentiary at London, that Mr. Pinckney, by that means, might be sent to Paris? I mean no more, than simply to ask the question, not intending, although the measure would remove the above difficulty, to press it in the smallest degree.

If you answer in the affirmative, be so good as to return the enclosed letter1 to me, and correspondent arrangements shall be made. If in the negative, I pray you to forward it through the penny post, or otherwise, according to circumstances, to the gentleman to whom it is directed without delay; and, in either case, to let the transaction be confined entirely to ourselves. With much truth and regard, I am sincerely and affectionately yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 April, 1794
Philadelphia
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I have read the draft of your letter, intended as an answer to the British minister’s reply to Mr. Pinckney’s memorial, on the instructions of the 8th of June, 1793. Those of the 6th of November following stand unconnected with the subject.

It is essential, that all the cited cases should be correct, and that the general statement should be Edition: current; Page: [424] placed on uncontrovertible ground; otherwise the argument will recoil with redoubled force.

Close attention being given to these matters, and the ideas expressed without warmth or asperity, if upon a revision such should be found to have intermingled, I see no objection to the particular answer which is prepared. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
6 May, 1794
Philadelphia
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias

TO TOBIAS LEAR.

* * * * * *

To tell you that the order of his Britannic Majesty in council, of the 8th of June last, respecting neutral vessels, had given much discontent in the United States, and that that of the 6th of November and its result had thrown them into a flame, will hardly be news to you when you shall have received this letter. The subsequent order of the 8th of January has in a degree allayed the violence of the heat, but will by no means satisfy them without reparation for the spoliations on our trade, and the injuries we sustain from the non-performance of the treaty of peace. To effect these if possible by temperate means, by Edition: current; Page: [425] fair and firm negotiation, an envoy extraordinary is appointed, and will, I expect, sail in a few days. Mr. Jay is chosen for this trust. Mr. John Trumbull goes as his private secretary.

Many measures have been moved in Congress, in consequence of the aforementioned orders of the British cabinet. Some have passed into acts, and others are yet pending. Those, which have become laws, are, one for fortifying our principal seaports (which is now in vigorous execution), and for raising an additional corps of eight hundred artillerymen for the defence of them and for other purposes. The bills, which are pending, are to complete our present military establishment; to raise an army of twenty-five thousand in addition thereto; and to organize, put in training, and to hold in readiness at a minute’s warning a select corps of eighty thousand militia. Of the passing of the first and last of these, no doubt seems to be entertained on either side of the House; but those, who are fearful of what they call a standing army, will give all the opposition they can to the other. The result therefore none will predict in the present stage of the business.

Besides these, a bill passed the House of Representatives by a large majority, founded on the following preamble and resolution:—

“Whereas, the injuries which have been suffered, and may be suffered by the United States, from violations committed by Great Britain on their neutral rights and commercial interests, as well as from the failure to execute the seventh article of the treaty of peace, render it expedient for the interests of the United Edition: current; Page: [426] States, that the commercial intercourse between the two countries should not continue to be carried on in the extent at present allowed;

“Resolved, that from and after the 1st day of November next all commercial intercourse between the citizens of the United States and the subjects of the King of Great Britain, or the citizens or subjects of any other nation, as far as the same respects articles of the growth or manufacture of Great Britain or Ireland, shall be prohibited.”

This measure was arrested in the Senate at the third reading by the casting vote of the Vice-President; not, as it is said and generally believed, from a disinclination to the ulterior expedience of the measure, but from a desire to try the effect of negotiation previous thereto. Sequestration of British property, exclusive of that in the funds, and other expedients of a similar kind, have been agitated in the House of Representatives, but seem, I think, to be talked off the stage.

I wish most sincerely, that some inducement could be offered Professor Anderson, which would bring him to this country. His labors are, certainly, ingenious and worthy of encouragement; but I fear it will not be in my power to avail these States of them. His communications, however, are under consideration. * * *

Often through the medium of Mr. Langdon we hear of your son Lincoln and with pleasure that he continues to be the healthy and sprightly child he always was. He declared if his ticket should turn up a prize he would go and live in the Federal City. He did not consider, poor little fellow, that some of Edition: current; Page: [427] the prizes would hardly build him a baby house, nor foresee that one of these was to fall to his lot, having drawn ten dolls. only. Mr. Bl—t’s agency in this lottery will it is feared, be more productive of thorns than roses; the matter is not yet wound up and the Commissioners appear to be uneasy. In all other respects matters, as far as the accounts of them have come to my knowledge, are going on well.

My public avocations will not at any rate admit of more than a flying trip to Mount Vernon for a few days this summer. This not suiting Mrs. Washington, I have taken a house in Germantown to avoid the heat of this city in the month of July and August. She, Nelly, and the rest of the family, unite with me in every good wish for your health, prosperity, and safe return, than whom none you may be assured offers them with more sincerity. With affection and regard, I am and always shall be yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 May, 1794
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir:

In answering your note of yesterday respecting M. Talleyrand-Périgord, I do not hesitate to declare, that I find it difficult to hit upon a line of conduct towards characters, under the description that gentleman is, (emigrants,) that is satisfactory to my own mind, or, more properly, that is free from exception, by avoiding what might seem to be incivility on one Edition: current; Page: [428] hand, or unpleasant political consequences on the other. I can perceive very clearly, that the consequences of receiving these characters into the public rooms will be driving of the French minister from them. His visits are much less frequent than they were; and an occurrence on Tuesday last, which shall be mentioned when you call here, has left no doubt as to the cause.

A particular introduction of these characters (out of the usual course) would I presume be more noticed, than the reception of them in public. It has become expedient, therefore, in my opinion, that principles should be adopted in these cases, (not only for the President, but the executive officers also,) by which evils may be avoided, and uniformity observed. What these had best be, deserves consideration.

My wish is, and it is not less my duty as an officer of the republic, to avoid offence to powers with which we are in friendship, by conduct towards their proscribed citizens, which would be disagreeable to them; whilst at the same time these emigrants, if people of a good character, ought to understand, that they will be protected in their persons and property, and will be entitled to all the benefits of our laws. For the rest, they must depend upon their own behavior and the civilities of the citizens at large, who are less restrained by political considerations, than the officers of government must be.

Yours always.1
Edition: current; Page: [429]
George Washington
Washington, George
18 May, 1794
Philadelphia
Robert Lewis
Lewis, Robert

TO ROBERT LEWIS.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 7th instant came duly to hand, with the Rental enclosed.

As there are no houses or anything standing on my lots in the Town and Common of Winchester, it is of no great moment what is done with them. I am not disposed to sell them, nor to part with them on lease for a long term; but if you could obtain an annual rent for either, or both, without running me to any expense, it would, however small, be clear. With respect to my Lots in Bath, something ought to be done with them. The buildings thereon, together with the Lots stand me in at least £200,—but whether common interest can be obtained in a rent for them, you who know the state of things in that quarter can judge better of than I am able to do; and therefore I leave it to you to act for me as you would for yourself. If they were even let to some one who would keep the buildings in repair it would Edition: current; Page: [430] be more desirable by far than without a tenant, or some people to take care of them, to suffer them to fall to ruin.

I do not know whether I clearly understand your proposition of an exchange of the Land on Potomac for a Lot in Berkeley County. The first contains 240 acres instead of 140 as mentioned in your letter; 200 of which is rich river bottom, which must, as the navigation of the river improves, become extremely valuable from the produce it is capable of; besides the fine black walnuts which grow thereon, and would fetch a good sum at the federal City, if others can be restrained from pilfering them. On the other hand I know of no land I hold at the mouth of Bull-skin, nor any lease that was ever given to a person of the name of Dimmitt. No such name I am pretty sure, is to be found in the original list of my tenants; and equally sure I am no leases have been given of late years (with my consent) for three lives. When you explain this matter more fully, it will be more in my power than it is at present to speak to you on this particular point. Speaking of leases for lives, I am led to observe to you, that the lives will never decrease, nor the leases fall in, unless the occupants, where they are not the lessees, are put to the proof of the existence of those who were originally inserted. I do not recollect any instance of my changing names where the leases have been transferred, and but few of my consenting to transfers; which makes me more desirous of knowing how a person of the name of Dimmitt (which I do not recollect at all) should be Edition: current; Page: [431] possessed of a lease for three lives. I hope Muse has not abused my confidence in putting blank leases into his hands, signed, in order to be filled up thereafter by doing it improperly.

Altho’ I can very illy spare the money arising from the rents you have collected; yet if the lots are susceptible of such augmentation in the annual income, by purchasing in the Leases as you think of I consent to your applying the money in your hands to this purpose, in cases where there is a moral certainty of a considerable increase of rent; and that the purchases are made by the first of next November. You will ascertain precisely before you attempt these purchases—1st, what lives are certainly existing in them, and 2dly, whether the covenants in them have been complied with on the part of the tenants,—for in the first case I may be purchasing that which belongs to me of right—and in the second case that which they have forfeited by a non-compliance with the conditions on which the Leases were granted. You will recollect also, that by the terms of all or most of the Leases, the Tenant is not at liberty to sell to any one without my consent.

I am sorry you should meet with any difficulty about the land I gave you about the Accoceek old Iron Works. I am not possessed of any papers belonging to it, nor is it in my power to point you to any office where they are to be found; but I should conceive that the tract is so well known that all the adjoining landholders are able to shew you the bounds of it. There was one John Honey that knew Edition: current; Page: [432] it well; and I believe Colo. Charles Carter of Ludlow, has some knowledge of it. I have been told that some person in Falmouth (whose name I do not recollect) had pillaged the lands of the most valuable pines thereon; and that either he, or some other, talked of escheating it; but I never supposed injustice would prompt any one to such a measure. Perhaps this, or some such mode might be adviseable for you, as the title papers are not to be found nor the manner in which my mother came by it, to be traced with precision. By will (I have understood) it was left to her by her father (Ball), but what his Christian name was I am not able to tell you, nor the county he lived in with certainty, but presume it was Lancaster.—This will seems to me to be the only clue by which the title can be traced; the bequest probably may as usual contain some description of the Land.1

Your aunt and the family join me in best regards for Mrs. Lewis. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 May, 1794
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir:

The communication, which you made to me some time ago, of your intention to resign, and to which you refer in your letter of the 27th instant, (received Edition: current; Page: [433] yesterday afternoon,) I always considered as depending upon events.

Of course nothing has been done by me to render your continuance in office inconvenient or ineligible. On the contrary, I am pleased that you have determined to remain at your post until the clouds over our affairs, which have come on so fast of late, shall be dispersed. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
25 June, 1794
Mount Vernon
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
[PRIVATE]

My dear Sir:

The sole object of the enclosed letter2 was to evince to you, that, notwithstanding your recall, you Edition: current; Page: [434] held the same place in my estimation that you did before it happened. I expected to get the letter into Colonel Monroe’s hands before the vessel, in which he was, had left the Petapsco River; but a fresh and fair wind coming up prevented its reaching him.

Since my arrival at this place I have been favored with your private latter of the 12th of March, enclosing duplicate of the 5th of February. For both I thank you. To common accidents, or to the interception of letters, for purposes to be guessed, are to be ascribed those disappointments of which you complain; for I am almost certain, information of what was going forward in this country was regularly transmitted to you; possibly, and probably, not by duplicates, which ought to have been the case, for the greater certainty of getting it to you.1

Edition: current; Page: [435]

The uncertainty (when letters are not intrusted to confidential persons, or sent by special messengers,) of their coming to hand, will restrain me from going into detail at this time. I shall only add, therefore, to the acknowledgment of the receipt of the above letters, that I am entirely ignorant of the source from whence, or the foundation on which, Major Jackson has erected the fabrics of your recall and your successor. Directly nor indirectly could he have derived them from me, for the best of all reasons, namely, that not until some considerable time after M. Fauchet had arrived in this country did I entertain an idea of the first, or contemplate the latter; for until then I had supposed you stood well with the powers that were.1 Sure I am, nothing short of evidence to the contrary, (with the request that accompanied it,) would have induced the measure. To Major Jackson I have never written a line since he left this country, nor received one from him.

The prospective you have drawn is not very pleasing; but it serves to make one more anxious for a nearer view.

The affairs of this country cannot go amiss. There are so many watchful guardians of them, and such infallible guides, that one is at no loss for a director at every turn. But of these matters I shall say little; if you are disposed to return to it, [I] leave you to judge of them from your own observation. Edition: current; Page: [436] My primary objects, to which I have steadily adhered, have been to preserve the country in peace if I can, and to be prepared for war if I cannot; to effect the first, upon terms consistent with the respect which is due to ourselves, and with honor, justice, and good faith to all the world.

Mr. Jay (and not Mr. Jefferson) as has been suggested to you, embarked as envoy extraordinary for England about the middle of May, If he succeeds, well; if he does not, why, knowing the worst, we must take measures accordingly. I am yours affectionately.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 June, 1794
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Monday’s post brought me your letter of the 18th instant with its enclosures. The minister of his Britannic Majesty seems more disposed to be captious than conciliatory. Whether it proceeds from his ideas of policy, the advice of his counsellors, or a natural petulance of temper, remains to be developed.1

The enclosed letter from Mr. Reuben Harvey is similar to one I received from him some time ago, and which I either gave or intended to give to you. Do as shall appear to you right with them. I shall Edition: current; Page: [437] endeavor to be back by the time I allotted before I left Philadelpia, if I am able; but an exertion to save myself and horse from falling among the rocks at the Lower Falls of the Potomac (whither I went on Sunday morning to see the canal and locks), has wrenched my back in such a manner as to prevent my riding; and hitherto has defeated the purposes for which I came home. My stay here will only be until I can ride with ease and safety, whether I accomplish my own business or not. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 July, 1794
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir:

Your private letter of the 22d of June came duly to hand, and for the opinion contained in it I thank you. I always feel sincere gratification from the frank and unreserved advice of my friends, whether it coincides with my own sentiments or not.1

As Congress, to whom the matter was referred, did not (from causes unknown to me) think proper to take up the subject of compensation for British vessels captured by the proscribed privateers of France, and as this [is] one of the subjects committed to Mr. Jay’s negotiation, or at least within his powers, I do Edition: current; Page: [438] not feel disposed to make any further or more pointed declaration to Mr. Hammond on this head at this time.1

Edition: current; Page: [439]

My understanding of the original communication of this business differs very widely from your interpretation of it. It is well known to the late Secretary of State, that more than once I pointedly desired, that the expression be so guarded, as to convey nothing more than an opinion of the executive. This, (it may be said and I think,) ought to have been confirmed by the legislature; but the fact is otherwise. And, although the usage of other nations may be opposed to this practice, this difference may result from the difference between their constitutions and ours, and from the prerogatives of their executives.

The powers of the executive of this country are more definite, and better understood, perhaps, than those of any other country; and my aim has been, and will continue to be, neither to stretch nor relax from them in any instance whatever, unless compelled to it by imperious circumstances.

Under this view of the subject, unless the case was more pressing than I think the matter is as it respects Mr. Hammond, it had better, I conceive, remain on the footing it now stands on; although I have no objection, as I had written to the Secretary of State before I received your letter, that he might be informed, informally and verbally, that the negotiation of this as well as other matters was transmitted to his own court.1 I am, with sincere esteem and regard, your affectionate, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [440]
George Washington
Washington, George
20 July, 1794
Philadelphia
John Sinclair
Sinclair, John

TO SIR JOHN SINCLAIR.

Sir:

I am indebted to you for your several favours, of the 15th of August and 4 of September of the last, and for that of the 6th of February in the present year; for which, and the pamphlets accompanying them, my thanks are particularly due.—To say this, and to have suffered them to remain so long unacknowledged needs explanation. The truth is they came to hand, the first of them about the opening, and the second set towards the close, of a long and interesting session of Congress, during which my time was very much occupied, and at the end thereof I had a pressing call to my estate in Virginia from whence I have not been returned more than ten or twelve days.

Edition: current; Page: [441]

I have read with peculiar pleasure and approbation the work you patronize, so much to your own honor and the utility of the public. Such a general view of the Agriculture in the several counties of Great Britain, is extremely interesting, and cannot fail of being very beneficial to the agricultural concerns of your country; and to those of every other wherein they are read; and must entitle you to their warmest thanks, for having set such a plan on foot and for prosecuting it with the zeal and intelligence you do.—I am so much pleased with the plan and execution myself as to pray you to have the goodness to direct your book-seller to continue them accompanied with the [charge], which shall be paid to his order, or remitted so soon as the amount is made known to me. When the whole are received I will promote, as far as in me lies, the reprinting of them here.

I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country, than by improving its agriculture,—its breed of useful animals—and other branches of a husbandman’s cares:—nor can I conceive any plan more conducive to this end than the one you have introduced for bringing to view the actual state of them in all parts of the Kingdom—by which good and bad habits are exhibited in a manner too plain to be misconceived; for the accounts given to the British board of Agriculture appear in general to be drawn up in a masterly manner, so as fully to answer the expectations formed in the excellent plan which produced them, affording at the same time a fund of information Edition: current; Page: [442] useful in political œconomy—serviceable in all countries.

Commons, Tithes, Tenantry (of which we feel nothing in this country) are in the list of impediments, I perceive, to perfection in English farming, and taxes are heavy deductions from the net profit thereof. Of these we have none, or so light as hardly to be felt. Your system of Agriculture, it must be confessed, is in a stile superior and of course much more expensive than ours; but when the balance at the end of the year is struck by deducting the taxes, poor rates, and incidental charges of every kind from the produce of the land, in the two countries no doubt can remain in which scale it is to be found. It will be some time I fear before an Agricultural society, with congressional aids, will be established in this country. We must walk as other countries have done before we can run. Smaller societies must prepare the way for greater; but with the lights before us I hope we shall not be so slow in maturation as older nations have been. An attempt, as you will perceive by the enclosed outlines of a plan, is making to establish a State society in Pennsylvania for agricultural improvements. If it succeeds it will be a step in the ladder—at present it is too much in embryo to decide on the result.

Our domestic animals (as well as our agriculture) are inferior to yours in point of size, but this does not proceed from any defect in the stamina of them; but to deficient care in providing for their support; experience having abundantly evinced that where Edition: current; Page: [443] our pastures are as well improved as the soil and climate will admit,—where a competent store of wholesome provender is laid up and proper care used in serving it—that our horses, black cattle, sheep, &c.—are not inferior to the best of their respective kinds which have been imported from England. Nor is the wool of our sheep inferior to that of the common sort with you.—As a proof—after the peace of Paris in 1783, and my return to the occupation of a farmer, I paid particular attention to my breed of sheep (of which I usually kept about seven or eight hundred). By this attention, at the shearing of 1789, the fleeces yielded me the average quantity of 5¼ of wool—a fleece of which promiscuously taken, I sent to Mr. Arthur Young, who put it for examination into the hands of manufacturers. These pronounced it to be equal in quality to the Kentish wool. In this same year (i.e. 1789) I was again called from home, and have not had it in my power since to pay any attention to my farms. The consequence of which is, that my sheep at the last shearing, yielded me not more than 2½.

This is not a single instance of the difference between care and neglect. Nor is the difference between good and bad management confined to that species of stock, for we find that good pastures and proper attention can, and does fill our markets with beef of seven, eight and more hundred weight the four quarters; whereas from 450 to 500 (especially in the States south of this, where less attention hitherto has been paid to grass) may be found about Edition: current; Page: [444] the average weight.—In this market some bullocks were killed in the months of March and April last, the weights of which as taken from the accounts which were published at the time, you will find in a paper enclosed. These were pampered steers, but from 800 to 1000, the four quarters, is no uncommon weight.

Your general history of sheep with observations thereon, and the proper mode of managing them will be an interesting work when compleated; and with the information and accuracy with which I am persuaded it will be executed, under your auspices, must be extremely desirable. The climate of this country, particularly that of the middle States, is congenial to this species of animal; but want of attention to them in most farmers, added to the obstacles which prevent the importation of those of a better kind by men who would be at the expense, contributes not a little to the present inferiority we experience.

Mr. Edwards would have it as much in his power as most of our farmers, to solve the queries you propounded to him, in addition to which a gentleman of my acquaintance (who is also among the best farmers of this country and to whom I gave the perusal of your propositions) has favor’d me with some ideas on the subject, as you will find on paper herewith enclosed.

The sample you were so obliging as to put into the hands of Mr. Lear for me, of a scotch fabric, is extremely elegant, and I pray you to accept my Edition: current; Page: [445] thanks for it as I entreat you to do also for the civilities shewn to that Gentleman, who has a grateful sense of them.

Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the perusal of the papers which accompanied your note of the 11 of September.

With great respect & esteem, I am, &c.

PROCLAMATION WARNING THE INSURGENTS IN THE WESTERN PARTS OF PENNSYLVANIA TO DESIST FROM THEIR OPPOSITION TO THE LAWS.

Whereas combinations to defeat the execution of the laws laying duties upon spirits distilled within the United States and upon stills, have from the time of the commencement of those laws existed in some of the western parts of Pennsylvania;

And whereas the said combinations, proceeding in a manner subversive equally of the just authority of government and of the rights of individuals, have hitherto effected their dangerous and criminal purpose, by the influence of certain irregular meetings, whose proceedings have tended to encourage and uphold the spirit of opposition; by misrepresentations of the laws calculated to render them odious; by endeavors to deter those, who might be so disposed, from accepting offices under them, through fear of public resentment and of injury to person and property, and to compel those, who had accepted such offices, by actual violence to surrender or forbear the execution of them; by circulating vindictive menaces against all those, who should otherwise directly or indirectly aid in the execution of the said laws, or who, yielding to the dictates of conscience and to a sense of obligation, should themselves comply therewith; by actually injuring and destroying the property of persons who were understood to have so complied; by inflicting cruel and humiliating punishments upon private citizens for no other cause, than that of Edition: current; Page: [446] appearing to be friends of the laws; by intercepting the public officers on the highways, abusing, assaulting, and otherwise illtreating them; by going to their houses in the night, gaining admittance by force, taking away their papers, and committing other outrages, employing for these unwarrantable purposes the agency of armed banditti disguised in such manner, as for the most part to escape discovery;

And whereas the endeavors of the legislature to obviate objections to the said laws by lowering the duties and by other alterations conducive to the convenience of those, whom they immediately affect (though they have given satisfaction in other quarters), and the endeavors of the executive officers to conciliate a compliance with the laws, by explanations, by forbearance, and even by particular accommodations founded on the suggestion of local considerations, have been disappointed of their effect by the machinations of persons, whose industry to excite resistance has increased with every appearance of a disposition among the people to relax in their opposition, and to acquiesce in the laws; insomuch that many persons, in the said western parts of Pennsylvania have at length been hardy enough to perpetrate acts, which I am advised amount to treason, being overt acts of levying war against the United States, the said persons having on the 16th and 17th of July last proceeded in arms (on the second day amounting to several hundreds) to the house of John Neville, inspector of the revenue for the fourth survey of the district of Pennsylvania; having repeatedly attacked the said house with the persons therein, wounding some of them; having seized David Lenox, marshal of the district of Pennsylvania, who previous thereto had been fired upon, while in the execution of his duty, by a party of armed men, detaining him for some time prisoner, till, for the preservation of his life and the obtaining of his liberty, he found it necessary to enter into stipulations to forbear the execution of certain official duties touching processes issuing out of a court of the United States; and having finally obliged the said inspector of the revenue, and the said marshal, from considerations of personal safety to fly from that part of the country, in order by a circuitous route to proceed to the seat of government; avowing as the motives of these outrageous proceedings Edition: current; Page: [447] an intention to prevent by force of arms the execution of the said laws, to oblige the said inspector of the revenue to renounce his said office, to withstand by open violence the lawful authority of the government of the United States, and to compel thereby an alteration in the measures of the legislature and a repeal of the laws aforesaid;

And whereas, by a law of the United States, entitled “An act to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions,” it is enacted, “that, whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution of them obstructed in any State by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by that act, the same being notified by an associate justice or the district judge, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia of such State to suppress such combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed; and, if the militia of a State, when such combinations may happen, shall refuse or be insufficient to suppress the same, it shall be lawful for the President, if the legislature of the United States shall not be in session, to call forth and employ such numbers of the militia of any other State, or States, most convenient thereto, as may be necessary, and the use of the militia so to be called forth may be continued, if necessary, until the expiration of thirty days after the commencement of the ensuing session; provided always, that, whenever it may be necessary in the judgment of the President to use the military force hereby directed to be called forth, the President shall forthwith and previous thereto, by proclamation, command such insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within a limited time;”

And whereas James Wilson, an associate justice, on the fourth instant, by writing under his hand did, from evidence which had been laid before him, notify to me, that, “in the counties of Washington and Allegany in Pennsylvania, laws of the United States are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshal of the district;”

Edition: current; Page: [448]

And whereas it is in my judgment necessary under the circumstances of the case to take measures for calling forth the militia in order to suppress the combinations aforesaid, and to cause the laws to be duly executed, and I have accordingly determined so to do, feeling the deepest regret for the occasion, but withal the most solemn conviction, that the essential interests of the Union demand it, that the very existence of government and the fundamental principles of social order are materially involved in the issue, and that the patriotism and firmness of all good citizens are seriously called upon, as occasion may require, to aid in the effectual suppression of so fatal a spirit;

Therefore, and in pursuance of the proviso above recited, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do hereby command all persons, being insurgents as aforesaid, and all others whom it may concern, on or before the first day of September next to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes. And I do moreover warn all persons whomsoever against aiding, abetting, or comforting the perpetrators of the aforesaid treasonable acts; and do require all officers and other citizens, according to their respective duties and the law of the land, to exert their utmost endeavors to prevent and suppress such dangerous proceedings.

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, this seventh day of August, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, and of the independence of the United States of America the nineteenth.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 August, 1794
Germantown
Burges Ball
Ball, Burges

TO BURGES BALL.

Dear Sir,

We removed to this place about twelve days ago to avoid the heat of Philada., and probably may remain at it until the middle of next month. It was here I received your letter of the 5th instant which came to my hands yesterday.

Edition: current; Page: [449]

The business of establishing arsenals, and providing proper places for them, is within the Department of War; the Secretary of which (Genl. Knox) set out on Friday last for the Province of Maine, and will not be returned in less than six weeks—But as I am persuaded he has no idea (nor are there indeed funds provided equal thereto) of giving 25,000 Dollars for the site of one only I would not have you by any means avoid sewing Wheat; or doing any thing else which you might have had in contemplation to do, on account of what I mentioned to you in my last on this subject.

What (under the rose I ask it) is said or thought, as far as it has appeared to you, of the conduct of the People of the Western Counties of this State (Pennsylvania) towards the excise officers?—and does there seem to be a disposition among those with whom you converse to bring them to a sense of their duty, and obedience to law, by coercion, if, after they are fully notified by Proclamation and other expedients of the consequences of such outrageous proceedings, they do not submit to the Laws of the United States, and suffer the collection of the duties upon spirituous liquors and stills to be made as in other places? In a word, would there be any difficulty, as far as the matter has passed under your observation, in drawing out a part of the Militia of Loudoun, Berkeley and Frederick—to quell this rebellious spirit and to support order and good government? You will readily perceive that questions of this sort from me to you and your answers, are for Edition: current; Page: [450] my private information, and to go no farther than ourselves.

I am sorry to hear that your bad state of health requires the waters of Bath, and hope they will restore you. My love (in which Mrs. Washington unites) is offered to Mrs. Ball and the family. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 August, 1794
Philadelphia
Charles M. Thruston
Thruston, Charles M.

TO CHARLES M. THRUSTON.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 21st of June came duly to hand. For the communications contained in it I thank you, as I shall do for any other that is interesting to the community, and necessary for me to be informed of. That there should exist in this country such a spirit as you say pervades the people of Kentucky, (and which I have also learnt through other channels,) is to me matter of great wonder; and that it should prevail there, more than in any other part of the Union, is not less surprising to those, who are acquainted with the exertions of the general government in their favor. But it will serve to evince, whensoever and to whomsoever facts are developed (and they are not unknown at this moment to many of the principal characters in that State), that there must exist a predisposition among them to be dissatisfied, under any circumstances and under every exertion of government (short of a war with Spain, which must eventually involve one with Great Britain,) to promote their welfare.

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The protection they receive, and the unwearied endeavors of the general government to accomplish, (by repeated and ardent remonstrances,) what they seem to have most at heart, namely, the navigation of the Mississippi, obtain no credit with them, or, what is full as likely, may be concealed from them or misrepresented by those Societies, who, under specious colorings, are spreading mischief far and wide, either from real ignorance of the measures pursuing by the government, or from a wish to bring it, as much as they are able, into discredit; for what purposes, every man is left to his own conjectures.1

That similar attempts to discontent the public mind have been practised with too much success in some of the western counties in this State, you are, I am certain, not to learn.2 Actual rebellion against the laws of the United States exists at this moment, notwithstanding every lenient measure, which could comport with the duties of the public officers, has Edition: current; Page: [452] been exercised to reconcile them to the collection of the taxes upon spirituous liquors and stills. What may be the consequences of such violent and outrageous proceedings is painful in a high degree even in contemplation. But, if the laws are to be so trampled upon with impunity, and a minority, (a small one too,) is to dictate to the majority, there is an end put, at one stroke, to republican government; and nothing but anarchy and confusion is to be expected hereafter. Some other man or society may dislike another law, and oppose it with equal propriety, until all laws are prostrate, and every one, (the strongest I presume,) will carve for himself. Yet there will be found persons, I have no doubt, who, although they may not be hardy enough to justify such open opposition to the laws, will nevertheless be opposed to coercion, even if the proclamation and the other temperate measures, which are in train by the executive to avert the dire necessity of a resort to arms, should fail. How far such people may extend their influence, and what may be the consequences thereof, is not easy to decide; but this we know, that it is not difficult by concealment of some facts and the exaggeration of others, (where there is an influence,) to bias a well-meaning mind, although we allow truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.

I have a great regard for General Morgan, and respect his military talents, and am persuaded, if a fit occasion should occur, no one would exert them with more zeal in the service of his country than he would. Edition: current; Page: [453] It is my ardent wish, however, that this country should remain in peace as long as the interest, honor, and dignity of it will permit, and its laws, enacted by the representatives of the people freely chosen, shall obtain. With much esteem, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
26 August, 1794
Germantown
Henry Lee
Lee, Henry

TO HENRY LEE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 17th came duly to hand, and I thank you for its communications. As the insurgents in the western counties of this State are resolved, (as far as we have yet been able to learn from the commissioners,1 who have been sent among them,) to persevere in their rebellious conduct until what they call the excise law is repealed, and acts of oblivion and amnesty are passed, it gives me sincere consolation amidst the regrets, with which I am filled by such lawless and outrageous conduct, to find by your letter above mentioned, that it is held in general detestation by the good people of Virginia, and that you are disposed to lend your personal aid to subdue this spirit, and to bring those people to a proper sense of their duty.

On this latter point I shall refer you to letters Edition: current; Page: [454] from the war office, and to a private one from Colonel Hamilton, (who, in the absence of the Secretary of War, superintends the military duties of that department,) for my sentiments on this occasion.

It is with equal pride and satisfaction I add, that, as far as my information extends, this insurrection is viewed with universal indignation and abhorrence, except by those, who have never missed an opportunity by side blows or otherwise to aim their shafts at the general government; and even among these there is not a spirit hardy enough yet openly to justify the daring infractions of law and order; but by palliatives are attempting to suspend all proceedings against the insurgents, until Congress shall have decided on the case, thereby intending to gain time, and if possible to make the evil more extensive, more formidable, and of course more difficult to counteract and subdue.

I consider this insurrection as the first formidable fruit of the Democratic Societies, brought forth, I believe, too prematurely for their own views, which may contribute to the annihilation of them.

That these societies were instituted by the artful and designing members (many of their body I have no doubt mean well, but know little of the real plan,) primarily to sow the seeds of jealousy and distrust among the people of the government, by destroying all confidence in the administration of it, and that these doctrines have been budding and blowing ever since, is not new to any one, who is acquainted with the character of their leaders, and has been attentive Edition: current; Page: [455] to their manœuvres. I early gave it as my opinion to the confidential characters around me, that, if these societies were not counteracted, (not by prosecutions, the ready way to make them grow stronger,) or did not fall into disesteem from the knowledge of their origin, and the views with which they had been instituted by their father, Genet, for purposes well known to the government, that they would shake the government to its foundation. Time and circumstances have confirmed me in this opinion; and I deeply regret the probable consequences; not as they will affect me personally, for I have not long to act on this theatre, and sure I am that not a man amongst them can be more anxious to put me aside, than I am to sink into the profoundest retirement, but because I see, under a display of popular and fascinating guises, the most diabolical attempts to destroy the best fabric of human government and happiness, that has ever been presented for the acceptance of mankind.

A part of the plan for creating discord is, I perceive, to make me say things of others, and others of me, which have no foundation in truth. The first, in many instances I know to be the case; and the second I believe to be so. But truth or falsehood is immaterial to them, provided the objects are promoted.

Under this head may be classed, I conceive, what it is reported I have said of Mr. Henry, and what Mr. Jefferson is reported to have said of me; on both of which, particularly the first, I mean to dilate Edition: current; Page: [456] a little.1 With solemn truth then I can declare, that I never expressed such sentiments of that gentleman, as from your letter he has been led to believe. I had heard, it is true, that he retained his enmity to