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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 endeavour to obtain one in this city to go over to Germany, and a merchant also to furnish the vessel, at the time and place which shall be agreed on between them.
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. G. W., 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 choose 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, although crude and almost in embryo, I will nevertheless mention 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 surprised to find the lots unsalable, and every thing at a stand. With great and sincere regard and esteem, I am, Gentlemen, &c.
TO WILLIAM TILGHMAN.
Philadelphia, 21 July, 1793. 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 to me, to beg your assistance in obtaining and conveying to 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.
Although 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 inquiries for a manager to different parts of the try; but I think there is 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 seem to be more large estates cultivated altogether in the farming system there, than in other parts of the country.
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 complete 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 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. As to 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 knew, as he managed an estate of General Cadwalader's in your neighbourhood for some years), I should esteem myself very fortunate. A single man would suit me much better than one with a family. Indeed, such a one is almost indispensable, as he would live at the mansion-house; and I should like the age between thirty-five and forty-five, as that period seems most likely to unite experience with activity.
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, 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 Potomac, and twelve from the Federal City. I am, &c.
TO ARTHUR YOUNG.
Philadelphia, 12 December, 1793. 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.
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
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 Appalachian 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 opinion 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 these farins into separate enclosures, with the quantity and situation of the woodland appertaining to the tract, will be better delineated by the sketch herewith sent (which is made 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, three hundred 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 inclined to sand; and
scarcely any to stone. 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 as yet been recovered.
This river, which encompasses the land the distance abovementioned, 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 three thousand two hundred and sixty 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 five hundred to twelve hundred acres (which these contain), would 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 fifty to one or two hundred 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 woodland (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 liinitation, 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 Union Farm (containing nine hundred and twenty-eight 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 anywhere. A new house is now building in a central position, not far from the barn, for the overlooker; which will have two rooms, sixteen by eighteen feet, below, and one or two above, nearly of the same size. Convenient