« AnteriorContinuar »
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.
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.
Dogue-Run Farm (six hundred and fifty acres) has a small, but new building for the overlooker; one room only below, and the same above, sixteen by twenty 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 erect. ing, sufficient to cover thirty work-horses and oxen.
Muddy-Hole Farm (four hundred and seventy-six acres) has a house for the overlooker in size and appearance nearly like that at Dogue Run, but older; the same kind of covering for about thirty negroes, and a tolerably 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 twelve hundred and seven 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 fifty or sixty negroes, like those beforementioned ; a large barn and stables, gone much to decay, but these will be replaced next year with new ones.
I have deemed it necessary to give this detail of 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 enclosures are precisely and accurately delineated in the plan; and the fences now are, or soon will be, in respectable order.
I would let these four farms to four substantial farmers, of wealth and strength sufficient to cultivate them, and who would insure 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 enclosures 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 expense, in the manner already mentioned. In which case, as in the former, fuel, and 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 expense 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 expense of their establishment thereon, I would grant them leases for fifteen or eighteen 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 twenty 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 a moral certainty of the substitute which is contemplated; for to break up these farms, remove VOL. XII.
my negroes, and 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 draughthorses, 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 farins there are fifty-four draft-horses, twelve 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 three hundred and seventeen; of sheep, six hundred and thirty-four ; 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 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 abovementioned; for with me the measure must be so fixed as to preclude any cavil or discussion thereafter. And it may not be malapropos 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 readily be 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 endeavoured, 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 of, 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.
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 fulfilment; and,
Secondly, 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 studiously avoided any overtures to mechanics, although my occasions called 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 showed that you had cast an eye towards this country, and were 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, thirdly, 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 have preferred. It can hardly be necessary to add, that I have no desire that any formal promulgation of these sentiments should be made.
To accomplish my wishes, in the manner herein expressed, would be agreeable to me; and in a way that cannot be exceptionable, would be more so. With much esteem and regard, I am, Sir, &c.
FARMS, AND THEIR CONTENTS.
. . 80 VII. . . 125
VII. . . 74 Meadow, .
Clover lots, .
476 Clover lots,
Field, No. I. . . 120 acres. DOGUE-RUN FARM.
II. . . 120
125 Field, No. 1.
IV. . . 132
VII. . . 120
1207 Union Farm,
928 Dogue-Run Farm, .
649 Muddy-Hole Farm, . . 476
Total of the four farms, 3260