George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Philip Mazzei, 1 July 1779

To Philip Mazzei

New Windsor July 1st 1779.


Two or three Months ago I had the honor to receive your favor of the 27th of Jany. about the same time I was informed, that you either had Imbarked, or was upon the point of imbarking, for Europe; this induced me to suspend my acknowledgment of your polite Lettr till a more favourable juncture; but being lately told that you were in Virginia I address you accordingly.1

I thank you for your obliging acct of the culture of the Vine, and am happy to hear that your plantation2 of them is in so prosperous a way. I have long been of opinion3 from the spontaneous growth of the vine, that the climate and soil in many parts of Virginia were well fitted for Vineyards & that Wine, sooner or later would become a valuable article of produce—The relation of your experiments convince me I was right. With respect to the Olive, I have been much more doubtful—& with regard to The Lemon we know it is an exotic and requires a security against frost which must render the culture of them expensive precarious & unprofitable except for mere gratification & amusement.

I am much oblig’d by the communication of your design of going to Europe & asking my dispatches for France or Italy. I have nothing to give you the trouble of, but wish you an agreeable & prosperous voyage & a safe return to your adopted Country in which & rural life I should be happy to meet you.4 I thank you for the flattering sentiments contained in your Letter & with esteem and respect have the honor to be Sir Yr most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW wrote at the end of his draft manuscript: “To the care of Jno Blair Esqr.”

1Mazzei, who had been commissioned an agent for Virginia in Europe, sailed from Yorktown, Va., soon after 19 June and became a prisoner when an English privateer captured his ship almost immediately after its departure. Held in New York City from the end of June to August, Mazzei did not reach Europe until later in the year (see Patrick Henry to Mazzei, 22 and 24 April; Mazzei to James Madison, 19 June; and Mazzei, “Narrative of Capture and Captivity,” 19 March 1780, in Marchione, Mazzei Writings, 1:144–49, 154, 182–201; see also Marchione and Scalia, Mazzei, 225–41).

2GW is referring to Colle, Mazzei’s farm in Albemarle County, Virginia.

3At this place on his draft manuscript, GW initially wrote “convinced.” He then struck out that word and wrote “of opinion” above the line.

4Once he reached Europe, Mazzei did not return to the United States until 1783. He visited GW at Mount Vernon on 16 May 1785 (see Diaries, description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends 4:140).

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