George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Levi Hollingsworth, 24 August 1785

From Levi Hollingsworth

Philad[elphi]a 24 August 1785

Honourd Sir

Mr Samuel Jackson of your Neighbourhood, mentioning to Mr Arthur Donaldson of this City, the desire your Excelency had of raising manure from the mud in the bed of the River Patomack for the purpose of manuring Land,1 Mr Donalson shewed Mr Jackson his new invented Machine for Cleansing our Docks, which with a horse & three hands will raise 60 a 80 tons per day. Mr Donalson the Ingenious Inventor, is so obliging as to offer your Excelency any information that may be wanting for the Constructing the machine, by a model or other wise, and begs me, while he is shewing Mr Jackson the Construction, to write you[.] Mr Donalsons mechanical abilities in the raising the Chevaux de frize from the bed of our river, together with this Contrivance, which he calls a Hippopotamos, places him amongst men of the first abilities in point of invention, and as I have seen his Hippopotamos often at work I can assure your Excelency of its great facility in raising mud or Sand from any depth of water.2 I am with great regard Your Excelencies most obedient Humble Svt

Levi Hollingsworth

I take the liberty to present my Compliments to Colo. Jno. Augustus Washington, your Brother, & to give him our price Current for Produce,3 viz. Fine Flour 43/6 per Bbl of 1.3.0 Ntt wheat 7/6 @ 8/ Corn 3/10 @ 4/—Hemp 5½ per Lb. Tobacco Jas River 55/ best Patowmack 45 @ 50/ Bills of Exchange 75 @ 80 per £. L.H.


Levi Hollingsworth was a Philadelphia merchant and speculator in Virginia land. He, like GW, was a member of the agriculture society in Philadelphia.

1GW did not get this letter until 17 Sept. because Hollingsworth sent it to Samuel Jackson at Red Stone Old Fort, near Washington’s Bottom in Pennsylvania. Jackson probably had met with GW when GW visited Pennsylvania in September 1784. See GW to Hollingsworth, 20 Sept. 1785.

2For Arthur Donaldson’s full description of his “Hippopotamos,” the precursor of the modern clamshell dredge, see his letter to GW of 1 October. Chevaux-de-frise were placed in the Delaware River during the Revolution for the defense of Philadelphia (see, for instance, Philippe C. du Coudray’s memoir enclosed in his letter to GW of 30 Aug. 1777 and printed in Pennsylvania Magazine, 18 [1894], 330–33).

3John Augustine Washington arrived with his family at Mount Vernon for a visit on 19 October.

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