George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Powel, 9 September 1788

From Samuel Powel

Philadelphia September 9. 1788

Dear Sir

About three Weeks, or a Month, since I did myself the Honor of writing to you and informing you that I had shipped a chair for you by Capt. Ellwood, who promised to deliver it at Mount Vernon or Alexandria. The chair is, I hope, in your Possession before this Time.1

In one of your Letters you have requested me to remind you of the Spanish chestnuts. I now take the Liberty to request the Favor of you to oblige me with a few of them, in hopes that they may succeed better than those of the last Year.2

From the present Appearances there seems to be little Doubt that the new Government will be put in Motion at New York. The Delegates from Rhode Island, who had withdrawn, are returned there, & have determined to vote upon that Question. Thus after so long trifling with the Dignity of the Union, this long & unworthy Point of altercation, will be settled in the same Manner that it might & I think ought to have been done at first—My meaning is that the necessary Steps for organizing the Government should have been instantly taken on the Accession of a Ninth State to the Union, without Regard to local Interests, leaving it to the future Government to chuse its own Place of Residence.

The late Proclamation of the King and Council of Great Britain to prevent the Importation of american wheat, on account of the Hessian Fly, has created an Alarm here, in Consequence of which our Supreme Executive Council, have made a long Publication in the Pennsylvania Packett, of this Day, with a Design to show that the Plant alone & not the Grain of the wheat is injured by this destructive Insect—of Course that the Propagation of this Scourge cannot happen from sowing wheat that has grown on Land infested by this animal.3 Mrs Powel begs Leave to add her affectionate Comps. to Mrs Washington & all the good Family to those of dear Sir your most obedt humble Servt

Samuel Powel


1Powel wrote GW about the chair on 9 August. See GW’s response, 15 September.

3The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia) for 10, not 9, Sept., devoted more than a page to the Pennsylvania Council’s action regarding the Hessian fly. A resolve of the council on 4 Sept. reads: “That the letter from Council to the Agricultural Society, dated the 1st inst. together with the answer of the said Society thereto, touching the nature of the Hessian Fly, be published in the Pennsylvania Packet—and that the Printers of the said newspaper be requested to republish the several letters from Mr. George Morgan of New-Jersey, dated May 20th and July 25th, 1787, and June 24th, 1788; and the letters from James Vaux, John Jacobs, and Henry Wynkoop, dated the 16th of August, 1788, upon the same subject—immediately following the publication of the first mentioned letter’s.”

The letter of 1 Sept., signed by Peter Muhlenberg, vice-president of Pennsylvania, and addressed to Samuel Powel, president of the agricultural society, reads: “SIR, A PROCLAMATION was issued on the twenty-fifth of June last by His Britannic Majesty, prohibiting the entry of Wheat, the growth of any of the territories of the United States into any of the ports of Great Britain: And as there is reason to believe that the said proclamation has been occasioned by some misinformation respecting insect called the Hessian Fly;—

“Council therefore request your useful Society to investigate and report to them, as soon as convenient, the nature of the Hessian Fly, particularly as to the manner of its being propagated, and the effects of it on the crops of wheat; and to ascertain with all possible precision, whether the loss of the crops is not occasioned by the destruction of the plant; and whether the small quantity of wheat produced from a field infected with the Fly is good grain, or otherwise. Likewise, the most successful method that has hitherto been discovered for preventing the effects of this insect.” Powel answered the Muhlenberg letter on 3 Sept. and enclosed copies of all the letters mentioned in the 4 Sept. resolve.

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