George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 12 October 1789

To Henry Laurens

New York October 12. 1789.

The packet of seeds which accompanies this letter is part of a parcel sent to me by Mr Anderson of St Vincent at the request of Mr Benjamin Vaughan of London, which I do myself the pleasure to distribute agreeably to that Gentleman’s intention—subjoining an extract from Mr Anderson’s letter for your government in sowing the seed.1

They would have been forwarded sooner had not my late indisposition and multiplied avocations since my recovery intervened to prevent it—But as they will arrive in season for sowing next year, and as they did not reach me in time for this, no inconvenience will result from the delay.

G. Washington.


The letter-book copy of this document is addressed to Henry Laurens and “Professor Madison,” indicating that identical copies were sent to both men. On his release from his wartime imprisonment in the Tower of London, Henry Laurens (1724–1792) spent almost two years in England on official business for the Congress and then returned to South Carolina. He spent the remaining years of his life in retirement at his plantation. Bishop James Madison (1749–1812), president of the College of William and Mary, was at this time teaching in the college and was heavily involved in the reorganization of the Episcopal church in Virginia.

1For Alexander Anderson, see Anderson’s letter to GW, 18 Nov. 1789, source note. Benjamin Vaughan (1751–1835) was the eldest son of GW’s friend Samuel Vaughan (see Vaughan to GW, 4 Nov. 1788). The younger Vaughan was educated at Cambridge and Edinburgh and during the Revolution was a strong supporter of the American cause. A protégé of Lord Shelburne, Vaughan acted as Shelburne’s agent to the American commissioners during the peace negotiations at Paris in 1783 and became a close friend of Benjamin Franklin. In the mid—1780s Vaughan was a member of Parliament and in 1798 emigrated to the United States. No correspondence from Benjamin Vaughan or Anderson to GW on this subject has been found.

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