George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Augustine Washington, 1 August 1791

From George Augustine Washington

Mount Vernon Augt 1st 1791.

Honored Uncle

Such is my situation at this time that I can do little more than enclose the Report and acknowledge the rect of your favor of the 17th Ulto the directions therein given I shall have attended to and will reply to it and give you every necessary information before I leave this if I am able.1 but at this time I do not flatter myself to be able to undergo the exercise of a journey in less than a fortnight—as soon as the Brickmakers and Bricklayers with there attendants finished harvest and grass cuting I had them put to work—Davis is now diging out the foundation for the wall in front of the house and will proceed to geting up the wall2—I purchased of a Vessel yesterday some shells which is landing to day tho’ not more than abt 200 Bushls the first that I have been able to get tho’ I have used every means possible. I have at different times engaged these Vessels expressly for the purpose the two first have disappointed me the last which engaged under the penalty of 20£ was to be here next week[.]3 We had on Tuesday last a light sprinkle of rain in the four noon and afternoon but insufficient to conduce to the relief of any thing there is no more the appearance of verdure in the enclosures about this house than if the whole had been consumed by fire.

Whiting tells me that the prospects for Corn is deplorable indeed unless we are favord with immediate and abundant rains there can be but very little made and present appearances are unfriendly to it very shortly we are in order for sowing wheat but Whiting says unless there comes rain it would be attended with the loss of the seed to sow for it would vegetate and perish for their is not moisture in the earth to bring it up and nourish it this I know was the case with the first sown wheat in the neck and D: Run last year. Your letter which I expect to recieve by the return of the Servant from Alexa to night will speak something on this subject as I mentioned in a letter written sometime since the sowing of the fallowed field at D: Run4—as I expected you might for some particular purpose wish immediate informa[tion] of the hights of the Jacks as I was not able to do it myself desired Whiting and to be very accurate, had them brought into the Piaza as the best place—the hights as here discribed I believe are just tho’ they fall short of what they had been supposed to be and what the Spanish Jack had once been determined to be by measurement—Royal Gift 14 hands 1½ Inch. his Ears 14 Inches[.] Knight Malta. 13 hands. 1½ Inch. his Ears. 12½ Inches[.] Young Jack 3 Years old this spring—12 hands. 1¼ I: Ears 12 I.—I think You mention’d that Colo. Washington would in September send for Royal Gift I shall leave directi⟨ons⟩ should I be absent to have him deliver’d if the Person who applies is authorised5—I have recieved from Doctr Stuart £525—part of which to the amt of £265.18.10¼ I applied to the discharge of the Ball: due on Your several Bonds to Mr Triplett meaning the original Bond and two which You had given him for interest6—I have settled the specie tax with the Sherriffs and shall the Levies I shall when I am setg out pay Ball for all the work he may have done at that time and leave money to pay the Bal: which in the whole will I expect amt to abt £100. settle such accts as are in Alexandria—and have all the accts posted up so as to leave all my monied transactions clearly to be understood as my first object is to discharge with satisfaction and strict justice the trust You have imposed in me7—it is but prudent to be at all times prepared for an event that is uncertain and the present state of my health being unfavorable to long life unless a change should take place points out to me the propriety of such arrangements as may illucidate all my transa⟨cti⟩ons—as they neither tend to protract or curtail life they need produce no unfavorable opperation on the spirits or mind it has a contrary tendency because I possess a mind capable of reflection and the fewer embarssments I have to contend with the greater fortitude I shall possess to support misfortune—I hope with care and the change of air to be restored but I fear not in a short time so as to enable to undergo so active a life as I wish the day before yesterday the spiting of blood left me yesterday it returned to day it has lessen’d—on Thursday the pain in my breast was troublesome attended with severe pains throughout my body which induced me to apply a large Blister to my breast which had been recommended by Doctrs Stuart & Craik—it drew well and I have kept it runing since and if I find advantage from it which I hope I shall will repeat the Blister to increase and continue the discharge—it is painful and disagreeable particularly in the attitude of writing8—therefore beg leave to conclude with assurances of the tenderist attachment to You my Aunt and Children and good wishes for Mr Lear & Lady and Majr Jackson—I am Your truely affectionate Nephew

Go. A. Washington


1No letter from GW to George Augustine Washington of 17 July has been found. The enclosed “Report” was probably Anthony Whitting’s farm report of 24–30 July (DLC:GW), the text of which appears in CD-ROM:GW.

2The ha-ha on the east side of the mansion was constructed by Tom Davis, a dower slave and skilled bricklayer, who also harvested grain, painted exteriors, hung wallpaper, cut grass, and worked at GW’s fishery. In his off-duty hours Davis raised watermelons, which he sold to GW, and provided waterfowl and game for the Mount Vernon table with the help of a Newfoundland dog named Gunner (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 344, 346; Custis, Recollections, description begins George Washington Parke Custis. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. New York, 1860. description ends 458).

3On 19 July William Dunnington formally agreed with George A. Washington to deliver between six and eight hundred bushels of “good clean live Oyster shells . . . above high water mark” at GW’s lime kiln for twenty-four shillings per hundred bushels (DLC:GW). GW’s accounts record the payment of £2.5 to William Batline for two hundred bushels of oyster shells on 1 Aug. and £6.10.3 to William Dunnington for 542½ bushels on 5 Aug. (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 329).

4No such letter from GW to George A. Washington has been found, nor has Washington’s letter “written sometime since the sowing of the fallowed field” at Dogue Run been found. His most recent letter to GW of 7 Mar., does not discuss sowing wheat.

5During the Southern Tour GW discussed with his kinsman Col. William Washington the possibility of having Royal Gift stand to stud in the neighborhood of Charleston (see Tobias Lear to GW, 15 May, n.6).

6GW’s accounts record this payment on 22 July to William Tripled: (Triplet), executor of the late Harrison Manley (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 329).

7George A. Washington settled outstanding accounts with Alexandria merchants this week and left £22.10.6 with William Wilson to be delivered to the sheriff for the Fairfax County and Truro Parish levies (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 329, and receipt, 5 Aug., ViMtvL).

8George A. Washington wrote to Burwell Bassett, Jr., on 4 July, “having just wrose from my bead having been confined to it since Saturday evening. I was most violently attacked with the headach which I am frequently afflicted with attended with a severe and excruciating puking which has left me very feeble and disordered—if I recover my strength sufficiently shall leave this the last of the week with Fanny and the Children who have not been well for Berkley” (ViMtvL).

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