George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Sinclair, 20 October 1792

To John Sinclair

Philadelphia Octr 20th 1792


I have received your letter of the 18th of May, enclosing the Pamphlet & papers which you had the goodness to send me.

While I beg your acceptance of my acknowledgments for the polite mark of attention in transmitting these things to me, I flatter myself you will be assured that I consider the subject therein recommended as highly important to Society, whose best interests I hope will be promoted by a proper investigation of them, and the happiness of mankind advanced thereby.

I have to regret that the duties of my public station do not allow me to pay that attention to Agriculture and the objects attached to it (which have ever been my favourite pursuit) that I could wish; but I will put your queries respecting Sheep into the hands of such Gentlemen as I think most likely to attend to them, and answer them satisfactorily; I must, however, observe that no important information on the subject can be expected from this Country where we have been so little in the habit of attending either to the breed or improvement of our Stock.1 With great respect & esteem I have the honor to be Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, British Library: Add MSS 5757; Df, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1Sinclair devoted much of his life to improving the science and practice of agriculture, and during the 1790s he became interested especially in the breeding of sheep for the production of the fine wool needed by the British woolen industry. In 1791 he founded the British Wool Society, and in 1793 he became the first president of the British Board of Agriculture, of which GW was made an honorary member in 1795 (see British Board of Agriculture to GW, 6 April 1795, DLC:GW). Because GW raised sheep on his own plantation, he discussed sheep, as well as a variety of other agricultural concerns, with both American and British correspondents, including Thomas Jefferson, Richard Peters, James Anderson, and Arthur Young. For letters in which the raising of sheep is mentioned by GW’s correspondents, see James Anderson to GW, 3 Nov. 1792, and Arthur Young to GW, 17 Jan. 1793. For letters in which GW discusses sheep, see GW’s letters to his farm manager Anthony Whitting of 4 Nov., 9 Dec. 1792, and 13 Jan. 1793, and to Arthur Young, 18–21 June 1792.

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