George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Anthony Whitting, 14 November 1792

To Anthony Whitting

Philadelphia Novr 14th 1792

Mr Whiting,

Your letter of the 9th came to my hands last night, and though I am much hurried, will briefly observe, that I had rather repair my Seins, and fish myself, than hire the landing with the Negros. If a good price could be obtained for the Landing without the Negros, and an express prohibition of Waggons coming thither, I should like, & would prefer that. But at any rate repair, & keep the Seins dry and out of the way of Mice, that you may have an alternative. In the mean while, give it out, and make it as public as you can, that the landing alone, or landing and Boat, (with the prohibition above) is to be Rented; but that the Person renting is to furnish me with a certain quantity of Shad & Herring, to be specified, in the early part of the Season. Or if the Boat is reserved, I could easily catch what fish I should want at the landing by Bishops House; which used to be, and no doubt still is, a good fishery. If after giving this notice, and enquiring what Colo. Mason used to receive for his best landing, and what others, on both sides of the River get for theirs, you should have an Offer from a person of good character, & in whom confidence could be placed, similar to what is given for the best—I would advise you to take it. and either secure the fish wanted for my own use from them—or reserve the Boat, & catch for yourself at the Mansion House.

It will no doubt occur to you, when you are making enquiry into the Rent received by Colo. Mason & others, whether the Landings are furnished with convenient & secure houses, as mine is, for securing and preserving the Fish; and make the difference in the price if they are not, which these are entitled to.

It is not in my power to fix a Rent or hire for the Landing, because I do not know the usual price of the best, with the conveniences mine have; and this I must take, or not Rent. Take care, if you should hire it, to stipulate that the person hiring shall have nothing to do with the Shore after the Shad & Herring Season is over—nor with the Houses beyond a limited time; otherwise, I might sustain unexpected inconveniences.1

I presume, it would be better for me to take £25 for the Stallion than have him to Winter & therefore consent to its being done.2

Among other reasons for not hiring my hands with the Shore is, that I do not want to take them so long from the ground I wish to get in prime order in, and between the Old Clover lot and H——Hole.3 I am Your friend & well wisher

Go: Washington


1Whitting’s letter to GW of 9 Nov. has not been found. GW’s main fishery was at the Ferry farm, on the Potomac River near the mouth of Dogue Run. George Mason owned fisheries on Occoquan Creek and on the Potomac, and his “best” landing was probably Baxter’s (Simpson’s) Bay at the mouth of the Occoquan (see Copeland and MacMaster, The Five George Masons, description begins Pamela C. Copeland and Richard K. MacMaster. The Five George Masons: Patriots and Planters of Virginia and Maryland. Charlottesville, Va., 1975. description ends 66–67). For GW’s further thoughts on renting out his own fishery, see his letter to Whitting of 6 Jan. 1793. On 12 Dec. 1793 GW wrote Arthur Young that his fishery was “well supplied with various kinds of Fish at all Seasons of the year, and in the Spring with the greatest profusion of Shad, Herring, Bass, Carp, Perch Sturgeon &ca.” Nevertheless, neither GW nor Whitting had been successful in renting it by that date.

2In his letter to Whitting of 4 Nov., GW had agreed that Whitting should dispose of old horses.

3See GW’s instructions in his letters to Whitting of 4 and 11 Nov. that this land be cleared and grubbed.

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