George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Georg F. Wehrs, 25 January 1793

From Georg F. Wehrs

Hannover [electorate of Hanover] Jan. 25th 1793.


With rapture of Joy I embrace an Opportunity of addressing a few Lines to the greatest Man of Our age; to the father of his Country, to the most worthy & most amiable friend to Humanity, whom long ago the silent sentiments of my heart most respectfully revered.

Mr Koenig, a Native of this City, now a merchant residing at Baltimore, having, during his stay in this place, requested of me a Draught of an advantageous Threshing-machine for Your Excellency, I, without losing a moment endeavoured by every Exertion in my Power to procure him Draughts, Models and explanatory Information of the best Threshing Machines hitherto known, in order to satisfy Your Excellency’s Pleasure, when Mr Koenig, contrary to my Expectations departed without taking those Materials collected with him. Therefore I now am waiting for Your Excellency’s Orders, to what Place I am to send the same.1 Meanwhile I crave th[e] Liberty, hereby to enumerate the most valuable Publications, in which machines of that Kind are described with Copperplates and Prints representing them annexed, humbly demanding, whether at all or which of Them I shall transmit along with the above mentioned Draughts &c.

Of Machines of that kind

  • 1) L’Art de battre les grain⟨s⟩; piler, moudre et mouler les grains avec des nouveller machines Paris, 1769, folo.
  • 2) Schreber’s late Writings on general Oeconomy Vol. V. page 341. (in germ. Lang:)2

Of the [ ] Grains by horses and cattle:

  • a) Goguet in the Origin of Laws, Arts and Manufactures Vol: 1, page 93. (in germ. L:)
  • b) Paulsen Treatise on the Agriculture of the Oriental Nations, Helmstaedt 1748 (in germ. L:)3

Of Threshing Grains by carts:

  • 1) Transactions of the Swedish Academy; Vol. 13, page 52. (in Germ, lang:)
  • 2) Schoettingii Antiquitates Triturae Dordrecht 1727 8 vo. (in latin Lang:)4

Of Threshing-waggons and Sleighs:

  • 1) Transactions of the Swedish Academy Vol: 16. page 270—Vol: 23. pag. 220, Vol: 21. page 236.
  • 2) Niebuehr’s Travels, Vol. 1. page 151.5

Of Threshing-Mills:

  • a) Oeconomical Informations Vol. 7. pag. 267.
  • b) Breslavian History of Nature & Arts, 1724.
  • c) The Leipzig Oeconomical Collections Vol. 1. pag. 151. 1781. Vol. 3. pag: 523. 801.
  • d). Fisher’s Livonian Oeconomical Guide, pag: 62.6

Besides the above I have on hand several most simpl⟨i⟩fied Draughts of Threshing Machines, they make use of in this Country with great Success, which I, on demand Shall communicate of all my heart.

The study of rural Oeconomy, Manufactures &c. was at all Times my favourite Branch. My litterary publications and Discoveries in that Province having been as fortunate as to meet with a favourable Reception by the Public, I in consequence was admitted a Member of most of the Oeconomical Societies in Europe, with which I am by uninterrupted Correspondence I am intimately connected.

Your excellency being appointed President of that illustrious Society for promoting Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures, Commerce, and sciences I should think myself extremely happy, if by Your Excellency’s kind Interference, I might be put in a situation, to exert, what Small Abilities I possess, in behalf of that useful Society, by being chosen a member of Them and acquiring thereby the Prerogative of entering into Correspondence with the Same either in English, French or German Language. Indeed I Should consider it as the most glorious Event of my Life, to be favoured, by Your Excellency’s Interposition with a Diploma as a member of that Society with a Copy of their fundamental Laws, Constitution and of the Premium-Medaillon held out by them to distinguished merit.7

Then I might venture to present the Society with my litterary Performances published heretofore, to wit:

  • 1). a Treatise on manufacturing paper and Improvements respecting the same
  • 2) A Pamphlet on the Culture of Silk.
  • 3) my Publications on Oeconomy & other Matters relative thereto.8

Anticipating Your favours I here inclose a Small Treatise on the Preparation of Superfine wool for manufacturing fine cloth and other sorts of stuffs, I am the Author of, and according to the Plan and regulations thereof two Manufactures have been established at St. Petersburg in Russia.9 At the Same time I might transmit different Samples of Superfine Flax, and Hempwool prepared as abovesaid accompanied with Specimen’s of Dimities manufactured therefrom; I have the honor to remain in Devotion & Respect Your Excellency’s most humble servt

George Fk [W]ehrs10

Copy, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1German economist Georg Friedrich Wehrs (1750–1818) may be referring to either Frederick Konig (c.1771–1853) or his brother Henry, natives of Hanover who immigrated to Maryland in the 1780s and who directed the family’s mercantile business in Baltimore. No reply from GW to Wehrs has been found.

2See L’art de battre, écraser, piler, moudre et monder les grains avec de nouvelles machines by Louis Joseph Bellepierre de Neuve-Église (Paris, 1769) and the sixteen-volume Sammlung verschiedener Schriften, welche in die öconomischen, Policey- und Cameral- auch andere Wissenschaften eischlagen by Daniel Gottfried Schreber (Halle, 1755–65).

3See Untersuchungen von dem Ursprung der Gesezze, Künste und Wissenschaften by Antoine-Yves Goguet (Lemgo, 1760) and Zuverlässige nachrichten vom Ackerbau der Morgenländer by Hermann Christian Paulsen (Helmstaedt, 1748).

4See the forty-one volumes of Der Königlichen Schwedischen akademie der wissenschaften, Abhandlungen, aus der naturlehre, haushaltungskunst und mechanik... (Hamburg and Leipzig, 1740–79) and Antiquitates triturae et fulloniae ex antiquorum temporum reliquiis congestae by Christian Schöttgen (Utrecht, 1727).

5For the Transactions of the Swedish Academy, see note 4. See also Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und den umliegenden Ländern by Carsten Niebuhr (Copenhagen, 1774). An English translation, Travels through Arabia, and Other Countries in the East, Performed by M. Niebuhr, was published at Edinburgh in 1792.

6See the fifteen-volume Oeconomische Nachrichten (Leipzig, 1749–63), the nine-volume Sammlung von Natur- und Medicin- wie auch hierzu gehörigen Kunst- und Literatur-Geschichten (Breslau, Leipzig, and Budissin, 1717–26), the fourteen-volume Leipziger Sammlungen von wirtschaftlichen Policey-, Cammer-, und Finantz-sachen by Georg Heinrich Zincke (Leipzig, 1744–58), and Leifländisches Landwirthschaftsbuch, auf die Erdgegend von Lief-, Est-, und Curland Eingerichtet. . . by Johann Bernhard von Fischer (Halle im Magdebrugischen, 1753).

7GW was a corresponding member of two agricultural societies in Philadelphia: the Philadelphia County Society for the Promotion of Agriculture and Domestic Manufactures, to which he was elected in 1789 (see Philadelphia County Society for Promotion of Agriculture and Domestic Manufactures to GW, 4 May 1789), and the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, of which he had been a member since 1785 (see Samuel Powel to GW, 5 July 1785 [second letter]). No recommendation of Wehrs by GW has been found.

8See Wehrs’s Vom Papier, den vor der Erfindung desselben üblich gewesenen Schreibmassen, und sonstigen Schreibmaterialien (Halle, 1789) and Oekonomische Aufsätze (Schwerin and Wismar, 1791). The pamphlet on the culture of silk has not been identified.

9Wehrs’s treatise on the preparation of superfine wool has not been identified. At the time of GW’s death, his library contained “German Book, 4 vol.,” but it is not known if this collection included any of Wehrs’s publications (see Griffin, Boston Athenæum Washington Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 543).

10The copyist erroneously transcribed Wehrs’s name as beginning with “M.”

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