George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Arthur Young, 1 September 1793

To Arthur Young

Philadelphia Septr 1st 1793.


Instead of commencing this letter with an apology for suffering your favor of the 17th of last Jany to remain so long unacknowledged, I will refer you to the bearer, who is perfectly acquainted with my situation, for the reason why it has done so.

The bearer Sir, is Mr Lear, a gentleman who has been a member of my family seven years; and, until the present moment, my Secretary—consequently cannot, as I have observed before, be unknowing to the nature, & pressure of the business in which I am continually involved.

As a proof, however, that I have not been altogether inattentive to your commands, I enclose the result of Mr Peters’s answer to some enquiries of yours; and the copy also of a letter from Mr Jefferson to whom I had propounded, for solution, other queries contained in your letter of the above date1. The documents I send, have the signature of these gentlemen annexed to them, but for your satisfaction only. Mr Peters is, as you will perceive by a vein in his letter, a man of humour. He is a theorist, and admitted one of the best practical farmers in this part of the State of Pennsylvania.

But, as it is not so much what the soil of this Country actually produces, as what it is capable of producing by skilful management that I conceive to be the object of your enquiry, & to know whether this produce would meet a ready Market & good prices. What the nature of the Climate in general, is. The temperature thereof in the different States. The quality & prices of the lands, with the improvements thereon, in various parts of the Union. The prospects which are unfolding in each &ca &ca. I can do no better than refer you to the Oral information of the bearer, who is a person of intelligence; & pretty well acquainted with the States from New Hampshire (inclusive) to Virginia; and one in whom you may, as I do, place entire confidence in all he shall relate of his own knowledge, & believe what is given from information, as it will be handed with caution.

Mr Lear has been making arrangements for forming an extensive commercial establishment at the Federal City on the River Potomac; and now goes to Europe for the purpose of taking measures, there, to carry his plan into effect. I persuade myself that any information you can give him, respecting the Manufactures of Great Britain, will be gratefully received;2 and as I have a particular friendship for him, I shall consider any civilities shewn him by you, as a mark of your politeness to Sir Your Most Obedient & Very Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PPRF; ALS (letterpress copy), ViMtvL; LB, DLC:GW.

1See Richard Peters to GW, 20 June, and n.1, and Thomas Jefferson to GW, 28 June 1793. Peters responded to Young’s questions about the inattention of American farmers to the calculation of return on capital and about cattle and sheep production. Jefferson touted the productivity of Virginia land.

2Tobias Lear discussed his meetings with Young in a letter to GW of 26[–30] Jan. 1794.

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