George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Pearce, 16–17 March 1794

To William Pearce

Philadelphia 16th[–17] March 1794

Mr Pearce

Your letter of the 11th with its enclosures came to hand at the usual time;1 but not so as that, enquiry co[ul]d be made into the prices of linnen, & you to be informed, by the Post of tomorrow (this day being Sunday)—Go on therefore, until you hear further from me, to get linnen as fast as it can be worked up. The 11½ d. linnen is as good as any for the boys, girls & small people, who do little or no work.

I was affraid to make the interstices between the pieces of the treading floor of the new barn at Dogue run too open, lest the straw should work into them, & choke the passage of the grain to the lower floor; or to emit so much straw between them, to that floor, as to make the difficulty of cleaning the grain much greater. Avoiding these two evils, the floor can not be too open, provided the horses feet or legs are not endangered; & this is not likely to happen unless the pieces were so far apart as for the hoof to pass through, or turn. If the section, or part of a section which you have left an inch a part, is not apt to choke or pass too much straw through try another section at an inch and half & so on, section after section, until you hit the mark exactly; & then regulate all the sections accordingly. This had better be done whilst you have Wheat with wch to make the experiment: & without loss of time, as not only an immediate advantage is to be derived from the best distance the pieces can be placed asunder, but that I may know better how to order another.2

Let the drilled wheat have all the cultivation you can give it, with convenience, that the most that can, may be made of it.

The Clover Seed, Furze & other articles, are on board the Sally Captn [ ] for Alexandria, the first Vessel that has offered since the breaking up of the frost. It is much to be regretted that the delay has been so great, but it was impossible to avoid it.3

I would not, by any means, have you sow the Eastern shore Oats—if these are what you depend upon Colo. Gilpin to get; because these, besides being almost as light as bran, are rarely, if ever, free from the Onion or wild garlick; with which my fields abound too much already, from this very cause. I had rather the ground intended for this Crop should receive Buck wheat, or any thing else; or indeed nothing, rather than be sown with such Oats as are generally brought to Alexandria from the Eastern shore of Virginia. It is possible you may get some Oats from Notley Young Esqr. near George Town. These will be good.4

I send you a few seeds of the Nankeen Cotton. let them be planted the first day of May in light & rich ground, well prepared—Put four Seeds in a hill.5 I am Your friend &ca

Go: Washington

P.S. I have wrote Colo. Ball, & my Nephew Mr Robert Lewis, that they are welcome to send a Mare or two each, to either of the Jacks or the Horse.6

March 17th

P.S. The Vessel is not yet gone which has my Seeds &ca on board; and as she has been going every day for ten days past, there is no saying when she will go. The Captn now says to morrow. He has promised to land them, if he can, as he passes Mount Vernon; if not they are to be landed at Colo. Gilpins Warehouse. the Captn has one Bill of Lading, and another goes by this days Post to Colo. Gilpin. The two small Kegs contain the French furse seeds—Nuts & Garden Seeds; the two last may be given to the Gardener; the other you & Butler will manage as you shall judge best.7

One of the Casks contains five bushls of Plaster of Paris, which try on some of the clover, to see the effect—at the rate of about 5 bushls to the acre—spread a breadth, & leave a breadth, alternately; to shew more clearly, if any, what effect it will have.8


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

1The letter from Pearce of Tuesday, 11 March, has not been found. According to the post office schedule, if Pearce mailed this letter on Tuesday, GW should have received it on Thursday, but if Pearce did not post it until Thursday, GW would have received it on Saturday, 15 March (GW to Anthony Whitting, 2 Dec. 1792).

2On the design of the treading barn under construction at Dogue Run farm, see GW to Anthony Whitting, 28 Oct. 1792, and enclosure.

3On the shipment of these and other items aboard the Sally, Capt. David Denike, see GW to Burgess Ball, this date. For additional items included in this shipment, see GW’s postscript to this letter.

4In accordance with GW’s instructions, Pearce did not purchase oats from Alexandria merchant George Gilpin, but instead bought 30 bushels of oats at 3/ per bushel from Notley Young (3 April entry, Mount Vernon Accounts, 1794–1797 description begins Manuscript Mount Vernon Accounts, 6 Jan. 1794-19 Jan. 1797. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers. description ends ).

5On GW’s recent receipt of these seeds, see John Jay to GW, 1 March.

6GW wrote “Turn over” at this point. GW had enclosed an advertisement for the stud services of his horse Traveller and his jacks Knight of Malta and Compound in his letters of this date to Burgess Ball and Robert Lewis, but he had neglected to include the offer of free service in his letter to Lewis.

7The nuts and garden seeds were intended for head gardener John Christian Ehlers, while Pearce and James Butler, the overseer of the Mansion House farm, were to oversee the planting of the furze seed. On the shipment of these seeds and other items to the care of George Gilpin, see n.1 of GW to Burgess Ball, this date.

8Plaster of paris, or calcined gypsum, can used as a fertilizer.

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