George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Pastor Americanus, 17 March 1794

From Pastor Americanus

Philadelphia, March 17, 1794.


The reason of my presuming to address you on the subject of the culture of Wool, is, because it is a matter on which the gradual abolition of our National Debt depend, i.e. upon industry and population of America, as the same is held forth in the following observations. That it is the real fact, I shall now undertake to prove: so always, and provided, That you will patronize the following scheme—What say you, Gentlemen, to this matter?—Now this great principle of patriotism, I prove thus:

Permit me, gentlemen, in passing, just to observe, that here, and no where else, lies all the life of our true policy—To cloath and feed ourselves, and our neighbouring nations. I take this as a postulatum that will without difficulty be granted.


Secondly, I shall, gentlemen, open myself fully on that important subject; not for the sake of telling you a long story (which I know the genuine patriots, are not particularly fond of) but for the sake of weighty instruction that I flatter myself, will necessarily result from our Shepherd’s scheme. It shall not be longer if I can help it, than so serious a matter requires. The American Shepherd addresses us in this manner: He says, the reasons for my preferring this Shepherd’s scheme, are: First, I is because I want to see a plan for improving the present condition of the poor white people. Next, It is because I wish to be beneficial to my country. Thirdly, It is because I wish to throw my mite into the best public treasury, and therein improve it.

Come—help me raise the ever memorable Shepherd’s Hall, and the profit thereof will be commensurable to your public spirit: yes, and will be your exceeding great reward. I labour not for myself only, but for all them that patronize the said scheme.

He says, too, the position by me maintained is, that this scheme is more excellent, than the Yankie’s Tontine bank;1 which is as follows:

First, It is a scheme to increase the declining number of sheep in America, and make wool our staple commodity.

Secondly, The short of the matter is this: Let it be supposed, that a number of well disposed persons appropriate a small sum of money each to the culture of wool.

Thirdly, Again, let it be supposed, that 6000 sheep may be pastured three miles round the Shepherd’s Hall. Now here arises a necessary query to those well disposed persons, viz. What will three years produce of the said pasture be?

That the culture of wool will produce an incredible treasury may be seen from the English manufactures. This scheme properly executed will make the American exports exceed her imports, which is the highest degree of our American patriotism. Q.E.D.

Again, let it be supposed, that government will be propitious to the said Shepherd’s company, and given them a tract of land, &c. And that government will lend them a sum of money at 4 per cent. The reason whereof is, because the increase of the people will by industry reimburse the costs, and populate or furnish a barren part of our land with the best sort of people. Three things are here very remarkable: First, That the state will thereby obtain 4 per cent. Secondly, That government will thereby thus obtain a number of useful people. Thirdly, That government will thereby obtain the mechanic arts, and that this plan properly executed will employ a number of emigrants, viz. Shepherds, Ploughmen, and many other artificers, &c. in all an industrious and independent city.

To conclude: The jealous Britons2 justly fearful lest they themselves should have lost their wool marts, made a law, viz.—That no English ram should be conveigled to North America; a plain proof of this, that we may make wool a staple commodity, and out-vie England: just in proportion to the differential quantity of the land in England, and the quantity of land in the United States of America. All that I would be understood to imply, is, that when the number of our sheep increase proportionable to the number of our acres of land; then we shall actually and de facto out-vie England, and thereby make ourselves independent, or not depend upon England, &c. or not depend upon manufactories. It is plain, therefore, that our imports of woollen drapery will thereby decrease, and our exportation of woollen drapery will thereby increase.

What has been said, respective to the nature of the preceding scheme implies its importance. But the way to facilitate it will more fully appear in considering the formation of the articles of the company of the American Shepherds.

N.B. Observe—that the subscription money is not to be paid until the said company shall be established with articles, and a power sufficient to take this matter in hand. When once a company can be established, with a fund sufficient to begin, there is no doubt but that it will have 6000 sheep in every county in each state: yes, 6000 sheep in every American township.

To constitute the capital of the said company, subscriptions for shares therein, at one Spanish dollar each, payable after the articles of the said company are made, and when a sufficient number of persons have subscribed, they will have the right to form the articles of constitution of their company of American Shepherds.

Any person, partnership, society, church, or body politic, may subscribe for as many shares as he, she, or they may think proper.

Books, for the purpose of subscribers entering their names, &c. will be handed about by divers well disposed persons. I am, with fidelity and consideration, Gentlemen, your well disposed, and most neglected servant,


Printed, in The Shepherd’s Contemplation: Or, An Essay on Ways and Means to Pay the Public Debt, and to Seat Congress-Men on Wool-Packs. In a Letter to George Washington, President of the United States of North-America, and to All The Other Genuine American Patriots (Philadelphia, 1794). The letter is addressed “To George Washington, And To All The Other Genuine American Patriots.” The broadside is dedicated “To the MEMBERS of the PHILADELPHIA COUNTY SOCIETY for Promoting AGRICULTURE and Domestic MANUFACTURES.” The author, who describes himself as “A Patriot and the Poor Man’s Friend,” writes that “The following Letter, drawn up with a view of making American Wool our staple Commodity; and extend the Design of those concerned in the said Society, and in our National Manufactory—is earnestly Dedicated, by their Sincere Friend, Pastor Americanus. Patriots! By this short ensuing Scheme, you will perceive the subject of it, viz. a Plan calculated to thrive, without the assistance of the peculator’s Bank, and the most effectual method of preserving the Commonalty or middling sort of People, and raising the Poor, which is congruous to the doctrine of Equality.”

1This may be a reference to the plan for a tontine that was contained in Alexander Hamilton’s “Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit,” 9 January 1790 (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 6:51–168; see especially “Schedule H” on page 128).

2A footnote indicated at this point reads: “From the Maryland Journal. NOTICE TO FARMERS.—HARRY D. GOUGH, has a number of fine Ram Lambs, of his broad-tailed Persian Breed. Those who wish to be supplied, must give information, in writing, before the 20th of April next, appointing some person, in Baltimore-Town⟨,⟩ to receive them, to whom they will be delivered about the 15th of September. The price, as h⟨e⟩retofore, Twenty Dollars. Several gentlemen were disappointed last year, by not applying in time; for, after the 20th of April, no application can be attended to. Perry-Hall, Feb. 26, 1793.”

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