To Oliver Evans
Mount Vernon Aprl 8th 1798.
As you have some knowledge of my Mill: and much in the way of being acquainted with Millers, I have taken the liberty of asking, if you could recommend a good one, of honest sober character, to me.1
My present one stands engaged to the middle of August only, and it is not probable the agreement will continue longer: because, altho’ he is a pretty good Miller, & I have no charge against his honesty, he is far from being an active & industrious man; and because he is endeavouring to raise his wages, which the work of the Mill will not enable me to do.
His present lay is $166⅔ dollars pr annum and provision of Meat, Bread & Fish found him in sufficient quantities, and by specification, to prevent disputes. He has a Cow allowed him for Milk, and wood without restriction, laid at his door. His house, Garden and other conveniences you will recollect are adequate to a Man in his line; and a Coopers shop at hand. and a considerable Distillery at the spot (but this is not mentioned by way of inducement) has just commenced work.
With this information, if, on the terms beforementioned, you could recommend a character whom you conceive would suit me, it would be doing me a kindness. A Married man with a small family would be prefered; and it would be needless to observe, to you, how essential honesty, sobriety & industry are, in the person employed. It is not my wish that a Miller should be absolutely engaged. The one I now have will remain until the Middle of August; but I am desirous of knowing, & as soon as enquiry can be made, if a good one could be had, on what terms, and whether he would contract to be here by the time abovementioned.
This letter will go under cover to Colo. Clemt Biddle of Phila. whom I have requested to converse with you on the subject matter there of, and to inform me of the result. I am Sir Your Obedt Hble Servant
ALS, PWacD; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.
1. In 1791 GW engaged the inventor Oliver Evans (1753–1819) of Delaware to introduce improvements in his mill at Mount Vernon. See Tobias Lear to Evans, 29 Aug., 4, 9 Sept. 1791, and 1 Jan., 5, 24 Feb. 1792 (DLC:GW). GW had in his library Evans’s twelve-page The Young Mill-Wright & Miller’s Guide (Philadelphia, 1795). Evans’s response to this letter on 17 April has not been found, but on 22 April GW wrote to Evans from Mount Vernon: “Sir, Your favour of the 17th, in answr to my letter of the 8th instant, has been received; and I thank you for the ready, and early attention you gave to my request respecting a Miller.
“You will do me a kindness to inform me of the result of your application to the person who served you in that capacity, whether he would agree to come, or not; that I may be relieved from suspence: and if his objection to coming is on account of the wages, and you should not hear of a suitable character who would engage on the terms mentioned in my last, let me know the lowest wages your former Miller would agree to take, provided he can be here by the middle, or even the latter end of August, and he shall know immediately (through you) whether we can agree or not. With esteem—I am Sir Your Obedt and obliged Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW).
Evans responded on 26 April in a letter which has not been found, and GW wrote again on 14 June: “Sir I must give you the trouble of receiving one more letter from me, on the subject of a Miller. Your last was dated the 26th of April—in which you promised to write to the Millers of Brandy Wine and know if one could be had from thence; since which I have heard nothing from you, or them; and the time is drawing near when I must be supplied—or be in the power of my present Miller, who has not many valuable properties to recommend him. I would thank you for an answer to this letter as soon as you can make it convenient to yourself, that I may know what dependence there is of getting one from thence, or whether I must look out elsewhere. I am Sir Your Very Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS [photocopy], Bruce Gimelson Autographs; letterpress copy, DLC:GW).