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To James Madison from J. Beale Bordley, 24 July 1798

From J. Beale Bordley

Phila. 24 July 1798.

Sir,

I have long wanted an opportunity for introducing to you my little Essays on Husbandry; especially because, as Mr. Volney informed me, your attentions are greatly in that way. With this by a Colo. Adams, are five Essays: Sketches on Rotations of Crops, last Edition—Answers to Queries of the Board of Agriculture, London—Design of a mere Grass Farm—Another on Pasturing & soiling Cattle—and one on Country Habitations.1

My Amusement is mostly in writing these little Sketches, & then diffusing a number of printed Copies; which cost me nothing, as I am fed with the hope that they may contain Intimations which will be improved on by others, to the advancement of knowledge, & better practices, in Husbandry: Besides, I had rather hazard a little Nonsense than leave, in silence, the Husbandmen to continue in their very inferior Habits. I mean no more, on my part, than to throw out Hints for ingenious men, & rouse the practical Farmer.

I am Sir Yr obedt. & hble Servt

J Beale Bordley2

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1JM was already familiar with Bordley’s essay on crop rotation (see Jefferson to JM, 5 Feb. 1795, and JM to Jefferson, 23 Mar. 1795, PJM description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 15:467 and n. 1, 493). The five essays mentioned here were Sketches on Rotation of Crops … ([4th ed.]; Philadelphia, 1797; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 31846); Queries Selected from a Paper of the Board of Agriculture in London, on the Nature and Principles of Vegetation … (Philadelphia, 1797; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 31845); Intending to Retire … July 1797 (Philadelphia, 1797; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 48064), which described the design of a grass farm; Cattle Pastured and Soiled in Summer (Philadelphia, 1798; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 48372); and Country Habitations (Philadelphia, 1798; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 33435).

2John Beale Bordley (1727–1804) was a major influence in the development of American agriculture. Though trained as a lawyer, he began a series of agricultural experiments after inheriting an estate on Wye Island in Queen Anne County, Maryland, in 1770. Bordley moved to Philadelphia when President Washington appointed him commissioner to receive subscriptions to the Bank of the United States in 1791. Thereafter he directed his energies almost entirely to the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, which he had launched in 1785. The results of his experiments were printed in pamphlet form; a longer work, Essays and Notes on Husbandry, and Rural Affairs (Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 35216), was published in 1799 (Oliver Moore Gambrill, “John Beale Bordley and the Early Years of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society,” Pa. Mag. Hist. and Biog., 66 [1942]: 410–39).

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