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From George Washington to Carlyle & Adam, 9 March 1765

To Carlyle & Adam

Mount Vernon 9th March 1765.


So soon as Mr Lund Washington returns from Fredk I shall cause my Wheat to be delivered at your Landing on four Miles run Creek, if Flats can get to it conveniently:1 but previous to this I shoud be glad to know determinately upon what terms you expect to receive it that is whether by weight or measure. I once thought I had agreed with Colo. Carlyle at 58 lbs. to the Bushel but it seems it was otherwise be that as it will you may beleive me sincere when I tell you that it is a matter of very great indifference to me whether it is fixed at this or suffered to stand as it is consequently at any greater weight you may be assured I never shall it being a thing extreamely doubtful from every tryal I have been able to make with Steelyards whether I shoud gain or loose by a Contract of this kind. The Wheat from some of my Plantation’s by one pair of Steelyards will weigh upwards of 60 lbs., by another pair less than 60 lbs. and from some other places it does not weigh 58 lbs. and better wheat than I now have I do not expect to make during the term of our Contract at least whilst I continue to sow a good deal of Ground. The only Reason therefore which Inclines me to sell by weight at a medium which I think just & equitable is that it may be a means of avoiding all kinds of Controversy hereafter for I am perswaded that if either of us gains by it it must be you;2 I may be encouraged indeed to bestow better Land to the growth of Wheat than old Corn Ground & excited perhaps to a more husbandlike preparation of it but to do either of these is much more expensive than the method now practiced and in fact may not be so profitable as the slovenly but easy method of raising it in Corn Ground—If it shoud, and my Wheat be the better for it thereby it is a truth I believe universally acknowledged that for every pound it gains after it is once got to a midling-weight it increases the flour in a ten fold proportion.

You were saying that the Standard for Wheat at Philadelphia was 58 lbs. and at Lancaster 60 lbs. I have taken some pains to enquire likewise into this matter, & am informd that 58 is a much more general weight than the other all over Pensylvania & Maryland (where there wheat is better than ours can be till we get into the same good management) and Colo. Tuckers Miller3—a Man from the Northward upon high Wages—who I see whilst I was last below assured me that very few Bushels out of the many thousands of Wheat which he receives for Colo. Tucker reachd 58 lbs., However that you may not think I have other motives than those declared for mentioning these things I shall only observe that as you are sensible by my present Contract I am not restricted to Weigh but obliged only to deliver clean Wheat and as good as the year & Seasons will generally admit of I will nevertheless in order to remove every cause of dispute which can possibly arise fix the weight, if it is agreeable to you at fifty eight pounds per Bushel & to be paid a penny for every pound over that weight and deduct a penny for every pound it is under—If you do not choose this the Contract must then remain as it now stands.4 I am Gentn Yr Most Obedt Hble Servt

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On 18 Jan. 1763 GW contracted with the Alexandria merchants John Carlyle and Robert Adam to sell them “all the Wheat which he the said George Washington . . . shall raise for Market in the space of Seven years at his Plantations now settled in Fairfax County to commence from the Sale of the next Wheat Crop Inclusive And the said George Washington doth further agree that his Wheat shall be clean and as good as the year and Seasons will generally admit of and to cause the same to be delivered as soon as he conveniently can after Harvest.” In return Carlyle & Adam agreed to pay GW the “Sum of Three Shillings and nine pence current money of Virginia for every Bushel of Wheat so delivered and doth oblige themselves &ca to receive the said wheat at a good Landing in the Town of Alexandria or upon Four Mile Run Creek where Flats of a midling size can conveniently repair to with their Loads.” Once the wheat was delivered, Carlyle & Adam were at risk for any damage to it and were to pay for the wheat “after the delivery of the said Last Load.” The contract, in GW’s hand and signed by John Carlyle and Robert Adam with John and Robert Dalton signing as witnesses, is in DLC:GW. GW delivered 257½ bushels in 1764, and after abandoning tobacco as a crop on his Mount Vernon and Bullskin farms in 1765–66, he delivered to Carlyle & Adam 2,778½ bushels of wheat from his 1767 crop (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 180, 271).

1GW’s General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 180, shows that he had 334 bushels of wheat “Delivered by Mr Lund Washington” on 30 Mar. 1765 and 316 more on 15 May. On 25 May Thomas Bishop delivered for him 310 bushels, and on 28 May James Cleveland delivered another 152¾ bushels.

2The contract soon became the basis for bitter controversy. See GW to Carlyle & Adam, 15 Feb. 1767.

3The mill of Robert Tucker, a Norfolk merchant and like GW a member of the Dismal Swamp Land Company, was on the road between Norfolk and the swamp.

4See the source note for the terms of the contract.

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