George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from John Jay, 1 March 1794

From John Jay

New York 1 March 1794

Dear Sir

When Mr Drayton of Charleston was here last Summer he told me that the true nankeen Cotton was in So. Carolina. It appeared to me to be a valuable acquisition, and I suggested to him the Expediency of planting it always at so great a Distance from other Cotton, as to avoid the Influence which many plants of the same kind, tho’ of different Species have on each other, when very contiguous. whether that is the case with cotton, I am uninformed; having very little knowledge of it as a Plant, or of its Cultivation.1

I have just recd from Mr Drayton some of the seed mixed with the cotton—I herewith send you half of it—Perhaps you have it already—perhaps not. I think it worth having to those whose Estates are in a Climate suited to its Growth. I suppose that to be the Case with Mount Vernon’s where you doubtless have a Gardener who will punctually observe your Instructions respecting it.2 with perfect Respect Esteem & Attachmt I am Dear Sir your obliged & obt Servt

John Jay

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, NNC: Jay Papers.

1John Drayton (1766–1822), a planter, lawyer, and botanist, was at this time a member of the South Carolina legislature. Drayton served as lieutenant governor, 1798–1800, and governor, 1800–1802 and 1808–10. He became a U.S. district judge in July 1812 and served until his death. Drayton sent the cotton to Jay in January (see Drayton to Jay, 29 Jan., and Jay to Drayton, 1 March, both NNC). The original Nankeen cotton came from the Nanjing region of China, and it produced a fiber that had a brown tint. On the various types of cotton grown in South Carolina by 1802, see John Drayton, A View of South-Carolina, as Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns (Charleston, 1802), 128–30.

2For GW’s thoughts on growing cotton at Mount Vernon, see his reply to Jay of 5 March. For his instructions on planting it, see his letter to William Pearce of 16–17 March.

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