George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 18 August 1785]

Thursday 18th. Thermometer at 81 in the Morning—86 at Noon and 88 at Night. About 4 Oclock the Mercury was at 90.

The fore part of the day was quite calm, and the whole of it intensely hot. About Noon it began to cloud & sprinkle rain which went off again. At 4 another cloud arose, out of which we had a pretty shower for about 15 or 20 Minutes, but not sufficient to wet the ground more than an Inch where it had been fresh worked. On Patuxent there was the appearance of abundant rain.

Doctr. Craik set off after brakfast to return home—but a Messenger recalled him to Jno. Alton where he remained all day & Night.

Mrs. Washington & Nelly Custis visited Mrs. Stuart, and returned in the Evening with Fanny Bassett.

Began with James and Tom to work on my Park fencing.

Cut down the two Cherry trees in the Court yard.

james and tom: two of GW’s slave carpenters. Tom is called Tom Nokes in the 1786 list of slaves (see main entry for 18 Feb. 1786).

park fencing: GW was laying out an English-style deer park or paddock in the area between the mansion house and the Potomac River. He planned to stock it with English and native species and received deer from several friends, including Benjamin Ogle of Maryland, Andrew Lewis, and William Fitzhugh of Chatham (GW to George W. Fairfax, 25 June 1786, MoSW; GW to Lewis, 1 Feb. 1788, GW to Fitzhugh, 11 Nov. 1785, DLC:GW). In his long absence from Mount Vernon during the presidency, the fences surrounding the park fell into disrepair and the deer escaped to roam over much of the farm, doing considerable damage to the gardens and shrubberies. In spite of this, GW would not permit them to be hunted and killed, either by his own dependents or by neighbors (GW to the Messrs. Chichester, 25 April 1799, DLC:GW). He wrote a neighbor in 1792 that he had given up all his own foxhounds because they frightened the deer (GW to Richard Chichester, 8 Aug. 1792, DLC:GW).

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