George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 29 July 1788]

Tuesday 29th. Thermometer at 74 in the morning—81 at Noon and 79 at Night. Little or no wind—Morning though somewhat clear about sun rise soon became very thick foggy and heavy—after which the Wind came out—first at No. Wt. and then shifted to the No. Et. at which it continued.

Visited all the Plantations.

At the Ferry—Five plows were turning in Buck Wheat two of them from Frenchs. The other hands were weeding their Wheat yard.

At French’s—Except the two Plows which were at the Ferry, all were pulling flax at Dogue run.

At Dogue run—Four Plows were at work at Muddy hole. All the rest were pulling flax.

At Muddy hole—Seven plows were turning in Buck Wheat. The other People were weeding a yard for treading Wheat.

In the Neck—Eight Plows were turning in Buck Wheat. The rest of the hands, except some who were preparing the yard for the reception of grain and getting Corn Stalks to bottom the Stacks with Were weeding Pease.

Sowed Turnips yesterday in a square below the Stables—Norfolk Globe.

And began yesterday to cut Hay in the Neck. Finished this evening, except such parts of the Meadows as were under Water.

A Mr. Vender Kemp—a Dutch Gentn. who had suffered by the troubles in Holland and who was introduced to me by the Marquis de la Fayette came here to Dinner.

Francis Adrian Van der Kemp (1752–1829), Dutch soldier, scholar, and Mennonite minister, had been imprisoned in his homeland during a part of the previous year for revolutionary activities connected with the Patriot party, a group of Dutch liberals who wished to implement the republican ideals of the American Revolution in their country. Upon being freed in December, Van der Kemp found himself much reduced in fortune and faced with further political repression in the Netherlands. For some time he had thought of going to America to become a farmer, and in Mar. 1788 he sailed with his wife and children for New York. To ease his way Dutch friends obtained for him several letters of introduction to prominent Americans, including a letter from Lafayette to GW (6 Mar. 1788, PEL). Soon after his arrival in New York on 4 May, Van der Kemp dispatched the letters to their intended recipients (Van der Kemp to GW, 15 May 1788, DLC:GW). GW’s reply of 28 May contained a cordial invitation to visit Mount Vernon when convenient, an invitation that Van der Kemp could not decline, having a great desire “to know that man, to whom america so much was indebted for her liberty” (Van der Kemp to GW, 16 July 1788, DLC:GW; GW to Van der Kemp, 28 May 1788, PHi: Autograph Letters of the Presidents).

Van der Kemp found Mount Vernon, as did many visitors, to be a place “where simplicity, order, unadorned grandeur, and dignity, had taken up their abode,” although he detected in his host “somewhat of a repulsive coldness . . . under a courteous demeanour” (VAN DER KEMP description begins Helen Lincklaen Fairchild, ed. Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 1752–1829: An Autobiography Together with Extracts from His Correspondence. New York and London, 1903. description ends , 115–16; JACKSON [2] description begins Harry F. Jackson. Scholar in the Wilderness: Francis Adrian Van der Kemp. Syracuse, N.Y., 1963. description ends , 64–67, 142–43). Van der Kemp became an American citizen in 1789 and lived the remainder of his life in upstate New York farming and pursuing his scholarly interests.

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