George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 10 October 1789]

Saturday 10th. Pursuant to an engagement formed on Thursday last—I set off about 9 Oclock in my Barge to Visit Mr. Prince’s fruit Gardens & shrubberies at Flushing on Long Island. The Vice President—Governor of the State, Mr. Izard, Colo. Smith and Majr. Jackson accompanied me.

These Gardens except in the number of young fruit Trees did not answer my expectations—The shrubs were trifling and the flowers not numerous.

The Inhabitants of this place shewed us what respect they could, by making the best use of one Cannon to salute.

On our return, we stopped at the Seats of General, and Mr. Gouvernr. Morris and viewed a Barn of which I have heard the latter speak much belonging to his farm—but it was not of a Construction to strike my fancy—nor did the conveniencies of it at all answer the cost.

From hence we proceeded to Harlaem where we were met by Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Smith—Dined at the Tavern kept by a Captn. Mariner and came home in the evening.

William Prince’s Linnean Botanic Garden at Flushing, Long Island, had been established by his father, also William Prince, in 1737. Although Prince’s extensive nurseries for plants and trees had been severely decimated by British depredations during the Revolution, the gardens and orchards had largely recovered by 1789, and GW often ordered fruit for his table from Prince (DECATUR description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends , 62, 93).

Ralph Izard (1742–1804) was born near Charleston, S.C., and owned extensive lands in the state. When the Revolution began Izard was traveling in Europe and in 1777 Congress appointed him commissioner to Tuscany. He was never received at that court and the time until his recall in 1779 was spent in Paris squabbling with Benjamin Franklin over his accounts and his diplomatic prerogatives. He returned to America in 1780, served in the Continental Congress 1782–83, and was United States senator from South Carolina 1789–95. A staunch Federalist, his connection with GW dated from 1780 when he had visited the commander-in-chief at headquarters (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 6 Sept. 1780, DNA:PCC, Item 152).

seats of general, and mr. gouvernr. morris: Lewis Morris was now living on the portion of Morrisania, the family estate, lying west of Mill Brook, which he had received under the terms of his father’s will. On the elder Lewis Morris’s death in 1762, the eastern half of the estate and the manor house went to Morris’s second son, Staats Long Morris, although Morris’s second wife, Sarah Gouverneur Morris, and her children were permitted to occupy the house during her lifetime. Staats Long Morris had remained loyal to the crown during the Revolution and was living in England when, in 1787, his half brother Gouverneur Morris purchased from him his portion of the estate including the manor house, Morrisania (MINTZ description begins Max M. Mintz. Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution. Norman, Okla., 1970. description ends , 13–16, 173–75).

Abigail Adams described this outing in a letter 11 Oct. 1789 to her sister Mary Cranch: “We yesterday had a very pleasant party together. The whole family of us dinned with the President on Thursday, and he then proposed an excursion to long Island by water to visit Princes Gardens, but as Mrs. Washington does not Love the water we agreed that the Gentlemen should go by water and the Ladies should meet them at a half way House and dine together, and yesterday we had a most Beautifull day for the purpose. The President, [the] V.P., Col. S[mith], Major Jackson, Mr. Izard &c. went on Board the Barge at 8 oclock. At Eleven the Ladies, namely Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Smith, Miss Custos [Custis] set out in Mrs. Washingtons coach & six & met the Gentlemen at Harlem where we all dinned together & returnd in the same manner” (MITCHELL description begins Stewart Mitchell, ed. New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788–1801. Boston, 1947. description ends , 29–30).

William Mariner had been active in whaleboat warfare in the waters around New York during the early part of the Revolution. His tavern, sometimes called the Ferry House, was at present-day 126th Street and First Avenue. He may also have kept a tavern for a time on Ward’s Island (DECATUR description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends , 69; BAKER [2] description begins William Spohn Baker. Washington after the Revolution: MDCCLXXXIV - MDCCXCIX. Philadelphia, 1898. description ends , 149).

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