George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 4 June 1791]

Saturday 4th. Left Mr. Gatewoods about half after Six oclock and between his house & the Ferry passed the line which divides the States of Virginia and No. Carolina—dining at one Wisoms 16 Miles from the Ferry, lodged at Hallifax old Town. The Road from Dix’ ferry to Wisom’s, passes over very hilly (& for the most part) indifferent land, being a good deal mixed with pine though it is said here that1 pine when mixed with Oak, & more especially with2 hiccory is not indicative of a poor3 Soil. From Wisom’s to Hallifax old Town the Soil is good, & of a reddish cast.

Having this day passed the line of No. Carolina, and of course finished my tour thro’ the three Southernmost States a general4 description of them may be comprised in the5 few following6 words.

From the Sea board to7 the falls of all the Rivers which water this extensive region,8 the lands, except the Swamps, on the Rivers, and the lesser streams which empty into them; & the interval lands higher up the Rivers9 is, with but few exceptions, neither more nor less10 than a continued pine barren11 very thinly inhabited. The part next the Sea board, for many miles, is a dead level & badly watered. That above it is12 hilly & not much better watd. but13 if possible, less valuable on account of its hilliness and because they are14 more inconvenient to Market supposing them15 as capable as the lands below16 of producing17 Beef Porke Tar, pitch & Turpentine. The Lands above the falls of the several18 Rivers from information, and as far as19 my own observation has extended, is of a very superior kind from these20 being of a greasy red, with large oaks, intermixed with hiccory Chestnut &ca. producing,21 Corn Tobo., Wheat, Hemp & other articles in great abundance & are generally22 thickly inhabited comparitively speaking with those below.

In the lower Country (next the Seaboard) in the States of So. Carolina & Georgia, Rice, as far up as the low Swamps extend is almost the sole article that is raised for market; Some of the planters of which, grow23 as much Corn as, with the Sweet Potatoes, support their people; The middle Country—that is—between the Rice lands and the falls of the Rivers & a little above them, is cultivated chiefly in Corn & Indigo and the upper Country in Tobacco, Corn, Hemp & in some24 degree the smaller grains.

It is nearly the same in No. Carolina, with this difference however25 that, as not much rice is planted there, especially in the Northern parts of the State, Corn, some Indigo, with naval Stores & Porke, are substituted in its place, but as Indo. is on the decline Hemp, Cotton &ca. are comg. in its place.26

The Inland navigations of the Rivers of these three States, may be improved (according to the ideas I have formed of the matter)27 to a very extensive degree—to great & useful purpose and at a very moderate expence compared with the vast utility of the measure;28 inasmuch as the falls in all of29 them are trifling and their lengths great; (quite to the Mountns.)30 penetrating the Country in all directions by their lateral branches31 and in their present State except at the falls wch. as has been observd before are trifling except that of the Pedee32 navigable for vessels carrying sevl. Hhds. of Tobo. or other Articles in proportion.

The prices at which the Rice lands in the lower parts of the ⟨st.⟩33 are held is very great—those of them wch. have been34 improved, comd.35 from 20£ to 30£ Sterlg. £50 has been given for some and from £10 to 15 is the price of it36 in its rude state. The Pine barrens adjoining these sell from one to two dollars pr. Acre37 according to Circumstances. The interval Lands on the River below the falls, & above the Rice Swamps also command a good price but not equal to the abe. & the pine barrens less than those below.38 The lands of the upper Country sell from 4 to 6 or 7 dollars according to the quality and Circumstances thereof.

In the upper part of No. Cara. Wheat is pretty much grown, & the Farmers seem disposed to try Hemp but the Land Carriage is a considerable drawback having between 2 & 300 Miles to carry the produce either to Chs. Town, Petersburgh or Wilmington wch. are their three great Marts though of late Fayettesville receives a gd. deal of the bulky Articles & they are39 water borne from thence to Wilmington.

Excepting the Towns, (and some Gentlemens Seats along the Road from Charleston to Savanna)40 there is not, within view of the whole road I travelled41 from Petersburgh to this place, a single house which has anythg. of an elegant appearance. They are altogether of Wood & chiefly of logs—some42 indd. have brick chimneys but generally the chimnies43 are of Split sticks filled with dirt between them.

The accomadations on the whole Road (except in the Towns,44 and even there, as I was informed45 for I had no opportunity of Judging, lodgings having been provided for me in them46 at my own expence) we found extremely indifferent—the houses being small and badly provided either for man or horse; though extra exertions when it was known I was coming,47 wch. was generally the case, were made to receive me. It is not easy to say on which road—the one I went or the one I came—the entertainment is most indifferent—but with truth it may be added,48 that both are bad, and to be accounted for from the kind of travellers which use them; which with a few exceptions only on the uppr. Rd.49 are no other than50 Waggoners & families removing; who, generally, take their provisions along with them. The people however appear to have abundant means to live well the grounds where they are settled yielding grain in abundance and the natural herbage a multitude of meat with little or no labr. to provide food for the support of their Stock—especially in Georgia where it is said the Cattle live through the winter without any support from the owners of them.

The manners of the people, as far as my observations, and means of information extended, were orderly and Civil. And they appeared to be happy, contented and satisfied with the genl.51 governmt. under which they were placed. Where the case was otherwise, it was not difficult to trace the cause to some demago[g]ue, or speculating character. In Georgia the dissatisfied part of them at the late treaty with the Ck. Indians were evidently Land Jobbers, who, Maugre every principle of Justice to the Indians52 & policy to their Country would, for their own immediate emolument, strip the Indns. of all their territory if they could obtain the least countenance to the measure. But it is to be hoped the good sense of the State will set its face against such diabolical attempts: And it is also to be wished and by many it was said it might be expected—that the Sales by that State to what are called the Yazoo Companies would fall through.

The discontents which it was supposed the last Revenue Act (commonly known by the Excise Law) would create subside as fast as the law is explained and little was said of the Banking Act.

GW apparently dined today with Francis Wisdom (died c.1794) of Pittsylvania County (HEADS OF FAMILIES, VA. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Virginia; Records of the State Enumerations, 1782 to 1785. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1970. description ends , 42, 99; SMITH [6] description begins Albert Matthews, ed. Journal of William Loughton Smith, 1790–1791. Cambridge, Mass., 1917. Reprint from Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 51 (1917-18):20-88. description ends , 71).

Halifax Old Town, established as Peytonsburg in 1759, lay south of Elkhorn Creek in eastern Pittsylvania County (GAINES [4] description begins William H. Gaines, Jr. “Courthouses of Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties.” Virginia Cavalcade 20 (Spring 1971): 5–11. description ends , 6). “Halifax Old Town,” remarked William Loughton Smith who breakfasted there 3 May 1791, “has no other pretension to the name than by containing two or three old houses, inhabited by some wretched old women” (SMITH [6] description begins Albert Matthews, ed. Journal of William Loughton Smith, 1790–1791. Cambridge, Mass., 1917. Reprint from Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 51 (1917-18):20-88. description ends , 71). GW, nevertheless, found a tavern in which to lodge this night (Richard N. Venable Diary, ViHi). The town no longer exists. late treaty with the ck. indians: See entry for 1 July 1790. yazoo companies: See entry for 28 April 1790. last revenue act: “An Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties heretofore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same” (1 STAT. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 199–214 [3 Mar. 1791]). banking act: “An Act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States” (1 STAT. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 191–96 [25 Feb. 1791]).

1“here that” added above line.

2“with” inserted above line.

3“a poor” substituted for “the poverty of the.”

4“general” inserted above line.

5“the” substituted for “a.”

6“following” inserted above line.

7“the Sea board to” added above line.

8“this extensive region” substituted for “these three States, quite to the sea board.”

9“than the Rice swamps extend” deleted.

10“neither more nor less” substituted for “no other.”

11“with” deleted.

12“That above it is” substituted for “The residue is more.”

13“& not much better watd. but” substituted for “and.”

14“less valuable on account of its hilliness and because they are” substituted for an illegible line; the rest of the substitution reads “because they are hilly & broken &.”

15“supposing them” substituted for “if they are.”

16“as the lands below” inserted above line.

17“any Thing but” deleted.

18“several” inserted above line.

19“as far as” added above line.

20“superior kind from these” substituted for “different kind.”

21“yielding” inserted above line, however, GW did not cross out “producing.”

22“generally” inserted above line.

23“grow” substituted for “raise.”

24“some” substituted for “a.”

25“however” inserted above line.

26“but as Indo. is on the decline Hemp, Cotton &ca. are comg. in its place” added at the end of sentence.

27“of the matter” inserted above line.

28“the measure” substituted for “them.”

29“in all of” substituted for “of.”

30“quite to the Mountns.” added in parentheses above line.

31“by their lateral branches” inserted above line.

32“wch. as has been observd. before are trifling except that of the Pedee” inserted above line for an entry GW made illegible by marking through it.

33“in the lower parts of the St.” inserted above line.

34“those of them wch. have been” substituted for “that wch. is.”

35“comd.” substituted for “is.”

36“is the price of it” inserted above line.

37“pr. Acre” inserted above line.

38“& the pine barrens less than those below” inserted above line.

39“they are” substituted for “is.”

40Parentheses added before “and” and after “Savanna.”

41“I travelled” inserted above line.

42“some” substituted for “many.”

43“the chimnies” substituted for “they.”

44“in the Towns” substituted for “as before.”

45“was informed” substituted for “am told.”

46“in them” added above line.

47“when it was known I was coming” substituted for “where I was expected.”

48GW inserted “affirmed” above line but did not mark through “added.”

49“on the uppr. Rd.” inserted above line.

50“no other than” inserted above line.

51“genl.” added above line.

52“to the Indians” inserted above line.

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