George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Lee, Jr., 20 December 1785

From Henry Lee, Jr.

[20 December 1785]

Dear Genl

I had provided for you all the forest trees we possess except the cypress worthy of transplantation, & joined to them some chosen fruit trees.1

I directed a label or some designation to be affixed to the fruit trees to shew their kind.2

Two oppertunitys having offered to send them up to you. I thought it better to leave them, where they were, than to send them to popes creek3—A Captain Hungerford promised certainly to receive them & deliver them at Mount Vernon—if he should deceive, a few negroes of Mr Kendals were to come up by water, by which conveyance the trees would surely be sent.4 There is also a box with the gloucester nut & the horse-chesnut which is filled with sand agreable to your directions.

Mrs Lee brought up with her all the gloucester nuts we found at home, which she begs your acceptance of—they are only a taste, but will shew the value of the tree—If I can serve you in my absence, your commands will be received with the highest pleasure and executed in the best mode in my power.5 I sincerely pray for the continuation of your health, & have the honor to be with the most perfect regard your unceasing friend and h: ser.

Henry Lee Jun.

I could not find any person ⟨capa⟩ble of transplanting the ⟨cyp⟩ress; Mr McCarty has sent up some seed for you, I beleive the honey locust. I will send them to Mount Vernon.


1For an earlier presentation of plants and cuttings for Mount Vernon by Lee, see Lee to GW, 12 Mar. 1785.

2On Christmas Day Lee wrote that one package of plants had arrived at Alexandria from Stratford and gave the names of the apple, pear, and cherry trees that were sent. When setting out plants in his “fruit garden” at Mount Vernon on 27 Feb. 1786, however, GW noted that “the other 3 trees are from Stratford, given to me by Colo. Henry Lee 1 of which he calls the Medlar Russitan—another the Chantilly pear—and the 3d. the Carnation cherry but this being a mistake, the others are not to be depended upon” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:286).

3Lee is probably referring to the port at Pope’s Creek in Charles County, Maryland.

4This may have been Woffendell Kendall (c.1740–c.1795) of Westmoreland County who had close ties with the Lees of Stratford Hall.

5Lee was en route from Stratford Hall to New York City with his wife Matilda Lee Lee to attend Congress as a new member from Virginia. On 30 May 1790 Thomas Jefferson writes to Thomas Mann Randolph about the “Gloucester and European walnuts” at Monticello (Betts, Jefferson’s Garden Book, description begins Edwin Morris Betts, ed. Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, 1766–1824: With Relevant Extracts from His Other Writings. Philadelphia, 1944. description ends 150).

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