George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Powel, 21 February 1790

To Samuel Powel

New York, February 21st 1790.

Dear Sir,

I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of a letter, which you have been so good as to write to me by the direction of the Philadelphia Society for promoting agriculture—and I beg leave to request your communication of my thanks to the Society for their polite attention, in the present which accompanied it.1

Among the advantages resulting from this Institution, it is particularly pleasing to observe that a spirit of emulation has been excited by the rewards offered to excellence in the several branches of rural oeconomy—and I think there is every reason to hope the continuance of those beneficial consequences from such well judged liberality.

As no one delights more than I do in the objects of your Institution, so no one experiences more real pleasure from every proof of their progress—among which it marks the discernment of the Society to have distinguished Mr Matthewson’s improvement in the useful art of making cheese. With sincere wishes for the advancement of our agricultural interests—and, with great regard, I am dear Sir, Your most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, ViMtvL; copy, DNA: RG 59 Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1The letter from Samuel Powel is dated February, but the day of the month has been omitted. It reads: “By the Direction of the Philadelphia Society for promoting Agriculture, I am now, in their Name, to request your Acceptance of an american made cheese, being one selected from the Parcell offered to the Society by John Matthewson Esquire of Rhode Island, with a View of obtaining the Præmium offered by the said Society, & which was adjudged to him at a meeting on Tuesday Evening last.

“From the Number of Candidates for different Præmiums who have lately laid their different claims before the Board, the Society has the Satisfaction to find that an attention has been excited towards some of the objects which they have held up as matters of public Utility.

“Not doubting that every Proof of the advancement of our Country in Agriculture and the usefull arts, will afford you Pleasure” (DLC:GW).

The cheese was produced by Joseph rather than John Matthewson. On 30 April 1790 Joseph Matthewson wrote to GW from Providence: “Emboldened by your known patronage of American productions, together with the late flattering preference given to my Cheese by the Agricultural society of Philadelphia, I take the liberty of presenting you one, as a testimonial of the great esteem which I have for your Excellencys character. I hope it may prove worthy a place on your table. Dr [James] Manning has been polite enough to engage to see it delivered” (DLC:GW). There were several Joseph Matthewsons living in Rhode Island at this time. GW’s correspondent may have been the Joseph Mathewson of Coventry who served as a member of the Coventry town council and as a deputy to the Rhode Island general assembly (Bartlett, R.I. Records, description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends 8:154, 530).

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