George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Anthony Whitting, 14 April 1790

To Anthony Whitting

New York, April 14th 1790.


By a letter which I have lately received from my nephew, Major Washington of Mount Vernon, I find you have made a tender of your services to him to overlook one of my farms, and have referred me to Colo. Cadwalader, now in Congress, for your qualifications and character.1

This enquiry I have made, and the result of it is that you have a competent knowledge in the business of agriculture, and understand the economy of a farm—That he believes you to be industrious, and has no distrust of your honesty—These undoubtedly are very good and essential requisites in a manager; but candor, he added, obliged him to inform me that he thought you were too much given to your pleasures—however of the impropriety of this he hoped and believed you were convinced, and of course would reform.

Under this information and persuasion I am disposed to employ you on the terms mentioned by my nephew—to wit, Forty guineas ⅌ annum—and wish you to name the time, in a letter to me, that would be convenient for you to enter on the trust—I must inform you however that the present managers are engaged till December—but Mr Bloxham (having had notice that he would be continued no longer than the term for which he is engaged, and intending it is said when he quits my employ, to return to England) wishes I am informed to embark before that period—To this I shall have no objection if his place can be supplied—but not being well enough acquainted with all the circumstances relative to this matter, I can make no arrangement relative thereto until I hear first from you, and next from my nephew with respect to Mr Bloxham—after this matters may be precisely fixed so as to place all parties on a certainty.

The reason why I write to you from hence is that a Post goes directly from this city to Chestertown in Maryland (where my nephew informs me you at present live) whereas a letter written from Mount Vernon might be long on its passage, or perhaps never get to you at all.

That there may be no delay in the business from a misconception of the terms on your part, or for want of knowing the expectations on mine, I have sketched articles of agreement declaratory of both, which my nephew will, on my behalf subscribe to, if the same is done by you.

From this communication (accompanied with an assurance that I shall make no alteration) you are enabled to say yea or nay to the proposals which I request may be done by letter addressed to me at this place—the result of which I shall communicate to my nephew that he may know what to depend upon—If it is your determination to accept that he may know at what time (under the existing circumstances) he could receive you—of which I shall delay no time in giving you notice, and shall expect you will repair to Mount Vernon accordingly.2 I am Sir &ca

G. Washington


1For Whitting’s application for employment as farm manager, see George Augustine Washington to GW, 26 Mar. 1790. On 20 May 1790 Washington completed an indenture with Whitting on GW’s behalf: “Articles of Agreement made and entered into this twentieth day of May one thousand seven hundred and ninety between Anthony Whiting late Manager of the Estate of the deceased General Cadwalader (but at present of Alexandria Virginia) of the one part, and George A: Washington of Mount Vernon in Virginia in behalf of the President of the United States, of the other part; Witnesseth that the said Anthony Whiting for the wages and other considerations hereafter mentioned doth agree to serve the said President for the space of one year to commence the first day of June next as an Overlooker of his two Farms, which are united and distinguished as the Ferry & Frenches, and that he will faithfully & diligently attend to the duties thereof; using his best skill to carry into effect the present rotation system of Cropping practised on the said Farms, or such other course as shall be approved by the said President through his agent George A: Washington. That he will hold it as an incumbent duty to suggest such changes and alterations in the present system of management as to him shall appear better calculated from the soil or other circumstances to promote œconomy and to encrease the profits of the Farms, but to make no actual change therein without permission; as matters for some time have been tending to the present mode, and ought not to be departed from but under the ful’est conviction of the superior advantages of an other; and in the accomplishment of whatever plan shall be adopted that he will use every possible œconomy consistent with good management in the execution—That he will be particularly attentive to the Negroes which shall be committed to his care—to the work Oxen and Horses—to the stock of every denomination—and to all the Tools and impliments of husbandry of every sort belonging to the Farms entrusted to his care—That he will be particularly attentive to the Inclosures endeavouring as far as time and the means with which he may be furnished will admit, to substitute Ditching and Hedging to dead fences—That he will see the labourers at their work as soon as it is light in the morning, and (unless he is called of for other purposes benificial to his employer or absent with leave if for purposes of his own except on Sunday when he may occasionally go to Church, and as he will not be allow’d to keep a Horse the use of one belonging to the Farms will be granted when necessary—) that he will always be with the people while they are at their labour, as the only sure means of geting the business done and the work properly executed without punishment—That he will consider it as an essential part of his duty—by this close attention to see that the work is carried on with diligence and propriety especially the Plowing part of it, as the goodness of all Crops depend materially upon the preparation that give birth to them—That he will pay the utmost attention to the Stocks of every kind, will use every endeavour to encrease and properly distribute the manure on the Farms, and also will improve to the best of his judgment the implements of husbandry necessary thereto—and will instruct as occasion may require, and opportunities offer the labourers therein how to Plow, Sow, Mow, Reap, Thatch, Ditch, Hedge &c., in the best manner—That he will have proper attention given to the Ferry and a regular return with the proceeds rendered once a week (Saturday) with a report of the labour of the People, the encrease and decrease of the Stock, the receipts and disbursement &c. (a form of which will be furnished with a plan of the Farms—). The retail of liquors is particularly restricted as such a practise must be attended with pernicious consequences, and to avoid enumeration it is only necessary to observe that no emolument will be allow’d but what will hereafter be specified nor no departure from this agreement, as dismission or the claim of the penalty will be resorted to—Lastly if instead of being confined to the cares of those Farms it should be found from circumstances, more expedient to remove and extend his superintendance, that he is still to be governed by the principles here mention’d, although his attention will be more divided and in either case is to consider himself under the controul of the said George A: Washington who acts agreeably to directions received from the said President, And will conduct himself soberly honestly and with the most exemplary industry. In consideration of services thus fully and faithfully performed on the part of the said Anthony Whiting the said George A: Washington for and on behalf of the said President of the United States doth agree to allow the said Anthony Whiting the sum of forty Guineas per annum, to commence the first day of June next—Will allow him three hundred weight of Pork and one hundred weight of Beef at killing time but such provision as may be furnished untill that time will be deducted therefrom, if in Bacon such a proportion as shall be deemed equivalent—also f⟨our⟩ hundred weight of Flour distinguished as midlings—the use of a Cow—the privelege of raising Fowls for his own consumption, and the use of a Boy or Girl which can be most conveniently spared to cook &c. And in case his superintendance should be extended will allow him the use of a Horse to enable him to discharge with more convenience & facility, the business which will be required of him. For the true and faithful performance of this agreement the parties each to the other doth hereby bind themselves in the penal sum of One hundred Dollars, the day & year first written” (DLC:GW).

2For George Augustine Washington’s report on Whitting’s first months as farm manager, see his letter to GW, 20 Aug. 1790.

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