George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Arthur Young, 25 January 1791

From Arthur Young

Bradfield Hall [England] Jan. 25 1791.

Sr

It would give me pain if I thought Your Excellency had the least idea of my neglecting your Wool: as no judgment could be formed of it correctly but by having it manufactured as far as spinning and combing &c. were concerned, I put it into the hands of an ingenious person at Bury who has but now returned it.1 The following is the account.

It weighed 5 lb. 3 oz. value at present here 8d. per lb.; it resembles very much our best Kentish and Northampton wool. The value of the yarn fluctuates so much & sometimes so suddenly that the price of it is of little consequence[.] Your excellency receives them labelled; and the following is the description given me by the manufacturer.

No. 1. Satten yarn wrought at Norwich into bed furniture and at Kidder minster into various fabrics, At London mixed with silk: & also made into Poplins.
No. 2. Tammy Yarn, made at Norwich into Scotch Camblets; and at Kettering into Drawboys
No. 3. Say yarn—Do Do but coarse
No. 4. Rout yarn—Coarse.
No. 5. For fine clothing
No. 6. For blankets; or coarse cloth
No. 7. For Witney blankets
No. 1, 2, 3, 4 are combed
Nrs 5, 6, 7 are carded

I wish much that the particulars may be sufficiently explained; & that you may receive full satisfaction in them. The wool is good, & promising & a proof that you may do what you please in this article provided you get the right breeds wch is all in all in this business.

With the yarn you will receive the Annals continued two setts; one I take the liberty of requesting yr presenting to the Agriculture Society as before.2

You will see in some of the numbers an account of the chicorium Intybus; it is an admirable grass which I beleive will prove more beneficial than Lucern or any other; I sow 30 acres of it this spring. I have added to the packet a bag of the seed which you will sow with barley or oats, if it comes in time; if not alone when you expect rain soon, on clean land at the rate of 10 lb. an acre. It demands no more trouble than clover, but is durable; and beats it much in produce.3

You must go on greatly in farming for I hear you have sown 2000 lb. of cloverseed; that is from 150 to 200 acres I suppose which implies 600 or 800 acres of arable. For the welfare and happiness of America your election to the Supreme authority is a great blessing; but for the life of me I cannot but regret your removal from Mount Vernon and the Plough to the city.

You will see by the last number of the Annals how I am taxed in England4—The account I beleive you will esteem curious, for I do not conceive that such burthens are to be found in any great country in the world; or any where out of a dutch City. I have a son, a promising young man of 22 who urges me to let him try a plough in America;5 I have had thoughts of going thither myself; but apprehend that the progress of agriculture, arts, & commerce have had there the usual effects of rendering land dear, and throwing difficulties in the way of planting and settling and building which did not once exist; & demanding a much greater capital than formerly; it would be too great a presumption in me to trouble your excellency for a few particulars of general guidance for enabling one at a distance to form a judgment not very wide of the truth. I beg you will have the goodness to pardon my naming the subject. I have the honour to be With the Greatest Respect Your Excellency’s Much Obliged & faithful Servt

Arth: Young

ALS, DLC:GW.

1GW was unable to fulfill until August 1789 Arthur Young’s 1 July 1788 request for “a small lock of the Wool which sells in common at 1s/ per lb,” as all his wool from the previous spring’s shearing had already been made into cloth (see Young to GW, 1 July 1788, GW to Young, 4 Dec. 1788 and 15 Aug. 1789). He afterwards requested George Augustine Washington to direct farm manager James Bloxham to take an entire fleece from an average sheep at the next shearing and send it to New York for forwarding to Young (GW to Anthony Whitting, 2 June 1793, ALS, DLC:GW; see also GW to Sir John Sinclair, 20 July 1794, ALS, British Library, Add. MSS 5757).

2Young had sent the yarn samples and numbers 61 through 86 of his Annals of Agriculture, and Other Useful Arts, later bound as volumes 11 through 15 (Bury St. Edmund’s, 1789–91), under separate cover in late April 1791 to Wakelin Welch & Son of London. Welch shipped it to America on the Peter, Captain Brooks (see GW to Young, 15 Aug. 1791 and note 1). The merchants had to smuggle the woolen yarn out of the country, as such exports were prohibited under various laws protecting the British textile industry, including the Wool Bill of 1788, against passage of which Young had protested bitterly for two years (Gazley, Life of Young, description begins John G. Gazley. The Life of Arthur Young, 1741–1820. Philadelphia, 1973. description ends 164, 198–99, 215–18; Young, Annals of Agriculture description begins Arthur Young, ed. Annals of Agriculture & Other Useful Arts. 46 vols. London, 1784–1815. description ends , 6 [1786], 506–28; see also Thomas Howells to GW, 14 July 1789, source note). GW’s copies of the Annals were part of his Mount Vernon library at his death (Griffin, Boston Athenæum Washington Collection, description begins Appleton P. C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 230–31). He sent the other set to Samuel Powel, president of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, on 2 Aug. 1791 (see GW to Young, 15 Aug. 1791 and note 2).

3See Young, Annals of Agriculture description begins Arthur Young, ed. Annals of Agriculture & Other Useful Arts. 46 vols. London, 1784–1815. description ends , 10 (1788), 216, 11 (1789), 145–46, 12 (1789), 107–8, 186–87, and 13 (1790), 252–53, 544–45. Europeans and Americans consumed the leaves of the Mediterranean perennial Cichorium intybus, better known as chicory, succory, or the wild endive, as a salad green and used its roots as a coffee additive or substitute. Thomas Jefferson grew the plant in his garden at Monticello as early as 1774, but Young, who claims to have first introduced the plant to Britain (see Young, Annals of Agriculture description begins Arthur Young, ed. Annals of Agriculture & Other Useful Arts. 46 vols. London, 1784–1815. description ends , 13 [1790], 253), and other agricultural reformers attempted to popularize it as an easily grown field crop for livestock forage or fodder. Jefferson distributed succory seed to his neighbors and in 1794 sowed a patch of it in one of his orchards, recommending the following year that it be planted with seed drills (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 47, 58 n.9, 211, 218, 233). In September 1795 he considered succory “one of the greatest acquisitions a farmer can have” and harvested his crop as seed that year, not feed (see Jefferson to GW, 12 Sept. 1795, DLC:GW).

GW apparently forwarded the succory seed he received from Young to farm manager Anthony Whitting at Mount Vernon, who planted it, or a later shipment from Young or the British Board of Agriculture, in a field or meadow, instead of in the “little garden by the Salt house” or the “Vineyard Inclosure,” GW’s intended experimental plots (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 408, 570; GW to Whitting, 3 Feb. 1793, DLC:GW). Before his death Whitting apparently convinced GW that the plant was “really, & bona fide a Weed,” and GW instructed “it had better be exterminated before it shed its Seed” (GW to Whitting, 24 Feb. 1793, DLC:GW). When later having to purchase succory seed for £12 in 1796, GW admitted his mistake to Jefferson, to whom he had earlier given some of Young’s seed (see Jefferson to John Taylor, 1 May 1794, in 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 217–18): “Four years since,” GW later wrote, “I exterminated all the Plants raised from Seed sent me by Mr Young,” but this “was occasioned by the manager I then had, who pretended to know it well in England, and pronounced it a noxious weed” (GW to Jefferson, 6 July 1796). GW sowed his succory broadcast, sometimes mixed with grain crops as recommended by Young, and reported that it had to struggle to survive the grass and weeds.

4See note 1 in Young, Annals of Agriculture description begins Arthur Young, ed. Annals of Agriculture & Other Useful Arts. 46 vols. London, 1784–1815. description ends , 15 (1791), 186–94. Young figured that he paid an annual total of £219.18.5 in tithes, poor rates, and various other property taxes and duties, on a portion of land that grossed him £295.3 a year in rents. He wrote: “To what region of despotism, monarchical or republican, are we to go, to meet with any thing equal to this? . . . The question to be founded on the preceding account, is this—shall I stay to be swept away like the rest, or transfer my property, while I have any left to transfer, to some country where property is more respected than in this?” (ibid., 190–91).

5Arthur Young, Jr. (1769–1827), the only son of Arthur and Martha Allen Young (1740–1815), accompanied his father on his 1784 tour of France and attended Eton from 1785 to 1789, before entering Trinity College, Cambridge. His father wrote to him on 13 Sept. 1789: “I wish to God you would pick up a knowledge of agriculture, by the time I die the world will find out that they might have made a better use of my knowledge & make me offers when too late for me to take them, but it may afford opportunities for a son if he had nothing better” (Gazley, Life of Young, description begins John G. Gazley. The Life of Arthur Young, 1741–1820. Philadelphia, 1973. description ends 243–46, 726, 727). Arthur Jr. was ordained in 1793, shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree, and was commissioned by the Board of Agriculture to complete the agricultural survey of Sussex, but was a general disappointment to his father, and did not secure a living until 1802 (ibid., 191, 324–25, 455). He enjoyed the life of an absentee Irish clergyman and never emigrated to America, despite GW’s positive description of the country to his father and the president’s efforts to provide further details on the favorable land prices and tax burdens of the United States (see GW to Young, 15 Aug. 1791 and note 3; 5 Dec. 1791, PPRF; 18–21 June 1792, PPRF [incomplete], DLC:GW; and 2 Dec. 1792, 1 Sept. and 12 Dec. 1793, all PPRF).

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