George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 26 June 1791

To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Mount-Vernon, June 26th 1791

Dear Sir,

The enclosed letter, which is under a flying seal, and the plough, which accompanies it, are referred to your inspection—and are addressed to your care, to be transmitted to Mr Chesnut at Camden.1 With great regard, I am dear Sir, Your most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, privately owned; LS (photostat), PPRF.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney had introduced to GW the previous summer his friend John Chesnut, a merchant and planter in Camden, S.C., and GW attended a public dinner at Chesnut’s house on 25 May 1791 during the Southern Tour (Charles Pinckney to GW, 4 July 1790, nn.3 and 4).

1GW’s enclosed letter of this date to Chesnut reads: “In conformity to my promise, when I saw you at Camden, I have selected one of my drill ploughs, which will be sent to Norfolk, whence it will be forwarded to Charleston, directed to you, and addressed to the care of General Pinckney. The original intention of the drill plough, on the principle of that which is sent to you, was to plant the grain or seed, in rows, at equal distances—the distance to be determined by the space at which the holes were made from each other—their number for corn was only four—but for sowing pease and some other kinds of grain in drills, the holes were encreased to the number now in the barrel. The application of this plough to the planting of indigo will, in my opinion, be productive of dispatch, regularity, and an abridgement of labour. The continuity in which the indigo-seed is sown, in the same row, will only require an additional number of holes—the proportioning of which, and their size, in order that the seed may issue in proper and equal quantity, may occasion some waste at first—but the loss of seed, in determining them, will be no object, compared with the advantages, when the just size and number of the holes are ascertained. You will perceive that the plough, which is sent, is drawn by a swingle-tree—but they may likewise be made with shafts—the barrel may be extended to six feet, or to such length as to answer for any number of rows, that may be thought necessary, so partitioned as to prevent an accumulation of the seed at either end—you will only have occasion to prefix a plough-share to each row of holes, and proportion your force of horses or Oxen to the draught. The foot-stock, to which the truck wheel is fixed, and which may be raised or depressed, is intended to regulate the depth of the ploughs insertion into the ground. The band, which crosses the barrel in a certain direction, was placed, when the grain was to be deposited at equal distances, to prevent its emission at more holes than one—in sowing the indigo seed it will not be wanted. The harrow will be proportioned to the plough or ploughs, and so constructed as effectually to cover the seed, without adding more than is unavoidable to the weight. I hope you will sufficiently comprehend the principles of this plough to render its adoption highly useful to the planting interest of south Carolina. Should the experiment so eventuate, my agency therein will be most agreeably rewarded” (LS, owned by anonymous donor; see also LS [photostat], PPRF). Thomas Newton, Jr., of Norfolk, Va., informed GW on 26 Oct. that he “forwarded your plough to Genl Pinkney but have never heard of its arival” (DLC:GW).

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