George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Charles Pinckney, 6 October 1791

From Charles Pinckney

October 6th 1791 In CharLeston

Dear Sir,

I wrote you lately on the subject of the unfortunate situation of St Domingo & the application they made to me with my answer, which with the inclosures I hope you have recieved1—The object of this Line is merely to introduce to your acquaintance Mr Barnwell one of our newly elected members of the house of Representatives & who I think will do much credit to his appointment2—He will deliver you from me a Sketch of the large american Aloe or Agave which you saw in my Garden & which was not in the Bloom represented in the draught until July—As you said you had never seen one & expressed a wish that you could see one in Bloom I thought this the best way of enabling you to form a judgement of it in that State3—I am with regard & esteem Dear Sir yours truly

Charles Pinckney

The stalk or pole of the Aloe was erected in less than six weeks—So the plant was in the bloom represented in the draught in about ten weeks.

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Gov. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina is referring to his letter to GW of 20 September. For background to the slave uprising in northern Saint Domingue, see Samuel Wall to GW, 16 Sept., n.1, and Ternant to GW, 24 September.

2The cover of the letter is marked: “Honoured By Mr [Robert] Barnwell.”

3When GW was in Charleston during his Southern Tour, he attended a ball at Pinckney’s house and gardens on 6 May, when he apparently examined an Agave americana (century plant) that had just begun to bud. Two and a half weeks later at Columbia, S.C., GW himself was toasted as “The magnificent Aloe of America,” the man of the century (Lipscomb, South Carolina in 1791, description begins Terry W. Lipscomb. South Carolina in 1791: George Washington’s Southern Tour. Columbia, S.C., 1993. description ends 66–67, 68). An aloe was growing at Mount Vernon before GW’s death, perhaps sprouted from seeds sent by Pinckney (De Forest, Gardens & Grounds at Mount Vernon, description begins Elizabeth Kellam De Forest. The Gardens & Grounds at Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon, Va., 1982. description ends 67).

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