George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Powel, 24 October 1791

From Samuel Powel

Philadelphia October 24. 179[1]1

Dear Sir

Agreeably to your Request, I have now the Pleasure to send you an Extract from my Letter to Arthur Young Esquire, relative to the Prices of the following Articles in Pennsylvania, vizt2

Wheat ⅌ Bushell 6/ to 6/4
Rye 3/9 to 4/
Indian Corn 2/6
Oats 1/8
Barley 4/
Clover Hay ⅌ Ton £4.10
Beef ⅌ cwt 1.5
Pork ⅌ Do 1.7.6
A good working Horse £20
A pair of good working Oxen 9 Cwt each 20 to £24
A Milch Cow & Calf 5 to 6
Store Sheep by the Flock 10/ to 15/
dressed Flax
Bricks ⅌ Thousand 22/6
Stone Lime ⅌ Bushell 11d. to 12d.

Cultivated Farms of good Land, in the Old Counties not within Twenty Miles of Philadelphia, extremely various. The average at Random, perhaps £5 ⅌ Ac. The Par of Exchange with Great Britain 166 An english Guinea passes current at 35/″. With Respect to Taxes, the second Object of Enquiry, my Information is as follows, and I believe it may be relied on

Acres on
each Farm
Franklin County 360 none 40/ 35/ last Yr
York County 500 none 40/ 30/
Northumberland 300 none 10/ 30/ highest in County
Fayette County 364 15/  10/
Cumberland Co. 750 2/6 60/ 27/
Chester County 500 35/  70/ 35/
Delaware County 450 30/  60/ 60/
Washington County 300 none 20/ 12/ highest in County
Philadelphia County 80  16/10  22/5  15/2 for 179⟨o⟩

The foregoing are the Taxes on the Farms, containing the Number of Acres mentioned in the List in the Different Counties. The respective Sums make the aggregate of the Taxes upon each Farm in the respective Counties.

It is here to be observed that there are Farms in the oldest as well as in the newest Counties set down in the List, If the Information appears to you in any Respect, deficient, I will endeavor to procure such as may be more satisfactory. Tho’ I think what is herein contained must convince Mr Y. that our present Taxes are very moderate. If on this, or any other subject, I can be of any Use to you, I beg that you will freely lay your Commands on dear Sir Your affectionate & obliged humble Servt

Samuel Powel


1Samuel Powel misdated this letter 1790; GW docketed its cover “24th Octr 1791.”

2After receiving Arthur Young’s letter of 25 Jan. inquiring about the costs of farming and the rate of American taxation, GW apparently asked Powel, president of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, to comment on the subjects (Young to GW, 25 Jan., n.4, GW to Young, 15 Aug.; see also GW’s Circular on the State of American Agriculture, 25 August).

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