George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Otho Holland Williams, 7 February 1792

To Otho Holland Williams

Philadelphia february 7th 1792.

Dear Sir,

I have received a letter from General Moultrie of south Carolina, dated December 29th, informing that he had sent to me, by the Baltimore Packet (which was to sail the next day) the following plants—to wit—2 boxes with sweet shrubs—2 boxes with Italian Myrtle—one box with two opopynaxes—one box with two olianders—and two boxes with the Palmitto Royal.1

Now, my dear Sir, as I have received no account of the arrival of these plants at Baltimore, I am apprehensive that some accident has befallen them, and must beg the favor of you to make an enquiry respecting them, and if they have reached Baltimore, to let me know what state they are in; and should they have escaped destruction from the severity of the weather, I must add to the trouble of the enquiry, a request, that, if the plants are found in such preservation as to be worth sending to Mount Vernon, you would have the goodness to cause them to be sent there by the first Vessel which may be bound that way. And, in order to prevent a double transportation and perhaps a delay which may be ruinous to them, it would be a pleasing thing to me if the Captain of the Vessel that may carry them to the Potomack, would land them at Mount Vernon in his way up the River.

The amount of freight from Charleston, and other charges upon these plants you will be so obliging as to ascertain & let me know, that it may be paid.2 With very great regard & esteem I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, MdHi: Otho Holland Williams Papers; LB, DLC:GW.

1For GW’s original request for William Moultrie to send trees and shrubberies from South Carolina to Mount Vernon, see GW to Moultrie, 8 Nov. 1791, n.2.

2Williams replied to GW from Baltimore on 9 Feb. 1792: “The Swift Packett, belonging to this port, sailed from Charlestown the 2nd ultimo; And is the Packett, I presume, on board of which General Moultrie Shipped your plants—I fear much from their danger. The Packett was destined for this place; But was to touch at Norfolk. On her passage she struck on Willoughby’s bar; and being distressed by the ice, was obliged to be lightened by throwing overboard a part of her Cargo. The owners here have had letters from the Master, and from their Agent at Norfolk, who mention no loss except Rice. The[y] do not even mention that any such things as were Sent by Genl Moultrie were on board. Mr Wilson, one of the Owners, will have the goodness to write by the next post, and make particular enquiry respecting them. There are two other Packetts, or small Vessels, which ply between this and Norfolk, But the date of Genl Moultrie’s advice to you corresponding with The time of the Swifts sailing leads me to apprehend that the plants were sent in her. If they are not irretrievably lost you may depend on my best endeavours to resque them from their danger, and to have them safely deposited at Mount Vernon” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). On 1 Mar. Williams wrote GW that Wilson had informed him that the master of the Swift had saved Moultrie’s plants and had delivered them to Col. Thomas Newton of Norfolk, Va., who promised to preserve them. Williams concluded: “As I have not the honor of an acquaintance with Colo. Newton, and being, therefore, diffident of the propriety of my requesting him to forward them to Mount Vernon, when the season may admit, I have concluded to give you this information” (DLC:GW). For further correspondence concerning these trees and shrubs, see GW to Moultrie, 14 Mar., 5 May 1792, and Williams to GW, 22 March. GW also enlisted Benjamin Lincoln in his search for trees for Mount Vernon. Tobias Lear wrote to Lincoln on 15 Feb.: “The President desired, when I wrote to you, to request the favor of you to get for him some of the seeds of the Balm of Gillead—of the spruce—of the white pine—and any other pines which may abound in your Eastern Country except the yallow or pitch pine, of which he has the greatest abundance. The President is desireous of cultivating these trees, among many others, about Mount Vernon, and he thinks the seed taken from the apple of the pine will answer as effectually as if the whole apple should be sent, and would make the conveyance much more convenient. The President applies to you to obtain these for him; because he presumes your knowledge of the country & the trees will enable you to get all the several kinds—and he knows your disposition to oblige him so well that he is persuaded you will take a pleasure in doing it” (MHi: Benjamin Lincoln Papers).

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