George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Tilghman, 21 July 1793

To William Tilghman

Philadelphia 21st July 1793.

Dear Sir,

The death of my late Manager, Mr Anthony Whitting, making it necessary for me to look out for some person to supply his place, I take the advantage of the polite tender of your services, which you have heretofore been so obliging as to make me, to beg your assistance in obtaining and conveying to me, information of such characters in your part of the Country as are qualified to fill that station; and who can be obtained for that purpose.1

Altho’ my affairs at Mount Vernon suffer much at present for want of a Manager; yet I have thought it better to bear this temporary evil than to engage one immediately who might not have all the requisite qualification for that place. I have directed my enquiries for a Manager to different parts of the Country; but I think there is a greater probability that a person may be found in the best farming Counties2 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to answer my purposes than in almost any other quarter; for there seems to be more large Estates cultivated altogether in the farming System there than in other parts of the Country; and that—reclaiming Swamps, raising Grass, Ditching, Hedging & particular attention to Stock of all kinds—are the great pursuits on my Estate.3

It is hardly possible—and indeed it is not necessary here, to point out minutely all the qualifications required in, or duties expected from a man of the character wanted. The leading points in such a person must be a complete knowledge of the farming business in its various branches—An ability to plan & direct, generally, the business of 4 or 5 large farms adjoining each other, but under Seperate Overseers4—and a Sufficient acquaintance with business and Accounts to enable him to buy and sell, with discretion & Judgment, such things as may be wanted for the use of the Estate, and to be disposed of from it, & to keep an Acct of the same.5

An experience of many years can alone give the first qualification mentioned—and a residence of some years in a part of the Country where the labour is done by Negroes—and having had the management of pretty extensive business in this line, can only give the second. For the third, it is not necessary that a man should be a complete Clerk—or particularly conversant with Mercantile transactions. Perfect honesty—sobriety & industry—are indispensable. In fine, if I could get a man as well qualified for my purposes as the late Mr Whitting (whom I presume you knew as he managed an Estate of Genl Cadwalader’s in your neighbourhood for some years)6 I shd esteem myself very fortunate.

A single man would suit me much better than one with a family—indeed is almost indispensable, as he would live at the Mansion house:7 and I should like the age between 35 & 45, as that period seems most likely to unite experience with activity.

The names of the following persons in your quarter have been mentioned to me as well qualified to manage a large Estate—vizt—William Pierce—who has done & continues to do business for Mr Ringold—recommended by Mr Ringold himself.8

Owen Crow, said to have been a Manager for Mr——Chew for some years; & now Rents Land & Negros from him.

James Cannon—said to have been an overseer, and, in some measure a Manager for Mr Chew. But I would here observe, that a man may be a good farmer and an excellent overseer for a Single Plantation, who would be wholly unequal to the duties of a manager.9

Brisco, living on an Estate of the deceased Mr Chew of Herringbay in Cecil County;10 which I am informed he means to quit—This person is rather out of your neighbourhood; but it is possible you may know, or may have heard something of him. Mr Jacob Hollingsworth of Elkton, speaks of him in high terms.11

I have understood also, that Colonel Lloyds Manager—a Mr Bryant—intends leaving him. If this should be the case, and he can be well recommended by Colo. Lloyd, I confess I should feel a predeliction for him; because I know that Gentleman is considered as one of the largest & best farmers in the Country, and so good a manager himself that he would not employ a man who did not fully understand his business. But it must be remembered, that I speak of this person merely as having heard that he intended leaving Colo. Lloyd, and was well qualified for my purposes; for I would not upon any consideration, have a measure taken on my behalf that would look like drawing a man from the Service of another, to whom he was engaged, with a view of taking him into mine.12

I have now, Sir, given you a pretty full detail of my wants & wishes on this subject, and shall feel obliged by any information you may give me relative to it, as well as for the mention of the terms upon which persons of the character before described are employed upon large Estates on the Eastern Shore.13 & for what Standing wages they could be induced to go to Virginia. The Estate for which I want a Manager, lyes abt 40 Miles from Annapolis—9 from Alexandria (on Potomac River) and 12 from the Federal City: which is mentioned for the information of such characters as might incline to go and wish to know. I Will make no apology for writing you so long a letter on a subject uninteresting to yourself but will assure you of the great esteem and regard with which I am—Dear Sir Your Most Obedt

Go. Washington

ALS, MdHi: Tilghman Family Papers; DfS, in Tobias Lear’s writing, ViMtvL; LB, DLC:GW; copy (extract), MdHi: Henry Hollyday Collection. GW made several stylistic changes and added a few factual details to Lear’s draft. Substantive changes are given in the notes below. The letter-book copy was prepared from the amended draft, while the copy from MdHi was made from the ALS. The cover of the ALS is addressed to “William Tilghman Esq. Chester Town Maryland,” and bears a docket of “Geo. Washington 21. July 1793 ansd” and stamped postmarks of “22 JY” and “FREE.”

1For the death of Anthony Whitting on 21 June, see Tobias Lear to GW, 24 June 1793. On GW’s efforts to find a new estate manager, see Richard Fitzhugh to GW, 6 July, Burgess Ball to GW, 11 July 1793, and GW to Ball, 21 July.

2GW added the preceding five words to the draft.

3GW added “reclaiming Swamps, raising Grass, Ditchg Hedgg &ca are the great pursuits” to the draft, but then added “particular attention to Stock of all kinds” to the final version. The Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1793 included the counties of Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, and Worcester.

4GW inserted “adjoining each other but under seperate Oversrs” to the draft.

5Mount Vernon presently consisted of five farms, each with its own overseer: River, William Stuart; Union, Hiland Crow; Dogue Run, Henry McCoy; Mansion House, James Butler; Muddy Hole, dower slave Davy.

6Philadelphia native John Cadwalader (Cadwallader; 1742–1786) had served in the Philadelphia militia during the Revolutionary War. He later resided in Talbot County, Md., and he owned additional land in Kent County, Maryland. He served several terms in the Maryland Legislature. On GW’s initial employment of Anthony Whitting, see GW to Whitting, 14 April 1790, and George Augustine Washington to GW, 20 Aug. 1790, and note 4.

7GW added to the draft the clause beginning with “indeed” and ending with “house.”

8GW added Pearce’s first name and “Recomd by Mr Ringold” to the draft. For GW’s hiring of William Pearce as his new estate manager, see GW to Pearce, 26 Aug., and Pearce to GW, 30 Aug. 1793. Several members of the Ringgold family owned property on the Eastern Shore (Heads of Families [Maryland], 81–83, 100–102, 173). No written recommendation has been identified.

9A James Cannon of Kent County appears on the 1790 U.S. census, but Owen Crow is not listed for any Maryland county in the 1790 or 1800 census. There are numerous landowners by the name of Chew in Maryland at this time (ibid., 44, 138).

10GW added “mang estate of the dec.” and “in Cecil Cty” to the draft. During his lifetime, Maryland planter Samuel Chew (d. 1786) held extensive land holdings in several Maryland counties, including land in Calvert and Queen Anne’s counties and an estate at Herring Bay in Anne Arundel County. There are several men by the name of Brisco or Briscoe on the 1790 Maryland census (ibid., 135). For Briscoe’s lack of interest in the position at Mount Vernon, see Jacob Hollingsworth to GW, 1 Aug. 1793.

11GW inserted “from Mr Jacob Hollingsworth of Elkton I have his character” on the draft. Jacob Hollingworth (1742–1803) of Elkton, Md., was a member of an extended Hollingworth family that lived in Cecil County.

12Col. Edward Lloyd had extensive property on the Eastern Shore, including his residence at “Wye House” in Talbot County. GW added “of the name of Bryant” on the draft. A number of men by the name of Brian, Bryan, or Bryon, but not Bryant, are listed on the 1790 Maryland census (ibid., 135–36).

13Lear’s draft ended at this point. To the draft GW added “and for what they may be induced to go to Virginia—The Estate for which I want a Manager lyes about 9 Miles below Alexandria, on the River Potomac & 12 from the Federal City,” which he then expanded on the ALS.

Index Entries