To James Butler
Philadelphia July 22d 1793
Your letter of the 14th came duly to hand—and I much approve of your ceasing to bring more Corn from the River Farm & substituting Oats in its place.1 But these also ought to be used sparingly, and with great æconomy, even to the work horses, or else I shall still be obliged to buy feed for them, which will be a very unpleasant thing to me.
You talk of bringing some of the Oats into the Grainery, & stacking the rest—This I also approve; supposing you mean to keep that which is within, under lock; for unless this is done, I know there are some persons about the Stables—who, disregarding any expence I may be run to & indeed any orders would feed his horses as lavishly as if there was the greatest superabundence. Except the Stud horse and Jacks,2 all others that do nothing, should be allowed little or none, except when they are used—The abundant grass of this year, is certainly sufficient for the support of horses who have nothing else to do but bite it. Let no Oats be used that is not cut—and let all that is cut be kept under lock, and delivered out by old Jack;3 or I am sure these orders will be unavailing.
I hope, notwithstanding the difficulty you met with in cutting the Clover at Dogue run—that it was not only done, but well done—And, that all the grass at that Farm will be made into good Hay. The loss of this Article at the River Farm makes this measure indispensably necessary—& your reputation as a farmer, let me tell you, will be at stake thereupon. I again desire that the Hay at Muddy hole—and that at River farm may be examined—neither appeared to me to be put up as they ought to be.
1. The 14 July letter to GW from Butler, the overseer of the Mansion House farm, has not been found.
4. GW’s slave William (Billy, Will) Lee was listed on GW’s Slave List of June 1799 as Mount Vernon’s shoemaker, a task he apparently assumed after becoming too lame to continue his duties as GW’s valet (Clement Biddle to GW, 27 April 1789, and note 1).
5. On GW’s dispatch from Philadelphia of his nephew Howell Lewis to serve as a temporary manager of Mount Vernon, see GW to William Stuart, Hiland Crow, and Henry McCoy, 14 July, and to Burgess Ball, 21 July 1793. Lewis arrived at the estate sometime before 31 July, when he wrote GW to report on conditions at Mount Vernon.