George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Pearce, 27 October 1793

To William Pearce

Mount Vernon 27th Oct. 1793.

Mr Pearce

Your letter of the 19th came duly to hand. Tomorrow I leave this for Philadelpa or the vicinity of it; where, when you have occasion to write to me, direct your letters.

As you seemed to be in doubt whether a proper character could be engaged in the part of the Country you live in, to look after my Negro Carpenters; and (having much work to do in their way, & not being willing to leave matters at an uncertainty, I have engaged the person who superintends them at present to look after them another year. He is a good workmen himself, and can be active; but has little authority (I ought to have said command, for I have given him full authority) over those who are entrusted to him—and as he is fond of drink, tho’ somewhat reformed in this respect, I place no great confidence in him. He has, however, promised so to conduct himself, as that there shall be no cause for complaint—I thought it was better, therefore, to engage him than to run any hazard.1 I have engaged no person to look after the house People, Ditchers &ca in place of the one now occupied in that business; and unless a very active & spirited man could be had, it will scarcely be essential while you reside at the mansion house yourself. The old Man that is employed in this business is, I believe, honest, sober, well meaning, and in somethings knowing; but he wants activity & spirit; and from not being accustomed to Negros, in addition thereto; they are under no sort of awe of him—of course do as they please. His wages are low, Twenty pounds pr Ann. only—Under this statement of the case you may do as shall seem best to yourself. If he is to go, he ought to know it seasonably: his time is up at Christmas; & nothing betwn us has past either as to his going, or staying.2

I shall, before you remove, or by the time you may arrive at Mount Vernon; give you full directions, & my ideas upon the several points which may, between this & then, occur to me. In all things else you must pursue your own judgment, having the great outlines of my business laid before you.

After having lived the ensuing winter at the Mansion house you will be better able to decide than at the present moment, how far your convenience, my interest, and indeed circumstances, may render your removal to the other place more eligable. I shall readily agree to either. Materials are now providing for building a house for Mr Crow; whose house it was first proposed you should live in for him to remove to. There are a great number of Negro children at the Quarters belonging to the house people; but they have Always been forbid (except two or 3 young ones belonging to the Cook, & the Mulatto fellow Frank in the house, her husband; both of whom live in the Kitchen) from coming within the Gates of the Inclosures of the Yards, Gardens &ca, that they may not be breaking the Shrubs, and doing other mischief; but I believe they are often in there notwithstanding: but if they could be broke of the practice it would be very agreeable to me, as they have no business within; having their wood, Water, &ca at their own doors without.

The season has been remarkably sickly, generally, but my family, except a few slight touches of the intermittant fever—chiefly among the blacks—have shared less of it, than I find from report, has been felt in most other places. I am Your friend &ca

Go: Washington

ALS, ViMtvL.

1GW’s agreement with Thomas Green is dated 25 Oct. (ViMtvL). In the next year Green’s conduct remained so unsatisfactory that GW repeatedly urged Pearce to find a replacement, but Green left of his own accord in September 1794.

2GW was referring to James Butler, who left Mount Vernon around September 1794.

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