George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Hiland Crow, 23 December 1793

To Hiland Crow

Philadelphia 23d Decr 1793

Mr Crow,

I really am at a loss for words to express my vexation and displeasure at your neglect in plowing, after I told you how anxious I was that this business should be carried on with all the dispatch in your power, the moment the ground was softened by Rains; when I had pointed out to you the quantity you had to flush up during the fall, to prepare for the Crops I named to you; and when you know that I had, during my stay at home, made several attempts to begin this work at D: Run, but was obliged to desist because the earth was so dry & hard as not to be broke without killing the horses. And this neglect is the more extraordinary as it does not appear that you have tread a single bed of Wheat from the Stacks in No. 3. By this unaccountable management I have now all that Wheat to get out, amidsts the frosts, Snows, and rains of Winter; and shall have 350 Acres of ground, (from the same causes) to flush up at a season of the year when the fields ought to be in a state of high preparation for the reception of Oats; for sowing Buck Wheat for Manure; and planting of Corn.

How am I to account for this? Mr Lewis has said for you, that you we⟨re⟩ ordered to gather Corn; but were you no⟨t⟩ ordered also to Plow; and told where: could not both have been carried on at the same? Was not this always my practice? Has your Crop of Corn turn⟨d⟩ out so large as to have employed you⟨r⟩ whole time ever since I left home? I wish ⟨I⟩ may find it so.

In a word I have been so mu⟨ch⟩ disturbed at your insufferable negle⟨ct⟩ that it is with difficulty I have been restrained from ordering you instantl⟨y⟩ off the Plantation. My whole plan for next year is ruined by your conduct: And look ye, Mr Crow, I have too good reasons to believe that your running about, & entertaining company at home, contrary to your agreement (by which my business is untended) is the cause of this, now, irremediable evil in the progress of my business; and I do hereby give you notice, that I have now (I hope and believe) got a Person of property, character, and judgment to Manage my business, & that he is not only authorised, but expressly ordered if those practices are not departed from; if you are not constantly with you people; or if you do not comply with your agreement (which is sent to him) most strictly (as I will do with mine) to turn you off the plantation at any season of the year, and not to pay you one shilling: you may sue, if you please, and your agreement shall be given in bar.1

I sent a horse to you for the Plow, because I never intended (as he had got stiff & unfit for the road) that he should ever go out of a walk; instead of which I learn you were figuring away at the races with him, & have converted him into the very thing, I parted with because of his unfitness for. I am very willing and desirous to be your friend—but if your conduc⟨t⟩ does not merit it—you must abide the ⟨co⟩nsequences from Yrs

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1Crow’s contract of 15 Sept. 1790 (renewed to 1 Jan. 1793) had specified “that he will not absent himself from said Farms without permission,” that “the entertainment of Travelers” was “particularly restricted,” and that “he will (when not necessarily called off for other purposes) be constantly with some part or other of his people at their work,” and it provided that “in case of departure from this agreement the said president or his Agent may discharge him at any season of the Year” (DLC:GW). The first of these provisions appears in the surviving fragment of Crow’s new contract (DS, ViHi: Mary Custis Lee Papers), and presumably the other provisions were repeated as well. GW had enclosed copies of his agreements with his overseers in his letter to William Pearce of 18 December.

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