George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Green, 23 December 1793

To Thomas Green

Philadelphia 23d Decembr 1793


It is eight weeks this day since I left Mount Vernon—and what have you done? Not a stroke to Crows House so late as the 15th of this month (the date of the last report)—Not a stroke to the sheds at Dogue run Barn. Very little that I can discover to the Barn itself; and scarcely any thing else, except running to Alexandria and repairing your own house. In doing which (by your own reports) you have employed Tom Davis & Muclus [ ] days: at a time too, when, on account of the season of the year, not one man out of their labour ought to have been withdrawn from the out doors work on Crows house, and the Walls of the Barn sheds.

Is it possible for any misconduct, or impudence to exceed this transaction? when you knew how extremely anxious I was to get the Brick work of these buildings done before the frosts set in; & when I had told you in the most explicit language I was able, that my Carpenters should stick close to those works until they were compleated; and that this was the case while I remained at home you know—yet, notwithstanding my anxiety on this head; notwithstanding my express orders on the occasion: No soone⟨r⟩ was my back turned than every man set about what pleased him best; and, as usual, I have got little or nothing done.

I know full well, that to speak to you is of no more avail, than to speak to a bird that is flying over one’s head; first, because you are lost to all sense of shame, & to every feeling that ought to govern an honest man, who sets any store by his character; and secondly, because you have no more command of th⟨e⟩ people over whom you are placed, than I have over the beasts of the forists: for if they chuse to work, they may; if they do not you have not influence enough to make them; or if they incline to do one sort work (only for an excuse to be idle or, to be after their own pranks) you can not compel them to do another: why else has Is⟨aac⟩ been the Lord knows how long getting ⟨illegible⟩ when I expressly ordered that Nothing should take them from the work I left you engaged in, until it was compleated? And how durst you, take Tom Davis from the Brick work I directed him to execute, before it was done in order to execute your own projects.

Although you pay so little regard to my orders at a distance, and your time, and those of my Carpenters are so miserably mispent, it may be well for you to know that, I have got a person now, who is not only a man of character, but is also a good judge of Work; and, that he has not only the authority, but he has my express orders, if he finds you inattentive to your duty, in any respect whatsoever, unable to govern the people who are placed under you, or to regulate their work to the best advantage; or finds you departing from the articles of your agreement, to discharge you that momt; and to disposses your family of the house they are in;1 for I cannot, nor will not submit to such infamous treatment as I meet with from you, how ever well disposed I may be to befriend them—or wish to be your friend, if you would let me.

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

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