George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Spotswood, 24 November 1798

From Alexander Spotswood

Newpost November 24 1798

Dear Sir

For eight Weeks past, I have been constantly at home, engaged in Building a mill—and not Sending regularly to the post office—occasioned your favour of the 4th laying there Sometime before I got it—and a few days before I received it—I had dismissed Farril, for no other cause, than I found it impossible to Keep away his father and acquaintances from his house.1

he is strictly an honest man, neat in his person, fine tempered—and of a Robust constitution—he has signed the Articles; one he keeps—the other is herewith inclosed—for makeing corn and wheat—I never had a better overseer—and I hope his Faults which I apprized you of; will be remedied by the Articles which he has signed.

on my return home, I found all my Honey locust trees cut down to three—one of which did not bear, for what cause I know not; The other two bore well—the pods are all gathered & housed, and so soon as they are Sufficiently dry, I will have them threshed and the Seed forwarded—under these trees may be got from 1000 to 1500 Sets from twelve to 18 Inches in higth—I mention this, in case you think it worth while to Send for them, that you may now prepare your ditch for there reception in March next—which I am told is the Month they are Set in Europe.

I have cut and cured a large Stock of the bottle brush grass—and Sweeter hay I never made—by handfuls I have tried several horses, who are now fed on fine green fodder, and they all eat it heartily—and Such is my prepossession in favour of this grass, that I am determined to Sow two acrces of rich land this next fall with the Seed—and should it really answer for hay, it will be a great source of convenience to the farmer—as the time for its curing is about the last of August; when corn & wheat harvest is done with.

I take the liberty of mentioning Mr John Crump, who wishes to enter into the Standing army—he is 21 years of age—has been brought up in the Mercantile line, and I am assured by Mr Green, (the gentleman I mentioned to you in a former letter) that he is a young man, of fine moral character—and has constantly been a Strong goverment man.2

Mrs Spotswood & my family desire there best regards to you Mrs Washington Miss custis & Washington as well as dr Sir yr affect. Hble St

A. Spotswood

if there is no impropriety, I could wish with your leave to assure Mr Green of his appointment as a captain that he may have a little Notice to close his mercantile transactions—whenever you see this gentleman—I am Sure he will attract yr Notice.

ALS, CSmH. Spotswood wrote on the cover: “in the generals absence to be opened by Mr [James] Anderson.”

1By the terms of the articles of agreement entered into on 24 Nov. by Roger Farrell with James Anderson acting on behalf of GW, witnessed by Alexander Spotswood, Farrell agreed “to serve the said General Washington in the capacity of an Overseer at the Mansion house of Mountvernon for one Year, from & after the first day of January next And during that term of service He will conduct Himself with the utmost Integrity, Sobriety, Industry, & Zeal in the management of the various things put under His care, never absenting Himself (sundays & Holydays excepted) without the permission of the said General Washington, or His manager attending constantly, with some one, or other part of the Hands put under Him, whenever that it happens they are working in separate places, which hands Are, the Waggoner Carter Horse & Cattle ⟨feeders⟩, Also a few (mostly Women) who will be employed in various Works; And the Ditchers, who will be employed in curing Ditches & planting of Hedges to raise live fences, Whose work He is to mark off, And to be Accountable for their performing their respective parts thereof. In the Fishing season to attend constantly day & night on the Negroes that will be employed thereat, causing them [to] do their respective dutys in Hauling for And in curing & Packing of the Fish, And in Harvest attend to the cuting, curing and Stacking of Hay in its season, And with the hands under Him assist in the cuting of Grain on the other Farms as there will be little made on the Farm at Mount Vernon. That in the most Particular maner He will attend to the whole Stock of Horses, Mules, Jeannies, Cows, & Sheep as well as the Stallion & Jacks, measuring to each their Portion of Grain, And attend to their being fed with it, Attend to the Hay allowed them, that they have enough and that there are no Waste, And constantly keep a supply of Fat Mutton, and Lamb & Veals in their seasons for the use of the said General Washingtons Table, always keeping the Mansion House fully supplyed in firewood, And keep in good Order the Whole fence, surrounding the Estate—and those at Mount Vernon House, reporting to the Manager what is wrong in these, or any thing under Him, that steps may be taken to recetify these Errors, And that He will at all times be ready to go by Land, or Water (not exceeding the bounds of the River Potomack) upon the business of the said General Washington when directed thereto by Him, or His Manager, He also agrees to discountenance Company resorting to Him, and returning of Visits to others, His own relatives excepted, And upon His entry to the business an Inventory will be put into His hands, of all the Goods, and Tools which will be committed to His care, For the Which He hereby agrees to give receipt to be accountable for the producing of these Goods, & Tools every three Months, or rendering to the Manager a Satisfactory account where they are, or what has become of them, And every Saturdays evening He is to give in a Written report to the Manager, what way the hands have been employed, And what Work they have performed, the State of the Stock, and what Increase or Decrease if any And Finally that He will attend to and strickly Obey the Orders of the said General Washington or His Manager respecting the above & aforesaid particular⟨ly⟩ any other part of the business in the Which He will be employed ⟨mutilated⟩” (PHi: Society Collection). In return GW promised “to pay, or cause to be paid unto the said Roger Farril for one Years service One hundred & Thirty three Dollars Thirty three & one third Cents, And find Him in Board, bed Lodging & washing.”

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