George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Thornton, 1 December 1799

To William Thornton

Mount Vernon Decr 1st 1799.

Dear Sir,

Your favour of the 30th Ulto, enclosing Mr Blagdens dimensions of the rooms in my houses in the City, came to my hands this morning; With a list of the different kinds of Fruit trees in the Frenchmans Garden; to whom I was a subscriber.1

The terms on which the subscription was set on foot, have entirely escaped me; my motive for subscribing—namely—to encourage a nursery of that sort, still rests on my memory.2

If taking Trees from him, at this time, will go in payment of my former advance, I will receive them now to the full amount of my Subscription; (if there be danger i[n] suffering them to remain longer with him): but, if they are otherwise to be paid for, in a word, by advancing cash, I shall decline taking any. A line from you, on this subject, will decide the matter.3

If Mr John G. Ladd will undertake to import good & genuine Plaister of Paris, on moderate terms, and will engage to have it delivered before the last of March, allowing time to prepare it for spreading in April, I would take from ten to twenty tons of it. But these matters ought to be precisely known, before any engagement is entered into with him.

Colo. Carrington of Richmond, who was here, & went from this yesterday, informed me that some Gentleman of that place, had imported a quantity from Nova Scotia; but as the Farmers thereabouts had not been in the practice of using it, he found it an unsaleable article; and had requested him to enquire if it could be disposed of in these parts. His price, the Colo, believed, was $8 pr Ton; what the freight from thence would be, neither he, nor I, knew; but this could easily be ascertained, and by comparing the whole cost delivered here, with Ladds terms, a choice might be made of that, which under all circumstances, might appear most eligable. From Richmond, there would be a certainty of getting it in time, and the quality, by some process, might be ascertained.4

I thank you for the Boston Glass, furnished for my buildings in the City; which I will pay for whenever the price shall be made known to me.

The true Chinese Hogs I lately had; but they have got so mixed, that a boar pig is desirable; & I would thank you for securing one for me, of the genuine kind, if to be had.

I am glad to hear that the Legislature of Maryland have acted favourably on the Application made to it by the Potomak Company. Your information of this event is the first I had received.5 It is to be hoped that the Legislature of this State will “go, and do so likewise.” Niether would be backward in promoting this useful undertaking if the measure was impartially investigated, and the welfare of the respective States duly considered. With very great esteem and regard I am—Dear Sir Your obliged & Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DGU; ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

1Letter and enclosures not found, but see GW to Thornton, 26 November.

2The Centinel of Liberty, or George-Town and Washington Advertiser ran this notice for Francis Motter on 15 Nov.: “Those gentlemen, who subscribed and paid the money to Mr. Leflet, to be repaid in fruit trees, at his proposed nursery, near George-Town, are informed, that the fruit trees are ready to be delivered and they are desired to call at my house on Rock Creek and receive them” (quoted in Harris, Thornton Papers, description begins C. M. Harris, ed. Papers of William Thornton: Volume One, 1781-1802. Charlottesville, Va., 1995. description ends 1:514). On 27 Oct. 1796 GW recorded in his Day Book: “By cash pd Peter Leflet my Subscription to his Nursery 25 Dollrs.”

4See GW to Edward Carrington, 2 Dec., and Thornton to GW, 5 December. Carrington and his wife left Mount Vernon on the morning of 30 Nov. after a stay of two nights (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:377). John G. Ladd, a merchant in Alexandria, reported on 30 Nov. that plaster of paris was selling at $10 a ton (Harris, Thornton Papers, description begins C. M. Harris, ed. Papers of William Thornton: Volume One, 1781-1802. Charlottesville, Va., 1995. description ends 1:514).

5GW was to receive other reports of the activities of the Maryland legislature. John Mason, a director of the Potowmack Company, wrote to him on 4 Dec., and the president and directors of the Potowmack Company wrote on 8 December. Copies of the resolutions of the Maryland legislature regarding the Potowmack Company were enclosed in both letters.

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