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Letter to James Anderson, January 22, 1797

George Washington. Autograph letter signed: Philadelphia, to James Anderson, 1797 Jan. 22. 4 p.

Philadelphia 22d Jany. 1797

Mr. Anderson,

Your letter of the 18th. instant, with the Inventory & Reports of the preceeding week, came to my hands yesterday; and being satisfied from your observations, and indeed (on reflection) from what [inserted: had] occured to me before, of the necessity of water passing thro' the Distillery, I cannot do otherwise than approve of the establishment at the Mill, for temporary purposes. The result of w[hi]ch, must decide for, or against a more permanent one, on a larger Scale at that place.

How far have you got, or is it likely you will get, with the new Road before the labourers must be taken off for other purposes, which cannot be dispensed with? The manner in which you propose (in your last letter) to open it, will be sufficient, and quite satisfactory to me.

The Cellar under the North end of the House has a Well in it which I sunk some years ago, for the purpose of keeping Ice; and an attempt was made to do it; [2] but from a mistaken idea (which prevailed in those days) of excluding the external air, it was, from the humidity within, occasioned by a close stopper, all dissolved before I opened it: I wish therefore (if the Ice is sound & good after this letter gets to your hands) that you would again fill & ram it well, putting a thin layer of straw all round, & some at bottom on blocks; & leave it uncovered. While this work is about, make Allison remain in the Cellar; otherwise, as it is the present receptacle of the Pork, there will be a large Toll taken from it, by the Negros who are employed.

It is pretended here, that a new kind of red clover has been discovered by an English Farmer in the Jerseys. It grows, according to his account, much ranker than the common red clover; blooms much later; but yields at one cutting nearly as much as the other does at two. I will send you (along with the other clover, & the early Potatoes) half a bushel of this Seed, as soon as the navigation is open; of which indeed there seems to be little prospect at present; and will make them come to you, I fear, very unseasonably; but as you may rely on the Potatoes & the above clover seed [3] (five bushels and an half in all) you will, of course be prepared for the reception of them.

I will write to Mr. Landon Carter of Cleve (opposite to Port Royal) and request him to inform you decisively, by letter, Directed to the Post Office in Alexandria, whether I may depend upon 30 bushels of Peas before you send the Waggen for them. The sooner after he authorises it, it goes, the better; as the Road will be extremely deep on the breaking up of the frost.

You ask my opinion with respect to cutting down the thorn hedges. I leave the decision of this matter to your own experience, which must be much greater than mine If the doing it will not destroy the stock, it certainly will thicken the hedge, & of course add to the efficacy of it; but I have doubts whether cutting the Cedar down may not be a means of destroying the plants, which would be unfortunate.

In looking over the Inventory you sent me [inserted: I see no mention] of my large Boat. If it is not in being, it will be the second of the kind I shall have lost within a short time. It will be prudent to have the fishing Boats Drawn up, or, more than probable, the Ice will take them off.

[4] In the [inserted: Alexandria] Store Accounts, transmitted to me by Mr. Pearce, I perceive an amazing number of Spades, Shovels; Scythes and Carpenters tools of various kinds [inserted: &ca &ca] charged to me. Hence, it is to be feared these things have sometimes been got without his orders. If this has been practiced, an absolute stop must be put to it; and nothing got without a written order from you. This used to be an invariable practice. Nay more, when I was at home & could attend to my own business, no new thing (not even a file) was ever given out without having the old, of the same kind, brought in, or a satisfactory account rendered of it. Without rules of this sort are observed, there will not only be great profusion in getting, and inattention to things when got, but there may be, by those into whose hands they are placed, great embezzlement also.

How does the grain in the ground, and vetch, look after the severe drought in the fall, & hard weather since? The several matters which, (in your last letter) you propose to do, seem to me to be judicious, & are approved accordingly. I wish you health & remain

Your friend
Go: Washington

Mr. James Anderson

Notes: Written shortly before Washington retired to Mount Vernon after serving his second term as President. James Anderson replaced William Pearce as the manager of Mount Vernon in October, 1796.