« ZurückWeiter »
It is much to be wished, that every State in the Union would establish a society similar to this ; and that these societies would correspond with each other, and fully and regularly impart the result of the experiments actually made in husbandry, together with such other useful discoveries as have stood, or are likely to stand, the test of investigation. Nothing, in my opinion, would contribute more to the welfare of these States, than the proper management of lands; and nothing, in this State particularly, seems to be less understood. The present mode of cropping practised among us is destructive to landed property, and must, if persisted in much longer, ultimately ruin the holders of it. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO HENRY LEE, IN CONGRESS. *
Mount Vernon, 5 April, 1786. MY DEAR SIR, My sentiments with respect to the federal government are well known. Publicly and privately have they been communicated without reserve ; but my opinion is, that there is more wickedness than ignorance in the conduct of the States, or, in other words, in the conduct of those who have too much influence in the government of them; and until the curtain is withdrawn, and the private views and selfish principles, upon which these men act, are exposed to public notice,
conduct as a soldier, contributed so eminently to stamp a value on the labors of every American farmer; and who, by his skill and industry in the cultivation of his fields, has likewise distinguished himself as a farmer.” — Charleston, November 23d, 1785.
* Formerly Colonel Henry Lee of the army, and now a delegate in Congress from Virginia.
I have little hope of amendment without another convulsion.
The picture of our affairs as drawn by the committee, approved by Congress, and presented to the public, did not at all surprise me.* Before that report, though I could not go into the minutiæ of matters, I was more certain of the aggregate of ourt than I am now of the remedy, which will be applied. Without the latter, I do not see upon what ground your agent at the court of Morocco, and the other at Algiers, are to treat, unless, having to do with new hands, they mean to touch the old strings, and make them dance awhile to the tune of promises. I thank you for the pamphlet, which contains the correspondence between Mr. Jay and Mr. Littlepage, and shall be obliged to you for a gazette containing the publication of the letter, which appears to have given rise to them. I am, &c.
TO BENJAMIN LINCOLN.
Mount Vernon, 10 April, 1786. MY DEAR SIR, The violent rains and consequent freshets have given such interruption to the stages in this part of the world, that your favor of the 15th ultimo did not reach my hands till Saturday last. I accede to the pecuniary allowance of two hundred dollars per annum required
* See Journals of Congress, February 3d, 7th, and 15th, 1786. federal distresses,” said Mr. Lee, “ gather fast to a point. New Jersey has refused the requisition, and will not grant a shilling till New York accedes to the impost. Perhaps this intemperance in Jersey may bring this State to acquiesce in a system of finance long ago approved by ten States, and whose operation might have saved the difficulties, which impend over the Union.” – New York, March 2d. † Blank in the original. VOL. IX.
by Mr. Lear, in addition to the stipulations mentioned in my last, as a compensation for his services, and shall be glad to receive him into my family as soon as he can make it convenient to repair to it. At any rate, I shall be glad to know, as nearly as may be, when to expect him, that I may arrange matters accordingly. There can be little doubt of Mr. Lear's finding, by method and management, more than the time he speaks of for study ; to facilitate, rather than impede which, would give me pleasure, as far as it can be made to comport with the purposes for which he is employed. With the greatest esteem and regard,
I am, &c.
TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Mount Vernon, 12 April, 1786. DEAR SIR, I give you the trouble of this letter at the instance of Mr. Dalby of Alexandria, who is called to Philadelphia to attend what he conceives to be a vexatious lawsuit respecting a slave of his, whom a society of Quakers in the city, formed for such purposes, have attempted to liberate. The merits of this case will no doubt appear upon trial. From Mr. Dalby's state of the matter, it should seem, that this society is not only acting repugnantly to justice, so far as its conduct concerns strangers, but in my opinion impoliticly with respect to the State, the city in particular, without being able, except by acts of tyranny and oppression, to accomplish its own ends. He says the conduct of this society is not sanctioned by law. Had the case been otherwise, whatever my opinion of the law might have been, my respect for the policy of the State would on this occasion have appeared in my silence; because against the penalties of promulgated laws one may guard, but there is no avoiding the snares of individuals, or of private societies. If the practice of this society, of which Mr. Dalby speaks, is not discountenanced, none of those, whose misfortune it is to have slaves as attendants, will visit the city if they can possibly avoid it; because by so doing they hazard their property, or they must be at the expense (and this will not always succeed) of providing servants of another description.
I hope it will not be conceived from these observations, that it is my wish to hold the unhappy people, who are the subject of this letter, in slavery. I can only say, that there is not a man living, who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it; but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by legislative authority ; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting.* But when slaves, who are happy and contented with their present masters, are tampered with and seduced to leave them; when masters are taken unawares by these practices; when a conduct of this kind begets discontent on one side and resentment on the other; and when it happens to fall on a man, whose purse will not measure with that of the society, and he loses his property for want of means to defend it; it is oppression in such a case, and not humanity in any, because it introduces more evils than it can cure.
* In writing to Mr. John F. Mercer on this subject, General Washington said ; “I never mean, unless some particular circumstances should compel me to it, to possess another slave by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted, by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.” — September 9th, 1786,
I will make no apology for writing to you on this subject, for, if Mr. Dalby has not misconceived the matter, an evil exists which requires a remedy ; if he has, my intentions have been good, though I
have been too precipitate in this address. Mrs. Washington joins me in every good and kind wish for Mrs. Morris and your family, and I am, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Mount Vernon, 10 May, 1786. MY DEAR MARQUIS, The account given of your tour through Prussia and other States of Germany to Vienna and back, and of the troops that you saw reviewed, in the pay of those monarchs, at different places, is not less pleasing than it is interesting, and must have been as instructive as entertaining to yourself. Your reception at the courts of Berlin, Vienna, and elsewhere, must have been gratifying to you. To be received by the King of Prussia, and Prince Henry his brother, (who, as soldiers and politicians, yield the palm to none,) with such marks of attention and distinction, was as indicative of their discernment, as it is of your merit, and will increase my opinion of them. It is to be lamented, however, that great characters are seldom without a blot. That one man should tyrannize over millions will always be a shade in that of the former, whilst it is pleasing to hear that a due regard to the rights of mankind is characteristic of the latter. I shall revere and love him for this trait of his character.
To view the several fields of battle, over which you passed, could not, among other sensations, have failed to excite this thought; “Here have fallen thou