To David Stuart, December 30th. To Bushrod Washington, December 31st.
To Patrick Henry, January 15th. Conduct of a certain party—State of Virginia has taken the lead in factional opposition—Election of opposition candidates—Attributed to the backwardness of leading characters—Necessary to counteract the ends of faction—May become dangerous—Urges him to come forward in some public capacity. To Bryan, Lord Fairfax, January 20th. His public employment—Reasons for taking it upon himself—Methods of faction—Lady Huntingdon—The crops. To James Washington, January 20th. To David Stuart, January 22d.
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Washington Custis and his indolence—The matter of a university. To James McHenry, January 27th. To Timothy Pickering, February 10th. To Alexander Hamilton, February 25th. To Timothy Pickering, March 3d. The appointments to France a surprise—How a dignified course might have been taken.
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To John Adams, March 3d. The nomination of Murray—What he can say of his fitness and character. To James McHenry, March 25th. A private and friendly letter—What retards the recruiting service—Evil results of the delay—He, at least, ought not to be left in ignorance—Inconvenience attending his acceptance—Observations on the recruiting service—Effect of delay on the quality of recruits—Influence of members of Congress in appointments—The case of Caleb Gibbs—The promotion of Lieutenant Mercer—Rules in promotion must be observed, and feelings of officers consulted—Proposes Custis as a lieutenant—A suggestion as to the management of detail.
To Charles C.
Pinckney, March 31st. To James Welch, April 7th. Is not a person to be trifled with—Excuses will not be received—Value of a character—In extreme want of money—New debts will not pay old.
To James McHenry, April 23d. To John Marshall, May 5th. To Alexander Hamilton, June 19th. Recruiting, clothing, and arrangement of the southern officers—Why France has succeeded. To Archibald Blair, June 24th.
To John Trumbull, June 25th. To Jonathan Trumbull, July, 21st. An extract from a letter to John Trumbull—How the opposition will vote—True policy of the Federalists—Cannot come forward himself—Charges sure to be made were he to become a candidate—The absence of the President from the seat of government causing comment. To James McHenry, August 11th. To Robert Lewis, August 17th. An unendorsed draft—Abatement of rent in case of necessity—More negroes than can be usefully employed—Proposes to colonize his western lands with them—An excessive drought—The illness of Lawrence.
To Governor Jonathan Trumbull, August 30th. A different state of politics and greater unanimity desired—Evil results of factional opposition—France in Louisiana and the Floridas—Will not again ask for the suffrages of the people—The Federal vote—Principles, not men, the true policy. To James McHenry, September 15th. To Alexander Hamilton, September 15th. Disposition of the force—Troops at Natchez would excite distrust in the Spaniards, and would result in hostility—Position of the corps de reserve —Fort Wayne—An engineer of real skill wanted—Most horrible mismanagement somewhere—Furloughs and small garrisons fritter away the strength of the army—Armed vessels on the lakes—His sentiments more for consideration than decision.
To Lawrence Lewis, September 20th. His intentions to provide for the Custis children—Cannot lessen his income, but offers an estate—As to building and title—Keeping the staff in his own hands. To Burges Ball, September 22d.
The death of Charles Washington—The last of the children by the second marriage—Is prepared to follow. To William Vans Murray, October 26th. To James McHenry, November 17th. Is stricken dumb at the announcement of a determination to send commissioners to France—Foresees some awful crisis—The charge against Pinckney. To James Anderson, December 10th. His plan for managing the farms—Advantages of a settled plan—Wishes the views of the overseers—Economy to be practised—Butter—A visit to his western lands—Deeds and number of lands—Settlement of old accounts.
To Lund Washington, August 20th, Your letter of the 19th inst. I shall repeat now, what I said upon that occasion—viz—that I had no intention then, nor have I any desire now, to part with you as a manager; but having made this declaration I shall add, what I believe I then did that I have no wish to retain any person in my service who is discontented with my conduct; or who has any prospect more congenial with their inclinations or their interest in the service of another—and this I must presume to be the case with you, for it can hardly be supposed that the reasons you have assigned for leaving mine, are all that have urged you to the measure.
It is a matter of regret, and if these things should operate equally on others, it might be a means of preventing my ever having another manager—for I have no hesitation in declaring that I shall never relinquish the right of judging, in my own concerns though I may be pleased always to hear opinions to any man living, while I have health and strength to look into my own business—especially as my sole inducement to give standing wages was to prevent those complaints which might arise from a difference of opinion and interference, if a share of the crops was to constitute the reward for service.
Having said this much upon general principles, I am a little curious, I must confess, to know in what instances your plans have been thwarted—that they have been altered by yourself, cannot be denied. I am equally desirous of knowing what improvements have been obstructed or defeated by my withholding the means of carrying them into effect? It will not be denied that you have planned your own crops except perhaps those at Dogue Run , and that you have directed the carpenters, ditchers, millers and coopers in their work. If I have interfered in either, Edition: current; Page: [ 3 ] it has been no further, that I can recollect, than by expressing an opinion that shifting them from one work to another, before anything was completed, is a waste of time, and a backwarding of labor.
Have you ever been denied money when it was asked for? If all these things have happened, where have I been deficient? If I cannot remark upon my own business passing every day under my own eyes, without hurting your feelings, I must discontinue my rides, or become a cypher on my own estate.
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And you will, I am persuaded, do me the justice to say, that I have never undertaken any new thing, or made any material change, or indeed any change at all in the old, without consulting with you thereupon; and you must further acknowledge, that I have never been tenacious of any matters I have suggested, when you have offered reasons against the adoption of them. If your feelings have been hurt by my remarks on the bad clover seed that was purchased, I cannot help that; my views and plan have been much more hurt Edition: current; Page: [ 4 ] by it; for it is a fact known to yourself, that field No.
In a case where facts could be resorted to, there was no occasion to exercise judgment. But as it is not my wish to hurt the feelings of any one, where it can be avoided—or to do injustice in any respect whatsoever, the foregoing is to be considered in no other light than as a reply to your letter, and as a development of the principles on which I have acted and shall continue to act. I shall proceed then to suggest now what I intended to mention to you some little time hence, and which was the ground on which I proposed the plan of building a house at the mill.
Two things have appeared very clear to me for some time past; one, that your attention is too much divided, and called to so many different objects, that notwithstanding your zeal and industry, with which I always have been, and still am perfectly satisfied, some of them must suffer:—the other, that my mill and distillery, under the uncertainty of cropping of late years, would with good management and close attention to them, be found my best and most certain support.
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Under this conviction, under a belief that to carry on the millering and distillery business to the extent of which they are susceptible, would, of themselves, Edition: current; Page: [ 5 ] be sufficient to occupy the time and attention of any one person; and under a persuation that if you were relieved wholly, or in part from all the other duties and perplexities of your present employments still retaining the salary and emoluments you now have that you would render these two branches more productive than the whole now is to me.
These considerations then, had determined me to propose to you to confine your attention to these objects and to the Fishery; if not altogether, at least in a great degree; to enable you to do which with the greatest convenience was one of my motives for proposing to build a convenient house at the mill. If you are inclined to accede to this proposition, I will give the three concerns above mentioned up entirely to your management the ensuing year, under regulations Edition: current; Page: [ 6 ] to be agreed upon, and will furnish you with means to carry on the business to its utmost extent, and shall, as mentioned before, only require your advice and assistance occasionally in conducting the other parts of my concerns.
By a plan of this sort you will be relieved from the most troublesome part of your present occupations—from all the responsibility annexed to them; and from those remarks which seem to be the source of your present uneasiness and complaints. So soon as you shall have given this proposition due consideration, I shall expect to be informed of the result, as decision and timely measures must be taken on my part to arrange matters for the new order, if you are determined to quit the employ. Yesterday brought me your letter of the 19th instant. You may be assured, that my mind is deeply impressed with the present situation of our public affairs, and not a little agitated by the outrageous conduct of France towards the United States, and at the inimitable conduct of its partisans, who aid and abet their measures.
You may believe further, from assurances equally sincere, that if there was anything in my power, which could be done with consistency, Edition: current; Page: [ 7 ] to avert or lessen the danger of the crisis, it should be rendered with hand and heart. But, my dear Sir, dark as matters appear at present, and expedient as it is to be prepared at all points for the worst that can happen, and no one is more disposed to this measure than I am, I cannot make up my mind yet for the expectation of open war, or, in other words, for a formidable invasion by France.
I cannot believe, although I think them capable [of] any thing bad, that they will attempt to do more than they have done; or that, when they perceive the spirit and policy of this country rising into resistance, and that they have falsely calculated upon support from a large part of the people thereof to promote their views and influence in it, that they will desist even from those practices, unless unexpected events Edition: current; Page: [ 8 ] in Europe, and their possession of Louisiana and the Floridas, should induce them to continue the measure.
And I believe further, that, although the leaders of their party in this country will not change their sentiments, that they will be obliged nevertheless to change their plan, or the mode of carrying it on, from the effervescence which is appearing in all quarters, and from the desertion of their followers, which must frown them into silence, at least for a while. If I did not view things in this light, my mind would be infinitely more disquieted than it is; for, if a crisis should arrive, when a sense of duty or a call from my country should become so imperious, as to leave me no choice, I should prepare for the relinquishment, and go with as much reluctance from my present peaceful abode, as I should do to the tomb of my ancestors.
To say at this time, determinately, what I should do under such circumstances, might be improper, having once before departed from a similar resolution; but I may declare to you, that, as there [is] no conviction in my breast, that I could serve my country with more efficiency in the command of the armies it might levy than many others, an expression of its wish that I should do so must somehow or another be unequivocally known, to satisfy my mind, that, notwithstanding the respect in which I may be held on account of former services, that a preference might not be given to a man more in his prime; and it might well be supposed, too, that I should like previously to know who would be my coadjutors, and Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] whether you would be disposed to take an active part, if arms are to be resorted to.
Before this letter can get to your hands, you will have seen the resolutions and proposed address from citizens of Charleston in South Carolina. Their proceedings will, I am persuaded, give the tone to other parts of that State. Two or three very good addresses have already appeared from North Carolina, one with the signature of a late Governor thereof Spaight. All the most popular and hardy yeomanry of this State have come and are coming forward, with strong addresses to the executive and assurances of support.
The middle counties of this State, with two or three exceptions, have hitherto been silent. They want leaders; but I shall be much mistaken, if a large majority of them do not forsake, if they have heretofore been with those, who have pretended to speak their sentiments.