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From George Washington to John Sinclair, 10 December 1796

Sir Philadelphia 10th Decr 1796

Since I had the honor of writing to you in June last, I have been favoured with your letters of the 14th & 30th of May and 10th of September; accompanying the additional appendix to the chapter on manures; your address to the Board of Agriculture; and other valuable productions relative to that important subject.

For your goodness in sending them to me, I pray you to accept my best thanks and regrets at the sametime for the inflamation in your eyes; which to a man as actively, and as usefully employed in one of the most interesting pursuits that can occupy a rational mind as you are must be doubly afflictive. If my wishes could contribute to a removal of the malady, they would be offered with much Sincerity.

The result of the experiments entrusted to the care of Doctr Fordyer, must be as curious as they may prove interesting to the Science of Husbandry. Not less so will be, an intelligent solution of those queri[es] relative to live stock, which are handed to the public.

A few months more, say the third of March next—and the scenes of my political life will close, & leave me in the shades of retirement; when, if a few years are allowed me to enjoy it (many I cannot expect, being upon the verge of sixty five) [and] health is continued to me, I shall peruse[, with] pleasure and edification, the fruits of your meritorious labours, for the improvement of agriculture; and shall have leizure I trust, to realise some of the useful discoveries which have been made in the Science of Husbandry—Patronised by you, so much for the interest of mankind, & your own honor.

Until the above period shall have arrived, and particularly during the present Session of Congress, which commenced the 5th instant, I can give but little attention to matters out of the line of my immediate avocations: I did not, however, omit the occasion at the opening of the Session, to call the attention of that body to the importance of Agriculture. What will be the result I know not at present, but if it should be favourable, the hints which you will have it in your power to give, cannot fail of being gratefully received by the members who may constitute the Board.

The articles intrusted to the care of Doctr Edwards came safe, and while all of them are curious—& entitled to my particular acknowledgments, none deserve to be held in higher estimation than the heads of the Egyptian Wheat. They came much too late however for our usual seed time, but I delayed not a moment in sending them to my Manager at Mount Vernon, with particular directions how to dispose of them to the best advantage; reserving one head as a resource, in case of failure from late sowing.

Certainly no good reason can be assigned why the Hemp of New Zealand should not thrive with us, as that country lyes in about the same Southern latitude—that our middle States do in the Northern. The Hemp of the East Indies grows well here (from my own experience) and I have no doubt of the Tea plant succeeding in So. Carolina & Georgia.

The Gentlemen whose names you have mentioned in your letter of the 10th of September, will, I am persuaded, be gratified for your civilities. The true policy of this country is to live in peace & amity with all the World; and I am sure it is the wish of the government that it should do so, as long as is consistent with the respect that is due to itself.

I cannot conclude without requesting your acceptance of my grateful acknowledgments, for the expression of your wishes to see me in Great Britain[,] and [under] your hospitable roof; But I believe there are few things more certain than[, that after I] have retired to Mount Vernon, I shall never go twenty miles beyond the limits of it; unless per chance, I should visit some landed property (under leases) at the distance of about seventy miles from it. With very great esteem & respect I have the honor to be Sir Your most Obedt & Obliged

Go: Washington


DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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