The note pays for the transport of wheat to his plantation and contains his full signature, "George Washington"
In 1768, years before the outbreak of war with Britain, George Washington was a gentleman farmer at Mount Vernon, which was his home from 1754 until his death, and is now an institution devoted to his legacy. He planted tobacco, wheat and hemp, and experimented with new crops to make the estate...
In 1768, years before the outbreak of war with Britain, George Washington was a gentleman farmer at Mount Vernon, which was his home from 1754 until his death, and is now an institution devoted to his legacy. He planted tobacco, wheat and hemp, and experimented with new crops to make the estate more profitable. Wheat was in particular demand, as he used it for a variety of purposes both on the farm for food and to sell commercially.
This moment in Washington’s career predates his service as public servant, and testifies to a life to which he longed to return after his Presidency: that of citizen farmer. Even today, we think of General Washington’s decision to leave office and return to a life on the farm, as symbolic of a public servant’s virtue. Washington’s nickname of the American Cincinnatus makes this same point, as the ancient Roman farmer and consul Cincinnatus put aside power in the same way. It would not be until 1769 that Washington waded into the political waters, advocating legislation to ban the importation of goods from Britain.
Although Washington grew his own wheat, he also bought some from the plantation of his neighbor Col. George Mercer. He needed to have the wheat delivered by Christmas, he wrote to Mercer, noting that to do so after would make it hard to find transport. As Christmas 1774 came up, Washington was to receive one last shipment of wheat from Col. Mercer, and he found 3 people to bring it, two of whom were Thomas Phillips and Isaac Edwards.
Document signed, December 15, 1774, from William Dawson to Col. George Washington. “Please pay to Thomas Phillips two pounds nineteen shillings and three pence for carriage of forty bushels of wheat to your mill from Col. George Mercer’s plantation Frederick County.”
Document signed, 3rd person, “George Washington,” December 24, 1774. “Then received from George Washington for the use of Those Phillips the above sum of two pounds nineteen shillings and three pence.” Isaac Edwards has signed this.
On the verso, Thomas Phillips has written confirming this pay order.
Mount Vernon writes: “So did George Washington even celebrate Christmas you might wonder? Well, yes he did. Christmas was an important religious holiday in Washington’s time and the twelve nights of Christmas, ending with balls and parties on January 6 extended the holiday season. For Washington, his Christmas experiences range from the joyous to the terrifying, from the mundane to the celebratory.”
“George Washington mentioned the Christmas 1774 season — the last Christmas he was to spend quietly at home until the end of the American Revolution — with his usual brevity:
[December, l774]. “24. At home all day. Mr. Richd. Washington came here to Dinner, as did Mrs. Newman.
25. At home all day with the above.
26. At home all day.”
This document does not appear in the published works of George Washington.
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