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his attention. He saw, with' regret, the miserable system 6f cultivation1 which pre
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vailed too generally in his native country, and wished to introduce a better. With this view, he engaged in a correspondence with some of the distinguished agriculturists in Great Britain, particularly the celebrated Arthur Young. He traced the different states' of agriculture in the two countries in a great degree to the following obvious principles. In Great Britain, land was dear and labour cheap. In America, the reverse took place to such a1 degree, that manuring land was comparatively neglected, on the mistaken, short sighted idea, that it was cheaper to clear and cultivate new fields, than to improve and repair such as were old. To this radical error, which led to idleness and a vagabond dispersed population, he opposed the whole weight of his influence. His example and recommendations tended to revolutionize the agriculture of his' country, as his valour had revolutionized its government.
The extension of inland navigation occupied much of Washington's attention at this period of exemption from public cares! Soon after peace was proclaimed, he made a tour as far west as Pittsburg, and also traversed the Western'parts' of New England and' New •.'•'" York, York, and examined for himself the difficulties of bringing the trade of the west to different points on the Atlantic. Possessed of an accurate knowledge of the subject, he corresponded with the governors of different states, and other influential characters. T» them he suggested the propriety of mak-* ing, by public authority, an appointment of commissioners, of integrity and ability, whose duty it should be, after accurate examination, to ascertain the nearest and best portages between such of the eastern and western rivers as headed near to each other, though they ran in opposite.directions; and also to trace the rivers west of the Ohio to their sources and mouths, as they respectively emptied either into the Ohio or the lakes of Canada, and to make an accurate map of the whole, with observations on the impedi*ments to be overcome and the advantages to bo acquired on the completion of the work.
The views of Washington, in advocating the extension of inland navigation, were grand and magnificent. He considered it as an effectual mean of cementing the union of the states. In his letter to the governor of Virginia, he observed, "I need not remark to you, Sir, that the flanks and rear of the United States are possessed by other powers,
and and formidable ones too; nor need I pres3 the necessity of applying the cement of interest, to bind all parts of the union together by indissoluble bonds, especially of binding that part of it which lies immediately west of us, to the middle states. For what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those people, how entirely unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on their left, instead of throwing impediments in their way, as they do now, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance? When they get strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive, what will be the consequence of their having formed close commercial connexions with both or either of those powers, it needs not in my opinion the gift of prophecy to foretell." After stating the same thing to a member of congress, he proceeds, "It may be asked, how are we to prevent this? Happily for us, the way is plain. Our immediate interests as well as remote political advantages point to it, whilst a combination of circumstances render the present time more favourable than any other to accomplish it. Extend the inland navigation of the eastern waters, communicate them as near as possible with those
which run westward, open these to the Ohio, open alio such as extend from the Ohio towards lake Erie, and we shall not only draw the produce of the western settlers, but the peltry and fur trade of the lakes also, to our ports; thus adding an immense increase to our exports, and binding those people to us by a chain which never can be broken."
The Virginia legislature acted on the recommendation of general Washington, to the extent of his wishes, and in consequence, works, of the greatest utility have been nearly accomplished. They went one step farther, and by a legislative act vested in him, at the expense of the state, one hundred and fifty shares in the navigation of the rivers Potowmac and James. The act for this purpose was introduced with the following preamble: "Whereas it is'the desire of the representatives of this commonwealth to embrace every suitable occasion, of testifying their sense of the unexampled merits of George Washington, esquire, towards his country, and it is their wish in particular that those great works for its improvement, which, both as springing from the liberty which he has been so instrumental in establishing, and as encouraged by his patronage, will be durable mdnuments of His glory, may
be made monuments also of the gratitude of his country;—Be it enacted," &c.
To the friend who conveyed to Washington the first intelligence of this bill he replied, u It is not easy for me to decide by which my mind was most affected upon the receipt of your letter of the 6 th instant, surprise or gratitude. Both were greater than I have words to express. The attention and good wishes which the assembly has evidenced, by their act for vesting in me one hundred and fifty shares in the navigation of the rivers Potowmac and James, is more than mere compliment. There is an unequivocal and substantial meaning annexed. But believe me, Sir, no circumstance has happened, since I left the walks of public life, which has so much embarrassed me. On the other hand, I consider this act as a noble and unequivocal proof of the good opinion, the affection, and disposition of my country to serve me, and I should be hurt, if, by declining the acceptance of it, mv refusal should be construed into disrespect, or the smallest slight upon the generous intention of the legislature, or that an ostentatious display of disinterestedness or public virtue was the source of refusal.
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