The Confederation Series
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This is the third volume of a six-volume edition of Washington's papers in the Confederation period. Between May 1785 and March 1786 Washington ventured from his house and farms at Mount Vernon only for occasional trips into Alexandria and periodic forays up the Potomac to meet with the officers of the Potomac River Company and to monitor the progress of the workmen clearing the stream for navigation.
At Mount Vernon, in addition to entertaining hundreds of guests from most of the states of the Union and countries of Europe as well as from the more immediate environs, Washington pushed on with the remodeling of his house, the construction of its outbuildings, and the improvement of its grounds. He also attempted a complete reorganization of his farming operations, with himself in direct charge; empowered a new land agent to deal with the tenants, many unidentified, living on his land in outlying counties; intensified his efforts to improve his farming methods by wide-ranging experimentation; and was at last successful in hiring a clerk to help him with his correspondence and to make a beginning in bringing some sort of order to his private papers.
In addition to reflecting Washington's concerns with these matters, his correspondence during these months deals with such things as acquiring a jackass from the king of Spain for breeding purposes, refusing a gift from the Virginia legislature without giving offense, choosing his clothing for Houdon's statue, and, above all and pervasively, deciding what was to be done about the perilous state of the American union. Most of the letters in the volume are to and from fellow gentlemenfarmers, merchants, tradesmen, and old soldiers, French and American, but his correspondents also include such public figures as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, George Mason, John Paul Jones, Edmund Randolph, Gouverneur Morris, Lafayette, Lauzun, Noah Webster, Floridablanca, Chastellux, Arthur Young, and Catharine Macaulay Graham.
W.W. Abbot., ed., The Papers of George Washington: Confederation Series volume 3, May 1785 – March 1786. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1994.