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DEAR SIR, Your letter of the 10th ins't was received on my return from an excursion to the Bedford Springs in Pennsylvania. We had a very pleasant excursion and returned in high health; but found the city so sickly, that my family left it immediately to spend some time with a friend a few miles out of town, whose neighbourhood has been exempt from the prevailing fever. The sickness is not peculiar to this place, but spreads with little exception over the whole country quite into the Mountains. I found the fine valley between the Blue Ridge and the North Mountains, in which Carlisle is situated laboring every where under bilious fever. James set out on a tour to Niagara, Montreal, &c about six weeks ago, but has not yet returned. As soon as he returns, which is now expected every day, he and your mother will set out on their return to Carolina, So that you may expect them not long after this letter. They will give you all of news, which will except me from the necessity of giving you a long letter. I was much pleased with the agriculture in the parts of Maryland and Penn a through which I passed. They work to much more advantage than what we do. I spend a day with a friend of mine, a farmer, near Harrisburgh, and examined with care every part of his farm. His land is not so good naturally as that in Calhourvs settlement, yet he makes much more to the hand than what we do. He rents most of his farm for half of the product. The part that he cultivates is of considerable extent, yet he hires steadily, but one negro fellow at 5$ per month. He informs me that he raises independently of what he gets from his tenants, in average years, about 800 bushels of corn, 500 of wheat and nearly the same quantity of oats and rye, besides grass. He hires, in harvest, additional labour; but this source of expenditure he thinks does not exceed $i40; and himself and his son in law, who lives with him aids his labourer particularly in harvest and planting, but the whole of the ploughing, harrowing, and the attending to his horses, cattle and hogs is done by the single labourer. I know my friend to be a man of the strictest veracity, and the statement may be fully relied on. To us it must appear all most incredible; but when we come to examine his mode of cultivation our surprise will cease. Take for instance the Indian corn. He prepares the ground thoroughly for it before it is planted, but after that, instead of ploughing, as we do 4, 5 or 6 times, he gives it but one harrowing and one ploughing. I saw his field so cultivated. The corn had been injured by the drought, but still I think it would give 30 bushels an acre. I think there are three causes why they can raise corn with so little labour. The ground being deeply ploughed and the surface thoroughly turned down, much of the weeds' and grass' seeds do not sprout the next summer; the clover cultivation expels both the grass and weeds to a great extent; and the corn is planted so close, about 3 feet apart both ways, as to overshadow and prevent the growth of grass and weeds. The two first causes may be introduced with us, and the last by making our ground rich and obtaining our seed corn from the north might also be, I should suppose.
Were I in your situation, I would not hesitate to obtain an overseer from about Hagerstown where the farming appears to be equally good. Your society could not, I am satisfied, give so great an impulse by any other means to your agriculture, as by yourself or some one of your members by obtaining an overseer from there, or London in Virginia, where I am told the same mode of farming is introduced. This might be done by giving a premium to the person who would obtain one from either of these places who should be well recommended. Were I on my farm, I would not loose one year in obtaining an overseer from one or the other of those places. You will sec by this letter that my passion for farming is not abated. In fact I consider my absence from my farm among my greatest sacrifices. I must request you not to bring this letter before your society, for in looking over it, I have interlined in so many places, I would be ashamed of it.
The children often speak of you and express a great desire to go to Carolina.
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899, Calhoun Correspondence.