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Jefferson's entire letter
Jefferson had met Sir John whilst in Europe in his entire letter he alludes
to those meeting. Sir John was also brought to the attention of A. Lincoln.
His descendants however took other courses, some of them quite brutal.
It is so long since I have had the pleasure of writing to you, that it
would be vain to look back to dates to connect the old and the new. Yet I
ought not to pass over my acknowledgments to you for various publications
received from time to time, and with great satisfaction and thankfulness. I
send you a small one in return, the work of a very unlettered farmer, yet
valuable, as it relates plain facts of importance to farmers. You will
discover that Mr. Binns is an enthusiast for the use of gypsum. But there
are two facts which prove he has a right to be so: 1. He began poor, andhas
made himself tolerably rich by his farming alone. 2. The county of Loudon,
in which he lives, had been so exhausted and wasted by bad husbandry, that
it began to depopulate, the inhabitants going Southwardly in quest of better
lands. Binns' success has stopped that emigration. It is now becoming one of
the most productive counties of the State of Virginia, and the price given
for the lands is multiplied manifold.
We are still uninformed here whether you are again at war. Bonaparte has
produced such a state of things in Europe as it would seem difficult for him
to relinquish in any sensible degree, and equally dangerous for Great
Britain to suffer to go on, especially if accompanied by maritime
preparations on his part. The events which have taken place in France have
lessened in the American mind the motives of interest which it felt in that
revolution, and its amity towards that country now rests on its love of
peace and commerce. We see, at the same time, with great concern, the
position in which Great Britain is placed, and should be sincerely afflicted
were any disaster to deprive mankind of the benefit of such a bulwark
against the torrent which has for some time been bearing down all before it.
But her power and powers at sea seem to render everything safe in the end.
Peace is our passion, and the wrongs might drive us from it. We prefer
trying ever other just principles, right and safety, before we would recur
I hope your agricultural institution goes on with success. I consider you as
the author of all the good it shall do. A better idea has never been carried
into practice. Our agricultural society has at length formed itself. Like
our American Philosophical Society, it is voluntary, and unconnected with
the public, and is precisely an execution of the plan I formerly sketched to
you. Some State societies have been formed heretofore; the others will do
the same . Each State society names two of its members of Congress to be
their members in the Central society, which is of course together during the
sessions of Congress. They are to select matter from the proceedings of the
State societies, and to publish it; so that their publications may be called
l'esprit des societes d'agriculture, &c. The Central society was formed the
last winter only, so that it will be some time before they get under way.
Mr. Madison, the Secretary of State, was elected their President.
Recollecting with great satisfaction our friendly intercourse while I was in
Europe, I nourish the hope it still preserves a place in your mind; and with
my salutations, I pray you to accept assurances of my constant attachment
and high respect."
When President Lincoln inaugurated the US Department of Agriculture the
first person charged with the responsibility was a Isaac Newton, today he
would be called Sectary of Agriculture. Mr Newton wrote in his first report
to His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America
"Many writers in Scotland, among whom Lord Kames is conspicuous, aimed to
awaken a deeper interest in agriculture; but to no one is the farmer more
deeply indebted than to Sir John Sinclair. At his suggestion, and under his
personal supervision, a statistical account of Scotland was undertaken,
embracing a complete agricultural survey of that country. It was completed
and published in forty volumes and forms a noble monument to his
perseverance and energy of character. It was followed by most important
results, for it led to the establishment of the board of agriculture by Mr.
Pitt, in 1793. This association brought farmers together, promoted an
interchange of thought, made them acquainted with each other's mode of
culture, and produced throughout the United Kingdom the stimulus which
intelligent, associated effort always produces.............."
Commissioner of Agriculture.
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