Mount Vernon Distillery and Fishery Ledger
Original Author: James Anderson
Created: 1799–1801
Medium: Ledger page

Mount Vernon Distillery and Fishery Ledger

A page from the distillery and fishery ledger kept at Mount Vernon shows accounts kept in 1799 dealing with whiskey production on the estate. Columns on the left list George Washington's expenditures, including purchases of grain (even from his own farms), casks, cork, and other supplies. In 1797 Washington began building a rye and corn distillery at the urging of his new farm manager, a Scotsman named James Anderson. Business grew quickly: the ledger records that in 1799 Mount Vernon sold 10,942 gallons of whiskey valued at $7,674. A fishery also operated on the site of the distillery. That operation involved salting herring from the Potomac River, which was then put into barrels and sold.

This ledger was kept by the farm manager, but on several pages Washington signed off on the accounting. In the book's final pages, Tobias Lear, Washington's personal secretary, provided a detailed acount of all the dwellings and structures on the estate, noting their precise dimensions, number of stories, and building materials.