Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO CAPTAIN JOHN POSEY. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775)
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TO CAPTAIN JOHN POSEY. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. II (1758-1775).
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TO CAPTAIN JOHN POSEY.
Mt. Vernon, 24 September, 1767.
Having received your letter of Wednesday last and to day, it appears very clear to me from them, as well as from some other convincing circumstances that you are not only reduced to the last shifts yourself, but are determined to involve me in a great deal of perplexity and distress on your account also. Why else will you press so hard upon me to do more than I have already done, and consented to do, in waiting two years longer for my money, when it is not only inconvenient, but very disadvantageous also for me to do so, and when I have informed you as every body else I suppose may also do, that the security I have upon your lands and slaves is only answerable for the £750 lent and interest. Besides, when the nature of that security is considered, and how much people may differ in their valuations of it, it is not to be wondered at that I should be so unwilling as to risk any thing more thereon. For in the first place I do not value your six acres bought of Marshall with the improvements to any thing at all, for reasons already known to you. True it is, if Mr. West should recover from you, you may have a remedy against Mr. Marshall, but in how ample a manner is in the breast of other men to determine. In the next place, you rate the land bought of my brother and the improvements to near £700. This at best is only worth what it will fetch, and if it sells for half that sum, I will acknowledge myself extremely mistaken. In the last place, by the estimate you sent me some time ago of your estate, you value the negroes you were then possessed of to £900 and upwards. Suppose, for argument sake they were worth this, does not every body know that the small pox, gaol fever and many other malignant disorders may sweep the greatest part of them off? Where then is the security? And while I am mentioning this matter, it is highly necessary to inquire what is become of Henley, Jacob, Winney, Sylvia, Lett, Sarah, Nan and Henrietta Farthing, Negroes contained in your bill of sale to me, but which I see nothing of in the estimate above mentioned.
Thus much I have said on a supposition that I was acting as a money lender only, and was looking for clear and indisputable surety; but in truth the prospect of gain and advantage to myself was not the motive that led me to advance you this money. ’Twas done to serve your family, and if possible to save your estate from dispersion, while there remained a probability of doing it. The same motive, therefore, (and depend upon it, it is a friendly one,) inclines me to ask what possible reason you can have for thinking that by delaying the sale of some part of your effects, and taking up more money upon interest, will better your fortune, when you are adding to the load of debt by accumulating interest? I should be glad in the next place to know if you have ever considered the consequences of borrowing the money upon the terms you say Colo. Mason will lend it? and surely you have not. To stave off the dreadful hour of resigning part of your possessions into the hands of your creditors, engrosses too much of your thoughts. Do not understand by this that I mean to cast any reflection upon Colo. Mason. No, he tells you in express terms and with candor that he is waiting for an opportunity of making a purchase which when accomplished, he must have his money again, giving you three or four months’ notice. It is likely therefore that he may call for it in six months as in a longer time, because the distress of the country and number of estates which are daily advertising afford great prospect of purchasing to advantage. What then is to be done in this case? One of these three things certainly: either that Colo. Mason must wait till he can recover his debt in a course of law, by which means your own, as well as the honor of your bondsman must suffer; or that the security must pay the money out of his own pocket, which perhaps might reduce him to the utmost distress; or lastly, that your negroes must be immediately exposed to sale for ready money after short notice (whereas they might now be sold on credit for perhaps at least 25 per cent more,) in order to raise this sum, and this probably in the midst of a crop. These being things worthy of consideration, I would recommend them to your serious reflection, before you finally determine.
Was the money to be had of those who prefer lending it on interest to other methods of disposing of it, and you had in the first place a prospect of keeping of it for some time, and in the next a moral certainty of raising the sum with the interest by the expiration of it, there would then be a propriety in your borrowing, and I should feel pleasure in procuring it to you; but really I cannot see that you have any one good end to answer by it. On the contrary, I am much misinformed if you were to get £300 to morrow to stop suits and demands that are already commenced, if there would not be £300 more wanting in less than six months for the same purpose. So that there appears no probability of its happily ending, for as to your promising, or expecting to do this and that, you must give me leave to say that it is works and not words that people will judge from, and where one man deceives another from time to time, his word being disregarded, all confidence is lost.
However, after having endeavored to let you see in what light this matter appears to me, and to set forth the evil consequences of taking money upon these terms, I shall conclude with telling you that if you are absolutely determined to prefer this method to any other of procuring present relief, I will become your security to Colo. Mason for three hundred pounds, on condition that you do at the same time add other things to my present security that are under no incumbrance to any person what so ever, and allow me the absolute right and privilege (as you yourself proposed) of disposing of them for ready money, to answer Colo. Mason’s demand whensoever made, and that some lawyer (Mr. Ellzey I would choose) should draw a bill of sale or instrument of writing to this purpose, without running me to any cost, that may be authentick and binding. But I once more caution you against a measure of this kind, as it may be destructive of your estate, inasmuch as the money can be paid no otherwise than by an immediate sale of your effects (when called for), and I can see no benefit that will result from the protection. It is from these reasons, and a conviction that you will as unwilling then as now part from your estate, that I dread the consequences of joining you in such a bond, knowing that after all I have [done] or can do, more will still be required, and as little content given. This makes me ardently wish that some person or other would take up my security and pay me the money, that I might be entirely clear of it, for I do not want to avail myself of any sort of advantages.
P. S. I have this instant been informed that you have declared you paid me all you owed me except about £20. Does such disingenuity as this deserve any favour at my hands? I think any body might readily answer for you, no.