Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1769. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775)
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1769. - 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 WILLIAM RAMSAY.1
Mount Vernon, 29 January, 1769.
* * * Having once or twice of late heard yon speak highly in praise of the Jersey College, as if you had a desire of sending your son William there (who, I am told, is a youth fond of study and instruction, and disposed to a sedentary studious life, in following of which he may not only promote his own happiness, but the future welfare of others), I should be glad, if you have no other objection to it than what may arise from the expense, if you would send him there as soon as it is convenient, and depend on me for twenty-five pounds this currency a year for his support, so long as it may be necessary for the completion of his education. If I live to see the accomplishment of this term, the sum here stipulated shall be annually paid; and if I die in the mean while, this letter shall be obligatory upon my heirs, or executors, to do it according to the true intent and meaning hereof. No other return is expected, or wished, for this offer, than that you will accept it with the same freedom and good will, with which it is made, and that you may not even consider it in the light of an obligation, or mention it as such; for, be assured, that from me it will never be known. I am, &c.
TO GEORGE MASON.1
Mount Vernon, 5 April, 1769.
Herewith you will receive a letter and sundry papers,2 which were forwarded to me a day or two ago by Dr. Ross of Bladensburg. I transmit them with the greater pleasure, as my own desire of knowing your sentiments upon a matter of this importance exactly coincides with the Doctor’s inclinations.
At a time, when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question.
That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, to use a—ms in defence of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet a—ms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource, the dernier resort. Addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament, we have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy of. How far, then, their attention to our rights and privileges is to be awakened or alarmed, by starving their trade and manufactures, remains to be tried.
The northern colonies, it appears, are endeavoring to adopt this scheme. In my opinion it is a good one, and must be attended with salutary effects, provided it can be carried pretty generally into execution. But to what extent it is practicable to do so, I will not take upon me to determine. That there will be difficulties attending the execution of it every where, from clashing interests, and selfish, designing men, (ever attentive to their own gain, and watchful of every turn, that can assist their lucrative views, in preference to every other consideration) cannot be denied; but in the tobacco colonies, where the trade is so diffused, and in a manner wholly conducted by factors for their principals at home, these difficulties are certainly enhanced, but I think not insurmountably increased, if the gentlemen in their several counties will be at some pains to explain matters to the people, and stimulate them to a cordial agreement to purchase none but certain enumerated articles out of any of the stores after such a period, nor import nor purchase any themselves. This, if it did not effectually withdraw the factors from their importations, would at least make them extremely cautious in doing it, as the prohibited goods could be vended to none but the non-associators, or those who would pay no regard to their association; both of whom ought to be stigmatized, and made the objects of public reproach.
The more I consider a scheme of this sort, the more ardently I wish success to it, because I think there are private as well as public advantages to result from it,—the former certain, however precarious the other may prove. For in respect to the latter, I have always thought, that by virtue of the same power, (for here alone the authority derives) which assumes the right of taxation, they may attempt at least to restrain our manufactories, especially those of a public nature, the same equity and justice prevailing in the one case as the other, it being no greater hardship to forbid my manufacturing, than it is to order me to buy goods of them loaded with duties, for the express purpose of raising a revenue. But as a measure of this sort would be an additional exertion of arbitrary power, we cannot be worsted, I think, by putting it to the test.
On the other hand, that the colonies are considerably indebted to Great Britain, is a truth universally acknowledged. That many families are reduced almost, if not quite, to penury and want from the low ebb of their fortunes, and estates daily selling for the discharge of debts, the public papers furnish but too many melancholy proofs of, and that a scheme of this sort will contribute more effectually than any other I can devise to emerge the country from the distress it at present labors under, I do most firmly believe, if it can be generally adopted. And I can see but one set of people (the merchants excepted,) who will not, or ought not, to wish well to the scheme, and that is those who live genteelly and hospitably on clear estates. Such as these, were they not to consider the valuable object in view, and the good of others, might think it hard to be curtailed in their living and enjoyments. For as to the penurious man, he saves his money and he saves his credit, having the best plea for doing that, which before, perhaps, he had the most violent struggles to refrain from doing. The extravagant and expensive man has the same good plea to retrench his expenses. He is thereby furnished with a pretext to live within bounds, and embraces it. Prudence dictated economy to him before, but his resolution was too weak to put it in practice; For how can I, says he, who have lived in such and such a manner, change my method? I am ashamed to do it, and, besides, such an alteration in the system of my living will create suspicions of the decay in my fortune, and such a thought the world must not harbour. I will e’en continue my course, till at last the course discontinues the estate a sale of it being the consequence of his perseverance in error. This I am satisfied is the way, that many, who have set out in the wrong track, have reasoned, till ruin stares them in the face. And in respect to the poor and needy man, he is only left in the same situation that he was found,—better, I might say, because, as he judges from comparison, his condition is amended in proportion as it approaches nearer to those above him.
Upon the whole, therefore, I think the scheme a good one, and that it ought to be tried here, with such alterations as the exigency of our circumstances renders absolutely necessary. But how, and in what manner to begin the work, is a matter worthy of consideration, and whether it can be attempted with propriety or efficacy (further than a communication of sentiments to one another,) before May, when the Court and Assembly will meet in Williamsburg, and a uniform plan can be concerted, and sent into the different counties to operate at the same time and in the same manner everywhere, is a thing I am somewhat in doubt upon, and should be glad to know your opinion of.1
TO COLONEL BASSETT.
Mount Vernon, 18 June, 1769.
As we have come to a resolution to set off (if nothing unforeseen happens to prevent it) for the Warm Springs about the 18th of next month, I do according to promise give you notice thereof, and should be glad of your company with us, if you still entertain thoughts of trying the effects of those waters. You will have occasion to provide nothing, if I can be advised of your intentions before the wagon comes down for my necessaries, so that I may provide accordingly.
We are all in the usual way, no alteration for the better or worse in Patey.1 The association in this and in the two neighboring counties of Prince William and Loudoun is compleat, or near it. How it goes in other places, I know not, but hope to hear of the universality of it.1
We all join in tendering our love to Mrs. Bassett, yourself, family, and Mrs. Dandridge and Betsy.
TO COLONEL JOHN ARMSTRONG.
Fredk. Warm Springs, 18 August, 69.
About a fortnight ago2 I came to this place with Mrs. Washington and her daughter, the latter of whom being troubled with a complaint, which the efficacy of these waters it is thought might remove, we resolved to try them, but have found little benefit as yet from the experiment. What a week or two more may do, we know not, and therefore are inclined to put them to the test. It was with much pleasure however I heard by Mr. Clingan that you stand in no need of assistance from these Springs, which I find are applied to in all cases, altho’ there be a moral certainty of their hurting in some. Many poor miserable objects are now attending here, which I hope will receive the desired benefit, as I dare say they are deprived of the means of obtaining any other relief, from their indigent circumstances.
Give me leave now, Sir, to thank you for the polite and friendly assistance you gave to the affair I took the liberty (in March last) of recommending to your notice. Captn. Crawford, from whom I have since heard, informs me, that your letter procured him a free, and easy admission to the Land office, & to such Indulgences as could be consistently granted; consequently his work became much less difficult, than otherwise it would have been.1
Some confident reports of Indian disturbances at Fort Pitt, drove many families in from Redstone, and gave some alarm to the female visitors of these waters; but upon a stricter scrutiny into the causes of the reports, we find that mis-representations and ill grounded fears, gave rise to the whole; & that our own people more than the Indians are to blame for the little misunderstandings which have happened among them.
My best respects attend Mrs. Armstrong, in which Mrs. Washington joins, and I am &c.2
[1 ]Washington had in 1756 recommended William Ramsay to Governor Din-widdie (vide I., 386 ante), and a year later he had been appointed a contractor to supply the troops. Dinwiddie Papers, ii., 709.
[1 ]A neighbor and intimate friend of Washington, who afterwards distinguished himself by drafting the first constitution of Virginia, and by the ability he displayed in the Convention for forming the Constitution of the United States, and also in the Virginia Convention for adopting that instrument. He was opposed to the Constitution, as encroaching too much on State rights, and containing the principles of a consolidated government. An exhaustive biography of this Virginian is now being written by his descendant, Miss Kate Mason Rowland, of Baltimore.
[2 ]Containing resolves of the merchants of Philadelphia, respecting the non-importation of articles of British manufacture.
[1 ]The following is an extract from Mr. Mason’s reply to this letter, dated the same day:—
[1 ]In his diary for 1769, I find the following entry under date of Feby. 16th:—“Joshua Evans, who came here last night, put an Iron ring upon Patey (for Fits).” In the Middle Ages rings hallowed on Easter day and Good Friday were supposed to protect the wearer from the falling sickness and cramp. The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1794 mentions a curious belief; five sixpences were to be collected from five bachelors & be welded into a ring by a bachelor blacksmith, which would preserve its wearer from fits. In Devonshire the ring must be made of 3 nails or screws which have been used to fasten a coffin and must be dug out of the churchyard.
[1 ]“If there are any articles contained in either of the respective invoices (paper only excepted) which are taxed by act of Parliament for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, it is my express desire and request, that they may not be sent, as I have very heartily entered into an association (copies of which I make no doubt you have seen, otherwise I should have enclosed one) not to import any article which now is, or hereafter shall be taxed for this purpose until the said act or acts are repealed. I am therefore particular in mentioning this matter as I am fully determined to adhere religiously to it, and may perhaps have wrote for some things unwittingly which may be under these circumstances.”—To Robert Cary, 25 July, 1769.
[2 ]“As we have fixed upon the 27th inst. for our departure to the Frederick Warm Springs and Mrs. Washington is desirous of seeing her son before she leaves home, I am now to request the favor of you to permit him to come up for that purpose so soon as this letter gets to hand (by Mr. Stedlar, which I am told will be eight days after date).”—Washington to Dr. Boucher, 13 July, 1769. The original is in the Foster collection in South Kensington, and I am indebted to the courteous custodian, Mr. R. F. Sketchley, for a copy.
[1 ]The Pennsylvania land office was opened in April, 1769, for locating lands west of the Alleghany.
[2 ]“Jacky will inform you of the Reasons why he brings not the Books you wrote to me for, and to him I refer—perhaps all, or most of them, were Included in the Catalogue I sent to England for him, and if so, I expect they will be in, in less than three months.