Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1771. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775)
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1771. - 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 DR. BOUCHER.1
Mount Vernon, June 5th, 1771.
I should have set Mr. Custis off for Annapolis as soon as I heard of your passing by (being very unwilling that he should loose any time from School that [is] possible to be avoided) but it was thought necessary to [keep] him till his cloaths could be Washd & got in readiness [to] take with him, which has detained him till now.—By him I send you £50 Maryld Curry the Sum wrote for [in] your last. Inclosing at the same time Doctr Stevenson’s letter and acct which I beg the favour of you to pay as soon as convenient, agreeable to his request.—The money thus receivd & paid, you will please to credit and charge according to the Rates which the different kinds of Specie pass in the respective Governments; otherwise I shoud be a considerable looser between 66⅓ & 20 pr Ct. the proportion which the two Currencies bear to Sterling, leaving a difference of 46⅓ between Virga & Maryland, when in Fact (with us upon this River, who receive Dollrs at 6/.) the real difference is only 25 pr Ct.—at ye utmost, 30.
In respect to the other matters contained in your Letter of the 9th Ulto I shall endeavour to be as explicit as I can. And first in regard to Mr Custis going to England.—My own Inclinations have always been strong in favour of his prosecuting the plan you formerly laid down for him—his Friends a good deal divided in theirs—some on acct of the expence; others, as being almost the last of a Family, think he shoud run no risks that are to be avoided—These opinions tho they are insufficient to biass my own Judgment in this matter (as I think the more conspicuous the point of view a man is to appear in, the more pains should be taken to enlarge his mind and qualify him for a useful Member of Society) yet they determined me in some measure not to appear sollicitous or forward in promoting it; but leave things a little more to their own workings, and to the turn and disposition of the Youth himself, after his Genius is a little more unfolded and he better able to have an opinion of his own.—In this state of mind I was, when your prospects of a change, & doubts [about] accompanying him, were communicated to me; which will have no small weight in turning the Scale; for, however desirable it may be to see him travel (if his Income shoud be thought by Genl Court sufficient to admit of the expence) under the care of a Gentleman who would endeavour to guard, & steer him clear of those follies & vices which youth almost imperceptably falls into, at the same time that he was Instilling into him taste for useful knowledge and Improvement, Yet I must own I should never wish to see him set out for England, at his time of Life recommended to the care of a merchant only—or to Embark on a Tour of the kind you proposed without a Conductor; as pleasure and dissipation without a kirb, would leave little room for study, & more than probably end in his Ruin: I am therefore more perplex’d than ever I was, & find the difficulty of giving a defenitive answer encreased by your doubts; and [can only] add, that when the period arrives at which you [think] it eligible for him to set out on a Tour of this [kind, it will] if it appears to be his own desire, upon a pro[bability of your intention] & your inclination to accompany him, meet [with my] hearty concurrence, notwithstanding the ex[pense. Far]ther than this I do not think myself at liberty [to decide. I] conceive there is much greater circumspection to [be observed] by a Guardian than a natural Parent, who is only accountable to his own Conscience for his Conduct; whereas any faupas in a Guardian however well meant the Action, seldom fails to meet with malicious construction, and often subjects the Party to Inconvenience which is troublesome to get relieved from—This opinion of mine is not known to my Ward—He believes, for anything I know to the contrary, that his Trip to England is resolvd on—& I should be glad if his time was devoted to the Study of those useful Branches of Learning as will render him fit for it.
I very sincerely congratulate you on the prospect of your change, to a parish not far distant from this, & should be glad to see you soon confirmd in a Benefice equal to the full extent of your wishes.—Colo Colvil by his Will left the Legatees in England five years to put in their Claim & proove their Right; this time will not expire till the 8th day of Octr next—as to Mr Johnson’s Physick as he has been so obliging to provide it, you will be so [good as], when an opportunity offers, to send it over; tho’ if [it be] some of the last, nothing is to be expected from it; th[at was] used without having in the smallest degree, the de[sired effect.]
I cannot conclude, without requesting [in the] most Importunate manner that all due attention [and considera]tion may be given to Jack’s Education—I fear [the progress] he has made in Classical knowledge has of la[te been] trifling; as I cannot discover that he is much [farther] in Latten than when he left Mr Magowan, know[s little] Arithmetick, and is quite ignorant of the Greek Language, which he has begun under the Tuition of that Gentleman; & therefore, as well as from some enquiries which I [have] lately made, apprehend, that he lacks that Attention which is necessary to advance him in his Studies—the Information which I have but Just come to the knowledge of has filled me with a sincere concern, not because of the expence attendg his Living in Annapolis were it 4 times as great; but on acct of the lost time which is never to be regained.—Duty & Inclination both prompt me to mention this matter to you, as I have his Improvement much at heart, and wd wittingly leave nothing unattempted on my part to see this accomplished.
I am with Mrs Washington’s Compliments [and] thanks for your attention to Jack in the Small Pox1 .
TO — COLSTON.
Fairfax Coty.Virginia, 24 June, 1771.
Your letters of the 15th December from Georgia, and 20th of April, from Charlestown, came duely to hand. In answer to them, I have only to inform you, that my advertisements which you refer to, were issued in consequence of instructions from our late Governor and Council; and that I have nothing more to do in the affair, than to receive, & deliver in to them the several claims of the respective Officers & Soldiers who embarked in the service of this Colony in the year 1754 (under a Proclamation of the then Governor, offering a reward of 200,000 acres of Land to all those who shou’d voluntarily engage in an Expedition against the French, who were at that time encroaching on his majesty’s lands, on the Ohio;) among those who embarked under this encouragement was your son, and well entitled, not only by proclamation, but by his merit and bravery, to a Lieutenant’s share of the Lands, which no doubt he (if any of us do) will obtain, as I have exhibited your claim for that purpose.—Nothing final, however, is determined on with respect to this matter—you will stand upon the same footing with the rest of the claimants, provided you contribute in the same proportion towards the incidental charges attending the Surveys &c which are now set about & for which each subaltern Officer has already been call’d upon for the respective sums of £6- and £4.—10—0—current money of this government in order to prosecute the work; it will behoove you therefore to give some person a power of attorney to act on your behalf, who must be furnished with the means of contributing your quota past, and to come, for furthering of this business, which must, from the nature of it, be attended with trouble and expense. I know of no person better qualified to serve you in this matter, than the one who first exhibited your claim; I mean Mr. Alexr. Craig, who is a resident of Williamsburg, a man of very fair character, and lays more in the way of receiving your instructions and communicating such information as may be proper for you to receive, than I should be, or any one else I am acquainted with.
It may not be amiss to add for your further satisfaction, that all the claims are not yet given in, consequently the proportion and value of the land which may fall to each officer’s share is not fully ascertained; and that we have many difficulties, & some uncertainties to struggle through, before our right to these lands will be fully recognized. Such powerful sollicitation is there at the Court of Great Britain for the lands to the westward of us, where our grant was located; and such the opposition we meet with; tho’ it is hoped that the Equity of our claim will at length prevail.1
In which case, the Land will be well worth the trouble and expence we may bestow to obtain it, notwithstanding the remote distance it is from navigation.
I am much obliged to you for the favorable opinion you are pleas’d to entertain of me, and wish I may continue to deserve it, and approve myself Sir, &c.
TO DR. BOUCHER.
Mount Vernon, 9 July, 1771.
From several concurring causes, which have assembled upon the eve of my departure for Williamsburg, I have both my head and my hands too full of business to allow me time to write more than a hasty undigested answer to your letter of the 4th. This, however, I shall attempt to do.
In my last I informed you, (as well as I can recollect the contents of the letter) that the friends (I do not confine myself to the relations) of Mr. Custis, were divided in their opinions, of the propriety of his travelling, not on account of the advantages which might result from it, but on account of the expense, as he would set out with so heavy a charge, as you thought sufficient to induce you to accompany him, which would at once anticipate half his income. For his estate is of a kind, that rather comes under the denomination of a large than a profitable one. He has a good deal of land and a great many slaves, it is true, but the former is more to be esteemed for the situation than the produce, being of an indifferent quality and much worn, so that large crops cannot be made from them. These doubtful opinions was a sufficient cause, I added, for me to be circumspect in my conduct, as I had another tribunal to account to besides that in my own breast, for the part I was to act on this occasion. For you cannot but know, that every farthing, which is expended on this young gentleman, must undergo the inspection of the General Court, in their examination of my guardianship accounts, and that it would never answer for me to permit him to launch into any uncommon or extravagant tract, (especially at a time when a heavy and expensive chancery suit is just commenced against his estate,) without first knowing whether such an expence would be submitted to by those, who had a constitutional right to put a negative thereon.
These are the reasons why I said in my last, that my own inclinations were still as strong as ever for Mr. Custis’s pursuing his travelling scheme, but that it was necessary the Court should approve of the expense, (I did not want their opinion of the utility of travelling) and provided, that it should appear, when his judgment is a little more matured, that he is desirous of undertaking this tour upon a plan of improvement, rather than a vague desire of gratifying an idle curiosity, or spending his money wantonly. For by the bye, if his mother does not speak her sentiments, rather than his, he is abundantly lukewarm in the scheme; and I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that his education, from what I have understood of his improvements, (however advanced it may be for a youth of his age,) is by no means ripe enough for a tour of travelling; not that I think his becoming a mere scholar is a desirable education for a gentleman, but I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built, and that it is men and things more than books he is to be acquainted with by travelling. At present, however well versed he may be in the principles of the Latin language (which is not to be at all wondered at, as he began the study of it as soon as he could speak), he is unacquainted with several of their classical authors, which might be useful to him to read. He is ignorant of the Greek, (which the advantages of understanding I do not pretend to judge), knows nothing of French, which is absolutely necessary to him as a traveller; little or nothing acquainted with arithmetic, and totally ignorant of the mathematics, than which, so much of it at least as relates to surveying, nothing can be more essentially necessary to any person possessed of a large landed estate, the bounds of some part or other of which is always in controversy.
Now, whether he has time between this and next spring to acquire a sufficient knowledge of these, or so much of them as are requisite, I leave you to judge of; and whether a boy of seventeen years old, which will be his age the last of November next, can have any just notions of the end and design of travelling? I have already given it as my opinion, that it would be precipitating this event, unless he was to go immediately to the university for a couple of years, and in this case he could see nothing of America; which might be a disadvantage to him, as it is to be expected that every man, who travels with a view of observing the laws and customs of other countries, should be able to give some description of the situation and government of his own.
Upon the whole, it is impossible for me at this time to give a more decisive answer, however strongly inclined I may be to put you upon an absolute certainty in this affair, than I have done; and should think myself wanting in candor, if I concealed any circumstance from you, which leads me to fear, that there is a possibility, if not a probability, that the whole design may be totally defeated; and therefore I add, that before I ever thought myself at liberty to encourage this plan, I judged it highly reasonable and necessary, that the mother should be consulted. I laid your first letter and proposals before her, and desired that she would ponder well, before she resolved, as an unsteady behavior might be a disadvantage to you. Her determination was, that, if it appeared to be his inclination to undertake this tour, and if it should be adjudged for his benefit, she would not oppose it, whatever pangs it might give her to part with him. This declaration she still adheres to, but in so faint a manner, that I think, what with her fears and his indifference, (if he really is so) it will soon be declared that he has no inclination to go, the consequence of which is too obvious to be mentioned. I do not say that this will be the case; I cannot speak positively. But as this [is] the result of my own reflection upon the matter, I thought it but fair to communicate it to you.
Several causes, I believe, have concurred to make her view his departure, as the time approaches, with more reluctance than she expected. The unhappy situation of her daughter has in some degree fixed her eyes upon him as her only hope. Add to this the doubts of her friends, &c., to what I have already said, I can only add, that my warmest wishes are to see him prosecute a plan, at a proper period, which I am sure will redound to his advantage, and that nothing shall be wanted on my part to aid and assist him in it. In the event of his going, I should think myself highly favored, and him much honored, by Governor Eden’s letters of introduction. Such, with others that might be procured, can not fail of having their advantages.
You will please to make my compliments to Mr. Dulany, and assure him, that I have not the vestige of a house at the Frederic Springs, otherwise it should have been, if unengaged, much at his service. The two seasons I spent at those waters I stood indebted to Mr. Mercer for the use of his house.
I scarce know what answer to give to the papers you transmitted to me as an executor of the will of Col. Thos. Colvill, deceased. The affairs of that estate are unhappily involved with Mr. Semple, to whom Colo. Colvill in his life time sold a tract of land in Maryland, called Merryland, for (I think) £2600 sterling, and from whom we can neither get the money nor land. Till this matter is settled the executors are unable to pay off the legacies in this country, consequently can answer no demands of the residuary legatees in England, who only come in for the surplusage if any there be. I believe there will be more than sufficient to discharge the debts and legacies here, but the overplus will be trifling. I remain, &c.1
TO ROBERT CARY & CO.
Mt. Vernon, 20 July 1771
Our goods by the Liberty, Captn. Walker, came to hand in good order, and soon after his arrival; as they generally will do when shipped in a vessel to this river, and scarcely ever when they go to any others (unless they should be despatched in one of your own ships, and the Captain particularly instructed concerning the delivery of them.) For it don’t often happen that a vessel bound to one river has goods of any consequence for another, and the masters, in these cases keep the packages till an accidental conveyance offers, and for want of better opportunities, frequently commit them to boatmen who care very little for the goods so they get their freight, and often land them where it suits their convenience, not where they have engaged to do, which was the case of those parcels sent by Saunderson. It is to little purpose, therefore, to recommend it to us to seek redress of the masters for these delays or abuses (though it may be the only remedy left) unless the injury is of so extensive a nature as to make it worth while to be at some expense and trouble to watch for and find out the Captains. Our situation in this country differs very widely from yours. A ship going from Virginia to London is always, and with ease, to be met with at that part; but a ship from London to Virginia may be in Rappahannock, or any of the other rivers, three months before I know anything of her arrival, and may make twenty voyages without my seeing, or even hearing of the captain, in the same manner that vessels may trade to Liverpool, Whitehaven, or Bristol, unknown to you. It is more expedient, therefore, to prevent the evil, than to redress it afterwards, and this is very easily done by sending the goods out in ships belonging to the river they are destined for. So much in answer for that part of your letter of the 13th of November advising me to make Saunderson (a man I never saw in my life, and perhaps never shall) pay the extra expence I was put to in getting my goods from Mr. Bland’s warehouse at Boyds Hole.
There are several other passages in the letter above mentioned that I think it incumbent upon me to take some notice of; not that I am fond of dwelling upon a subject that is full as disagreeable to me as it can be to you, but because there is one paragraph in particular in it, respecting the Windsor glass, which appears to me to contain an implication of my having deviated from the truth. Why else should you require in the name of the person you bought of, a square to be sent you? And what end was it to answer, but to charge me indirectly with a misrepresentation of the fact? For if it was supposed by Mrs. Dennis that I had related a falsehood, it might as well have been imagined, that I would have practised a deceit, as there could have been no difficulty in making Mrs. Ann Dennis a square of 8 by 10 out of 9 and 11, and any one who would condescend to practise the one would not hesitate to execute the other. But, however credulous I may have been in relation to the prices of tobacco, I could not well have been so in respect to the measurement of the glass when I built a house with sashes 9 by 11, and got squares that would not fit them. I do not repeat this matter with a view of having any allowance made me—I neither want nor would accept of any; but to show that it is much more likely Mrs. Dennis should put up a box of 8 by 10 through carelessness or by mistake, than that I should mistake the size when I came to use it. I had nothing more in view when I made the complaint first, than to shew how inattentive the tradesmen and shopkeepers sometimes are, that I might be relieved from the like inconveniences for the time to come. This was my reason also for taking notice of the Duffield from Mauduit & Co,1 not that I expected any deduction from the price, as they could not see the condition of the cloth for want of my having an opportunity of reshipping it, an inconvenience we are obliged to submit to and is among the disadvantages attending my shipping to a house that has no connection with the river I live on, and it is seldom we have it in our power of sending any little trifling matters which want repairs, alterations, &c. to London, not choosing to put Captains of vessels, with whom we have no concern, nor any way of obliging in return, to any trouble in sending for or taking charge of them. So likewise is it a disadvantage on account of your letters which come chiefly by York and James River ships, by which means I have the postage from Williamsburg to Alexandria always to pay, which upon a letter that contains an account of sales, or that has anything else enclosed, amounts often to four, five, and sometimes eight or ten shillings, which in the end increases to no trifling sum.
I observe what you have said in respect to the purchase of our goods with ready cash. It is what those who have money in your hands, or who pay interest for the loan of yours, have an undoubted right, to expect. And if we are allowed the benefits of debenture, and the prompt payment of goods (for I am told, the tradesmen and shopkeepers generally, if not always, make out their notes on twelve or more months’ credit, according to the general run of their dealings, and then discount according to the payments)—I say, if these are allowed, it is all we have a right to expect; and yet, I do aver that I can buy linen and many other articles in the stores here in their sterling way of dealing, cheaper than I can import them, which is a mystery not easy to be accounted for, as I do not conceive that you are charged the retail prices for the goods you purchase. For though the quantity that I, or any other individual, may want is small, yet, when it is considered that one person has a demand for twenty pounds worth, another for fifty, a third for an hundred, and so on to the amount of thousands for any article (linen for example), to be shipped off at one and the same time, surely the whole is of dignity enough to bring you under the denomination of a wholesale purchaser, and sufficient to entitle you to all the benefits of a drawback upon the exported goods. This is the light in which things have always appeared to me. I may be mistaken, however, in my conjectures for want of better knowledge of trade; and if I expect any thing that is unreasonable, or inconsistent with the principles of a just, fair and practicable commerce, I am sure I do not desire to be indulged in it. But I cannot help adding that it has ever been my opinion that in return, for the heavy charges upon our tobacco and the ample and uncommon commissions which are drawn upon the sales of it, we ought to reap every advantage which can be procured in the purchase of our goods. Otherwise I should be glad to know to what end we import them. * * *
Our Association in Virginia for the non-importation of goods is now at an end except against tea, paper, glass, and painters’ colors of foreign manufacture. You will please, therefore, to be careful that none of the glass, paper, &c., contained in my invoices, are of those kinds which are subject to the duty imposed by Parliament for the purpose of raising a revenue in America. The late great calamity which has befallen this country by the overflowing of the waters will be communicated to you I expect through so many different channels that it is scarce worth my while to touch upon the subject. Neither my ward nor self has sustained any damage by this disaster, but it is expected, that it cannot fail to have some effect upon the prices of tobacco. In which case we suppose ours will reap the advantage of it as well as others.
THE ANNAPOLIS RACES OF 1771.
Sept. 21. Set out with Mr. Wonneley for the Annapolis races. Dined at Mr. William Digges, and lodged at Mr. Ignatius Digges.
22. Dined at Mr. Sam. Galloway’s, and lodged with Mr. Boucher in Annapolis.
23. Dined with Mr. Loyd Dulany, and spent the evening at the Coffee House.
24. Dined with the Govr., and went to the play and ball afterwards.
25. Dined at Doctor Stewards, and went to the play and ball afterwards.
26. Dined with Mr. Ridouts, and went to the play after it.
27. Dined at Mr. Carroll’s, and went to the ball.
28. Dined at Mr. Boucher’s, and went from thence to the play, and afterwards to the Coffee House.
29. Dined with Major Jenifer, and supped at Dan’l Dulany, Esqs.
30. Left Annapolis, and dined and supped with Mr. Sam’l Galloway.
October 1. Dined at Upper Marlborough, and reached home in the afternoon.
TO GEORGE MERCER, LONDON.1
Williamsburg, 7 November, 1771.
2 Since you first left this country, I have been favored with two letters from you; one of them serving to enter your own, and the claims of Captains Stobo and Vanbraam, to part of the two hundred thousand acres of land, granted under Governor Dinwiddie’s proclamation; and the other, of the 18th of December, which did not come to my hands till about the first of last month, urging the expediency of prosecuting our right to those lands with spirit.
In respect to the first, I have only to inform you, that your own claim, as well that for your brother as yourself, was entered before the receipt of your letter, and that Stobo’s and Vanbraam’s are also entered. In answer to the second, I can only add, that the same backwardness, which has ever appeared in our Honorable Board to recognise our right to these lands, seems still to prevail, and that our business in this affair is by no means in that forwardness, which I could wish, owing, I believe I may say, to other causes, as well as to a lukewarmness in those from whom we seek redress. The unequal interest and dispersed situation of the claimants make a regular coöperation difficult. An undertaking of this kind cannot be conducted without a good deal of expense and trouble; and the doubt of obtaining the lands, after the utmost efforts, is such, as to discourage the larger part of the claimants from lending assistance, whilst a few are obliged to wade through every difficulty, or relinquish every hope.
In this state of things, and in behalf of those, who had contributed to the expense of exploring and surveying the lands, I petitioned the Governor and Council, that the amount of each man’s share, according to his rank, should be ascertained, and each claimant suffered to designate and survey his portion separately, by which means every man would stand upon his own footing. This petition I thought so reasonable, and so consistent with every principle of common justice, to say nothing of the disadvantage of being forced into large tracts, and the manifest inconvenience of dividing them afterwards, that I conceived it could not possibly be rejected; but to my great astonishment it was so, and we are now compelled to be at the expense of surveying our whole quantity in twenty surveys, and then each individual subjected to the charge of surveying his own separately. In this way we are doubly taxed, while the whole is held as a kind of joint interest, and no man knows his property, or can tell how or in what manner to dispose of it. In short, so many glaring obstacles opposed their mode of proceeding, that they did not even attempt to remove them, but contented themselves with putting the soldiers upon a worse footing, than the meanest individual in the community, rather than be thought to give a license for the pillaging of his Majesty’s or the Proprietary lands, when it is a fact well known, and every age evinces it, that no country ever was or ever will be settled without some indulgence. What inducements have men to explore uninhabited wilds, but the prospect of getting good lands? Would any man waste his time, expose his fortune, nay, life, in such a search, if he was to share the good and the bad with those that come after him? Surely not. We have surveyed ten of the largest tracts we can find in the district allowed us, and have been able to get sixty thousand acres, and for this tract we have been obliged to go between two and three hundred miles below Fort Pitt, as the lands thereabouts are thought to be within the Pennsylvania government; at least, they are surveyed under those rights, and held by such a number of individuals, that it was thought to be impolitic to engage in private disputes, whilst there appeared but a gloomy prospect of getting any land at all.
The claims, which have been presented to me, are now all given in, and the Governor and Council have determined, that each officer shall share according to the rank in which he entered the service, and that the land shall be distributed in the following manner, namely, to each field-officer fifteen thousand acres, to each captain nine thousand, to each subaltern six thousand, to the cadets two thousand five hundred each, six hundred to a sergeant, five hundred to a corporal, and four hundred to each private soldier. They have made a reserve of thirty thousand acres, as well to provide for any claims, which may hereafter come in, as to compensate those, who have been and must necessarily continue to be saddled with the expense, which we find will not be very inconsiderable, as we have already expended near two hundred pounds, and the surveyor not yet paid.1
This expense must now be greatly augmented, as we shall be exposed to a considerable charge in exploring the lands, before we can proceed to survey any more. From every thing we know at present, it appears impossible to get two hundred thousand acres in twenty surveys, without including mountains and inhospitable hills to the amount of near one half, which will render the grant of little value, and be the source of much discontent at a division. It behooves us, therefore, to examine the lands well before we survey. And allow me to add, that it will be very proper for you to give Messrs. Stobo and Vanbraam a hint, that something more than entering their claims is necessary. I dare say they will hardly think it reasonable to profit by the labor and purse of others. It is highly incumbent on them, therefore, to appoint an agent in this country to transact their business and advance their proportion of the expense, if they expect to share in the lands.
To give you a minute detail of the proceedings, respecting this grant, would be a work of time, and afford you little entertainment. What I have here said will serve as a general outline, and that is all I have aimed at in this letter. I should not have delayed answering your first letter till this time, had you not mentioned your intention of embarking soon on your return. This account having been frequently corroborated by your brother, of whom I often inquired after you, I thought a letter could have little chance of finding you in England. I have just been told by Mr. Mercer, that you are to remain in London for some advices from him, respecting the affairs of the Ohio Company. Mrs. Washington makes a tender of her compliments to you, and I am, with very sincere regard, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
TO ROBERT STOBO.
Mt. Vernon, 22 November, 1771.
Your claim to a share of the 200,000 acres of land under Governor Dinwiddie’s proclamation has been entered, and the Governor and Council have settled the proportions which fall to each man’s lot (according to the rank he entered the service with), by which each field officer is allowed 15,000 acres, each captain, 9000, each subaltern, 6000, each cadet, 2500, a sergeant, 600, a corporal, 500, and each private soldier, 400 acres apiece.
The soliciting this matter with some other expences that have attended the prosecution of our claim have cost a few individuals upwards of £200 already, and instead of getting one half the land contiguous to the forks of Monongahela (now Fort Pitt), where they are of some value, we are obliged to go down the Ohio near 300 miles lower, and take the land in twenty surveys, by which means, and the nature of that country which you know is very hilly and broken, we shall be obliged to include a large portion of bad land, so as not only to render the grant of little value, but will create a good deal of discontent at a division, as it is absolutely impossible to make an equal distribution of the good and bad, nor divide it by lot, as different ranks are entitled to different quantities; and when all is done, what plague and trouble we are yet to meet with from the proprietors of the new government to the westward of us, whose grant includes every inch of the land we are expecting under our Order of Council, I know not. Time only can reveal it.
The expence attending the grant of ours, is in a manner but just beginning, as we have not surveyed a third part of the land yet, and are laid under the inconvenience and hardship of first exploring the country, then surveying our whole quantity in twenty surveys, and after that each man his particular quantity separately—a grievance we have labored much to get removed, but could not. It is therefore incumbent upon you to appoint an agent here to attend to your interest in these lands; who should be enabled to contribute your proportion of the expense, for without money the business cannot go forward, even if the way was smooth, much less where there are difficulties in every stage of it.
What I have here said will just serve to give you some idea of this affair; to relate the whole proceedings, with the troubles and vexations that have accompanied them in stating our claims, drawing petitions, presenting memorials, &c. &c., would require a volume, and afford little entertainment.1
[1 ]I am indebted to the editor of Lippincott’s Magazine for this letter.
[1 ]“A letter from Boucher, 19 April, 1771, explains his reasons for taking ‘Jack’ to Baltimore to be given the small-pox. He expresses ‘heart-felt satisfaction’ at Jack’s favorable condition,—the fever-marks having broken out 1 on neck, 1 one ear, breast 2, arm 1, legs 3,—not one on face. Dr. Stephenson’s price was 2 pistoles, and 25s. for board. The ‘third of a Doctor’ in Washington’s accompanying account may imply that two others were given the small-pox at the same time. In another letter (May 3) Boucher is vexed because Jack, after being well enough to come back without danger to other pupils, and put his mother and step-father out of apprehension, was persuaded to remain in Baltimore for Mr Gough’s wedding.”—Moncure D. Conway in Lippincott’s Magazine, April, 1889.
[1 ]When Pontiac, the king of the Ottawa confederacy, rose against the English in 1762, Sir William Johnson, to secure the friendship of the Six Nations, invited them to send delegates to a general council at the German Flats in the middle of July, 1763. The Indians then offered to cede all their lands east of the Ohio to the English for a fair consideration, and Croghan, Johnson’s agent, believed at the time that nothing but an acceptance of the offer could prevent a war. The matter was not determined and the establishment of English settlements on the Alleghanies and in the Illinois country (then largely held by French colonists) tended to make the trade with the Indians less profitable. To prevent a further diminution of the profits a scheme was formed by Govr. Franklin of New Jersey for purchasing a large tract of territory on the Ohio and forming permanent settlements upon it. General Gage, Governor Moore, and Sir Wm. Johnson were also interested in the scheme, which was urged upon the British ministry by Benj. Franklin in 1766-’68. The original idea comprehended a colony in the Illinois, but on submitting the plan to Lord Shelburne it was found that “it did not quadrate with the sentiments of people here, that their objections to it were, the distance, which would make it of little use to this country, as the expense on the carriage of goods would oblige the people to manufacture for themselves; that it would for the same reason be difficult both to defend it and to govern it; that it might lay the foundation of a power in the heart of America, which in time might be troublesome to the other colonies, and prejudicial to our government over them; and that people were wanted both here and in the already settled colonies, so that none could be spared for a new colony.” Franklin to Wm. Franklin, 27 September, 1766. General Phineas Lyman of Conn., who had served with bravery and distinction in the late war, was in England urging the claims of the “military adventures,” which were designed to cover the same territory as those of the Franklin company, and an effort was made to make the two schemes one. In October, 1767, Franklin could report that the plan had been approved in Cabinet Council, and had been referred to the Board of Trade, where it appears to have slept for some years without being acted upon. “There is little doubt,” wrote Johnson to Gov. Franklin, in May, 1768, “but that the intended settlement may be productive of a regular civil government in that valuable country, and this, too, without doing violence or overreaching the Indians, which from sentiments of policy as well as justice should be always cautiously avoided.”
[1 ]The original of this letter was sold in the Stevens sale of 1872, and is printed in full in the catalogue, p. 336.
[1 ]“When I opened the package a piece of Duffield, charged £4.13.6 was found eaten to a honeycomb by moth.”
[1 ]From an interleaved Almanac.
[2 ]Mercer had been in England for upwards of six years as the agent of the old “Ohio Company.” Failing to establish the claims of the company, he approached the organizers of the new company known as Walpole’s Grant, and sought to merge the interests of the two claimants. This he accomplished, as on May 7. 1770, the following agreement was made: “We the Committee of the Purchasers of a Tract of Country for a new Province on the Ohio in America, do hereby admit the Ohio Company as a co-purchaser with us for two shares of the said Purchase [equal to two seventy-second parts of the entire purchase], in consideration of the engagement of their agent, Col. Mercer, to withdraw the application of the said Company for a separate grant within the limits of the said Purchase.” This agreement was repudiated by the old company. On the 18th of December, 1770, Mercer wrote to Washington from Dublin: “Before I left England, I mentioned my having agreed with, or I may rather say prevailed with, the great Land Company [i. e. Walpole’s Grant] there, that the two hundred thousand acres, claimed by the officers of the Virginia troops, should be allowed out of their grant.”
[1 ]Major George Muse had been accused of cowardice at the affair of the Great Meadows, and his name was omitted in the vote of thanks to the officers by the legislature. It was decided, however, that this person should have his share of the land, and the following extract from a letter to him on this subject will show with what spirit and tone Washington could retort upon rudeness, when there was occasion.
“Your impertinent letter was delivered to me yesterday. As I am not accustomed to receive such from any man, nor would have taken the same language from you personally, without letting you feel some marks of my resentment, I would advise you to be cautious in writing me a second of the same tenor. But for your stupidity and sottishness you might have known, by attending to the public gazette, that you had your full quantity of ten thousand acres of land allowed you, that is, nine thousand and seventy-three acres in the great tract, and the remainder in the small tract.
“But suppose you had really fallen short, do you think your superlative merit entitles you to greater indulgence than others? Or, if it did, that I was to make it good to you, when it was at the option of the Governor and Council to allow but five hundred acres in the whole, if they had been so inclined? If either of these should happen to be your opinion, I am very well convinced, that you will be singular in it; and all my concern is, that I ever engaged in behalf of so ungrateful a fellow as you are. But you may still be in need of my assistance, as I can inform you, that your affairs, in respect to these lands, do not stand upon so solid a basis as you may imagine, and this you may take by way of hint.
“I wrote to you a few days ago concerning the other distribution, proposing an easy method of dividing our lands; but since I find in what temper you are, I am sorry I took the trouble of mentioning the land or your name in a letter, as I do not think you merit the least assistance from me.”
[1 ]Washington addressed a similar letter to Vanbraam, and on the same day wrote to George Mercer to purchase the right of Stobo and Vanbraam, “provided they will take a trifle for them.” “My only motive for doing this is that the progress of our affairs may be less obstructed, by being more contracted. The whole trouble of late (in this country I mean) has fallen upon me, and a good deal of expence which never has, nor indeed never can be, brought in to account I have been subjected to by my activity in this matter; and, as it is very obvious that the whole work must go on at the expence of a few, or not at all, I am inclined to adventure a little further in order to take the chance of gaining in proportion to my loss; for no problem in Euclid is more clear than that those who do not choose to advance beforehand whilst there is at least a hope of success, will hardly draw their purse strings to reimburse the expences of others when even hope is departed from them. . . . Col. Cresap, whom I have seen since his return from England, gave it to me as his opinion, that some of the shares in the new (charter) government on the Ohio might be bought very cheap from some of the present members. Are you of this opinion? who are they that would sell? and at what price do you think a share could be bought?”