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1773. - 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 COLONEL BASSETT.
Mount Vernon, 15 February, 1773.
Your favor of the 5th came to my hands in course of post last Thursday, and filled us with no small concern at the indisposition of yourself and family. Equally concerned am I to hear of the unhappy state of our paper currency, and that the interposition of the Assembly is thought necessary. Should this measure be resolved on, be so good as to advise me, whether it be intended that the country business generally shall be proceeded on, or this alarming affair of the money only taken into consideration. In the former case, I shall come down; in the latter, as the session will be short and my business obliges me to the Gen’l Court, I believe I shall decline it.
Could there have been anything favorable said on the subject of corn, I should not have neglected advising you of it till this time. I have scarcely heard the name of corn mentioned since I left Williamsburg, and nothing can contribute more towards keeping down the price than the mildness of the winter hitherto, having had no snow to cover the ground here yet, and but little hard weather. I have a few hundred barrels of my own to sell, but have met with no offers for it as yet.
Our celebrated fortune, Miss French, whom half the world was in pursuit of, bestowed her hand on Wednesday last, being her birthday (you perceive I think myself under a necessity of accounting for the choice) upon Mr. Ben Dulany, who is to take her to Maryland in a month from this time. Mentioning of one wedding puts me in mind of another, tho’ of less dignity; this is the marriage of Mr. Henderson (of Colchester) to a Miss More (of the same place) remarkable for a very frizzled head, and good singing, the latter of which I shall presume it was that captivated our merchant.
Mrs. Washington, Patsy Custis and Jack, who is now here, are much as usual, and the family not sicklier than common. Hoping this will find you perfectly restored, and the rest of the good folks of Eltham in better health than when you wrote last, I am with best wishes to Mrs Bassett, yourself and the children, in which all here join.
TO CAPTAIN JOHN DALTON.
Mt. Vernon, 15 February, 1773.
I am obliged to you for the notice you have given me of an intended meeting of your vestry on Tuesday next. I do not know, however, that it will be in my power to attend, nor do I conceive it at all necessary that I should, as I am an avowed enemy to the scheme I have heard (but never till of late believed) that some members of your vestry are inclined to adopt.
If the subscription to which among others I put my name was set on foot under sanction of an order of vestry, as I always understood it to be I own myself at a loss to conceive upon what principle it is, that there should be an attempt to destroy it, repugnant it is to every idea I entertain of justice to do so; and the right of reclaiming the pews by the vestry in behalf of the parish (which have been built by private contribution granting the subscription money to be refunded with interest,) I most clearly deny. Therefore, as a parishioner who is to be saddled with the extra charge of the subscription money, I protest against the measure. As a subscriber who meant to lay the foundation of a family pew in the new church, I shall think myself injured. For give me leave to ask, can the raising of that £150 under the present scheme be considered in any other light than that of a deception? Is it presumable that this money would have been advanced if the subscribers could possibly have conceived that after a solemn act of vestry under faith of which the money was subscribed, the pews would be reclaimed? Surely not! The thought is absurd! and can be stated in no better point of view than this: Here is a parish wanting a large church, but considering the circumstances of its constituents is content with a small one, till an offer is made to enlarge it by subscription (under certain privileges), which is acceded by the vestry; and when effected and the parish better able to bear a fresh tax, what does it want? Why to destroy a solemn compact and reclaim the privileges they had granted. For I look upon the refunding of money as totally beside the question. And for what purpose I beg leave to ask, is this to be done? I own to you I am at a loss to discover; for as every subscriber has an undoubted right to a seat in the church, what matters it whether he assembles his whole family into one pew, or, as the custom is, have them dispersed into two or three; and probably it is these families will increase in a proportionate degree with the rest of the parish, so that if the vestry had a right to annul the agreement, no disadvantage would probably happen on that account.
Upon the whole, Sir, as I observed to you before, considering myself as a subscriber, I enter my protest against the measure in agitation. As a parishioner, I am equally averse to a tax which is intended to replace the subscription money. These will be my declared sentiments if present at the vestry. If I am not, I shall be obliged to you for communicating them.
TO REV. DR. THRUSTON.
Williamsburg, 12th March, 1773.
Your favor of the 25th ulto. by Mr. Watson came duly to hand; in answer to it I must beg leave to inform you, that the short allotment of Land to Mr. Andw Waggener was not the result of any determination of the Officers who met at Fredericksburg on the 23d of Novemr. (for they had nothing to do, either in settling the proportions, or distributing the Land,) but was a solemn act of the Governor and Council, on the sixth preceeding, (adopted after having a full state of the several advances laid before them, and in my opinion, upon the most just and equitable principles.) If Mr. Waggener therefore, is injur’d, or thinks himself injured, he must appeal to that Board as the only Tribunal which can afford him redress.
From your statement of the case, however, it would appear that you have been deceived by Mr. Waggener’s representation of this matter—he has been a culprit in respect to his contributions, from the very beginning as thus.—In August 1770 a meeting of all the principal claimants, was required in Fredericksburg:—accordingly Mr. Waggener, among others, attended, and exhibiting the nature of his claim, was considered as the representative of his uncle Thos. Waggener.—An advance was then voted—his proportion call’d for—but not paid ’till many months after.—
In March, 1771, another meeting of the Claimants was summoned in Winchester; (for by, or before this time, it is necessary to be remarked, that our affairs, never in a very promising way, began to grow very alarming, from the sollicitation of a large Grant on the Ohio, by some of the most powerful men in England, and by Lord Bottetourt; notwithstanding the order of the council of the 15th December 1769—expressly forbidding the Surveys to go on) at this meeting, the few that attended, maugre all the discouragements, resolved, as the only chance left, to proceed at all hazards to surveying; altho’ they were sensible that the expence would be great; and would inevitably light on their own heads, if it failed; accordingly, another sum was voted, and Mr. Waggener call’d upon in an earnest and pressing manner to advance his proportion:—and what has he done? why, not paid one shilling of it to this hour; so that it was not for his non-attendance at Fredericksburg in November last (where, give me leave to add, if other business was an excuse for this negligence, no man could plead it with more propriety than myself, having left all my business in Williamsburg undone, by reason of the late coming in of the merchants, in order to be up there) that he was curtailed of his land in the first distribution, but, for want of his money to make the surveys, the effecting of which could not be done without. Whether this neglect proceeded from a disinclination to advance more under the circumstances, as they then appeared—from disability, or any other cause, his own Breast can best determine; sufficient it is, that he was call’d upon on the 4th of March, 1771, to make this deposit, and that it is not done yet:—The Council seeing, and having no reason to disbelieve these things, not only as they respected Mr. Waggener, but all others under the like predicament, thought it very just and reasonable, that those who, rather than give up their hopes, had waded thro’ every difficulty and expence, should be first considered, and therefore determin’d, (without a dissenting voice, that I have hear’d of) that, of the first surveys, every one should receive in the proportion he had advanced; being well satisfied that this work could not have gone on without money; and that it never was expected, nor could with propriety be expected that I, who had had so much trouble in other respects, was to ride about as a Collector, to receive five pounds of this man, ten pounds of that and so on; it being sufficient for the Parties to be apprized of their quotas, and to whom to pay it. To what I have here said, I must take the liberty of observing further by way of explanation of my own meaning and the Council’s intention, that my offer which you hint at had no allusion to an alteration of the kind you apply for—for the matter under contemplation at the time of inserting that saving clause was the quality of the soil, it being supposed that the difference therein might cause an unequal division, tho’ each man should obtain his quantum of Land.
These, Sir, are facts, and but part of the reasons which govern’d in the determination of this matter, under which you may judge how far Mr. Waggener has just cause of complaint. Colo. Fry, Lt. Savage &c. have shared the same fate; & Captn. Stobo, Vanbraam & others who have contributed nothing, have had no part of the Lands already survey’d, allowed them, but left to come in at the second distribution, when I dare say the Govr. & Council will measure their justice by the same Rule they observ’d upon the last occasion, if the same causes prevail, as they are left at large, by the Proclamation of 1754 under which we derive our claim, to divide the Land in any manner they think proper.—That Mr. Wagener, or the greatest delinquent of the whole shou’d be now ready & willing to pay up their deficiencies & take a share of the patents, I neither wonder at or doubt; many men have objections to the purchase of Lottery tickets (in which light this Grant of ours, to the most sanguine of us all, has appear’d) that would be fond enough of partaking in the prizes; but let it be asked, would the delinquents have been ready & willing to have paid up their quotas, if the scheme had fallen through? (as it most assuredly would have done if a few had not stood forth in support of the claim) & where will be the answer? It does not need the gift of prophecy to make it; for if the money could not be got whilst there was the chance of a prize, there wou’d be little hopes of receiving it in a case of a Blank.
What kind of Land may be included in the next surveys, I cannot undertake to determine; but should think it hard if the District allow’d us, never yet half explored, shou’d not be able to afford more than 127,000 acres of good land, the quantity now patented. I have rather exceeded the bounds of a letter, by endeavoring to give you some idea of this matter; after which I have only to repeat, that I have no power to redress the complaint, even if I had adjudged it reasonable, which in truth I do not, as I have declared upon this, & shall do upon every other occasion, when call’d upon.—Notwithstanding I am informed,—that you have been pleased to complain of the advantage which Doctr. Craik & I (why not Colo. Fry & Colo. Mercer also) have reaped in a distinct allotment, the reasons of which I endeavor’d, in as clear & distinct a manner as I could to account for; and as far as I was concern’d in the distinction, if it is considered in this light, with openness & candour; with what propriety am I accused then? Did it matter anything, whether Doctr. Craik, Mr. West or Mr. Polson was left out of the large Survey, so far as the general end respecting quantity was answered by it? And if it did not, was there any person better entitled to the indulgence than the Doctor, considered in every point of view? I think not, and admitting that by fixing my Lott in this Survey, & turning others out, the amount of the Claims had corrisponded as nearly as now with the quantity of the Survey; was there any reason for doing of it? if not, why shou’d it have happened?—
I did not on the one hand, pick the Surveys that were assigned me, either from the excellency of the Land, or convenience of situation; If I had, I should have avoided the largest Tract I now have (composing a full moiety of my quantum) as every inch of it, from the Surveyors’ account, is subject to be overflowed—nor did I, on the other, object to the fifty thousand on account of the Land, for if I had my choice of the whole country, I should have fixed in this Survey, but because I thought (after the Land became patented) if any additional trouble was to be encounter’d (from the strange manner of granting it) it might as well fall upon others, as me; as my shoulders had supported the whole weight heretofore; and in as much as I might add without much arrogance, that if it had not been for my unremitted attention to every favorable circumstance, not a singe acre of Land would ever have been obtained.
TO JAMES WOOD.1
13 March, 1773.
Herewith you will receive Lord Dunmore’s certificates of my claims (as well in my own right as by purchase from Captain Posey and Mr. Thruston) in the location of which in the government of West Florida I shall rely on your friendship and care.
Unnecessary it is to add that I should choose good land or none at all. But as many things concur to make land valuable, it is impossible for me at this distance, and under my present knowledge of that country, to be explicit in any direction. Suffice it then to observe, generally, that I would greatly prefer the land upon the river, to lands back from it; that I should not like to be in a low morassy country, nor yet in that which is hilly and broken; and that, from the idea I entertain of that country at this time, I should like to be as high up the Mississippi as the navigation is good, having been informed that the lands are better, and the climate more temperate in the northern parts of the government than below.
If I could get the lands equally good in one survey, I should prefer it. If not, then in one or more as circumstances require. Perhaps some locations already made upon the river might for a small consideration be bought; if so, I would rather advance a little money than put with less valuable land. You will please to have the grant surveyed and effectually secured, with such indulgences as those claiming under the proclamation of 1763 are entitled to; and do all and every thing in my behalf which shall to you seem right and proper; the cost of doing which I will pay, and moreover for your faithful discharge of this trust allow you the sum of one hundred pounds Virginia currency on the due execution of it. Wishing you a pleasant tour and safe return to your friends.1
TO JAMES WOOD.
Mt. Vernon, 30 March, 1773.
I intended to have had a little further conversation with you on the subject of the Florida Lands, but my haste to leave Williamsburg and your dining out the day I did do so, prevented it. I addressed a short letter to you by way of memorandum, and left it with Mr. Southall. I hope you received it; that I may be satisfied you did so, please to advise me, as the governor’s certificates of my claim were inclosed therein.
These certificates will be sufficient authority for the governor of West Florida to warrant the surveys, and if any scruple is entertained of my purchases from Mr. Thruston and Captain Posey, I shall remove it by transmitting their bonds which should have accompanied this letter could I have been assured of its reaching your hands before your departure.
You will readily perceive by the tenor of my last that it is good land, or none, I am now in pursuit of; and that I could wish to have it procured in such a part of the country as from your own observation aided by information, you shall judge most valuable; although in accomplishing of it, I pay a little more. For these reasons it is I avoid particular directions. I shall place a generous confidence in your integrity, having no doubt either of your ability or inclination to serve me. By meeting with Mr. Gist, and others of your old acquaintances you will have it in your power of forming from their accounts a pretty general, and perhaps just idea of the nature of the country; and of determining by your own observations on them whether the lands on the Mississippi, the Mobile, or elsewhere, promise in futuro to become most valuable. Not till after which I would recommend it to you to fix on your locations. Doctor Connolly is curious in his observations and sensible in his remarks. To him, therefore, I have wrote (as he has been pleased to solicit my correspondence) requesting his assistance to you. I have also taken the liberty of writing to the Governor of West Florida expressing my hopes of obtaining this land (and more) in case you should think proper to locate it in that government, agreeable to the tenor of his Majesty’s proclamation; mentioning at the same time your intended tour, and the discretionary power I had vested you with; and as Lord Dunmore promised me that he would give you an introduction to him, I hope you received it.
It would appear to me from the words of his Majesty’s proclamation of October 1763, that those who obtain land under it are not only entitled to an exemption of quit rents for ten years, but exempt also from cultivation and improvement for the same term. Of this latter, however, please to be informed from the best authority, as in the event of it, I should be strongly [inclined] to extend my views beyond the quantity I here claim, especially as the time allowed for doing it is not short and difficult to be complied with. This, therefore, is a matter I would beg leave to refer to your consideration; requesting in case you find the country from a comparative view of it desirable, good lands easy to be obtained, and not difficult to keep under the established rules of government, that you would increase my quantity to fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five thousand acres. In short I could wish to have as much good land located in a body or contiguous together (for the convenience of the superintendence) as I could save without much difficulty or expence, even if the first ten thousand should be subject to the same laws of cultivation with the last.
Various are the reports concerning the quit rents and purchase money of these lands; but it appears evident to me from the strict sense and letter of the Proclamation, that the governor has no right to exact more than is demanded in Virginia or any other of his Majesty’s colonies, in none of which, I believe, nore than two shillings sterling rent, and ten shillings right money, are required. * * *
TO BENEDICT CALVERT.
Mount Vernon, 3 April, 1773.
I am now set down to write to you on a subject of importance, and of no small embarrassment to me. My son-in-law and ward, Mr. Custis, has, as I have been informed, paid his addresses to your second daughter, and, having made some progress in her affections, has solicited her in marriage. How far a union of this sort may be agreeable to you, you best can tell; but I should think myself wanting in candor, were I not to confess, that Miss Nellie’s amiable qualities are acknowledged on all hands, and that an alliance with your family will be pleasing to his.
This acknowledgment being made, you must permit me to add, Sir, that at this, or in any short time, his youth, inexperience, and unripened education, are, and will be, insuperable obstacles, in my opinion, to the completion of the marriage. As his guardian, I conceive it my indispensable duty to endeavor to carry him through a regular course of education (many branches of which, I am sorry to add, he is totally deficient in), and to guard his youth to a more advanced age before an event, on which his own peace and the happiness of another are to depend, takes place. Not that I have any doubt of the warmth of his affections, nor, I hope I may add, any fears of a change in them; but at present I do not conceive that he is capable of bestowing that attention to the important consequences of the married state, which is necessary to be given by those, who are about to enter into it, and of course I am unwilling he should do it till he is. If the affection, which they have avowed for each other, is fixed upon a solid basis, it will receive no diminution in the course of two or three years, in which time he may prosecute his studies, and thereby render himself more deserving of the lady and useful to society. If, unfortunately, as they are both young, there should be an abatement of affection on either side, or both, it had better precede than follow marriage.
Delivering my sentiments thus freely will not, I hope, lead you into a belief, that I am desirous of breaking off the match. To postpone it is all I have in view; for I shall recommend to the young gentleman, with the warmth that becomes a man of honor, (notwithstanding he did not vouchsafe to consult either his mother or me on the occasion,) to consider himself as much engaged to your daughter, as if the indissoluble knot were tied; and, as the surest means of effecting this, to apply himself closely to his studies, (and in this advice I flatter myself you will join me,) by which he will, in a great measure, avoid those little flirtations with other young ladies, that may, by dividing the attention, contribute not a little to divide the affection.
It may be expected of me, perhaps, to say something of property; but, to descend to particulars, at this time, must seem rather premature. In general, therefore, I shall inform you, that Mr. Custis’s estate consists of about fifteen thousand acres of land, a good part of it adjoining the city of Williamsburg, and none of it forty miles from that place; several lots in the said city; between two and three hundred negroes; and about eight or ten thousand pounds upon bond, and in the hands of his merchants. This estate he now holds independent of his mother’s dower, which will be an addition to it at her death; and, upon the whole, it is such an estate as you will readily acknowledge ought to entitle him to a handsome portion with a wife. But as I should never require a child of my own to make a sacrifice of himself to interest, so neither do I think it incumbent on me to recommend it as a guardian.
At all times when you, Mrs. Calvert, or the young ladies, can make it convenient to favor us with a visit, we should be happy in seeing you at this place. Mrs. Washington and Miss Custis join me in respectful compliments, and
I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO LORD DUNMORE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Mount Vernon, 13 April, 1773.
In obedience to your Lordship’s request, I do myself the honor to inform you, that, by letters this day received from Dr. Cooper of King’s College in New York, I find it will be about the first of next month before I shall set off for that place, and that it will perhaps be the middle of June before I return. Harvest then coming on, and seldom ending till after the middle of July, I could almost wish to see it accomplished; but if the delay in doing it is attended with any kind of inconvenience to your Lordship, I will, at all events, be ready by the first of July to accompany you through any and every part of the western country, which you may think proper to visit.
I beg the favor of your Lordship to inform me, therefore, as nearly as you can, of the precise time you will do me the honor of calling here, that I may get ready accordingly, and give notice of it to Mr. Crawford (if your Lordship purposes to take the route of Pittsburg), whom I took the liberty of recommending as a good woods-man, and well acquainted with the lands in that quarter, that he may be disengaged when we get to his house, which is directly on that communication. I am persuaded, that such a person will be found very necessary in an excursion of this sort, from his superior knowledge of the country, and of the inhabitants, who are thinly scattered over it.
No person can be better acquainted with the equipage and simple conveniences necessary in an undertaking of this sort, than your Lordship, and, therefore, it would be impertinent in me to mention them; but if your Lordship should find it convenient to have any thing provided in this part of the country, and will please to honor me with your commands, they shall be punctually obeyed. As, also, if your Lordship chooses to have an Indian engaged, I will write to Colonel Croghan, Deputy Indian Agent, who lives near Pittsburg, to have one provided.
The design of my journey to New York is to take my son-in-law, Mr. Custis, to King’s College. If your Lordship, therefore, has any letters or commands, either to that place or Philadelphia, I shall think myself honored in being the bearer of them, as well as benefited by means of the introduction. I am, &c.
TO COLONEL BASSETT.
Mount Vernon, 25 April, 1773.
The interruption of the post for several weeks, prevented our receiving the melancholy account of your loss until within these few days. That we sympathize in the misfortune, and lament the decree which has deprived you of so dutiful a child, and the world of so promising a young lady, stands in no need, I hope, of argument to prove; but the ways of Providence being inscrutable, and the justice of it not to be scanned by the shallow eye of humanity, nor to be counteracted by the utmost efforts of human power or wisdom, resignation, and as far as the strength of our reason and religion can carry us, a cheerful acquiescence to the Divine Will, is what we are to aim; and I am persuaded that your own good sense will arm you with fortitude to withstand the stroke, great as it is, and enable you to console Mrs. Bassett, whose loss and feelings are much to be pitied.
By letters from Doct’r Cooper, President of the College in New York, my departure for that place is now fixed to about the 8th of May, which puts it out of my power to attend the meeting in Williamsburg this Court. I have therefore by Mr. Henderson inclosed several letters to and drafts upon different people for money, to Col. Fielding Lewis, who wrote me that he should be in Williamsburg; but if sickness, or any other unforeseen accident should prevent his attendance, I should take it very kind of you to ask for and open my letter to him and comply with the contents in respect to the receiving and paying of money.
Mrs. Washington, in her letter to Mrs. Bassett, informs her of Jack Custis’s engagement with Nelly Calvert, second daughter of Benedict Calvert, Esq., of Maryland. I shall say nothing further therefore on the subject than that I could have wished he had postponed entering into that engagement till his studies were finished. Not that I have any objection to the match, as she is a girl of exceeding good character; but because I fear, as he has discovered much fickleness already, that he may either change, and therefore injure the young lady; or that it may precipitate him into a marriage before, I am certain, he has ever bestowed a serious thought of the consequences; by which means his education is interrupted and he perhaps wishing to be at liberty again before he is fairly embarked on those important duties.
My sincere good wishes attend Mrs. Bassett and ye family.
JOURNEY TO NEW YORK, 1773.1
May 10. I set out on my journey to New York, lodged at Mr Calvert’s.
11. Breakfasted at Mr. Igns. Digges. Dined at the Coffee House in Annapolis, and lodged at the Governor’s.
12. Dined, supped, and lodged at the Governor’s.
13. After breakfast, and about 8 o’clock, set out for Rockhall, where we arrived in two hours and 25 minutes. Dined on board the Annapolis, at Chestertown, and supped and lodged at Mr. Ringgold’s.
14. Stop’d at Georgetown on Sassafras, and dined and lodged at Mr. Dl. Heath’s.
15. Dined at Newcastle and lodged at Wilmington.
16. Breakfasted at Chester and dined at Govr. Penn’s in Philadelphia.
17. Dined again at Govr. Penn’s and spent the evening at the Jockey Club.
18. Dined with several gentlement at our own lodgings, and went to the Assembly in the evening.
19. Dined at the Governor’s, and spent the evening at Mr. Allan’s.
20. Dined with Mr. Cadwallader, and went to the Ball.
21. Dined with Mr. Meredeth, and spent the evening at Mr. Mease’s.
22. Dined at Mr. Morris’s, and spent the evening at the Club.
23. Set out for New York with Lord Sterling, Majr. Bayard, and Mr. Custis, after breakfasting with Govr. Penn. Dined with Govr. Franklin at Burlington, and lodged at Trenton.
24. Breakfasted at Princeton; dined at Bound Brook, and reached Lord Sterling’s at Baskin’s Ridge in the afternoon.
25. Dined and lodged at Lord Sterling’s, drank tea at Mr. Kimble’s.
26. Dined at Elizabeth Town, and reached New York in the evening, which I spent at Hull’s Tavern. Lodged at a Mr Farmer’s.
27. Dined at the entertainment given by the citizens of New York to Gen’l Gage.
28. Dined with Mr. James Delancey, and went to the play and Hull’s Tavern in the evening.
29. Dined with Majr. Bayard and spent the evening with the Old Club at Hull’s.
30. Dined with Gen’l Gage, and spent the evening in my own room, writing.1
31. Set out on my return home. Dined with Captn. Kennedy near New Ark, and lodged at Amboy.
June 1. Breakfasted at Brunswick on the banks of the Princeton; dined at Princeton and lodged at Bristol.
2. Got to Philadelphia by nine o’clock to my old lodging. Dined at my lodgings and spent ye evening there.
3. Rid to the Meadows along the River before breakfast. About 11 o’clock left Phila.; dined at the Sorrel House, 13 miles from it, and lodged at the Ship Tavern, 34 off.
4. Breakfasted at the Sign of the Bull, 13 miles from ye Ship; dined at Lancaster, 19 miles further, and lodged at Wright’s Ferry, 10 miles from Lancaster.
5. Breakfasted in York Town. Dined at the Sign of the Buck, 14 miles from York, which is 12 miles from Wright’s Ferry, and lodged at Suttons, 15 miles from the Buck.
6. Breakfasted at Slades, 10 miles from Suttons, and dined and lodged at Baltimore Town.
7. Breakfasted at the Widow Ramsay’s, 15 miles from Baltimore, and lodged at Mr. Calvert’s.
8. Reach’d home to dinner, about 2 o’clock.
* * * * * *
TO COLONEL BASSETT.
Mount Vernon, 20th June, 1773.
It is an easier matter to conceive, than to describe the distress of this Family; especially that of the unhappy Parent of our Dear Patsy Custis, when I inform you that yesterday removed the Sweet Innocent Girl Entered into a more happy & peaceful abode than any she has met with in the afflicted Path she hitherto has trod.1
She rose from Dinner about four o’clock in better health and spirits than she appeared to have been in for some time; soon after which she was seized with one of her usual Fits, & expired in it, in less than two minutes without uttering a word, a groan, or scarce a sigh.—This sudden, and unexpected blow, I scarce need add has almost reduced my poor Wife to the lowest ebb of Misery; which is encreas’d by the absence of her son, (whom I have just fixed at the College in New York from whence I returned the 8th Inst) and want of the balmy consolation of her Relations; which leads me more than ever to wish she could see them, and that I was Master of Arguments powerful enough to prevail upon Mrs. Dandridge to make this place her entire & absolute home. I should think as she lives a lonesome life (Betsey being married) it might suit her well, & be agreeable, both to herself & my Wife, to me most assuredly it would.
I do not purpose to add more at present, the end of my writing being only to inform you of this unhappy change.—
Our Sincere Affections are offered to Mrs. Bassett, Mrs. Dandridge, & all other Friends, & I am very sincerely
ADVERTISEMENT OF THE OHIO LANDS.1
Mount Vernon in Virginia,July 15, 1773.
THE Subscriber having obtained Patents for upwards of TWENTY THOUSAND Acres of LAND on the Ohio and Great Kanhawa (Ten Thousand of which are situated on the banks of the first-mentioned river, between the mouths of the two Kanhawas, and the remainder on the Great Kanhawa, or New River, from the mouth, or near it, upwards, in one continued survey) proposes to divide the same into any sized tenements that may be desired, and lease them upon moderate terms, allowing a reasonable number of years rent free, provided, within the space of two years from next October, three acres for every fifty contained in each lot, and proportionably for a lesser quantity, shall be cleared, fenced, and tilled; and that, by or before the time limited for the commencement of the first rent, five acres for every hundred, and proportionably, as above, shall be enclosed and laid down in good grass for meadow; and moreover, that at least fifty good fruit trees for every like quantity of land shall be planted on the Premises. Any persons inclinable to settle on these lands may be more fully informed of the terms by applying to the subscriber, near Alexandria, or in his absence, to Mr. LUND WASHINGTON; and would do well in communicating their intentions before the 1st of October next, in order that a sufficient number of lots may be laid off to answer the demand.
As these lands are among the first which have been surveyed in the part of the country they lie in, it is almost needless to premise that none can exceed them in luxuriance of soil, or convenience of situation, all of them lying upon the banks either of the Ohio or Kanhawa, and abounding with fine fish and wild fowl of various kinds, as also in most excellent meadows, many of which (by the bountiful hand of nature) are, in their present state, almost fit for the scythe. From every part of these lands water carriage is now had to Fort Pitt, by an easy communication; and from Fort Pitt up the Monongahela, to Redstone, vessels of convenient burthen, may and do pass continually; from whence, by means of Cheat River, and other navigable branches of the Monongahela it is thought the portage to Potowmack may, and will, be reduced within the compass of a few miles, to the great ease and convenience of the settlers in transporting the produce of their lands to market. To which may be added, that as patents have now actually passed the seals for the several tracts here offered to be leased, settlers on them may cultivate and enjoy the lands in peace and safety, notwithstanding the unsettled counsels respecting a new colony on the Ohio; and as no right money is to be paid for these lands, and quitrent of two shillings sterling a hundred, demandable some years hence only, it is highly presumable that they will always be held upon a more desirable footing than where both these are laid on with a very heavy hand. And it may not be amiss further to observe, that if the scheme for establishing a new government on the Ohio, in the manner talked of, should ever be effected, these must be among the most valuable lands in it, not only on account of the goodness of soil, and the other advantages above enumerated, but from their contiguity to the seat of government, which more than probable will be fixed at the mouth of the Great Kanhawa.
TO WILLLIAM CRAWFORD.
Mount Vernon, 25 September, 1773.
I have heard, (the truth of which, if you saw Lord Dunmore in his way to or from Pittsburg you possibly are better acquainted with than I am,) that his Lordship will grant patents for lands lying below the Scioto, to the officers and soldiers, who claim under the proclamation of October, 1763. If so, I think no time should be lost in having them surveyed, lest some new revolution should happen in our political system. I have, therefore, by this conveyance, written to Captain Bullet, to desire he will have ten thousand acres surveyed for me; five thousand of which I am entitled to in my own right, the other five thousand by purchase from a captain and lieutenant.
I have desired him to get this quantity of land in one tract, if to be had of the first quality; if not, then in two, or even in three, agreeably to the several rights under which I hold, rather than survey bad land for me, or even that which is middling. I have also desired him to get it as near the mouth of the Scioto, that is, to the western bounds of the new colony as may be; but for the sake of better lands, I would go quite down to the Falls, or even below, meaning thereby to get richer and wider bottoms, as it is my desire to have my lands run out upon the banks of the Ohio. If you should go down the river this fall, in order to look out your own quantity under the proclamation, I shall be much obliged to you for your assistance to Captain Bullet, in getting these ten thousand acres for me, of the most valuable land you can, and I will endeavor to make you ample amends for your trouble; but I by no means wish or desire you to go down on my account, unless you find it expedient on your own. Of this I have written to Captain Bullet, under cover to you, desiring, if you should be with him, that he will ask your assistance.
As I have understood that Captain Thompson (by what authority I know not) has been surveying a good deal of land for the Pennsylvania officers, and that Dr. Connolly has a promise from our Governor of two thousand acres at the Falls, I have desired Captain Bullet by no means to involve me in disputes with any person, who has an equal claim to land with myself, under the proclamation of 1763. As to the pretensions of other people, it is not very essential; as I am told that the Governor has declared he will grant patents to none but the officers and soldiers, who are comprehended within the proclamation aforementioned; but even of these claims, if I could get lands equally as good, as convenient, and as valuable in every respect, elsewhere, I should choose to steer clear.1
Old David Wilper, who was an officer in our regiment, and has been with Bullet running out land for himself and others, tells me, that they have already discovered salt springs in that country, three of which Captain Thompson has included within some surveys he has made; and the other, an exceedingly valuable one, upon the River Kentucky, is in some kind of dispute. I wish I could establish one of my surveys there; I would immediately turn it to an extensive public benefit, as well as private advantage. However, as four are already discovered, it is more than probable there are many others, and if you could come at the knowledge of them by means of the Indians or otherwise, I would join you in taking them up in the name or names of some persons, who have a right under the proclamation, and whose right we can be sure of buying, as it seems there is no other method of having lands granted; but this should be done with a good deal of circumspection and caution, till patents are obtained.
I did not choose to forego the opportunity of writing to you by the gentlemen, who are going to divide their land at the mouth of the great Kenhawa, though I could wish to have delayed it till I could hear from the Governor, to whom I have written, to know certainly whether he will grant patents for the land which Captain Bullet is surveying, that one may proceed with safety; as also whether a discretionary power, which I had given Mr. Wood to select my land in West Florida, under an information, even from his Lordship himself, that lands could not be had here, would be any bar to my surveying on the Ohio; especially as I have heard since Mr. Wood’s departure, that all the lands on that part of the Mississippi, to which he was restricted by me, are already engaged by the emigrants, who have resorted to that country. Should I, however, receive any discouraging account from his Lordship on these heads, I shall embrace the first opportunity that offers afterwards to acquaint you with it.
By Mr. Lëet I informed you of the unhappy cause, which prevented my going out this fall. But I hope nothing will prevent my seeing you in that country in the spring. The precise time, as yet, it is not in my power to fix; but I should be glad if you would let me know how soon it may be attended with safety, ease, and comfort, after which I will fix upon a time to be at your house.
I am in the mean while, with sincere good wishes for you, Mrs. Crawford, and family, your friend, &c.
TO MICHAEL CRESAP.
Mount Vernon, 26th Septemr 1773.
In my passage down the Ohio in the Fall of the year 1770, I made choice of a piece of Land, being the first bottom on the So East side the river above Capteening, as also a little above a place where the effects of a hurricane appear among the Trees, and opposite to a Creek on the other side near the upper end of the bottom, call’d Pipe Creek.1 The next Spring, when Capt: Crawford went down the Ohio to survey, I desired him to run out this Land for me, which he accordingly did, & returned me the Plat of it, as you may see by the inclosed copy; intending as soon as a Patent could be obtained, to apply for me. The summer following, hearing that Doctor Brisco had taken possession of this bottom, (altho’ inform’d of my claim to it) I wrote him a letter, of which the inclos’d is a copy.—And within these few days I have heard (the truth of which I know not) that you, upon the Doctor’s quitting of it, have also taken possession of it. If this information be true, I own I can conceive no reason why you or any other person should attempt to disturb me in my claim to this Land, as I have not, to my knowledge, injur’d or attempted to injure, any other man in his pretensions to Land in that country; it is a little hard, therefore upon me that I cannot be allowed to hold this bottom (which is but a small one) in peace and quietness, ’till a legal right can be obtained, which I always have been and still am ready to pay for, as soon as I know to what office to apply.—I would feign hope that my information respecting your taking possession of this Land, is without foundation; as I should be sorry to enter into a litigation of this matter with you or any other Gentleman; but as I conceiv’d that I had as good a right to make choice of this bottom, as any other person has; as I am sure that I am the first that did so, and have had it survey’d so as to ascertain the bounds, upwards of two years ago, I am resolved not to relinquish my claim to it.—But if you have made any Improvements thereon not knowing of my claim, I will very readily pay you the full value thereof being, etc.
TO COLONEL ARMSTRONG.
Mount Vernon, 10 October, 1773.
Upon my return home from the Annapolis races (from whence I wrote you, committing the letter to the care of Capt. McGachen of Baltimore Town, who assured me it should be forwarded the week after,) I received a letter from Lord Dunmore, our Governor, containing the following paragraph, which I enclose for your information, agreeable to my promise.
“I last post received yours of the 12th inst.1 (that is September) wherein you beg to be informed whether I propose granting patents to such officers and soldiers as claim under his Majesty’s proclamation in 8ber 1763. I do not mean to grant any patents on the Western waters, as I do not think I am at present impowered so to do. I did indeed tell a poor old German lieutenant who was with me,2 and informed me he was very poor and had ten children, that I possibly might grant him a patent contiguous to that which he had under Mr. Dinwiddie’s proclamation, which, I suppose, is what may have given rise to the report you have heard.”
I was suspicious, as I think I wrote you in my last, that the report of Lord Dunmore’s granting patents was rather premature; for after declaring to the officers of his own government that he did not conceive himself at liberty to issue patents for lands on the Western Waters, I could scarce think he would change his opinion without giving them some intimation of it, either in a publick or private manner; and yet there are some words in his letter (which I have marked) which seem to imply an expectation at least of doing it. It remains therefore to be considered, whether the officers claiming under his Majesty’s proclamation of 1763 have a better chance of securing their lands elsewhere; and if they have not, whether the known equity of their claims, the prevailing opinion that Bullet is proceeding by authority in the surveys he is now making, and the united endeavors of the officers to obtain patents for the lands actually surveyed, may not discourage other emigrants from settling thereon; and, in the end, induce government to comply with their just requisitions by fulfilling its own voluntary promises. I own it is a kind of lottery, and whether the chance of a prize is not worth the expense of a survey, is the point in question. As subjects and individuals of the community at large, we are at least upon a par with those who are occupying the country; but whether any of these pleas, under the present discouragements of government, will avail anything, is a mere matter of speculation, on which every person must exercise his own powers of reflection.
TO LORD DUNMORE.
Williamsburg, 2 November, 1773.
Urged by repeated applications from a number of officers, whom I have had the honor to command in the service of this colony, I take the liberty of addressing your Excellency on the subject of the lands, which the gentlemen conceive themselves entitled to under his Majesty’s bounty of October, 1763.
The exception in favor of the officers and soldiers, contained in his Majesty’s order in Council,1 of the 6th of April last, they humbly conceive is so strong an implication of your Lordship’s right to grant them these lands, as to remove every restraint you were under before; and as there are no waste lands to be had in this colony, but such as lie upon the western waters, they humbly pray for leave to survey on the river Ohio, and its waters, below the mouth of Scioto (the western boundary of the new colony, should it ever take place), apprehending that your Excellency has an undoubted right to grant patents for these lands, since they have ever been considered as appertaining to Virginia, warranted, as they have been informed, by the Colony Charter, and sold by the Six Nations at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, in 1768. Nor is the right thereto, it is humbly presumed, by any means diminished by the nominal line, commonly called the Ministerial Line; since that transaction seems to have been considered by government as a temporary expedient, at the instigation of the Indian Agent, to satisfy the southern Indians, who, as it is said, have disclaimed any right to the very lands in contest; and no further regard has been paid to it by the ministers themselves.
The officers of the Virginia troops, impressed with these sentiments, and having undoubted reason to believe, that there is no other chance left them to obtain their lands, but on the Ohio, and knowing at the same time, that the officers of Pennsylvania, under a belief that these lands appertain to Virginia, and that patents will be granted for them, have surveyed two hundred thousand acres,—would fain hope, that they may be allowed to proceed by authority to make their surveys also, anywhere upon the Ohio, or its waters, below the Scioto; humbly representing to your Lordship, that a delay in this case is, in effect, equal to a refusal, as the country is becoming spread over with emigrants, and experience has convinced all those, who have had occasion to attend to the matter, that these people when once fixed are not to be dispossessed, were it politic to attempt it.
The officers have an entire confidence in your Lordship’s disposition to promote their just rights. They have no other dependence, and they hope to be put on an equal footing with those other officers, whose pretensions are not better founded than their own.
The part I take in bringing this matter to a hearing will, I hope, meet with your Lordship’s excuse, as I am, with the greatest respect, my Lord, your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble servant.1
[1 ]A tenant of Washington, occupying “Lot 6,” in his Fauquier property.
[1 ]This move to colonize in Florida was made by an association styling itself the “Military Company of Adventurers,” composed of those who had served in the provincial army in the late war. This company expected to obtain the grant from the British government of a large tract of territory in “West Florida” (now Mississippi), on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers—territory that had been thrown open to settlement by the creation of a new State, Florida, after the peace of 1763. This company appointed General Phineas Lyman, of Connecticut, to press its claims on the ministry, but he found so much opposition to it that he was unable to effect his purpose. Without waiting for a formal grant, the company in Jany., 1773, sent a party from New York to take possession. “After a long voyage they arrived at Pensacola, and there, to their great disappointment and chagrin, found that the Governor had no authority to grant them lands as had been represented. Considerable time was spent in negotiations on the subject, and exploring the rivers and adjacent country; but no settlement was made.” Walker, History of Athens County, Ohio, i., 26, 27. Gentleman’s Magazine, 1772, 63, 355 509. Franklin’s Writings. A letter from Washington to William Edwards, the Governor of West Florida, introducing Mr. Wood, is printed in Sparks, Writings of Washington, ii., 369.
[1 ]From an interleaved Almanac.
[1 ]“Enclosed you have a set of bills for one hundred pounds sterling, which please to set at the prevailing exchange, and retain the money in your own hands to answer Mr. Custis’s expenses at college, and such calls as he may have for cash to defray the incident expenses of his abode in this city.
[1 ]“19. About five o’clock poor Patey Custis died suddenly.”—From an interleaved Almanac.
[1 ]Printed in The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, 20 August, 1773; and Pennsylvania Gazette, September, 1773.
[1 ]1773. Augt. 23. “In the afternoon came David Allan and James Whitelaw, two Scotchmen, empowered by a number of families about Glasgow, to look out land for two hundred families, who had a mind to settle in America.
[1 ]Some Pennsylvania officers, claimants to land on the Ohio, among them being Col. John Armstrong, sent Capt. William Thompson to meet Capt. Bullet at the mouth of the Scioto, and make surveys in that region.
[1 ]Page 295, ante.
[1 ]I have not been able to discover this letter of Washington’s.
[2 ]David Wilper.
[1 ]This order in Council may be found in Documents relating to the Colonial History of New York, viii., 357, 358.
[1 ]“The favorable account, which you were pleased to transmit to me, of Mr. Custis’s conduct at college, gave me very great satisfaction. I hoped to have felt an increase of it by his continuance at that place, under a gentleman so capable of instructing him in every branch of useful knowledge. But this hope is at an end; and it has been against my wishes, that he should quit college, in order that he may enter soon into a new scene of life, which I think he would be much fitter for some years hence, than now. But having his own inclination, the desires of his mother, and the acquiescence of almost all his relatives to encounter, I did not care, as he is the last of the family, to push my opposition too far, and I have therefore submitted to a kind of necessity.