Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1774. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775)
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1774. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. II (1758-1775).
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TO WILLIAM BLACK.
Mount Vernon—17th Jan’y—1774.
I was not a little surprized when informed by your own letter, as well as from Mr. Hill’s, of Mrs. Black’s having refused to acknowledge her right of Dower in the Lands I bought of you. Did you not repeatedly assure me, that she was ready at all times, to relinquish her right? and did she not signify as much to me herself, as I brought her from Williamsburg to Colo. Bassett’s? From whence then does this sudden change proceed? Is it because I placed more confidence than I ought, & to make things agreeable to you, & convenient to your creditors, paid the money in Williamsburg, when I was not obliged to do it ’till the Title was effectually secured, & had ’till the 25th of Decr to do this in? A generous mind would recoil at such a thought: & yet what other construction can I put upon this change. You say “I tell her she only wants the customary compliment” for my own part, I know of no compliment established by Custom: I have bought many pieces of Land before these, and never had a demand of the kind; nor can I harbor so unfavorable an opinion of Mrs. Black, as to think she is influenced by so low and pitiful a consideration; however, if I misjudge the matter, and the custom is, as you say, you must have comply’d with it yourself; whatever, therefore, you have given to others, for these very Lands, I will (tho’ I think myself under no obligation to do it) give to Mrs. Black, which will remove that objection.—But if I was surprized at this refusal of Mrs. Black’s, how much more so ought I to be, at your attempting, according to Mr. Hill’s account, to withhold the Mills, which is solely an act of your own? Under what pretext is this done? Do you not remember, that by our agreement you were to deliver possession of the plantations, Mills, and every thing thereunto belonging, immediately after the 25th of Decemr; & that you are bound to do this in a Bond of £11,000—? But this bond you tell me must be given up to you, before you can surrender possession of the premises, when one of the express conditions of it, is to enforce a compliance: Is not your request, therefore, a very reasonable & proper one? To convince you that it is so, I enclose you a copy of the Bond (as you certainly have forgot it) accompanied with this assurance, that I shall hold fast the Original, till you have complyed with the conditions of it; after which, as it is not intended, nor can have any further operation, it is a matter of moonshine in whose hands it is lodged, or what becomes of it.
Thus much respecting the Dower & Detainer in general, I shall observe further to you, that though it never was my intention or desire, to hasten Mrs. Black out of the House, whilst the weather continued unfavorable, yet, when you applyed for this & some other indulgences, did I not always tell you, that I thought myself under no obligation to enter into a second contract on this head? And did I not moreover refuse to sign an instrument of writing which you had drawn, declaratory of your wants because I chose to be govern’d by circumstances, & the future conduct of your people; not that I had any objection, (as I dare say I might tell you) to your Negroes staying on the plantations to finish your crops, & take care of your stock, provided there was room for my people, & yours behaved themselves well, neither disturbing of us in our operations, nor committing of waste; so in like manner respecting the vessell,—but these being apply’d for as matters of indulgence, after you had enter’d into a Solemn contract to deliver up the whole, on or before the 25th of December, whence comes it, that, after having fulfilled every tittle of the contract on my part, you should conceive yourself at liberty to withhold the Mills, & talk of not delivering up possession, ’till I should first surrender a Bond, wh’ch is the only security I have for your doing of it, and for indemnifying me against Mrs. Black’s claim; after I have paid every farthing of the purchase money.—
Is there honor, justice or equity in such kind of proceedings? No, Sir, there is not, & to cut the matter short, I have directed Mr. Hill to wait upon you, & before evidences to demand immediate possession of the two Mills,—to view & note down, before the same evidences, the order & condition of the houses, &c., occupied by you and your people,—to require you to hasten the finishing of your crops, that all your people, except such as are necessary for the care of your stock may be transported—and lastly, that you may remove yourself & Family, as soon as the weather will permit Mrs. Black to go with convenience, that my people may have the free & uninterrupted management of the whole purchased premises.—And to this, I have to add by way of hint to you, that, whatever accident or damage comes to the Mills, Mill-Dams, or any house, houses, or other things in your occupation; I shall look to you for full & ample reparation for the same; as I also do, for the profits of the Mill, till surrender’d, which can easily be ascertained by your own advertisements.—It was far from my expectation, & much further from my desire, to enter into a litigation of those points, but I shall conceive it a duty incumbent on me to assert a just right; and to see that the bargain which we have made, is reciprocally complied with.—
I do not incline to take any part of your household furniture;—the fixtures appurtaining to the houses, I expect will remain entire.—but if Mr. Hill should choose (I do not know that he does) to take any part, or all of your Stocks, & you & he can agree upon the terms, he has my consent:—but as to the negro Miller & wife, I shall not interfere in the purchase of them, for if Mr. Hill should like the Negroes & price, I suppose he will buy them; but if he does not, he would be to blame to do it.
P. S. The Bond from Col: Byrd’s Trustees to me, I have by this opportunity sent to Mr. Wythe, from whom you can get it, so soon as he thinks it ought to be given up:—the other may also be surrender’d, so soon as you have comply’d with the conditions of it.
TO COLONEL BASSETT.
Mount Vernon, 12 Feby. 1774.
I find there will go some matters from this country, which will make my attendance at the Assembly necessary; this I cannot possibly do and go over the Mountains this Spring. I have therefore determined, much against my Inclination & Interest, to postpone my Trip to the Ohio till after Harvest (as I cannot well be absent from home at that Season.) As March therefore (at least the first of it) is a disagreeable Season to travel our Roads In, and as I am obliged [illegible] to run land about the 20th of the month of March, and from thence proceed into Frederick and Berkeley I hope it will be agreeable and convenient to Mrs. Bassett and you to give us the pleasure of seeing you here after that time; the Roads and Weather will be then good: our Fisheries will be then come on, and I think you will have more satisfaction than in an earlier visit.
The Letter herewith Inclosed for Mr. Dandridge contains Black’s Bond which Mr. Wythe has advised me to lodge in some safe hands to be tendered to that pritty Gentleman upon his complying with the Conditions of it. As the care of it is a thing of the utmost Importance, I should be obliged to you (if Captn. Crawford should not go to Mr. Dandridge’s himself) to send the letter by Abram, or some careful Person, least the Bond should get lost.
As I am very much hurried just now, by business of different kinds, and as I presume my Wife has informed Mrs. Bassett of Jack’s Marriage, and all the other little occurrences she can think of, I shall only request you to make my affecte. Complements to her, and the rest of the Family, and believe me to be with great truth.1
TO HENRY RIDDELL.
Mount Vernon, 22 February, 1774.
Mr. Young, hearing me express a desire of importing Palatines to settle on my lands on the Ohio, tells me, that, in discoursing of this matter in your company, you suggested an expedient, which might probably be attended with success; and that if I inclined to adopt it, you wished to be informed before the sailing of your ship.
The desire of seating and improving my lands on the Ohio, is founded on interested as well as political views. But the intention of importing Palatines for the purpose was more the effect of sudden thought, than mature consideration, because I am totally unacquainted with the manner, as well as the expense of doing it; and I was led into the notion principally from a report of either this or some other ship of yours being blamed, for not taking an offered freight of these Germans at forty shillings sterling. I was thus induced to think if this charge was not much accumulated by other expenses, that I could fall on no better expedient to settle my lands with industrious people, than by such an importation.
The terms upon which I have thought of importing Palatines, or people from Ireland, or Scotland, are these; to import them at my expense, where they are unable to transport themselves, into the Potomac River, and from hence to the Ohio; to have them, in the first case, engaged to me under indenture; in the second, by some other contract equally valid, to become tenants upon the terms hereafter mentioned; as without these securities, I would not encounter the expense, trouble, and hazard of such an importation.
But to make matters as easy and agreeable as possible to these emigrants, I will engage, on my part, that the indentures shall be considered in no other light, than as a security for reimbursing to me every expense I am under, with interest, in importing them, removing them to the land, and supporting them there, till they can raise a crop for their own subsistence; giving up the said indentures, and considering them altogether as freemen and tenants, so soon as this shall happen; not to each person or family respectively, but when the whole accumulated expense shall be discharged; as I must, for my own safety, consider them as jointly bound for this payment, till the expiration of the indented terms, otherwise I must be an inevitable loser by every death or other accident; whilst they cannot, in the worst light, be considered as more than servants at large during the indented term. I can also engage to set them down upon as good land as any in that country; and, where there is neither house built, nor land cleared, I will allow them an exemption of rent four years; and, where there is a house erected, and five acres of land cleared and fit for cultivation, two years.
They shall have the land upon lease for twenty-one years, under the usual covenants; and also at an annual rent, after the first becomes due, of four pounds sterling for each hundred acres, allowing each family to take more or less, as inclination and convenience may prompt. And I will, moreover, engage to renew the leases at the expiration of the above twenty-one years; and, in like manner, at the end of every seven years afterwards, upon an increased rent, to be agreed on between the landlord and tenant; or, in order to fix the matter absolutely, if this should be more agreeable, the rent may be increased at these periods in proportion to the increased value of that, or the adjoining lands possessed of equal advantages of soil and situation.
These are the terms on which I thought to import and plant people on my Ohio lands, which are, for the quantity, equal if not superior to any in that country; situate altogether upon the Ohio, or Great Kenhawa, two fine inland navigable rivers, abounding in fish and wild fowl of all sorts, as the lands do in wild meats of the best kind.
From Alexandria to the navigable waters of the Ohio, along a much frequented road used by wagons, is, according to the computed distance, two hundred miles. This land-carriage, if the inland navigation of the Potomac should be effected, than which I think nothing easier, will be reduced to sixty miles as matters now stand; some say to forty, and others to twenty. But call it the greatest distance, any commodity made upon any part of these lands of mine may be transported along a very easy water-communication to the settlement of Red-stone, where the land-carriage at this time begins. To say nothing, therefore, of the advantages of raising stock of all kinds, and horses, which will carry themselves to market, and are now and will, from the nature of things, continue to be in great demand in the interior parts of this great continent, hemp, flax, pot-ashes, indigo, and the like, will well afford the expense of this land-carriage, admitting it never may be reduced. and can be cultivated to advantage on the river bottoms in that country.
Having thus exhibited a general view of my design, I shall now be obliged to you, Sir, to inform me with as much precision as you can, what certainty there is that your ship will go to Holland; what probability there is of her getting Palatines, if she does go; when they may be expected in this country; what would be the freight; and, as near as you can judge, the whole incidental expense attending each person delivered at Alexandria; and, moreover, whether it would be expected, that the whole of these charges, including freight, should be paid down immediately on the arrival of the ship here, as it must appear rather hard to make a certain provision for an uncertain event.
It may not be amiss further to observe, that I see no prospect of these people being restrained in the smallest degree, either in their civil or religious principles; which I take notice of, because these are privileges, which mankind are solicitous to enjoy, and upon which emigrants must be anxious to be informed.
I wrote to Philadelphia by the last post for full information of the manner and charge of importing these people from Holland1 ; and, if your account in answer to this letter should prove agreeable to my wishes, I will send a more particular description of the lands, which I wish to settle, as well as copies of the plots, and do any other matter which may be judged necessary to further the design. I am, &c.
TO THOMAS LEWIS, ESQ.
Mount Vernon, 5th May, 1774.
Your letter of the 31st of March did not come to my hands ’till the latter end of last month; and no direct opportunity that I have heard of, has offered since, this letter taking the chance of conveyance from place to place only.—
Immediately upon the receipt of your favor by Mr. Young, I despatched a letter to Capt. Crawford (covering yours to him) pointing out the necessity of his attempting to qualify as your Deputy, at your Court for April. Before this I did not urge him (as he appeared anxious to return home) to take that rout, for two reasons:—in the first place I did not advert to the necessity of this qualification; in the next place ’till your letter arrived (which was after he was gone) I did not know whether you would accept of him as an assistant or not.—At the same time I wrote to him, I forwarded Letters under his cover, (in order to be deliver’d by him, to Mr. Madison, Mr. Jones and Capt. Hog, requesting the favor of each to facilitate his business if he came in on this errand; but what has been the result of all this I know not, never having heard a syllable from him since.—
I come now to take notice of what you have said in respect to Mr. Michael Cresap, whose claim to the round bottom and other Lands along the banks of the Ohio (for as I am credibly informed) thirty miles, is equally well founded; and founded upon no other right, or pretence than that of claiming, every good bottom upon the river; building a cabbin thereon to keep off others, and then selling them, and going on to possess other Lands in the same manner.—This if common report tells truth, is the foundation of Mr. Cresap’s claim to the round bottom; set up long after I had made choice of it, and had had it survey’d as a stage, or Lodgment between Fort Pitt, & my Lands on the Great Kenhawa:—it is true, as this is esteem’d a valuable bottom, he may have taken more pains in the improvement of it, than of the others; but his choice, or even knowledge of it, was long after I had had it survey’d.
This being the amount of his claim, I will now give you the substance of mine, which cannot be better done, than by informing you, that in the fall of the year 1770, when I went to view the Lands, which have been since surveyed under the Proclamation of 1754, I made choice of this spot of Land (called the round bottom) marked Trees, & directed Captn. Crawford, when he went down the spring following to survey it, which he accordingly did, as may appear by his certificate inclosed you by Mr. Young. Sometime after this, hearing that Doctor Brisco had taken possession of it, & actually had or was going to fix Negroes on it, I wrote him a letter of which No 1 is a copy, upon which I was informed he had quit it. Sometime after this again, I learned that Mr. Michael Cresap had taken possession of it, built houses, and was working hands thereon, upon which I also wrote him a letter of which No. 2. is the copy; and was given to understand that Mr. Theobald (or Tibbles, as he is commonly called) who was Partner with Mr. Cresap in this Land, was determined to give it up; receiving at the same time a message by Capt. Crawford from Mr. Michael Cresap, that if I would let him have the Land he would pay me what I thought the worth of it; to which I returned for answer, that as it was the only piece of Land I had upon the Ohio, between Fort Pitt and the Kenhawas, and found it very necessary as a stage or Lodgment, in coming up the river, I could not agree to part with it, but again offered to pay for any labor or improvement, which he had made.
In this situation things were, when I wrote to you by Mr. Young;—otherwise, if I had thought that Mr. Cresap could, with any color of Justice, or even at any rate (as he must be conscious, that the mode he has praticed, of engrossing & selling Lands, I should have mention’d it to you before, but in truth, from every thing that has passed, I concluded that he had yielded to my prior claim.—In like manner may my title to the three thousand acres on the waters of Sharter & Racoon) be disputed: For after that also was surveyed for me; after I had bought the rights (or claims rather) of several people to it, & after I had actually built several houses thereon, by way of strengthening my right, numbers of People went, in a forcible manner, and in defiance of repeated notices, & took possession of the Land, & built cabbins in such a manner as to prevent even entrance into my houses, & may, as Mr. Cresap has, dispute my title under pretence of having improved it;—but I do not expect that such claims as these can ever have an operation to my prejudice, or ought to retard my Patent; however, I do not wish to hasten any measure faster than it can be done with propriety.—1
SESSION OF THE HOUSE OF BURGESSES, 1774.1
2May 5. Set off for Mr. Calvert’s; dined and lodged there.
6. After dinner returned home. Mr. and Mrs. Custis and Miss Calvert came home with us. Found Mr. Tilghman here.
7. Went with the above company to a boat race and barbecue at Johnson’s ferry. Returned at night with Mr. Milner.
8. Mr. Tilghman and Mr. Milner went away after breakfast. We (that is the rest) went to Pohick Church.
9. At home all day alone.
10. Miss Calvert, Miss (?) Custis and Mr. Custis went over to Maryland. I continued at home all day. Major Waggener and Mr. Thos. Triplet dined here.
11. At home all day alone.
12. Set off with Mrs. Washington for Williamsburg. Dined at Dumfries and lodged at Col. Lewis’s in Fredericksburg.
13. At Fredericksburg all day. Dined at Col. Lewis’s and spent the evening at Weedon’s.
14. Dined at Roys Ordinary and lodged at Tods Bridge.
15. Breakfasted at Ruffins Ferry and dined and lodged at Col. Bassett’s.
16. Came to Williamsburg, dined at the Governor’s, and spent the evening at Mrs. Campbell’s.
17. Dined at the Speaker’s and spent the evening at Southall’s.
18. Dined at the club at Mrs. Campbell’s and spent the evening at Southall’s.
19. Dined and spent the evening at Mrs. Campbell’s.
20. Dined at Mrs. Campbell’s, and spent the afternoon at my own lodgings.
21. Dined at the Speaker’s and went up to Colo. Bassett’s in the afternoon.
22. At Colo. Bassett’s all day.
23. Came to Williamsburg with Mrs. Washington. Dined at the Attorneys, and spent the evening there.
24. Dined at the Speaker’s, and spent the evening at Mrs. Campbell’s.
25. Dined and spent the evening at the Governor’s.
26. Rid out with the Governor to his farm and breakfasted with him there. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s and spent the evening at my lodgings.
27. Dined at the Treasurer’s and went to the Ball given by the House of Burgesses to Lady Dunmore.
28. Dined at Mrs. Campbell’s and spent the evening at my lodgings.
29. Went to church in the fore and afternoon. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s, and spent the evening at my lodgings.
30. Dined at Mr. Southall’s. Spent the evening in my own room.
31. Dined at Mr. Charlton’s, and spent the evening in my room.
June 1st. Went to church and fasted all day.
2. Dined at Mr. Charlton’s and came up to Col. Bassett’s in the afternoon.
3. At Colo. Bassett’s all day in company with Mr. Dandridge, &c.
4. Went up by water with Mr. and Mrs. Bassett, Mrs. Dandridge and Mrs. Washington to the land bought of Black in Kings and Queens. Returned to Col. Bassett’s to dinner.
5. At Col. Bassett’s all day.
6. Set [off] with him for Williamsburg. Dined at Richard Charlton’s and supped at Anderson’s.
7. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s and spent the evening at the Raleigh.
8. Dined at the Raleigh and spent the evening at the Anderson’s.
9. Dined at the Raleigh and spent the evening there also.
10. Dined at the Raleigh and went to the fire works.
11. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s, and went up to Colo. Bassett’s in the afternoon.
12. At Col. Bassett’s all day.
13. Returned with him to Williamsburg. Dined at the Raleigh, and spent the evening at Anderson’s.
14. Dined with the Council at Southall’s; and spent the evening at Anderson’s.
15. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s and spent the evening at the Capitol at a meeting of the society for promoting useful knowledge.
16. Dined at the Governor’s and spent the evening at Anderson’s.
17. Dined at Anderson’s and spent the evening there.
18. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s and came up to Col. Bassetts in the afternoon.
19. At Colo. Bassett’s all day.
20. Set off from thence on my return home. Dined at Todd’s Bridge and lodged at Hubbard’s.
21. Breakfasted at the Bolling Green, dined and lodged at Col. Lewis’s in Fredericksburg.
22. Reached home to a late dinner, after breakfasting at Acquia.
TO BRYAN FAIRFAX.
Mount Vernon, 4 July, 1774.
John has just delivered to me your favor of yesterday, which I shall be obliged to answer in a more concise manner, than I could wish, as I am very much engaged in raising one of the additions to my house, which I think (perhaps it is fancy) goes on better whilst I am present, than in my absence from the workmen.
I own to you, Sir, I wished much to hear of your making an open declaration of taking a poll for this county, upon Colonel West’s publicly declining last Sunday; and I should have written to you on the subject, but for information then received from several gentlemen in the churchyard, of your having refused to do so, for the reasons assigned in your letter1 ; upon which, as I think the country never stood more in need of men of abilities and liberal sentiments than now, I entreated several gentlemen at our church yesterday to press Colonel Mason to take a poll, as I really think Major Broadwater,2 though a good man, might do as well in the discharge of his domestic concerns, as in the capacity of a legislator. And therefore I again express my wish, that either you or Colonel Mason would offer. I can be of little assistance to either, because I early laid it down as a maxim not to propose myself, and solicit for a second.
As to your political sentiments, I would heartily join you in them, so far as relates to a humble and dutiful petition to the throne, provided there was the most distant hope of success. But have we not tried this already? Have we not addressed the Lords, and remonstrated to the Commons? And to what end? Did they deign to look at our petitions? Does it not appear, as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness, that there is a regular, systematic plan formed to fix the right and practice of taxation upon us? Does not the uniform conduct of Parliament for some years past confirm this? Do not all the debates, especially those just brought to us, in the House of Commons on the side of government, expressly declare that America must be taxed in aid of the British funds, and that she has no longer resources within herself? Is there any thing to be expected from petitioning after this? Is not the attack upon the liberty and property of the people of Boston, before restitution of the loss to the India Company was demanded, a plain and self-evident proof of what they are aiming at? Do not the subsequent bills (now I dare say acts), for depriving the Massachusetts Bay of its charter, and for transporting offenders into other colonies or to Great Britian for trial, where it is impossible from the nature of the thing that justice can be obtained, convince us that the administration is determined to stick at nothing to carry its point? Ought we not, then, to put our virtue and fortitude to the severest test?
With you I think it a folly to attempt more than we can execute, as that will not only bring disgrace upon us, but weaken our cause; yet I think we may do more than is generally believed, in respect to the non-importation scheme. As to the withholding of our remittances, that is another point, in which I own I have my doubts on several accounts, but principally on that of justice; for I think, whilst we are accusing others of injustice, we should be just ourselves; and how this can be, whilst we owe a considerable debt, and refuse payment of it to Great Britain, is to me inconceivable. Nothing but the last extremity, I think, can justify it. Whether this is now come, is the question.
I began with telling you, that I was to write a short letter. My paper informs me I have done otherwise. I shall hope to see you to-morrow, at the meeting of the county in Alexandria, when these points are to be considered. I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and humble servant.1
TO BRYAN FAIRFAX.
Mount Vernon, 20 July, 1774.
Your letter of the 17th was not presented to me till after the resolutions, (which were adjudged advisable for this county to come to), had been revised, altered, and corrected in the committee; nor till we had gone into a general meeting in the court-house, and my attention necessarily called every moment to the business that was before it.2 I did, however, upon receipt of it, (in that hurry and bustle,) hastily run it over, and handed it round to the gentlemen on the bench of which there were many; but, as no person present seemed in the least disposed to adopt your sentiments, as there appeared a perfect satisfaction and acquiescence in the measures proposed (except from a Mr. Williamson, who was for adopting your advice literally, without obtaining a second voice on his side), and as the gentlemen, to whom the letter was shown, advised me not to have it read, as it was not like to make a convert, and repugnant, (some of them thought,) to the very principle we were contending for, I forbore to offer it otherwise than in the manner above mentioned; which I shall be sorry for, if it gives you any dissatisfaction in not having your sentiments read to the county at large, instead of communicating them to the first people in it, by offering them the letter in the manner I did.
That I differ very widely from you, in respect to the mode of obtaining a defeat [repeal] of the acts so much and so justly complained of, I shall not hesitate to acknowledge; and that this difference in opinion may probably proceed from the different constructions we put upon the conduct and intention of the ministry may also be true; but, as I see nothing, on the one hand, to induce a belief that the Parliament would embrace a favorable opportunity of repealing acts, which they go on with great rapidity to pass, and in order to enforce their tyrannical system; and, on the other, I observe, or think I observe, that government is pursuing a regular plan at the expense of law and justice to overthrow our constitutional rights and liberties, how can I expect any redress from a measure, which has been ineffectually tried already? For, Sir, what is it we are contending against? Is it against paying the duty of three pence per pound on tea because burthensome? No, it is the right only, we have all along disputed, and to this end we have already petitioned his Majesty in as humble and dutiful manner as subjects could do. Nay, more, we applied to the House of Lords and House of Commons in their different legislative capacities, setting forth, that, as Englishmen, we could not be deprived of this essential and valuable part of a constitution. If, then, as the fact really is, it is against the right of taxation that we now do, and, (as I before said,) all along have contended, why should they suppose an exertion of this power would be less obnoxious now than formerly? And what reasons have we to believe, that they would make a second attempt, while the same sentiments filled the breast of every American, if they did not intend to enforce it if possible?1
The conduct of the Boston people could not justify the rigor of their measures, unless there had been a requisition of payment and refusal of it; nor did that measure require an act to deprive the government of Massachusetts Bay of their charter, or to exempt offenders from trial in the place where offences were committed, as there was not, nor could not be, a single instance produced to manifest the necessity of it. Are not all these things self evident proofs of a fixed and uniform plan to tax us? If we want further proofs, do not all the debates in the House of Commons serve to confirm this? And has not General Gage’s conduct since his arrival, (in stopping the address of his Council, and publishing a proclamation more becoming a Turkish bashaw, than an English governor, declaring it treason to associate in any manner by which the commerce of Great Britain is to be affected,) exhibited an unexampled testimony of the most despotic system of tyranny, that ever was practised in a free government? In short, what further proofs are wanted to satisfy one of the designs of the ministry, than their own acts, which are uniform and plainly tending to the same point, nay, if I mistake not, avowedly to fix the right of taxation? What hope then from petitioning, when they tell us, that now or never is the time to fix the matter? Shall we, after this, whine and cry for relief, when we have already tried it in vain? Or shall we supinely sit and see one province after another fall a prey to despotism? If I was in any doubt, as to the right which the Parliament of Great Britain had to tax us without our consent, I should most heartily coincide with you in opinion, that to petition, and petition only, is the proper method to apply for relief; because we should then be asking a favor, and not claiming a right, which, by the law of nature and our constitution, we are, in my opinion, indubitably entitled to. I should even think it criminal to go further than this, under such an idea; but none such I have. I think the Parliament of Great Britain hath no more right to put their hands into my pocket, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours for money; and this being already urged to them in a firm, but decent manner, by all the colonies, what reason is there to expect any thing from their justice?
As to the resolution for addressing the throne, I own to you, Sir, I think the whole might as well have been expunged. I expect nothing from the measure, nor should my voice have accompanied it, if the non-importation scheme was intended to be retarded by it;1 for I am convinced, as much as I am of my existence, that there is no relief but in their distress; and I think, at least I hope, that there is public virtue enough left among us to deny ourselves every thing but the bare necessaries of life to accomplish this end. This we have a right to do, and no power upon earth can compel us to do otherwise, till they have first reduced us to the most abject state of slavery that ever was designed for mankind. The stopping our exports would, no doubt, be a shorter cut than the other to effect this purpose; but if we owe money to Great Britain, nothing but the last necessity can justify the non-payment of it; and, therefore, I have great doubts upon this head, and wish to see the other method first tried, which is legal and will facilitate these payments.
I cannot conclude without expressing some concern, that I should differ so widely in sentiment from you, in a matter of such great moment and general import; and should much distrust my own judgment upon the occasion, if my nature did not recoil at the thought of submitting to measures, which I think subversive of every thing that I ought to hold dear and valuable, and did I not find, at the same time, that the voice of mankind is with me.
I must apologize for sending you so rough a sketch of my thoughts upon your letter. When I looked back, and saw the length of my own, I could not, as I am also a good deal hurried at this time, bear the thoughts of making off a fair copy. I am, &c.
1774. Aug. 1. Went from Colo. Bassett’s to Williamsburg to the meeting of the Convention. Dined at Mrs. Campbell’s, spent ye evening in my lodgings.
2. At the convention; dined at the Treasurer’s. At my lodgings in the evening.
3. Dined at the Speaker’s, and spent the evening at my own lodgings.
4. Dined at the Attorney’s, and spent the evening at my own lodgings.
5. Dined at Mrs. Dawson’s, and spent the evening at my own lodgings.
6. Dined at Mrs. Campbell’s, and spent the evening at my own lodgings.
7. Left Williamsburg about 9 o’clock.
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
Williamsburg, 7 August, 1774.1
If this letter should (though I do not see any probable chance that it will,) reach your hands in time, it is to ask, if you do not think it necessary, that the deputies from this colony should be furnished with authentic lists of the exports and imports annually, more especially to and from Great Britain; and, in that case, to beg of you to obtain such from the custom-house officers on the Potomac and Rappahannock. I have desired the speaker, if he should think it expedient, and might not have thought of it, to do the same from the York, and James River offices.
I have got an account (though not a certified one,) from Mr. Wythe, of our number of taxables in 1770, since increased (Archy Carey says) to 10,000, as would have appeared by the list which would have been returned in May, if the session had gone on. I am, &c.
P. S. If you should travel to Philadelphia by land I should be glad of your company. Mr. Henry is to be at my house on his way Tuesday, the thirtieth instant.2
TO BRYAN FAIRFAX.
Mount Vernon, 24 August, 1774.
Your letter of the 5th instant1 came to this place, forwarded by Mr. Ramsay, a few days after my return from Williamsburg, and I delayed acknowledging it sooner, in the hopes that I should find time, before I began my other journey to Philadelphia, to answer it fully, if not satisfactorily; but, as much of my time has been engrossed since I came home by company, by your brother’s sale and the business consequent thereupon, in writing letters to England, and now in attending to my own domestic affairs previous to my departure as above, I find it impossible to bestow so much time and attention to the subject matter of your letter as I could wish to do, and therefore, must rely upon your good nature and candor in excuse for not attempting it. In truth, persuaded as I am, that you have read all the political pieces, which compose a large share of the Gazette at this time, I should think it, but for your request, a piece of inexcusable arrogance in me, to make the least essay towards a change in your political opinions; for I am sure I have no new lights to throw upon the subject, or any other arguments to offer in support of my own doctrine, than what you have seen; and could only in general add, that an innate spirit of freedom first told me, that the measures, which administration hath for some time been, and now are most violently pursuing, are repugnant to every principle of natural justice; whilst much abler heads than my own hath fully convinced me, that it is not only repugnant to natural right, but subversive of the laws and constitution of Great Britain itself, in the establishment of which some of the best blood in the kingdom hath been spilt. Satisfied, then, that the acts of a British Parliament are no longer governed by the principles of justice, that it is trampling upon the valuable rights of Americans, confirmed to them by charter and the constitution they themselves boast of, and convinced beyond the smallest doubt, that these measures are the result of deliberation, and attempted to be carried into execution by the hand of power, is it a time to trifle, or risk our cause upon petitions, which with difficulty obtain access, and afterwards are thrown by with the utmost contempt? Or should we, because heretofore unsuspicious of design, and then unwilling to enter into disputes with the mother country, go on to bear more, and forbear to enumerate our just causes of complaint? For my own part, I shall not undertake to say where the line between Great Britain and the colonies should be drawn; but I am clearly of opinion, that one ought to be drawn, and our rights clearly ascertained. I could wish, I own, that the dispute had been left to posterity to determine, but the crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition, that can be heaped upon us, till custom and use shall make us as tame and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway.
I intended to have wrote no more than an apology for not writing; but I find I am insensibly running into a length I did not expect, and therefore shall conclude with remarking, that, if you disavow the right of Parliament to tax us, (unrepresented as we are,) we only differ in respect to the mode of opposition, and this difference principally arises from your belief, that they—the Parliament, I mean,—want a decent opportunity to repeal the acts; whilst I am as fully convinced, as I am of my own existence, that there has been a regular, systematic plan formed to enforce them, and that nothing but unanimity in the colonies (a stroke they did not expect) and firmness, can prevent it. It seems from the best advices from Boston, that General Gage is exceedingly disconcerted at the quiet and steady conduct of the people of the Massachusetts Bay, and at the measures pursuing by the other governments; as I dare say he expected to have forced those oppressed people into compliance, or irritated them to acts of violence before this, for a more colorable pretense of ruling that and the other colonies with a high hand. But I am done.
I shall set off on Wednesday next for Philadelphia, whither, if you have any commands, I shall be glad to oblige you in them; being, dear Sir, with real regard, &c.
P. S. Pray what do you think of the Canada Bill?
THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS OF 1774.
August 30. Colo. Pendleton, Mr Henry, Colo. Mason, and Mr. Thos. Triplet, came in the evening and stay’d all night.
31. All the above gentlemen dined here; after which with Colo. Pendleton and Mr. Henry, I set out on my journey to Philadelphia and reached Upper Marlboro.
September 1. Breakfasted at Queen Anne. Dined in Annapolis, and lodged at Rock Hall.
2. Dined at Rock Hall (waiting for my horses), and lodged at New Town, on Chester.
3. Breakfasted at Down’s. Dined at the Brick Tavern (Carson’s) and lodged at Newcastle.
4. Breakfasted at Christeen Ferry. Dined at Chester, and lodged at Doctr. Shippen’s in Phila. after supping at ye New Tavern.1
5. Breakfasted and dined at Doctor Shippen’s. Spent ye evening at Tavern.2
6. Dined at the New Tavern, after being in Congress all day.
7. Dined at Mr. Pleasants’, and spent the evening in a Club at the New Tavern.
8. Dined at Mr. Andrew Allan’s, and spent the evening in my own lodging.
9. Dined at Mr. Tilghman’s, and spent the evening at home (at my lodgings).
10. Dined at Mr. Richard Penn’s.
11. Dined at Mr Griffen’s.3
12. Dined at Mr. James Allan’s.
13. Dined at Mr. Thos. Mifflin’s.
14. Rid over the Province Island, and dined at Mr Wm. Hamilton’s.
15. Dined at my lodgings.
16. Dined at the State House, at an entertainment given by the city to the members of the Congress.1
17. Dined at Mr. Dickenson’s, about 2 miles from town.
18. Dined at Mr. Hills, about 6 miles from town.
19. Rid out in the morning; dined at Mr. Ross’s.
20. Dined with Mr. Fisher, the Mayor.
21. Dined with Mr. James Mease.
22. Dined with Mr. Chew, the Chief Justice.
23. Dined with Mr. Joseph Pemberton.
24. Dined with Mr Thos. Willing, and spent ye evening at ye city Tavern.
25. Went to the Quaker meeting in the forenoon, and St. Peters in the afternoon. Dined at my lodgings.
26. Dined at the old Doctr. Shippen’s, and went to the Hospital.2
27. Dined at the Tavern with the Virginian Gentlemen &c.
28. Dined with Mr Edward Shippen’s; spent the afternoon with the Boston gentlemen.3
29. Dined at Mr. Allans, and went to the Ball in the afternoon.
30. Dined at Doctor Cadwalladers.
October 1. At ye Congress till 3 o’clock. Dined with Mr. Hamilton at Bush Hill.
2. Went to Christ Church, and dined at ye New Tavern.
3. At Congress till 3 o’clock. Dined at Mr. Reed’s.
4. At Congress till 3 o’clock. Dined at young doctor Shippen’s.
5. At Congress as above. Dined at Doctor Bond’s.
6. At Congress. Dined at Mr. Saml. Meredith’s.
7. At Congress. Dined at Mr. Thos. Smith’s.1
8. At Congress. Dined with Mr. John Cadwallader.
9. Went to the Presbyterian meeting in the forenoon, and Romish church in the afternoon.2 Dined at Bevan’s.
10. At Congress. Dined at Doctor Morgan’s.
11. Dined at my lodgings, and spent the evening at Bevan’s.
12. At Congress all the forenoon. Dined at Mr. Josh. Wharton’s, and went to ye Governor’s Club.
13. Dined at my lodgings, after being at Congress till 4 o’clock.
14. Dined at Mr. Thos. Barclay’s and spent the evening at Smith’s.
15. Dined at Bevan’s. Spent the evening at home.
16. Went to Christ Church in the forenoon, after which rid to and dined in ye Province Island. Supped at Byrns’s.
17. After Congress dined on board Captn. Hamilton. Spent the evening at Mr. Mifflin’s.
18. Dined at Doctor Rush’s and spent the evening at ye New Tavern.
19. Dined at Mr. Willing’s, and spent the evening at my own lodgings.
20. Dined at ye New Tavern with ye Pennsylvania Assembly.3 Went to the Ball afterwards.
21. Dined at my lodging and spent the evening there also.
22. Dined at Mr. Griffen’s and drank tea with Mr. Roberdeau.
23. Dined at my lodgings and spent the evening there.
24. Dined with Mr. Mease, and spent the evening at the new tavern.
25. Dined at my lodgings.
26. Dined at Bevan’s, and spent the evening at the New Tavern.1
27. Set out on my return home.2
TO CAPTAIN ROBERT MACKENZIE.1
Philadelphia, 9 October, 1774.
Your letter of the 13th ultimo from Boston gave me pleasure, as I learnt thereby, that you were well, and might be expected at Mount Vernon in your way to or from James River, in the course of the winter.
When I have said this, permit me with the freedom of a friend (for you know I always esteemed you) to express my sorrow, that fortune should place you in a service, that must fix curses to the latest posterity upon the contrivers, and, if success (which, by the by, is impossible) accompanies it, execrations upon all those, who have been instrumental in the execution.
I do not mean by this to insinuate, that an officer is not to discharge his duty, even when chance, not choice, has placed him in a disagreeable situation; but I conceive, when you condemn the conduct of the Massachusetts people, you reason from effects, not causes; otherwise you would not wonder at a people, who are every day receiving fresh proofs of a systematic assertion of an arbitrary power, deeply planned to overturn the laws and constitution of their country, and to violate the most essential and valuable rights of mankind, being irritated, and with difficulty restrained from acts of the greatest violence and intemperance. For my own part, I confess to you candidly, that I view things in a very different point of light from the one in which you seem to consider them; and though you are led to believe by venal men,—for such I must take the liberty of calling those new-fangled counsellors, who fly to and surround you, and all others, who, for honors or pecuniary gratifications, will lend their aid to overturn the constitution, and introduce a system of arbitrary government,—although you are taught, I say, by discoursing with such men, to believe, that the people of Massachusetts are rebellious, setting up for independency, and what not, give me leave, my good friend, to tell you, that you are abused, grossly abused. This I advance with a degree of confidence and boldness, which may claim your belief, having better opportunities of knowing the real sentiments of the people you are among, from the leaders of them, in opposition to the present measures of the administration, than you have from those whose business it is, not to disclose truths, but to misrepresent facts in order to justify as much as possible to the world their own conduct. Give me leave to add, and I think I can announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish or interest of that government, or any other upon this continent, separately or collectively, to set up for independence; but this you may at the same time rely on, that none of them will ever submit to the loss of those valuable rights and privileges, which are essential to the happiness of every free state, and without which, life, liberty, and property are rendered totally insecure.
These, Sir, being certain consequences, which must naturally result from the late acts of Parliament relative to America in general, and the government of Massachusetts Bay in particular, is it to be wondered at, I repeat, that men, who wish to avert the impending blow, should attempt to oppose it in its progress, or prepare for their defence, if it cannot be averted? Surely I may be allowed to answer in the negative; and again give me leave to add as my opinion, that more blood will be spilled on this occasion, if the ministry are determined to push matters to extremity, than history has ever yet furnished instances of in the annals of North America, and such a vital wound will be given to the peace of this great country, as time itself cannot cure, or eradicate the remembrance of.
But I have done. I was involuntarily led into a short discussion of this subject by your remarks on the conduct of the Boston people, and your opinion of their wishes to set up for independency. I am well satisfied, that no such thing is desired by any thinking man in all North America; on the contrary, that it is the ardent wish of the warmest advocates for liberty, that peace and tranquillity, upon constitutional grounds, may be restored, and the horrors of civil discord prevented.1
I am very glad to learn, that my friend Stewart was well when you left London. I have not had a letter from him these five years, nor heard of him I think for two. I wish you had mentioned his employment.
I remain, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.1
TO JAMES MERCER.
Mount Vernon, 26 December, 1774.
I do not recollect whether, in my last, I informed you that it was £29 you gave for the negro Kate, and that the whole of your purchases in Frederick amounted to £2385, 14. 2; if I did not then do it, these will be found right, and agreeable to the original entries.
I have heard nothing yet from Colo. Payton, respecting those lands which you appear charged with at the Loudoun sale. There is no doubt, I presume, of courts or others taking them off your hands. If there be, the sums bid for them will require to be added to your account.
I cannot say but that I should have liked to have had 1224 acres of land warranted to me, instead of your granting 1200 acres more or less; for as it was upon the presumption that the tracts of Gray and Adams contained this quantity, clear of disputed bounds, that I agreed to give the price I did; so if it falls short (I mean more than is generally allowed for variation of instruments) I shall not much like, nor indeed think myself bound by it; and am inclined to think (as Mr. Carlyle also does) that Hough must have made some mistake in his measurement, as the original patents to Adams and Gray together contain no more than 1168 acres, whilst it appears that Adams’ patent runs into Gray’s, and one half, or near it, of Gray’s is taken away by Strutfield’s. Notwithstanding all which Hough you say (for I have no plat or report of his) makes 56 acres more than is granted by both patents; at the same time he differs but little (I perceive by your plat) from the original courses and distances.
I do not pretend either to be well acquainted with the phrases which constitute a general warranty, but the words made use of by you, for this purpose are not so strong and emphatical as I have generally observed upon these occasions; which usually run in some such manner as this: “From the claim, or claims of any person, or persons, whatsoever, the said his —, his heirs &c. doth warrant, and will forever defend.” Your covenant may, for ought I know be tantamount, although no such expressions are used, and, therefore, I shall say nothing further on this head.
It was my intention to have run round the lines of these tracts and tried the contents of them myself; but I have never been a day well since my return from Frederick, nor a day without company. If you have Adam’s conveyance, I should be glad to be furnished with it when you send the copy of the power of attorney, to McCoul and Blair, as I have no paper relative to this land, except an unattested copy of the Proprietor’s deed to him.
I have wrote to your Brother1 since I came home. I intended a short letter, just to advise him of the amount of the sales, but insensibly run into a long one. Inclosed is a copy of it, as also of the two queries which he seems anxious for your answering; the reason of my repeating them to you now, being that they are again urged to me in a letter from Mr. Montague. If you choose to answer them, it may be by way of letter to me, which I can enclose to your brother. It was for this reason I have furnished you with my preparatory letter.
As ye quantity of wheat threshed at Marlborough, agreeably to your letter of the 13th inst. is too much for a load; and as the holidays are near at hand, and bad weather probably approaching, it will be out of my power to send for it very soon. Indeed this will always be the case, (which makes no material difference to me,) if it cannot be got ready for delivery before Christmas, it being difficult afterwards, to procure craft till the frosts are thought to be over in the spring.
I have heard no person speak of the sale of cattle in Frederick but what thought it a great one. I have mentioned the average price to no one since, but what thinks I might buy for much less; and although I do not dispute, as I have never seen the goodness of your cattle at Marlborough, yet give me leave my friend to tell you, that you are too sanguine in your expectations in matters of this sort. It is not my intention to buy at high prices, as I am in no immediate want. My design, as I raise a great deal of provender, was to stock my plantations more plentifully than they are, if I could purchase upon terms as I liked; and hearing you talk of selling cattle from Marlborough, I thought it might answer both our purposes; but you are to observe that if your bond upon delivery of the cattle is to have a credit for the amount of ye sale, it is, to all intents and purposes, a ready money sale to both [of] us, although no cash is deposited. This, in fact, is the case in respect to the land, which makes the £446 allowed for your moiety equal to £468. 6. 0, a year hence, to say nothing of the disadvantage attending ready money sales; and is a circumstance I did not advert to. The kind of cattle I should prefer, would be cows and heifers, as they would put me into a full stock the soonest; but when I wrote to you on this subject, my intention if we could agree upon terms, was to take off all you could spare of every kind; if the person I should send liked the cattle at the price they should be offered, and found they were not the worse for having a parcel picked out for your plantation use, for I would not be concerned with refuse cattle at any rate.
I find, in order to lay your brother’s affairs fully before him in my next, that it will be necessary for me to have copies of both the reports made by the commissioners, neither of which I have. As I think you spoke something of a plan when we were in Frederick together, of your committee being branched out to [NA] different purposes, I shall be obliged to you for forwarding me a copy of your resolution respecting the matter. A plan of this kind I am sure is necessary for us, and we may be benefitted by a precedent.
With very great esteem, and with the compliments of the season, I remain, &c.1
[1 ]“You will now receive a Draft on Messrs. Osgood, Hanbury & Co.—for £65, Sterling,—which please to dispose of, & with the money arising, discharge the several claims which you have taken the trouble to collect, against Mr. Custis; whose residence at Kings College, I little expected would have been of such short duration; otherwise, I shou’d not (as his guardian) have thought myself justified in incurring so great an expense; not that I think he could have got conveniently & agreeably fixed in the College for less than what is charged on that account, but then, for the benefit of only three months residence there, this might have been avoided.—however, as his discontinuance at it, is an act of his own, & much against my judgment, he can only blame me (if he blames at all) for yielding too easily to his importunities, supported by the concurrence of his relations.—I could have wished, Sir, you had been pleased to make a charge in the accot for your own trouble, or that I knew what was customary & proper to be allowed on these occasions.”—Washington to Dr. Cooper, 15 April, 1774.
[1 ]“Interested as well as political motives render it necessary for me to seat the lands, which I have patented on the Ohio, in the cheapest, most expeditious, and effectual manner. Many expedients have been proposed to accomplish this, but none, in my judgment, so likely to succeed as the importing of Palatines. But how to do this upon the best terms, is a question I wish to have answered. Few of this kind of people ever come to Virginia, whether because it is out of the common course of its trade, or because they object to it, I am unable to determine. I shall take it very kind in you, therefore, to resolve the following questions, which I am persuaded you can do with precision, by inquiring of such gentlemen, as have been engaged in this business.
[1 ]“The late Col. Angus McDonald, near Winchester, and several other individuals, went out in the spring of 1774, to survey the military bounty lands, lying on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, allowed by the king’s proclamation to the officers and soldiers of the army, for their services in the preceding war with the Indians, but were driven off.” This act led to Dunmore’s War. Kercheval, History of the Valley of Virginia, 145.
Fairfax County,Va., May 10, 1774.
In the month of March last the subscriber sent out a number of carpenters and laborers, to build houses and clear and enclose lands on the Ohio, intending to divide the several tracts which he there holds, into convenient sized tenements and to give leases therefor for lives, or a term of years, renewable forever, under certain conditions which may be known either of him, or Mr. Valentine Crawford, who is now on the land.
The situation and quality of these lands having been thoroughly described in a former advertisement, it is unnecessary to enlarge on them here; suffice it generally to observe, that there are no better in that country, and that the whole of them lay upon the banks of the Ohio or Great Kanawha, and are capable of receiving the highest improvement.
George Washington.* * * * * *
“Before I conclude (as the whole of my force is in a manner confined to the growth of wheat and manufacturing of it into flour) permit me to ask how flour of a good quality would sell in London? What would be the freight of it there, and commission? and whether if our commerce with Great Britain is kept open (which seems to be a matter of very great doubt at present) you would choose to accept a commission to sell one or two hundred barrels at a time as I could meet with a convenient freight (for it will not do to be put into tobacco ships, the heat thereof being too great and apt to the flour musty.”—Washington to Robert Cary & Co., Williamsburg, 1 June, 1774.
[1 ]From an interleaved Almanac.
[2 ]The Virginia Assembly convened at Williamsburg on Thursday, May 5th. The earlier days of the session were occupied with matters connected with the Indian outbreaks and the boundary disputes with Pennsylvania; but the news of the Boston Port Bill, closing that town to all foreign trade after June 1st, was soon known in Virginia, and in the then disturbed condition of public opinion could have but one effect. “Infinite astonishment and equal resentment,” wrote a member of the Assembly on the 20th, “have seized every one here, and a resort to the expedient of 1769-70, a general agreement to stop all trade with Britain, appeared probable. The House is now pushing on the public business for which we are called here at this time; but before we depart our measures will be settled and agreed on. The plan is extensive; it is wise, and I hope under God, it will not fail of success.” At the instance of the younger and more aggressive members of the Assembly, Robert Carter Nicholas moved on May 24th to appoint June 1st as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, and that the Burgesses attend church in a body on that day. The motion was carried, and the governor on the 26th, hearing that the fast was intended to prepare the minds of the people to receive other resolutions of the House, presumably intended to still more inflame the whole country and instigate the people to acts that might rouse the indignation of the mother country against them, with the unanimous consent of the council, dissolved the Assembly, on the ground that the terms of the resolution reflected highly upon the King and Parliament of Great Britain.
[1 ]The poll here mentioned was for the election of delegates to the House of Burgesses. Mr. Fairfax declined, as he said, chiefly because he thought he could not give satisfaction at that time; for he should think himself bound to oppose strong measures, and was in favor of petitioning, and giving Parliament a fair opportunity of repealing their obnoxious acts. “There are scarce any at Alexandria,” he adds, “of my opinion; and though the few I have elsewhere conversed with on the subject are so, yet from them I could learn, that many thought otherwise; so that I believe I should at this time give general dissatisfaction, and therefore it would be more proper to decline, even upon this account, as well as because it would necessarily lead me into great expenses, which my circumstances will not allow.”
[2 ]Charles Broadwater.
[1 ]1774, July 5. Went up to Alexandria to a meeting of the inhabitants of this county. Dined at Arrell’s, and lodged at my own house. 6. Dined at Doctr. Brown’s, and returned home in the evening. 14. Went up to Alexandria to the Election, where I was chosen, together with Major Broadwater, Burgess. Staid all night to a ball. 17. Col. Mason came in the afternoon, and staid all night. 18. Went up to Alexandria to a meeting of the County. Returned in the evening.
[2 ]The inhabitants of Fairfax County had assembled, and appointed a committee for drawing up resolutions expressive of their sentiments on the great topics, which agitated the country. Washington was chairman of this committee, and moderator of the meetings held by the people. An able report was prepared by the committee, containing a series of resolutions, which were presented at a general meeting of the inhabitants at the court-house in Fairfax County on the 18th of July. It is printed in Force’s American Archives, Fourth Series, i., 597.
[1 ]Mr. Fairfax had written:—“I come now to consider a resolve, which ought to be the most objected to, as tending more to widen the breach, and prevent a reconciliation than any other. I mean that, wherein the authority of Parliament is almost in every instance denied. Something similar to this, though more imprudent, is the most exceptionable part of the conduct of some in New England. It has been asserted in the House of Commons, that America has been gradually encroaching; that, as they have given up points, we have insisted on more. The fact is true, as to encroachment, but the reason assigned is wrong. It is not because they have given up points, but because they have not given them up, that we out of resentment demand more than we at first thought of. But however natural it is for people incensed to increase their claims, and whatever our anger may induce us to say, in calm deliberations we should not insist on any thing unreasonable. We have all along submitted to the authority of Parliament. From the first settlement of the colonies I believe there never was an act of Parliament disputed, till the famous Stamp Act. It is a maxim in law, that all the acts made since the settlement of the colonies do not extend here, unless the colonies are particularly named; therefore all acts wherein they are included do extend here.
[1 ]Among the Alexandria resolves, which were the subject of Mr. Fairfax’s letter, there was one for petitioning the King. In relation to this, he wrote;—“I hope it will be recommended, that, if a petition should be agreed upon, and sent home by the general Congress, no conditional resolution, which may be formed at the time, should be published until it is known, that the petition has had no effect. For we should otherwise destroy the very intention of it. To petition and to threaten at the same time seem to be inconsistent. It might be of service with the ministry, if they have evil designs, to know the dispositions of the people here. I am sure that sufficiently appears from what has already been published. And if that appears, no threatenings ought to accompany the petition. It ought to be as modest as possible, without descending to meanness. There is one expression, then, in one of our resolves, which I much object to; that is, a hint to the King, that, if his Majesty will not comply, there lies but one appeal. This ought surely to be erased. There are two methods proposed to effect a repeal; the one by petition, the other by compulsion. They ought then to be kept separate and distinct, and we shall find few for joining them together, who are not rather against the former.”
[1 ]In compliance with the recommendation of the deputies, embodied in a circular issued from Williamsburg on the 31st of May, delegates were chosen in the county meetings to assemble at Williamsburg on August 1st. Washington was present, as the extracts from his diary show, but he gives no record of what business was before the convention or what was decided upon by the delegates. It was to this assembly, which by an act of its own was transferred into a convention, a revolutionary body as it afterwards appeared, that Jefferson, unable to attend because of illness, sent the paper that was later printed as A Summary View of the Rights of British America. This definition of rights and grievances intended to serve as instructions for the delegates to a general Congress was set aside by the Convention as “too bold for the present state of things. . . . Tamer sentiments were preferred, and, I believe, wisely preferred; the leap I proposed being too long, as yet, for the mass of our citizens.” Jefferson, Works, i., 123, 124. The instructions as adopted will be found in Force, American Archives, Fourth Series, i., 689, and in Jefferson, Works, i., 142. The Convention on the 5th, elected as delegates to the general or Continental Congress, Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison and Edmund Pendleton.
[1 ]From Life and Correspondence of Richard Henry Lee, i., 105. I have changed the date from the 9th to the 7th.
[2 ]“I hoped to have obtained from the Custom Houses, the number and size of the shipping, as well as a general state of the imports and exports, and accordingly applied; but they appear at present unwilling to give me any information on the subject, I suppose on account of the present situation of public affairs, and the part I have taken therein.”—Silas Deane to Gov. Trumbull, 16 August, 1774.
[1 ]In order to show what the beliefs of a moderate loyalist were, and to further illustrate the situation of politics in Virginia at this time, I have thought it best to print this letter of Bryan Fairfax in full:—
[1 ]Adams describes it as “the most genteel one in America.”
[2 ]On this day the delegates met at the Tavern in the morning and went to Carpenter’s Hall. Peyton Randolph was unanimously chosen President, and Charles Thomson Secretary.
[3 ]Adams records dining at Mr Willing’s “with the gentlemen from Virginia.” Works, ii., 378.
[1 ]“On Friday, September 16th, the Honorable Delegates, now met in General Congress, was elegantly entertained by the gentlemen of Philadelphia. Having met at the City Tavern about three o’clock, they were conducted from thence to the State House by the Managers of the Entertainment, where they were received by a very large company, composed of the clergy, such genteel strangers as happened to be in Town, and a number of respectable citizens, making in the whole near five hundred.” The toasts that were drank are given in Force, American Archives, Fourth Series, i., 900. Adams makes no mention of this.
[2 ]“Dined at old Dr Shippens, with Mr and Mrs Blair, young Dr. Shippen, the Jersey delegates, and some Virginians. Afterwards went to the Hospital, and heard another lecture upon anatomy from young Dr. Shippen.” Adams, ii., 382.
[3 ]“Spent the evening at home with Colonel Lee, Colonel Washington, and Dr. Shippen, who came in to consult us.” Adams, ii., 386.
[1 ]“Dined with Mr. Thomas Smith, with a large company, the Virginians and others.”—Adams, ii., 395.
[2 ]Adams was present, and gives a good account in his Diary (Works, ii., 395), and in a letter to his wife, October 9, 1774.
[3 ]“Dined with the whole Congress, at the City Tavern, at the invitation of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania. The whole House dined with us, making near one hundred guests in the whole; a most elegant entertainment.”—Adams, ii, 400.
[1 ]“This day the Congress finished. Spent the evening together at the City Tavern; all the Congress, and several gentlemen of the town.”—Adams, ii., 401.
[2 ]Of the impression Washington made on his fellow members we have but few records, but such as exist all tend to show that it was marked:
“It is now Saturday morning. . . . In the afternoon [yesterday] came in the Virginia and Maryland delegates. . . . The Virginia, and indeed all the southern delegates appear like men of importance. We waited on, and were introduced to them in the evening. They are sociable, sensible, and spirited men, and the short opportunity I had of attending to their conversation gives me the highest idea of their principles and character.”—Silas Deane to his wife, September, 1774. “You may tell your friends that I never met, nor scarcely had an idea of meeting, with men of such firmness, sensibility, spirit, and thorough knowledge of the interests of America, as the gentlemen from the Southern Provinces appear to be. In this I do not speak from prejudice, but from the knowledge I have of them in their public as well as their private conversation, both of which I attend to with a pleasure that balances many, if not more than all the anxieties and troubles of such a journey. May New England go hand in hand with them, and we need not fear a want of spirit.” Silas Deane to his wife, September 5th, 1774.
“There are some fine fellows come from Virginia, but they are very high. The Bostonians are mere milksops to them. We understand they are the capital men of the colony, both in fortune and understand.”—Joseph Reed, Life of Reed, i., 75.
[1 ]Captain Mackenzie had been a captain of the Virginia regiment, commanded by Washington in the French War, and a friendly intimacy seems always to have subsisted between them. Mackenzie had obtained a commission in the regular army, and was now attached to the forty-third regiment of foot. He was wounded at the battle of Bunker’s Hill, while fighting in that regiment. He wrote as follows to Washington from Boston, 13 September, 1774:—
[1 ]“At that Congress [the first Continental], Washington had appeared as one of the representatives of Virginia, but apparently not yet clear as to what extent it was proper to involve himself in the difficulties into which Massachusetts was plunged. There is reason to suppose that he shared somewhat in the distrust generally felt, south of New England, of the purposes of the Massachusetts leaders. Whilst in this state of mind, he received a letter from Captain MacKenzie. MacKenzie was a native of Virginia, and an acquaintance of Washington, who had taken a commission in the British army, and was at this time attached to one of the regiments stationed at Boston. The object of the letter was to prejudice his mind against the action of the people of Massachusetts, and to induce him to exert his influence to counteract the policy their delegates were advocating in Philadelphia. Determined to satisfy himself as to the true character and designs of these delegates, he seems to have sought an interview and free conference with them at their lodgings. That interview took place on the evening of the 28th of September, 1774 [page 438 ante]. Richard Henry Lee, and Dr. Shippen of Philadelphia, were also present. It seems to have settled all Washington’s doubts, if he had any; for instead of noisy, brawling demagogues, meaning mischief only, he found the delegates plain, downright practical men, seeking safety from oppression, and contemplating violence only as a result of an absolute necessity forced on them by the government at home. The effect of this conference is made visible in his answer to MacKenzie.”—Charles Francis Adams, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, iv., 69.
[1 ]“I have this very day heard, that in that tract of Virginia called the Northern Neck, and which lies betwixt Rappahannock and Potomack Rivers, they have lately raised one thousand volunteers, as fine fellows and good woodsmen as any on our continent, who have put themselves under the command of Col. George Washington, a brave and experienced officer, whom it is said, has undertaken the command of them, and that they are soon to march for your place.” William Black to Boston Committee, 22 December, 1774. Massachusetts Historical Society, Fourth Series, iv., p. 187.
[1 ]George Mercer.
[1 ]Endorsement on back of letter: “The genl. then corresponded with Mr. Montague, the friend of Mr. Gravatt and brother of Mis Wroughton, thro’ whom the power of attorney originally came to George Mason, John Taylor, and the gen’l. to sell G. Mercer’s estates in Frederick and Loudoun.