Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS EVERHARD, VIRGINIA. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776)
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TO THOMAS EVERHARD, VIRGINIA. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1775-1776).
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TO THOMAS EVERHARD, VIRGINIA.
Camp atCambridge, 17 September, 1775.
As I believe it will be three years next December since some of my Ohio lands (under the proclamation of 1754) were patented; and as they are not yet improved agreeably to the express letter of the law, it behoves me to have recourse, in time, to the common expedient of saving them by means of a friendly petition. My distance from Williamsburg, and my ignorance of the mode of doing this, lays me under the necessity of calling upon some friend for assistance. Will you, then, my good Sir, aid me in this work? I shall acknowledge it as a singular favor if you will, and, unless you discourage me, I shall rely on it.
I have already been at as much expense in attempting to seat and improve these lands, as would nearly if not quite have saved them, agreeable to our act of Assembly, had it been laid out thereon. In March, 1774, I sent out more than twenty odd servants and hirelings, with a great number of tools, nails, and necessaries for this purpose; but, hostilities commencing with the Indians, they got no further than the Red-stone settlement, where the people dispersed, my goods got seized and lost, and the whole expedition, (which I suppose stood me in at least three hundred pounds,) came to nothing.1 In March last, I again purchased a parcel of servants, hired men at considerable wages, and sent out a second time; but what they have done, I neither know nor have heard, further than that, after buying tools and provisions at most exorbitant prices, and not being able (for money) to procure a sufficiency of the latter, my servants, for the most part, had run away, and the manager with a few negroes and hirelings left in an almost starving condition.1 This, Sir, is my situation; and to avoid a total loss of the land (as I conceive there are some peculiar circumstances attending the matter, on account of other claims), and to prevent involving myself in any disagreeable controversy in defence of my property, having already had a great deal of trouble about it, I am desirous of adopting in time the method of petitioning.
The enemy and we are very near neighbors. Our advanced works are not more than five or six hundred yards from theirs, and the main bodies of the two armies scarce a mile. We see every thing that passes, and that is all we can do, as they keep close on the two peninsulas of Boston and Charlestown, both of which are surrounded by ships of war, floating batteries, &c.; and the narrow necks of land leading into them fortified in such a manner as not to be forced, without a very considerable slaughter, if practicable at all. I am, &c.
[1 ]This expedition was placed in charge of Valentine Crawford. The instructions prepared by Washington are in his own writing, and are given in full, as they afford a striking example of his extreme care in matters of business. They did not fall under my notice until the earlier volume was in print, or they would have appeared in their proper position chronologically.
30 March, 1774.
“You are to proceed without loss of time to your own settlement on Youghiogany, and there, if it is not already done, provide such, and so much provision, as you shall think necessary to take down with you to my lands on the Ohio. You are also to provide canoes for transporting of these provisions, the tools, and the workmen.
“You are to engage three good hands as laborers, to be employed in this business; you are to get them upon the best terms you can, and have them bound in articles to serve till the first of December, duely and truely, at the expiration of which time they shall receive their wages. Provisions and tools will be found them, but nothing else.
“You are also to engage a good hunter upon the best terms you can, for the purpose of supplying you with provisions. Let him have the skins, as I suppose he will engage the cheaper for it. Engage him either altogether for hunting, or to hunt and work as occasion requires, that there may be no dispute about it afterwards; so in like manner let every man else know what it is he has to trust to, that no disputes may arise thereafter. And the best way to prevent this, is to let all your hirelings know that they are not to consider this or that as their particular business, but to turn their hands to every thing, as the nature of the business shall require.
“As much depends upon your getting to the land early, in order that as much ground may be cleared, and put into corn as possible before the season is too far advanced, I do most earnestly request you to delay no time in prosecuting your trip down; and that as much ground as possible may be got in order for corn, and planted therewith, I would have you delay building and fencing until the season is too late for planting, and employ your whole force for clearing.
“Begin this operation at and on the upper tract and clear five acre fields, in handsome squares upon every other lot along the river bank (leaving the trees next the river standing, as a safeguard against freshets and ice). These fields may be so near together as to answer small tenements of about 100 acres in a lot, in case you cannot get them surveyed. In short, allow each lot a breadth of about one hundred rods upon the river, running back for quantity agreeably to the plots given you.
“The same sized lots, that is lots of the same breadth upon the river, may be laid upon all the other tracts, and five acre fields cleared upon every other one, as above. But after the season has got too late for planting corn, then at each of these fields build a house, sixteen feet by 18, with an outside chimney, the lower part to be of logs (with diamond corners) and to be covered with three feet shingles. Also inclose and fence your corn at this time, or before, if necessary.
“You may then, that is after building houses to the fields already cleared, and fencing them in, carry your clearing, building and fencing, regularly on together, in the manner above described.
“After the time for planting the corn is over, in all of the bottoms you may be at work in, if there should be any grassy ponds, or places easily improved, and drained for meadow, it may be done, and inclosed, instead of preparing land for corn.
“Endeavor to get some rare-ripe corn to carry with you for your last planting and replanting. The corn which you do plant must be cultivated in any manner which may appear most advisable to you for my interest.
“If you can get, or I should send out peach stones, have them cracked and the kernals planted as soon as you get to the first land, and properly inclose them.
“It will be essentially necessary to have all the work done upon any one tract appraised before you move to the next field, if it be possible to have it done; such work, I mean, as can be injured by fire or other accidents. Otherwise I may labor in vain, as I shall have no allowance made for any thing that is not valued. In these appraisements you must let nothing go unnoticed, as it is necessary that every thing should be brought into account that will enhance the price.
“You should take care to have a pair of hand mill stones with you, as also a grindstone, for the benefit of your tools, with proper pecks.
“Keep a regular account of your tools, and call them over frequently, to see that none are missing. Make every man answerable for such as is put into his care. Keep a regular account also of the days lost by sickness, for I expect none will be lost by any other means, that an allowance may be made for it at settlement; and keep a regular and clear account of all expences, with proper vouchers, that matters may be settled without any difficulty at the end of the service.
“As I could wish to have my lands rented, if it be possible to do it, you may, if tenants should offer engage them upon the following terms, to wit: upon a rent of three pounds sterling (to be discharged in the currency of the country at the exchange prevailing at the time of payment,) for each lot which is to be laid off as described on the plot; leases to be given for three lives; four years rent free, where no improvement is made, and two only where there is a house built, and five acres of land cleared on the lot. Or, if it will be a greater inducement to tenants, I will grant leases for 21 years upon the above rent, payable in the above manner; which leases shall be renewable for ever, upon paying at the end of the first 21 years, twenty shillings per annum additional rent for the next seven years; and in like manner the increased rent of 20s. sterling per annum for every seven years afterwards. But it is to be noted that I will not give leases for lives, and leases for the above term (renewable) in the same tract of land, as it might not be so convenient to have leases of different tenures mixed.
“As I have pointed out the distance along the water for the breadth of each lot (in measuring of which go strait) and as the course and distance from the river of each lot, is also particularly set down, you cannot be at a loss if you have a compass and chain to lay them off and mark them exactly. The back lines of the lots may be marked or not, just as it suits; the dividing lines must be marked at all events, and an account taken of the corner trees, in order to insert them in the leases, if any should be given. At the corner of each lot, upon the river, blaze a tree, and with a knife or chisel number them in the following manner, viz: at the upper corner of the first lot make the figure 1; at the corner which divides lots No. one and two, make these figures ½; at the corner which divides lot No. two and three, make the figures ⅔, and so on with every lot, by which means the lots can always be distinguished the moment they are looked at, and no mistakes can happen.
“Build a house, and clear and fence five acres of land upon every other lot, in the manner described upon the plot, by which means should any one person incline to take two lots, they may be added together conveniently, and the improvements will be convenient to both.
“I have now mentioned every thing by way of instruction to you that I can at present recollect. Let me conclude then with observing that this business must even under the greatest good management and industry be attended with great expense, as it will be with equal injustice, if it is neglected; to this I am to add, that, as you are now receiving my money, your time is not your own, and that every day or hour misapplied, is a loss to me; do not, therefore, under a belief that, as a friendship has long subsisted between us, many things may be overlooked in you, that would not in another; devote any part of your time to other business, or to amusements; for be assured, that, in respect to our agreement, I shall consider you in no other light than as a man who has engaged his time and services to conduct and manage my interest on the Ohio, to the best advantage, and shall seek redress if you do not, just as soon from you as from an entire stranger.
“I wish you your health and success, and am &c.
“Note. As these instructions were begun some time ago, and at a time when I had little doubt of having my people moved over the mountains before the first of April; as also at a time when I had a scheme under contemplation of importing Palatines, in order to settle on these lands, which scheme I have now laid aside; those clauses which relate to the turning your whole force towards preparing land for corn, may be entirely, or in part laid aside, as circumstances may direct; and, if there should be any inconsistency between the first and latter clauses, pursue the directions of the last mentioned.
“If you should not receive an order of court (from Botetourt) for valuing the work done on my first tract, before you move to the second, have the work done thereon, appraised in the best manner you can by Stevens, &c., and an account thereof signed by them, in such a manner as they would swear to, if called upon.
“If it should happen that you are obliged to wait in your own neighborhood for vessels, provisions, or on any other account, let all the people which you carry out be employed in forwarding my mill work at Gilbert Simpson’s.”
[1 ]James Cleveland was to be placed in charge of this second attempt (see II., page 451), but he was unable to go and William Stevens succeeded him. His instructions are printed in II., page 459.