Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN PARKE CUSTIS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778)
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TO JOHN PARKE CUSTIS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VI (1777-1778).
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TO JOHN PARKE CUSTIS.
Perkiomy Creek inPhiladephia,
Your letter of the eleventh instant came to my hands yesterday.
It was always my intention, if agreeable to your mother, to give you the offer of renting her dower-estate in King William during my interest therein, so soon as you came of age to act for yourself. On two accounts I resolved to do this,—first, because I was desirous of contracting my own business into as narrow a compass as possible; and, secondly, because I thought an estate, so capable of improvement as that is (in the hands of a person who had a permanent interest in it, and the means withal) ought not to be neglected till such time as an unfortunate event, and perhaps a distant one, might put you in possession.
The little attention I have been able to pay to any part of my own private business for three years last past is the cause why this among other matters has escaped me, but since you have mentioned it yourself, I have only to add, that it will be quite agreeable to me that you should have the land, and everything thereon, except breeding mares, if any there be, and fillies.
To regulate the rent by the rule you have mentioned, I could not consent to, because, if the plantation had been under good management, it would have fixed it higher than you ought to give; if, under bad management, which I believe to be the case, it would fix it too low, and might settle it at nothing. The only true criterion is to determine what so much land, with so much marsh, in such a part of the country, would rent for; and next the annual value of so many slaves, estimating them at their present worth, at the same time having respect to the advantages and disadvantages of the old and the young, as the one is declining and the other improving.
As you are desirous of having the matter fixed as speedily as possible—as the distance between us is too great—the season far advanced—and letters too apt to miscarry to negotiate a business of this kind, in that way, and as I wish for no more than impartial gentlemen, unconnected with both of us, shall say I ought to have; I am content to leave the valuation of the whole to General Nelson, Colonel Braxton, and George Webb, Esq. I mention these gentlemen because they are persons of character and because no time may be lost in the appointment.
Whatever rent they shall fix upon the land, and whatever hire for the negroes, I contentedly will take. The stock of every kind (except mares and fillies), and plantation utensils and working tools may also be valued; at which you may take them. By this means the whole business may be finished at once. That these gentlemen (if you approve the method of ascertaining the rent) may know it is with my approbation, the request is made to them you will show them this letter, and at the same time apologize in my name for the trouble it will give them if they are obliging enough to undertake it.
My extreme hurry, especially at this juncture, only allows me time to add my love to Nelly, and to assure you that I am, with sincere regard and affection, dear sir, yours.
P. S. In the present fluctuating, state of things, there is one thing which justice to myself and your mother requires me to condition for, and that is that the rent stipulated shall have some relative value, to secure an equivalent for the land and slaves; otherwise, as the lease will be an absolute conveyance of the estate from your mother and me, we may at the end of a few years, if paper money continues to depreciate, get nothing for it. I do not mean by this to insinuate that I am unwilling to receive paper money—on the contrary, I shall, with cheerfulness receive payment in anything that has a currency at the time of payment, but of equal value then to the intrinsic worth at the time of fixing the rent. In a word, that I may really, and not nominally, get what was intended as a rent.1
[1 ]On the 28th the main body of the British army were still lying near German-town, and a detachment, it was reported, had marched into Philadelphia. The whole force of the enemy was estimated at 8,000. The Continental force was thus outlined by Washington in the Council of the 28th: McDougall, with about 900 men had joined the army; Smallwood had also come in with about 1,100 of the Maryland militia; Forman, with about 600 of the Jersey militia was on the Skippack road, and near the main body. The number of Continental troops in camp, fit for duty, exclusive of the detachment under McDougall, and that under Wayne at the Trap, was 5,472, to which was to be added Maxwell’s light corps (about 450), and the Pennsylvania militia under Armstrong. Upon the whole the army would consist of about 8,000 Continental troops rank and file. and 3,000 militia. About 2,000 badly equipped militia from Virginia were on their march to camp, a part having already reached Lancaster, and reinforcements had been ordered from Peekskill. The Council decided against an immediate attack on the enemy, and that the army should move to a proper camp about twelve miles from the enemy to await reinforcements and a more fitting opportunity to attack. Smallwood, Wayne, Potter, Irvine, and Scott were of opinion that the American force was of sufficient strength to act offensively; but they were overruled by McDougall, Sullivan, Knox, Greene, Nash, Muhlenberg, Stirling, Conway, Stephen, and Armstrong. General Cadwalader and Joseph Reed were present at the Council.