Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MR. JAMES HILL. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO MR. JAMES HILL. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO MR. JAMES HILL.
Fredericksburg,in the State of New York,
Your Letter of the 5th of Septr. came to my hands a Post or two ago.—I thank you for your offer to look after the Plantation I held in King William, but having rented it to Mr. Custis I have no longer occasion for the superintendance of a Manager, there or elsewhere, in the lower part of Virginia, and have to request that all the money you now possess or may hereafter receive of mine before you quit Mr. Custis’s business, may be sent to Mr. Lund Washington by him or some other safe hand.—And before you remove from your present employment I must further beg that you will furnish me with an exact acct. of every thing sold from and purchased for my Estate under your care.—In short the exact state of all expenditures, and sales for my use, since the last account, which I settled with you myself—and, as Letters are subject to miscarriage, I shall be obliged to you to leave a copy thereof, with a list of Ballances due me (if any there should be) with Mr. Custis, that I may, in case of accidents, be provided with another copy from him.—When I speak of a list of Ballances, I hope and trust, there will be few or none—first from your care in making your collections, and next from the plenty of money, which leaves every person without even the shadow of excuse to withhold payment of Debts at this time.—But if the case should be otherwise, a list of those Debts properly settled, and reduced to specialties (to avoid disputes in the collection by a new hand, unacquainted with the transaction, and unable to account for things which would not be disputed with you), left with Mr. Custis, will enable him or some other Person in my behalf to receive payment of the money with such Interest as may be due on the Bonds or Bills.
I have no doubt of your care and attention in this business—I have ever viewed you in the light of an honest man, and doubt not but that your last transactions with me will confirm me in this opinion yet, I cannot help observg that from what I have been able to learn, I have derived very little profit from that part of my Estate which has been under your care for the three or four last years, but as I am not Inclined to go into an investigation of the matter at present, I would rather attribute it to bad seasons and other causes, than to the want of your good will.—
I observe what you say respecting your wages for looking after Mr. Custis’s Estate; if my memory does not fail me the first agreement I made with you was reduced to writing, and the conditions specifically defined—After this, and some little time before I left Virginia, you complained that your pay was too small, and either required an augmentation or some Indulgences as an equivalent.
In answer, to the best of my recollection, I told you that as your trouble was like to be increased by the late purchases of Mr. Black, that I should not object to some further reasonable allowance, provided it should appear that your conduct, the good order of the Plantations, and crops would justifie me in so doing.—How far these conditions have been complied with on your part, is impossible for me at this distance and undr. my circumstances to determine, but as to your claim of merit, and an allowance for the Butter sold, because Mr. Valentine applied the greatest part, or all of what was made on the Estate to his own private emolument it is quite new and novel.
If the case was so, which I do not believe and think his accounts will show the contrary, it does not follow that because one man cheated that another is to be paid to the amount of the fraud for being honest.—The same reasoning will apply to Corn—Tobacco—and other articles.
I am very sure that if Valentine had such a privilege it was self granted; and that, was he now living, he might be brought to a severe account for the misapplication of the money. I am also clear that he never had an oz. of sugar or gill of rum in the world found him by agreement.—These articles were laid in for the use of sick Negroes, and if he made use of it for his own purposes, the greater villain he must be.
You further remark that you think your wages should rise in proportion to the depreciation of the money. Permit me to ask whether you have sold the produce of the Estate in proportion to the depreciation? and whether the expenses have not kept pace thereto? and lastly, whether during these times of common distress, you are not living at the cost of another Man? while you are raising and saving from your own Estate. These are matters not unworthy of consideration altho’ I do not mean by propounding these questions that it should be infer’d that your wages ought not to be raised from the original agreement agreeable to the spirit and meaning of my assurances to you.—It was my intention (under the conditions before mentioned) that they should; and if Mr. Custis and you cannot agree on the quantum, I know of no mode so just and equitable as leaving the matter to impartial men to determine who can have no Interest in the decision; for it is impossible for me at this distance, and perplexed as I am with other business, to go into such enquiries as are necessary to enable me to form a proper judgment, and without this I might do an injury to one side or the other, to neither of which am I at all disposed.
I am, &c.
P. S. I have understood that till Mrs. Washington was at my Plantation at Clairborne’s in August and directed or rather advised the Beeves and Corn to be sold, that no steps were taken to do it, in short that you were very seldom at or gave yourself much trouble about the Plantation. Mr. Custis will I expect, take every thing that is now on it at an appraised value—Corn as well as other things, which will ease you of every kind of trouble of that sort. The Tobacco I trust will be prized and Inspected without a moment’s loss of time and the notes put into Colo. Bassett’s hands (after Davenport has recd. his share), to be sold for my use.