Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GEORGE AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO GEORGE AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XI (1785-1790).
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TO GEORGE AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Mount Vernon, 25 October, 1786.
It is natural for young married people who are launching into life, to look forward to a permanent establishment. If they are prudent, they will be reasonably solicitous to provide for those who come after and have a right to look to them for support.
It is also natural for those who have passed the meridian of life, and are descending into the shades of darkness to make arrangements for the disposal of the property of which they are possessed. The first of these observations will apply to you, and the second to myself. I have no doubt but that you and Fanny are as happy and contented in this family as circumstances will admit. Yet something is still wanting to make that situation more stable and pleasing.
It is well known that the expensive manner in which I am as it were involuntarily compelled to live, will admit of no diminution in my income; nor could it be expected if I now had, or ever should have descendants, that I either would or ought in justice to deprive them of what the laws of nature and the laws the land, if left to themselves, have declared to be their inheritance. The first however is not the case at present; and the second not likely to be so hereafter.
Under this statement then I may add that it is my present intention to give you at my death, my landed property in the Neck, containing by estimation between two & three thousand acres by purchases from Wm. Clifton and George Brent, and that the reasons why I communicate this matter to you at this time, are that you may if you chuse it, seat the negroes, which Colo. Bassett has promised you upon that part of the cleared land on which Saml. Johnson formerly lived; and under this expectation and prospect, that you may when it perfectly suits your inclination and convenience, be preparing for, and building thereon by degrees.
You may say, or think perhaps that as there is a contingency tacked to this intimation the offer is too precarious to hazard the expence of building; but if Mrs. Washington should survive me, there is a moral certainty of my dying without issue; and should I be the longest liver, the matter in my opinion, is hardly less certain; for while I retain the faculty of reasoning, I shall never marry a girl; and it is not probable that I should have children by a woman of an age suitable to my own, should I be disposed to enter into a second marriage. However, that there may be no possibility of your sustaining a loss, the matter may rest on the footing of compensation. I do therefore hereby declare it to be, and it is my express meaning, that if by the event above alluded to, or any other by which you may be deprived of the fee-simple in the lands herein mentioned, (unless a full equivalent is given in lieu thereof) that I will pay the cost of any buildings which you may erect on the premises.
The use of the Plantation, it is presumed will be adequate for the fences with which it may be enclosed, and for the labor arising from the cultivation—nothing therefore need be said on that head.
Here then, the prospect of a permanent inheritance is placed in the opposite scale of possible disappointment, and you are to judge for yourself.
I have been thus particular, because I would be clearly understood; because it is not my wish to deceive, and because I would not even raise an expectation not warranted from the premises by fair deduction.
Johnson’s plantation, as I believe you know is destitute of fencing, but there is timber at hand. The cleared land, whatever may have been the original quality of it, now is, by use, and more so by abuse much gullied and in bad condition; but as there is a sufficiency of it for the hands you will get, it may soon by care, good management and a proper course of cropping, be recovered.
One thing more and I will close this letter. Do not infer from my proposing it to you to build, that I meant it as a hint for you to prepare another home. I had no such idea. To point you to a settlement which you might make at leisure, & with convenience was all I had in view. More than once, I have informed you that in proportion as age and its concomitants encrease upon me, I shall stand in need of some person in whose industry and integrity I can confide for assistance. The double ties by which you are connected with this family (to say nothing of the favorable opinion we have of you,) by marriage union, have placed you differently from any other of my relations for this purpose; because no other married couple could give, or probably would receive the same satisfaction by living in it as you and Fanny do. But whether you remain in the same house, or at a future day may remove to the place proposed, your services will be convenient and essential to me; because with your aid I shall be able to manage my concerns without having recourse to a Steward, which comports neither with my interest nor inclination to employ.
With very affectionate regard I am, &c.