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THE WILL OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. 1 - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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THE WILL OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.1
In the Name of God, Amen!
I George Washington of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States and lately President of the same do make ordain and declare this Instrument, which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others.2
—Imprimus—All my debts, of which there are but few, and none of magnitude, are to be punctually and speedily paid, and the legacies hereinafter bequeathed are to be discharged as soon as circumstances will permit, and in the manner directed.
Item. To my dearly beloved wife, Martha Washington I give and bequeath the use profit and benefit of my whole Estate, real and personal, for the term of her natural life, except such parts thereof as are specially disposed of hereafter,—My improved lot in the Town of Alexandria, situated on Pitt and Cameron Streets, I give to her & her heirs forever, as I also do my 1 household and kitchen furniture of every sort and kind with the liquors and groceries which may be on hand at the time of my decease, to be used and disposed of as she may think proper.
Item—Upon the decease of wife it is my will and desire, that all the slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom—To emancipate them during her life, would tho earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their intermixture by marriages with the Dower negroes as to excite the most painful sensations—if not disagreeable consequences from the latter while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same proprietor, it not being in my power under the tenure by which the dower Negroes are held to manumit them—And whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise there may be some who from old age, or bodily infirmities & others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves, it is my will and desire that all who come under the first and second description shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living are unable, or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty five years, and in cases where no record can be produced whereby their ages can be ascertained, the Judgment of the Court upon it’s own view of the subject shall be adequate and final.—The negroes thus bound are (by their masters and mistresses) to be taught to read and write and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the laws of the commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of orphans and other poor children—and I do hereby expressly forbid the sale or transportation out of the said Commonwealth of any Slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence, whatsoever—and I do moreover most positively, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the survivors of them to see that this clause respecting slaves and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place without evasion neglect or delay after the crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm, seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it, not trusting to the uncertain provisions to be made by individuals.—And to my mulatto man, William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom or if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which have befallen him and which have rendered him incapable of walking or of any active employment1 ) to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so—In either case however I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life which shall be independent of the victuals and cloaths he has been accustomed to receive; if he chuses the last alternative, but in full with his freedom, if he prefers the first, and this I give him as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.2
Item—To the Trustees, (Governors or by whatsoever other name they may be designated) of the academy in the Town of Alexandria, I give and bequeath, in Trust, Four thousand dollars, or in other words twenty of the shares which I hold in the Bank of Alexandria towards the support of a Free School, established at, and annexed to the said academy for the purpose of educating such orphan children, or the children of such other poor and indigent persons as are unable to accomplish it with their own means, and who in the judgment of the trustees of the said Seminary, are best entitled to the benefit of this donation—The aforesaid twenty shares I give and bequeath in perpetuity—the dividends only of which are to be drawn for and applied by the said Trustees for the time being, for the uses above mentioned, the stock to remain entire and untouched unless indications of a failure of the said Bank should be so apparent or discontinuance thereof should render a removal of this fund necessary, in either of these cases the amount of the stock here devised is to be vested in some other bank or public institution whereby the interest may with regularity and certainty be drawn and applied as above.—And to prevent misconception, my meaning is, and is hereby declared to be that, these twenty shares are in lieu of and not in addition to the Thousand pounds given by a missive letter some years ago in consequence whereof an annuity of fifty pounds has since been paid towards the support of this institution.
Item—Whereas by a law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, enacted in the year 1785, the Legislature thereof was pleased (as an evidence of it’s approbation of the services I had rendered the public, during the Revolution—and partly, I believe in consideration of my having suggested the vast advantages which the community would derive from the extension of its Inland navigation, under legislative patronage) to present me with one hundred shares, of one hundred dollars each, in the incorporated company established for the purpose of extending the navigation of James River from tide water to the mountains; and also with fifty shares of one hundred pounds sterling each in the corporation of another company likewise established for the similar purpose of opening the navigation of the River Potomac from tide water to Fort Cumberland; the acceptance of which, although the offer was highly honorable and grateful to my feelings, was refused, as inconsistent with a principle which I had adopted, and had never departed from, namely not to receive pecuniary compensation for any services I could render my country in it’s arduous struggle with Great Britain for it’s Rights; and because I had evaded similar propositions from other States in the Union—adding to this refusal however an intimation, that, if it should be the pleasure of the Legislature to permit me to appropriate the said shares to public uses, I would receive them on those terms with due sensibility—and this it having consented to in flattering terms, as will appear by a subsequent law and sundry resolutions, in the most ample and honorable manner, I proceed after this recital for the more correct understanding of the case to declare—
That as it has always been a source of serious regret with me to see the youth of these United States sent to foreign countries for the purpose of education, often before their minds were formed or they had imbibed any adequate ideas of the happiness of their own, contracting too frequently not only habits of dissipation and extravagence, but principles unfriendly to Republican Governm’t and to the true and genuine liberties of mankind, which thereafter are rarely overcome.—For these reasons it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised on a liberal scale which would have a tendency to spread systamatic ideas through all parts of this rising Empire, thereby to do away local attachments and state prejudices as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our national councils—Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is, (in my estimation) my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to effect the measure than the establishment of a University in a central part of the United States to which the youth of fortune and talents from all parts thereof might be sent for the completion of their education in all the branches of polite literature in arts and sciences—in acquiring knowledge in the principles of Politics and good Government and (as a matter of infinite importance in my judgment) by associating with each other and forming friendships in Juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices and habitual jealousies which have just been mentioned and which when carried to excess are never failing sources of disquietude to the Public mind and pregnant of mischievous consequences to this country:—under these impressions so fully dilated,—
Item—I give and bequeath in perpetuity the fifty shares which I hold in the Potomac Company (under the aforesaid Acts of the Legislature of Virginia) towards the endowment of a University to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the General Government, if that Government should incline to extend a fostering hand towards it,—and until such seminary is established, and the funds arising on these shares shall be required for its support, my further will and desire is that the profit accruing therefrom shall whenever the dividends are made be laid out in purchasing stock in the Bank of Columbia or some other Bank at the discretion of my Executors, or by the Treasurer of the United States for the time being under the direction of Congress, provided that Honorable body should patronize the measure. And the dividends proceeding from the purchase of such Stock is to be vested in more Stock and so on until a sum adequate to the accomplishment of the object is obtained, of which I have not the smallest doubt before many years pass away, even if no aid or encouraged is given by Legislative authority or from any other source.1
Item—The hundred shares which I held in the James River Company I have given and now confirm in perpetuity to and for the use and benefit of Liberty Hall Academy in the County of Rockbridge, in the Commonwealth of Virga.1
2Item—I release exonerate and discharge the estate of my deceased brother, Samuel Washington, from the payment of the money which is due to me for the land I sold to Philip Pendleton (lying in the County of Berkley) who assigned the same to him the said Samuel, who by agreement was to pay me therefor.—And whereas by some contract (the purport of which was never communicated to me) between the said Samuel and his son Thornton Washington, the latter became possessed of the aforesaid land without any conveyance having passed from me either to the said Pendleton the said Samuel or the said Thornton and without any consideration having been made, by which neglect neither the legal or equitable title has been alienated3 ;—it rests therefore with me to declare my intentions concerning the premises—And these are to give and bequeath the said land to whomsoever the said Thornton Washington (who is also dead) devised the same or to his heirs forever, if he died intestate.—Exonerating the estate of the said Thornton, equally with that of the said Samuel from payment of the purchase-money, which with Interest agreeably to the original contract with the said Pendleton would amount to more than a thousand pounds—and whereas two other sons of my said deceased brother Samuel,—namely, George Steptoe Washington and Lawrence Augustine Washington were by the decease of those to whose care they were committed, brought under my protection, and in consequence have occasioned advances on my part for their education at college and other schools for their board cloathing and other incidental expenses to the amount of near five thousand dollars over and above the sums furnished by their estate, wch sum may be inconvenient for them or their father’s Estate to refund—I do for these reasons acquit them and the said Estate from the payment thereof.—My intention being that all accounts between them and me and their father’s Estate and me shall stand balanced.
Item—The balance due to me from the Estate of Bartholomew Dandridge deceased,1 (my wife’s brother) and which amounted on the first day of October, 1795, to Four hundred and twenty-five pounds (as will appear by an account rendered by his deceased son, John Dandridge, who was the Executor of his father’s will) I release and acquit from the payment thereof.—And the negros (then thirty three in number) formerly belonging to the said Estate who were taken in Execution,—sold—and purchased in, on my account in the year [1795?] and ever since have remained in the possession and to the use of Mary, widow of the said Bartholomew Dandridge with their increase, it is my will and desire shall continue and be in her possession, without paying hire or making compensation for the same for the time past or to come during her natural life, at the expiration of which, I direct that all of them who are forty years old and upwards shall receive their freedom, all under that age and above sixteen shall serve seven years and no longer, and all under sixteen years shall serve until they are twenty-five years of age and then be free.—And to avoid disputes respecting the ages of any of these negros they are to be taken to the Court of the County in which they reside and the judgment thereof in this relation shall be final and a record thereof made, which may be adduced as evidence at any time thereafter if disputes should arise concerning the same.—And I further direct that the heirs of the said Bartholomew Dandridge shall equally share the benefits arising from the services of the said negros according to the tenor of this devise upon the decease of their mother.
Item—If Charles Carter who intermarried with my niece, Betty Lewis, is not sufficiently secured in the title to the lots he had of me in the town of Fredericksburg,1 it is my will and desire that my Executors shall make such conveyances of them as the law requires to render it perfect.2
Item—To my nephew, Wm. Augustine Washington and his heirs (if he should conceive them to be objects worth prosecuting) and to his heirs a lot in the town of Manchester (opposite to Richmond) No. 265—drawn on my sole account and also the tenth of one or two hundred acre lots and two or three half-acre lots in the City and vicinity of Richmond, drawn in partnership with nine others, all in the lottery of the deceased William Bryd are given3 —as is also a lot which I purchased of John Hood conveyed by William Willie and Samuel Gordon, Trustees of the said John Hood, numbered 139 in the town of Edenburgh in the county of Prince George, State of Virginia.
Item—To my nephew, Bushrod Washington I give and bequeath all the papers in my possession which relate to my civil and military administration of the affairs of this Country:—I leave to him also such of my private papers as are worth preserving;—and at the decease of [my] wife and before, if she is not inclined to retain them, I give and bequeath my library of Books and pamphlets of every kind.
Item—Having sold lands which I possessed in the State of Pennsylvania and part of a tract held in equal right, with George Clinton, late Governor of New York, in the State of New York;—my share of land and interest in the great Dismal Swamp and a tract of land which I owned in the County of Gloucester;—withholding the legal titles thereto until the consideration money should be paid—and having moreover leased and conditionally sold, (as will appear by the tenor of the said leases) all my lands upon the Great Kanhawa and the tract upon Difficult Run in the County of Loudon, it is my will and direction that whensoever the contracts are fully and respectively complied with according to the spirit, true intent, and meaning thereof on the part of the purchaser, their heirs, or assigns, that then and in that case conveyances are to be made agreeably to the terms of the said contracts and the money arising therefrom when paid to be vested in Bank stock, the dividends whereof, as of that also which is already vested therein, is to inure to my said wife during her life but the stock it’self is to remain & be subject to the general distribution hereafter directed.
Item—To the Earl of Buchan I recommit, “The Box made of the Oak that sheltered the Great Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk”1 —presented to me by his Lordship in terms too flattering for me to repeat,—with a request “To pass it, on the event of my decease to the man in my Country who should appear to merit it best, upon the same conditions that have induced him to send it to me”—Whether easy or not to select the man who might comport with his Lordship’s opinion in this respect, is not for me to say, but conceiving that no disposition of this valuable curiosity, can be more eligible than the recommitment of it to his own cabinet agreeably to the original design of the Goldsmith’s Company of Edinburgh, who presented it to him, and at his request, consented that it should be transferred to me; I do give and bequeath the same to his Lordship, and in case of his decease, to his heir with my grateful thanks for the distinguished honor of presenting it to me, and more especially for the favorable sentiments with which he accompanied it—
Item—To my brother Charles Washington I give and bequeath the Gold-headed cane left me by Doct’r Franklin in his will—1 I add nothing to it because of the ample provision I have made for his issue.—To the acquaintances and friends of my juvenile years, Lawrence Washington and Robert Washington of Chotanck, I give my other two gold-headed canes, having my arms engraved on them, and to each (as they will be useful where they live), I leave one of the spy glasses which constituted part of my Equipage during the late war—To my compatriot in arms and old and intimate friend Doct’r Craik, I give my Bureau (or as the Cabinet makers called it Tambour Secretary) and the circular chair, an appendage of my study—To Doct’r David Stuart1 I give my large shaving and dressing Table, and my Telescope2 —To the Reverend, now Bryan Lord Fairfax I give a Bible in three large folio volumes with notes, presented to me by the Right Reverend Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor & Man3 —To General de la Fayette I give a pair of finely wrought steel pistols taken from the enemy in the Revolutionary war—To my sisters in law Hannah Washington,1 and Mildred Washington;2 —To my friends Eleanor Stuart;3 Hannah Washington of Fairfield4 and Elizabeth Washington of Hayfield,5 I give each a mourning Ring of the value of one hundred dollars—These bequests are not made for the intrinsic value of them, but as mementos of my esteem and regard—To Tobias Lear6 I give the use of the farm which he now holds in virtue of a lease from me to him and his deceased wife (for and during their natural lives) free from Rent during his life, at the expiration of which it is to be disposed as is hereafter directed—To Sally B. Haynie (a distant relation of mine) I give and bequeath three hundred dollars7 —To Sarah Green daughter of the deceased Thomas Bishop and to Ann Walker, daughter of John Alton,1 also deceased I give each one hundred dollars, in consideration of the attachment of their father[s] to me, each of whom having lived nearly forty years in my family.—To each of my nephews William Augustine Washington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, Bushrod Washington, and Samuel Washington, I give one of the swords or cutteaux of which I may die possessed, and they are to chuse in the order they are named.—These swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood except it be for self-defence, or in defence of their Country and it’s rights, and in the latter case to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment thereof.2
Having gone through these specific devises, with explanations for the more correct understanding of the meaning and design of them, I proceed to the distribution of the more important parts of my Estate, in manner following
First—To my nephew Bushrod Washington and his heirs (partly in consideration of an intimation to his deceased father, while we were bachelors and he had kindly undertaken to superintend my estate, during my military services in the former war between Great Britain and France, that if I should fall therein, Mt. Vernon (then less extensive in dominion than at present, should become his property) I give and bequeath all that part thereof which is comprehended within the following limits—viz:—Beginning at the ford of Dogue Run near my mill and extending along the road and bounded thereby as it now goes, and ever has gone since my recollection of it, to the ford of little hunting Creek, at the gum spring until it comes to a knowl opposite to an old road which formerly passed through the lower field of Muddy-Hole Farm; at which, on the north side of the said road are three red or Spanish oaks marked as a corner, and a stone placed—thence by a line of trees to be marked rectangular to the black line, or outer boundary of the tract between Thomson Mason and myself,—thence with that line easterly (now double ditching with a post and rail fence thereon) to the run of little hunting Creek, thence with that run, which is the boundary of the lands of the late Humphrey Peake and me, to the tide water of the said Creek thence by that water to Potomac River, thence with the River to the mouth of Dogue Creek, and thence with the said Dogue Creek to the place of beginning, at the aforesaid ford, containing upwards of Four thousand acres, be the same more or less together with the Mansion House, and all other buildings and improvemts. thereon.—
Secondly—In consideration of the consanguinity between them and my wife, being as nearly related to her as to myself, as on account of the affection I had for, and the obligation I was under to their father when living, who from his youth had attached himself to my person and followed my fortunes through the vicissitudes of the late Revolution, afterwards devoting his time to the superintendence of my private concerns for many years whilst my public employments rendered it impracticable for me to do it myself, thereby affording me essential services, and always performing them in a manner the most filial and respectful; for these reasons I say, I give and bequeath to George Fayette Washington and Lawrence Augustine Washington1 & their heirs my Estate East of little hunting creek lying on the River Potomac, including the farm of 360 acres, leased to Tobias Lear as noticed before and containing in the whole, by deeds, Two thousand & twenty seven acres be it more or less which said Estate, it is my will and desire should be equitably and advantageously divided between them, according to quantity, quality & other circumstances when the youngest shall have arrived at the age of twenty one years, by three judicious and disinterested men, one to be chosen by each of the brothers and the third by these two.—In the mean time if the termination of my wife’s interest therein should have ceased the profits, arising therefrom are to be applied for their joint uses and benefit.
Third—And whereas it has always been my intention, since my expectation of having issue has ceased, to consider the grand children of my wife in the same light as I do my own relations and to act a friendly part by them, more especially by the two whom we have reared from their earliest infancy, namely, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis; and whereas the former of these hath lately intermarried with Lawrence Lewis, a son of my deceased sister Betty Lewis, by which union the inducement to provide for them both has been increased.—Wherefore I give and bequeath to the said Lawrence Lewis and Eleanor Parke Lewis, his wife, and their heirs, the residue of my Mount Vernon Estate, not already devised to my nephew Bushrod Washington comprehended within the following description.—viz—all the land north of the Road leading from the ford of Dogue Run to the Gum Spring as described in the devise of the other part of the tract to Bushrod Washington until it comes to the stone and three red or Spanish oaks on the knowl,—thence with the rectangular line to the back line (between Mr. Mason and me)—thence with that line westerly, along the new double ditch to Dogue Run, by the tumbling dam of my mill,—thence with the said Run to the ford afore mentioned;—to which I add all the land I possess west of the said Dogue Run & Dogue Crk bonded, Easterly & Southerly thereby—together with the mill, Distillery and all other houses and improvements on the premises making together about two thousand acres be it more or less.
Fourth—Actuated by the principle already mentioned, I give and bequeath to George Washington Parke Custis the Grand son of my wife and my ward and to his heirs, the tract I hold on four mile Run in the vicinity of Alexandria containing one thousd two hundred acres more or less1 ;—and my entire square, numbering twenty one, in the city of Washington.
Fifth—All the rest and residue of my Estate, real and personal, not disposed of in manner aforesaid—In whatsoever consisting—wheresoever lying, and wheresoever found—a Schedule of which as far as is recollected, with a reasonable estimate of its value is hereunto annexed—I desire may be sold by my Executors at such times—in such manner, and in such credits (if an equal valid and satisfactory distribution of the specific property cannot be made without) as, in their judgment shall be most conducive to the interests of the parties concerned, and the monies arising therefrom to be divided into twenty three equal parts and applied as follows—viz:—
To William Augustine Washington, Elizabeth Spotswood, Jane Thornton, and the heirs of Ann Ashton1 ; son and daughters of my deceased brother Augustine Washington, I give and bequeath four parts—that is—one part to each of them.
To Fielding Lewis, George Lewis, Robert Lewis, Howell Lewis, & Betty Carter, sons and daughter of my deceased sister Betty Lewis I give & bequeath five other parts—one to each of them.
To George Steptoe Washington, Lawrence Augustine Washington, Harriot Parks,1 and the heirs of Thornton Washington,2 sons and daughter of my deceased brother Samuel Washington, I give and bequeath other four parts, one part to each of them.—3
To Corbin Washington, and the heirs of Jane Washington,4 I give and bequeath two parts;—one part to each of them;—
To Samuel Washington, Frances Ball,5 & Mildred Hammond,6 son and daughters of my brother Charles Washington I give and bequeath three parts—one part to each of them.—And to George Fayette Washington, Charles Augustine Washington and Maria Washington, sons and daughter of my deceased nephew, Geo: Augustine Washington, I give one other part—that is—to each a third of that part.
And to my nephew Bushrod Washington & Lawrence Lewis,—and to my ward, the grandson of my wife,1 I give and bequeath one other part;—that is a third part to each of them—And if it should so happen, that any of the persons whose names are here enumerated (unknown to me) should now be deceased, or should die before me, that in either of these cases, the heirs of such deceased persons shall, notwithstanding derive all the benefit of the bequest, in the same manner as if he, or she was actually living at the time.
And by way of advice, I recommend it to my Executors not to be precipitate in disposing of the landed property (herein directed to be sold) if from temporary causes the sale thereof should be dull, experience having fully evinced, that the price of land (especially above the Falls of the Rivers & on the Western Waters) have been progressively rising, and cannot be long checked in its increasing value.—and I particularly recommend it to such of the Legatees (under this clause of my will) as can make it convenient, to take each a share of my stock in the Potomac Company in preference to the amount of what it might sell for; being thoroughly convinced myself, that no uses to which the money can be applied will be so productive as the Tolls arising from this navigation when in full operation (and this from the nature of things it must be ’ere long) and more especially if that of the Shenandoah is added thereto.
The family Vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of Brick, and upon a larger scale, may be built at the foot of what is commonly called the Vineyard Inclosure,—on the ground which is marked out.—In which my remains, with those of my deceased relatives (now in the Old Vault) and such others of my family as may chuse to be entombed there, may be deposited.—And it is my express desire that my corpse may be interred in a private manner, without parade or funeral oration.1
Lastly—I constitute and appoint my dearly beloved wife Martha Washington, my nephews William Augustine Washington, Bushrod Washington, George Steptoe Washington, Samuel Washington & Lawrence Lewis, & my ward, George Washington Parke Custis, (when he shall have arrived at the age of twenty years) Executrix and Executors of this Will & Testament,—In the construction of which it will readily be perceived that no professional character has been consulted or has had any agency in the draught—and that, although it has occupied many of my leisure hours to digest & to through it into its present form, it may notwithstanding, appear crude and incorrect—But having endeavored to be plain and explicit in all the Devises—even at the expense of prolixity, perhaps of tautology, I hope, and trust, that no disputes will arise concerning them; but if contrary to expectation the case should be otherwise from the want of legal expression, or the usual technical terms, or because too much or too little, has been said on any of the devises to be consonant with law, my will and direction expressly is, that all disputes (if unhappily any should arise) shall be decided by three impartial and intelligent men, known for their probity and good understanding; two to be chosen by the disputants, each having the choice of one, and the third by those two.—which three men thus chosen, shall unfettered by Law, or legal constructions declare their sense of the Testator’s intention; and such decision is, to all intents and purposes to be as binding on the Parties as if it had been given in the Supreme Court of the United States.
In witness of all and of each of the things herein contained I have set my hand and seal this ninth day of July, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety [nine1 ] and of the Independence of the United States, the Twenty fourth.
Schedule of Property2comprehended in the foregoing Will, which is directed to be sold, and some of it, conditionally is sold; with descriptive and explanitory notes relative thereto.—
(a) This tract for the size of it is valuable; more for it’s situation than the quality of it’s soil, though that is good for farming, with a considerable portion of gr’d that might, very easily, be improved into meadow.—It lyes on the great Road from the City of Washington, Alexandria and George Town to Leesburgh & Winchester, at Difficult bridge—nineteen miles from Alexandria—less from the City & George Town, and not more than three from Matildaville at the Great Falls of Potomac—
There is a valuable seat on the premises—and the whole is conditionally sold for the sum annexed in the schedule.
(b) What the selling prices of lands in the vicinity of these two tracts are I know not; but compared with those above the ridge, and others below them the value annexed will appear moderate—a less one would not obtain them from me.—
(c) The surrounding land, not superior in soil, situation or properties of any sort, sell currently at from twenty to thirty dollars an acre.—The lowest price is affixed to these.
(d) The observations made in the last note applies equally to this tract being in the vicinity of them, and of similar quality, altho it lye’s in another County.
(e) This tract though small, is extremely valuable—it lyes on the Potomac River, about twelve miles above the Town of Bath (or Warm Springs) and it is in the shape of a horse-shoe, the River running almost around it.—Two hundred acres of it is rich low grounds; with a great abundance of the largest and finest Walnut Trees, which with the produce of the soil might (by means of the improved navigation of the Potomac) be brought to a shipping port with more ease and at a smaller expense than that which is transported 30 miles, only by land.
(f) This tract is of second rate Gloucester low ground—it has no improvement thereon, but lyes on navigable water abounding in fish and oysters: it was received in payment of a debt (carrying interest) and valued in the year 1789, by an impartial gentleman to £800—N. B. it has lettely been sold and there is due thereon, a balance equal to what is annexed—the Schedule.
(g) These 373 acres are the third part of undivided purchases made by the deceased Fielding Lewis, Thomas Walker and myself, on full conviction that they would become valuable.—the land lye’s on the road from Suffolk to Norfolk touches (if I am not mistaken) some part of the navigable water of Nansemond River—borders on—and comprehends part of the rich Dismal Swamp; is capable of great improvement;—and from it’s situation must become extremely valuable.
(h) This is an undivided interest wch I held in the Great Dismal Swamp Company, containing about 400 acres, with my part of the Plantation and Stock thereon belonging to the Company in the s’d Swamp.1
(i) These several tracts of land are of the first quality on the Ohio River in the parts where they are situated; being almost, if not altogether, River bottoms.
The smallest of these Tracts is actually sold at ten dollars an acre, but the consideration therefor not received, the rest are equally valuable, and will sell as high, especially that which lye’s just below the little Kanhawa, and is opposite to a thick settlement on the west side the River.
The four tracts have an aggregate breadth upon the River of Sixteen miles and is bounded thereby that distance.
(k) These tracts are situated on the Great Kanhawa River, and the first four are bound thereby for more than forty miles.—It is acknowledged by all who have seen them (and of the tract containing 10,990 acres which I have been on myself, I can assert) that there is no richer, or more valuable land in all that Region;—They are conditionally sold for the sum mentioned in the schedule—that is, 200,000 dollars and if the terms of that sale are not complied with they will command considerable more.—The tract of which the 125 acres is a moiety, was taken up by General Andrew Lewis and myself for on account of a bituminous spring, which it contains, of so inflammable a nature as to burn as freely as spirits, and is as nearly difficult to extinguish.
(l) I am but little acquainted with this land, although I have once been on it.—It was receiv’d (many years since) in discharge of a debt due to me from Daniel Jenifer Adams, at the value annexed thereto, and must be worth more.—It is very level, lyes near the River Potomac.
(m) This tract lyes about 30 miles above the City of Washington not far from Kittoctan.—It is good farming land, and by those who are well acquainted with it I am informed that it would sell at twelve or $15 pr. acre.1
(n) This land is valuable on account of it’s local situation and other properties.—It affords an exceeding good stand on Braddock’s Road from Fort Cumberland to Pittsburgh and besides a fertile soil possesses a large quantity of natural meadow fit for the scythe.—It is distinguished by the appellation of the Great Meadows, where the first action with the French in the year 1754 was fought2
(o) This is the moiety of about 2000 acres which remains unsold of 6071 acres on the Mohawk River, (Montgomery Ct’y) in a Patent granted to Daniel Coxe in the Township of Coxeborough & Carolina as will appear by deed from Marinus Willet & wife to George Clinton (late Governor of New York) and myself; the latter sales have been at six dollars an acre and what remains unsold will fetch that, or more.1
(p) The quality of these lands & their situation may be known by the surveyor’s certificates, which are filed along with the patents—They lye in the vicinity of Cincinnati, one tract near the mouth of little Miami, another seven, & the third ten miles up the same—I have been informed that they will readily command more than they are estimated at.—
(g) For the description of these tracts in detail, see General Spottswood’s letters and with the other papers relating to them—Besides the general good quality of the land, there is a valuable bank of Iron Ore thereon;—which when the settlement becomes more populous (and settlers are moving that way very fast) will be found very valuable, as the rough creek, a branch of Green River affords ample water for furnaces and forges.
(r) The two lots near the Capital in Square 634, cost me $963 only, but in this price I was favored on condition that I should build two brick houses, three storys high each;—without this reduction, the selling price of those lots would have cost me about $1350.
—These lots with the buildings thereon when completed will stand me in $15,000 at least.
(s) Lots No. 5, 12, 13 & 14 on the Eastern Branch are advantageously situated on the water, and although many lots much less convenient, have sold a great deal higher, I will rate these at 12 cts the square foot only.1
(t) For this lot, though unimproved I have refused $3500, it has since been laid off into proper sized lots for building on, three or four of which are let on ground Rent forever at three dollars a foot on the street, and this price is asked for both fronts on Pitt and Princess Streets.1
(u) As neither the lot in the Town or common have any improvements on them it is not easy to fix a price, but as both are well situated it is presumed the price annexed to them in the Schedule is a reasonable value.
(w) The lots in Bath (two adjoining) cost me to the best of my recollection, between fifty and sixty pounds, 20 years ago & the buildings thereon, £150 more.—Whether the property there has increased or decreased in its value, and in what condition the houses are, I am ignorant, but suppose they are not valued too high.2
(x) These are the sums which are actually funded, and though no more in the aggregate than $7566 stand me in at least ten thousand pounds in Virginia money, being the amount of bonded and other debts due me, and discharged during the war, when money had depreciated in that ratio ☞ and was so settled by public authority.1
(y) The value annexed to these shares is what they have actually cost me, and is the price affixed by law:—and although the present selling price is under par, my advice to the Legatees (for whose benefit they are intended, especially those who can afford to lye out of the money) is that each should take and hold one; there being a moral certainty of a great and increasing profit arising from them in the course of a few years.
(z) It is supposed that the shares in the James River Company must also be productive—But of this I can give no decided opinion for want of more accurate information.
(&) These are nominal prices of the Shares of the Bank of Alexandria & Columbia, the selling prices vary according to circumstances but as the stock usually divided from eight to ten per cent. per annum, they must be worth the former, at least, so long as the Banks are conceived to be secure, although circumstances may some time [be] below it.
The value of live stock depends more upon the quality than quantity of the different species of it, and this again upon the demand and judgment or fancy of purchasers.
Mount Vernon, 6 July, 1799.
At a Court held for the County of Fairfax the 20th day of January 1800, this last Will and Testament of George Washington, deceased, late President of the United States of America, was presented in Court by George Steptoe Washington, Samuel Washington, & Lawrence Lewis, three of the Executors therein named, who made oath thereto, and the same being proved by the oaths of Charles Little, Charles Simms and Ludwell Lee, to be in the true handwriting of the said Testator, as also the Schedule thereto annexed, and the said will, being sealed and signed by him on motion, Ordered to be Recorded—And the said Executors having given Security and performed what the Laws require, a Certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.
[1 ]The wills of the Washingtons are printed in my Wills of George Washington and his Immediate Ancestors, 1891. This publication includes the wills of the two immigrants, John and Lawrence, of Lawrence, grandfather of the President; of Augustine, his father; of Mary [Ball] Washington, his mother; his own will; that of his half-brother, Lawrence; of Bushrod and of John Augustine Washington; with much else of related matter.
[2 ]At the bottom of every page—with one exception—he signed his name. On the one page, the last word was Washington, which probably led him to suppose he had signed.
[1 ]These figures in brackets mark the beginning of each page of the MS. will.
[1 ]On 22d April, 1785, when acting as chain bearer, while Washington was surveying a tract of land on Four Mile Run, William fell, and broke his knee pan; “which put a stop to my surveying; and with much difficulty I was able to get him to Abingdon, being obliged to get a sled to carry him on, as he could neither walk, stand or ride.”—Washington’s Diary. See my Spurious Letters Attributed to Washington, 8.
[2 ]“The mulatto fellow, William, who has been with me all the war, is attached (married he says) to one of his own color, a free woman, who during the war, was also of my family. She has been in an infirm condition for some time, and I had conceived that the connexion between them had ceased; but I am mistaken it seems; they are both applying to get her here, and tho’ I never wished to see her more, I cannot refuse his request (if it can be complied with on reasonable terms) as he has served me faithfully for many years.
[1 ]This provision of the will was never carried into effect.
[1 ]Robert Alexander, educated in Trinity College, Dublin, opened a high school in the Valley of the Blue Ridge about the year 1749. He called it the “Augusta Academy,” and it continued till the Revolution. During that contest its name was changed to Liberty Hall, and in 1782 it was regularly chartered as Liberty Hall Academy. In 1785 it was removed to Rockbridge County, within a short distance of Lexington, and it was there that Washington’s legacy was received. In 1798, out of respect to the benefactor, the name was changed to Washington Academy, and in 1803, on the destruction of the old Academy by fire, a new one was located within the limits of Lexington, where it has since remained. The prosperity of the Academy was interrupted by the Civil War, and at the peace it was again organized under the presidency of Robert E. Lee, and the name became “The Washington and Lee University.”
[2 ]Samuel died at Berkley in 1781, aged 47.
[3 ]“Mr. Pendleton obtained my Deed, or a Bond, or something obligatory upon me, and my heirs, to make him a title to the Land he had of me, & sold to you, upon the purchase money being paid; not one farthing of which has been done—even the last years Rent, if I remember right, which he took upon himself to pay, is yet behind.—However, so soon as I can get evidences I will send a power of attorney to Lund Washington, to make a legal conveyance of the land to you.—In the mean time the Instrument of writing I passed to Mr. Pendleton will always be good against my Heirs, upon the condition of being complied with.”—George Washington to Samuel Washington, 5 October, 1776. Pendleton conveyed to Samuel in 1772. The property was on Bullskin.
[1 ]Sunday, April 24, 1785. “An express arrived with the account of the deaths of Mrs. Dandridge and Mr. B. Dandridge, the mother and brother of Mrs. Washington.”—Diary.
[1 ]Fredericksburg was erected into a town by an act of Assembly passed in February, 1727. Hening’s Statutes, iv., 234. It was incorporated in the November session, 1781. Do., x., 439.
[2 ]Betty Lewis, daughter of Col. Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington, was born 23 February, 1765; m. Charles Carter, of Culpeper Co., 7 May, 1781; died at Audley in 1829.
[3 ]“I drew a prize in Col. Byrd’s lottery of a half acre lot, No. 265, I believe in the town of Manchester, and I have a lot in some town that was established on James River (below Richmond) by a certain John Wood . . . I am entitled also in partnership with, or the heirs of Peyton Randolph, Richard Randolph, William Fitzhugh of Chatham, George Wythe, Richard Kidder Meade, Lewis Burwell, John Wales, Nathaniel Harrison, Junr., and Thomson Mason, to a tenth part of two or three half acre lots, & 200 acre lots in the aforesaid lottery. But as Thomson Mason (with or without authority) sold this property and never to me at least accounted for an iota of the amount, little I presume is to be expected from this concern.”—George Washington to Bushrod Washington, 29 June, 1796. The managers and trustees of this lottery were John Robinson, Peter Randolph, Peyton Randolph, Presley Thornton, John Page, Charles Carter, and Charles Trumbull, and the deed of trust was dated 18 December, 1756. In 1781 all the trustees were dead, Charles Carter alone excepted, and the Legislature passed an act empowering him to give the proper conveyances of land and tenements. Hening’s Statutes, x., 446.
[1 ]The box was presented to the Corporation of Goldsmiths at Edinburgh, which presented it to David Stuart Erskine, the Earl of Buchan, with the freedom of the Company. In a letter of 15 September, 1791, the Earl wrote to Washington: “It is a respectable curiosity, and will, I flatter myself, be a relic of long endurance in America, as a mark of that esteem with which I have the honor to be &c.” And in the letter which accompanied the box (28 June, 1791) he said: “Feeling my own unworthiness to receive this magnificently significant present, I requested and obtained leave to make it over to the man to whom I thought it most justly due; into your hands I commit it; requesting of you to pass it [as in the will].” In 1791 the bearer of the box, Mr. Archibald Robertson, a portrait painter, reached America, and in January, 1792, the box was placed in the President’s hands. Washington’s letter of acknowledgment is printed in Sparks, x., 229.
[1 ]“My fine crab-tree walking-stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a sceptre, he has merited it, and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame de Forbach, the Dowager Duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it.”—Franklin’s Will. This staff passed to the only surviving son of Charles, Captain Samuel Washington, who transmitted it to his son, Samuel T. Washington. In January, 1843, it was, with a sword of Washington, presented by Samuel T. Washington to Congress. The verses appear to have been lost.
[1 ]David Stuart married Nellie [Calvert] Custis, widow of John Parke Custis.
[2 ]On January 1, 1824, George Washington Parke Custis presented to Andrew Jackson, then President, a pocket telescope, used by Washington during the Revolution. “General Jackson received the relic in a manner peculiarly impressive, which showed that however time, hard service, and infirmity may have impaired a frame no longer young, the heart was still entire, and alive to the heroic and generous feelings of the soldier, the patriot, and the friend.”—National Intelligencer, quoted in Parton’s Life of Andrew Jackson, iii., 37.
[3 ]This account of the Bible was an error on Washington’s part. Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, died 7 March, 1755. In 1785 appeared “The Bible, with notes, by Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, and various Renderings, collected from other Translations, by the Rev. Clement Cruttwell, the Editor.” Bath, 1785, 4to, 3 vols. This was the edition that the son, also named Thomas Wilson, presented to Washington. The presentation must have occurred immediately after the Revolution, for the son died at Bath, in April, 1784. He was chiefly notable by his extravagant appreciation of Mrs. Macaulay, whose statue, in the costume of the goddess of Liberty, he erected in his own church. It is very probable that the Bible was sent over at the time that Dr. Wilson sent to Congress a number of copies of his father’s works, which were distributed among the delegates. Journals of Congress, 22 March, 1785.
[1 ]Hannah [Bushrod], widow of John Augustine Washington.
[2 ]Mildred [Thornton], widow of Charles Washington.
[3 ]Eleanor Calvert, widow of John Parke Custis, and wife of Doctor David Stuart.
[4 ]Hannah [Fairfax], wife of Warner Washington.
[5 ]Elizabeth [Foote], widow of Lund Washington.
[6 ]In 1795 a perpetual lease of 360 acres was made to Tobias and Frances Lear.
[7 ]Sally Ball Haynie was the daughter of Elizabeth Haynie.
[1 ]Alton and Bishop were old servants of Washington.
[2 ]The history of these swords is by no means easy to write. In 1843 Col-George Corbin Washington, of Georgetown, wrote to George W. Summers, a member of Congress, that he had in his possession two of the swords, the one devised to him by his father, William Augustine Washington, and the other by his uncle, Judge Bushrod Washington. There were others in the possession of George Lewis and George Steptoe Washington, and the fifth was offered by Samuel T. Washington, a son of Samuel, to the government (1843). “My father,” continued George C. Washington, “was entitled to the first choice under the will, but was prevented by indisposition from attending at Mount Vernon when the distribution took place, and Judge Washington selected for him the most finished and costly sword, with which associations were connected highly complimentary to General Washington; but I often heard my father say that he would have preferred the sword selected by Colonel Samuel Washington, from the fact that it was used by the General during the revolutionary war. I have at different times heard similar statements as to this fact made by Colonel Samuel Washington, Judge Washington, and Major Lawrence Lewis, and am not aware that it has been questioned by any member of the family. The sword was represented to me as being a couteau, with a plain green ivory handle.” This particular sword was said to have been worn by Washington during the Revolution, and again 1794, when he took command of the army against the Whiskey Insurrection. This sword is now in the Department of State, Washington. “The handle is of ivory, colored a pale green, and wound spirally at wide intervals with silver wire. It was manufactured by J. Bailey, Fishkill, Dutchess County, New York, and has the maker’s name engraved upon the hilt.”—Custis, Recollections, 160.
[1 ]Sons of Major George Augustine Washington and Frances Bassett. George Fayette was the second of that name. It is not a little remarkable that Washington should have written Lawrence Augustine Washington for Charles Augustine Washington. Lawrence Augustine Washington was the son of Samuel Washington.
[1 ]A fac-simile of a survey by Washington of this tract is printed in Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, 445.
[1 ]William Augustine, born at Wakefield, 25 November, 1757, married (1) his cousin Jane, daughter of John Augustine Washington, 25 September, 1777; (2) Mary, daughter of Richard Henry Lee, 10 July, 1792; (3) — Taylor, 11 May, 1799; died at Georgetown, Va., October, 1810. Elizabeth, born at Wakefield, about 1750; married Alexander Spotswood. Jane, born at Wakefield, about 1752, married Col. — Thornton. Ann, born at Wakefield, about 1755; married Burdet Ashton, of Westmoreland County; and had one child who lived—Sarah Ashton.
[1 ]Married 4 July, 1796, Andrew Parks, of Baltimore.
[2 ]He left three sons.
[3 ]Another son of Samuel, Ferdinand, had incurred Washington’s displeasure because of his extravagance.
[4 ]See ante, p. 294.
[5 ]Married Col. Burges Ball.
[6 ]Mildred, daughter of Charles Washington, born 1777, married Col. Thomas Hammond.—Hayden.
[7 ]A sister of Nellie Custis, born 21 August, 1776, and married, 16 January, 1795, Mr. Thomas Law, a brother of Lord Ellenborough.
[8 ]Born 31 December, 1777, and married Thomas Peter.
[9 ]Born 21 March, 1779, and married Lawrence Lewis, the nephew of General Washington.
[10 ]The three ladies mentioned in this clause were daughters of John Parke Custis (son of Mrs. Washington, by her first husband) and Nellie Calvert.
[1 ]George Washington Parke Custis.
[1 ]An interesting account of the transfer is to be found in the Tomb of Washington by W. Strickland, printed anonymously in 1840.
[1 ]A word omitted by Washington. It is noteworthy that the will was not signed in the presence of witnesses.
[2 ]I have thrown the schedule and notes together, for the convenience of reference.
[1 ]Washington owned two of twenty-one shares in the Great Dismal Swamp Company, which he valued in 1793 at £5,000. The Company in 1762 took up 40,000 acres in the interior and richest part of the swamp.
[1 ]Known as Woodstock Manor. It was conveyed to Washington 1 April, 1793, by John Francis Mercer and Sophia, his wife, and James Stewart and Rebecca, his wife.
[2 ]Crawford, on 6 December, 1770, announced to Washington that he had purchased the Great Meadows from Mr. Harrison for thirty pistoles.
[1 ]See Vol. X., 422.
[1 ]I applied to Col. O. H. Ernst, at present in charge of the public buildings and grounds in Washington, for the exact locality of these lots. He has kindly sent me the following:
[1 ]On this section Mr. Cassius F. Lee, of Alexandria, writes me: “The half square of ground in this city owned by Washington was on the corner of Prince and Pitt streets. It is covered with dwellings, and is in the best part of the town, and a square only east of the post office, which is on Prince street. Prince street is the correct name. Washington also owned a quarter square on Cameron street, and on this lot was his private office, a small frame building, that I remember well when a very small boy. The gentlemen owning the lot lived adjoining it, and wanting it for his garden, tore down the building and turned the space into a garden-ornamental.”
[2 ]“Having obtained a plan of this Town (Bath), and ascertained the situation of my lots therein, which I examined; it appears that the disposition of a dwelling house, kitchen and stable, cannot be more advantageously placed than they are marked in the copy I have taken from the plan of the Town, to which I refer for recollection of my design; and Mr. Rumsey being willing to undertake those Buildings, I have agreed with him to have them finished by the 10th of next July. The dwelling House is to be 36 feet by 24, with a gallery of 7 feet on each side of the House, the whole fronts. Under the House is to be a cellar half the size of it, walled with stone, and the whole underpin’d. On the first floor are to be three rooms; one of them 24 by 20 feet, with a chimney at the end (middle thereof)—the other two to be 12 by 16 feet with corner chimneys—on the upper Floor there are to be two rooms of equal sizes, with fire places; the staircase to go up in the gallery—galleries above also. The kitchen and stable are to be of the same size—18 by 22; the first with a stone chimney and good floor above. The stable is to be sunk in the ground, so as that the floor above it on the north, or side next to the dwelling House, shall be level with the Yard—to have a partition therein, the west part of which to be for a carriage, Harness, and saddles—the east for Hay or Grain. All three of the houses to be shingled with . . . .”—Journal, 1784.
[1 ]The law of 4 August, 1790, providing for the funding of the revolutionary debt, called for a loan to the full amount of the debt, subscriptions to be payable in the certificates or notes issued by the Continental Congress or the respective States. For two-thirds of the subscriptions a certificate was to issue purporting that the United States owed to the holder a sum equal to such two-thirds (when paid in Continental certificates) and to two-thirds of the aforesaid two-thirds (when paid in States issues) bearing 6 per cent. interest per annum, payable quarterly, and subject to redemption by payments not exceeding 8 per cent. per annum, principal and interest. These certificates were known as the “six per cent. stock of 1790.” For the balance, stock was issued not to bear interest until after 1800, when the rate of six per cent. would be paid. This was the “deferred 6 per cent. stock of 1790.” One-third of the amount subscribed and paid in indents of interest issued by authority of the Continental Congress, or in certificates or notes issued by the several States, should bear interest at three per cent, This was the “three per cent. stock of 1790.”