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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) [1893]

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George Washington, 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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About this Title:

Vol. 14 covers May 1798 to December 1799 and includes letters and papers.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Of this Letter-press Edition

750 Copies have been Printed for Sale


August, 1893

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
Vol. XIV.
NEW YORK 27 west twenty-third street
LONDON 24 bedford street, strand
The Knickerbocker Press
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

The Knickerbocker Press

g. p. putnam’s sons

New York

Edition: current; Page: [v]


Mr. Sparks printed in his collection of Washington’s “Writings” upwards of twenty-five hundred letters, apart from his journals and memoranda. I have increased the number of letters to more than three thousand, and draw more freely on the diaries, farm journals, and plans of compaigns and of army organization. The difficulty lay principally in making a proper selection from the wealth of material found; one that would preserve a proper balance between the public and the private acts of the man, so displaying his character more fully than has been done. If I have partially succeeded in this attempt, I am content; the result can be entirely satisfactory least of all to myself, who in daily study for more than four years have been brought to realize the man’s true greatness, and his relation to the history of his times. I frankly confess to a certain feeling of disappointment, as his reserve has left so many of the important events of his career unexplained; but I am in part consoled by a knowledge that in this new collection of his writings a patient study will obtain much that is of value.

Again I thank the many kind friends who have given me freely of their stores. Mr. Crosby, of Boston, sent copies of all the important collection of letters from Washington to General Lincoln, and placed them at my disposal. Mr. F. B. McGuire, of Washington, supplied me with the Washington-Madison Edition: current; Page: [vi] correspondence, since unfortunately scattered. Dr. John S. H. Fogg, of Boston, Dr. Thomas Addis Emmett, of New York, and the late Mr. Cassius F. Lee, Jr., of Alexandria, have never refused access to their stores; while Mr. William F. Havemeyer, of New York, has done a patriotic duty in bringing together a splendid collection of Washingtoniana, to which I was able to refer whenever I desired. Mrs. Burton Harrison gave me copies of the Washington-Fairfax letters, and heavy drafts have been made upon the Historical Societies. I am happy to record the public-spirited conduct of these societies—with but two exceptions. The Long Island Historical Society, of Brooklyn, and the New York Historical Society, proved themselves to be historical societies only in name.

One debt I can never sufficiently acknowledge. There was one who first offered his counsel and aid, and whose kindly encouragement, intelligent criticism, and hearty sympathy in the undertaking made smooth many rough places, and without whose co-operation the work could not have been brought to a successful issue under my editorship. To my father, Gordon Lester Ford, who did not live to see the last volumes, I owe the debt of gratitude, and in affectionate remembrance of which I record his name in this connection. My brother, Paul Leicester Ford, has been as untiring in his assistance as he has proved learned in American history.

Worthington Chauncey Ford.
Edition: current; Page: [vii]


  • 1798.
    • To James Anderson, May 22d . . . . . page 1

      His intention to withdraw from Mount Vernon—Has no desire to change, or to employ one discontented with his conduct—Rights of a proprietor—Wishes to know the reason of his complaints—Makes an offer.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, May 27th . . . . 6

      Is disturbed by the troubles with France—A proposed tour inexpedient—Does not think that France will come to open war—Would serve at the head of the army, if called—Addresses from the people—The government supported.

    • To Jeremy Belknap, June 15th . . . . . 11

      His American Biography—The Calverts—Richard Bland and the history of Virginia.

    • To John Adams, June 17th . . . . . 13

      A visit to the federal city—Wishes him to make Mount Vernon his headquarters—Good wishes for his administration.

    • To James Lloyd, June 25th . . . . . 14

      Marshall’s return from France—Mysterious conduct of his colleague—Flimsy performances of the French ministers.

    • To James Lloyd, June 27th . . . . . 14

      The full correspondence with the French ministry must carry conviction to every mind.

    • To John Adams, July 4th . . . . . . 15

      Had determined upon retirement—Will come forward in case of an actual invasion—French have been led to believe we are a divided people—The choice of general officers—The greatest circumspection should be used in appointing the general staff.

    • To James McHenry, July 4th . . . . . 19

      Is reluctant to assume further responsibilities—Reasons against such an assumption—His sentiments in the Farewell Address—Danger of appointing juvenile generals—Importance of the general staff—Mode of warfare will be different—Requirements to be demanded of officers—Conditions under which he will take the command.

      Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • To James McHenry, July 5th . . . . . 29

      His letter may be shown to the President—The choice of officers all-important—Reasons for a delay in appointments—Dr. Craik recommended.

    • To Sir John Sinclair, July 10th . . . . . 32

      History of early wheat in America—The Egyptian wheat a failure.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 11th . . . . 33

      Hamilton’s fitness for command—Reasons for a southern appointment—General Pinckney should be considered—His own conduct.

    • To John Adams, July 13th . . . . . 37

      Sensations in receiving his appointment—Approves the wise and prudent measures of his administration towards France—Has determined to accept the call—Conditions and a reservation.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 14th . . . . 40

      Manner in which he has accepted the command of the army—Relies upon his co-operation—Action of Congress—Suggested appointments—Pinckney’s position.

    • To Henry Knox, July 16th . . . . . 43

      Will command the army—Relies upon his support—The question of Major-Generals—Pinckney has the highest claims—Former rank should be forgot in the new army.

    • To James McHenry, July 22d . . . . . 47

      Suggestions on the list of nominations—Carrington’s fitness for the office of Quartermaster-General—Sevier—Application of Mr. Tayloe—Tallmadge and Ragsdale—Other applicants—Edward Rutledge fit to command the artillery.

    • To James Anderson, July 25th . . . . . 52

      His literary work—Is again in public life—The reasons—Indignation against France—His gardener satisfactory.

    • To James McHenry, July 27th . . . . . 55

      The Grayheads—Presentation of colors.

    • To James McHenry, July 29th . . . . . 55

      Overwhelmed with applications, introductions, and recommendations—Would not a secretary be allowable—Wishes to remain free from all engagements as to aids—Qualifications required of aids—What progress has been made.

      Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • To Henry Knox, August 9th . . . . . 58

      His letter has given disquietude and perplexity in the extreme—Misconceptions—How he received intelligence of his appointment—Could not have consulted him as to general officers—Hamilton’s claims—The Major-Generals—Why Lee commanded in 1794—There has been no “management” in the business to his knowledge—His friendship unchanged—No room for dissensions—Danger of local distinctions and little jealousies—Geographical distribution of appointments.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, August 9th . . . 65

      Knox’s letter—Pinckney still has the preference—McHenry’s unfitness for his responsibilities—Is kept in profound ignorance of what is being done—Hopes to bring Hamilton in contact with the secretary—Delicacy must yield to expediency—Harper and aids—No foreigner will be a member of his family.

    • To James McHenry, August 10th . . . . 67

      An outspoken letter of advice—His solicitude relative to the formation of the army—Is left in ignorance of details—His questions unanswered—His great interest at stake—Suggests calling in an inspector—Easier to prevent than to rectify mistakes—Desires information on certain matters.

    • To William Vans Murray, August 10th . . . 71

      His letters may have fallen into other hands—Little of interest in his retirement—Turpitude of the French nation—His call into activity—Spirit aroused in the people.

    • To Jonathan Boucher, August 15th . . . . 73

      Has received his volume on the Revolution—Wishes for peace and a good understanding between the two countries—Threatening attitude of France.

    • To Bushrod Washington, August 27th . . . 75

      His illness—General Marshall’s visit—The elections—His fictitious correspondent, Langhorne.

    • To — McDowell, September 2d . . . . 76

      Course of studies for Custis—His indolence an obstacle—To be admonished.

    • To James McHenry, September 3d . . . . 79

      An attack of sickness—Difficulty of finding characters in the south—Distribution of regiments—General officers—Cavalry—Furnishing magazines—Regulations for the recruiting service.

      Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • To Alexander Spotswood, September 14th . . 83

      Overseers—Rawlins and his testimonials—The question of wages—Rhodes—Brookes, the carpenter—The names of officers.

    • To James McHenry, September 14th . . . 87

      Delay in recruiting plans—Its evil effects—Reasons for a fuller correspondence—Is left in ignorance of what is being done—The Major-Generals—White’s nomination—His reputation against it—Service—Small arms and artillery.

    • To James McHenry, September 16th . . . 91

      His disquietude—Wishes a copy of McHenry’s letter to the President—May be obliged to refresh his memory on the compact.

    • To John Adams, September 25th . . . . 92

      Representations of the steps and motives leading to his accepting the command of the army—Acts of the President to be considered—Was not consulted before his appointment—Could declare his views only after his nomination—Reasons for making stipulations as to the general officers and general staff—Care taken to express the stipulations—How they have been disregarded by the President—The order of the Major-Generals—Other appointments of questionable characters—His sole aim to obtain able coadjutors—The character of the war will differ materially from the last—Why was the order not altered before being submitted to the senate?—Resolves of the Continental Congress as to Rank not germane—Why they cannot control—Fitness of Hamilton—Knox’s claims—Spirit and enthusiasm of the people evaporating—Consequences of the delay.

    • To James McHenry, September 30th . . . 104

      Disappearance of opposition to the measures of government—Inspects the sowing of divisions in the new army—Object of the democrats.

    • To James McHenry, October 1st . . . . 105

      Can he with propriety retain his commission in the face of the President’s conduct?—Desires to know the opinion of the cabinet—Reported disgust of New England with Hamilton—Is Pickering hostile to Knox?—Wolcott’s letter to the President—Burn this.

    • To Timothy Pickering, October 15th . . . 107

      Desires information other than that contained in the gazettes—The embargo imposed by France—Gerry’s panic and needed explanation of his conduct—Decline of Federalist influence in Maryland.

      Edition: current; Page: [xi]
    • To Timothy Pickering, October 18th . . . 108

      Arrival of Pinckney—Prospects of an actual invasion from France—Duplicity of the Directory—Propriety of Gerry’s conduct—Rumored intention of the Lafayettes to visit America—Object of the Democrats.

    • To Henry Knox, October 21st . . . . . 110

      His sickness—Question of precedence—How the nominations were made and agreed to—Incidental rank—The command of separate corps in the last war—Wishes his co-operation—As to serving as his aid.

    • To James McHenry, October 21st . . . . 114

      Is opposed to intrigue—His letter to the President—List of captains and subalterns.

    • To James McHenry, October 21st . . . . 115

      The question of rank and Knox—Officers to the southward—Applications from the west—Interposition of members of Congress—The meeting of the Major-Generals.

    • To G. W. Snyder, October 24th . . . . 119

      Spread of doctrines of the Illuminati—Not connected with freemasonry.

    • To Timothy Pickering, October 26th . . . 120

      Welcome acceptance by General Pinckney—Correspondence between the Department of State and the State executives—Gerry’s inexcusable secret negotiations—His vanity may prevent an explanation.

    • To Alexander Spotswood, November 22d . . 121

      Opinion of the alien and sedition laws—Recommends a way of securing conviction—Policy of the opposition.

    • To General Lafayette, December 25th . . . 123

      Political situation in the United States—His own efforts to prevent a breach with France—France has been deceived by an American faction—The United States prepared for a fair negotiation—Peace not favored because of Great Britain—His re-appearance in a public station—Right of self-government—Social.

    • To William Vans Murray, December 26th . . 128

      Dandridge to be in the army—Envoy Logan and his mission—The new session of Congress—Will be something to torture and disturb the public mind.

      Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • To David Stuart, December 30th . . . . 132

      Proposes that Custis go into the army.

    • To Bushrod Washington, December 31st . . . 134

      Application of Blackburn—Judge Addison’s charge on liberty of speech and of the press—Evans on the alien and sedition laws.

  • 1799.
    • To Patrick Henry, January 15th . . . . 136

      Conduct of a certain party—State of Virginia has taken the lead in factional opposition—Election of opposition candidates—Attributed to the backwardness of leading characters—Necessary to counteract the ends of faction—May become dangerous—Urges him to come forward in some public capacity.

    • To Bryan, Lord Fairfax, January 20th . . . 140

      His public employment—Reasons for taking it upon himself—Methods of faction—Lady Huntingdon—The crops.

    • To James Washington, January 20th . . . 144

      The German Washingtons—Offices not for foreigners.

    • To David Stuart, January 22d . . . . . 146

      Washington Custis and his indolence—The matter of a university.

    • To James McHenry, January 27th . . . . 148

      A uniform for himself.

    • To Timothy Pickering, February 10th . . . 151

      The report on relations with France—Need of the public for enlightenment—Gerry’s mischievous path.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, February 25th . . . 152

      Zeal somewhat evaporated—Where the responsibility rests.

    • To Timothy Pickering, March 3d . . . . 154

      The appointments to France a surprise—How a dignified course might have been taken.

    • To John Adams, March 3d . . . . . 156

      The nomination of Murray—What he can say of his fitness and character.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • To James McHenry, March 25th . . . . 158

      A private and friendly letter—What retards the recruiting service—Evil results of the delay—He, at least, ought not to be left in ignorance—Inconvenience attending his acceptance—Observations on the recruiting service—Effect of delay on the quality of recruits—Influence of members of Congress in appointments—The case of Caleb Gibbs—The promotion of Lieutenant Mercer—Rules in promotion must be observed, and feelings of officers consulted—Proposes Custis as a lieutenant—A suggestion as to the management of detail.

    • To Charles C. Pinckney, March 31st . . . . 167

      Wishes copies of his various reports to the Secretary of War—The garrisons on the frontiers of Georgia—Evils of lax discipline—Brigadier-General Washington—Delays in forming the army—Presley Thornton—Marriage of Nelly Custis.

    • To James Welch, April 7th . . . . . 170

      Is not a person to be trifled with—Excuses will not be received—Value of a character—In extreme want of money—New debts will not pay old.

    • To James McHenry, April 23d . . . . . 172

      One day in the week for letter writing—Plan of disposing of General Wilkinson’s command—Ascertaining the intentions of officers—Pay and rank of officers—The recruiting service—The cases of Gibbs and Mercer—A chart wanted.

    • To John Marshall, May 5th . . . . . 180

      His election and a campaign story—Hancock’s contest.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, June 19th . . . . 182

      Recruiting, clothing, and arrangement of the southern officers—Why France has succeeded.

    • To Archibald Blair, June 24th . . . . . 183

      A letter from Patrick Henry—Regret at Henry’s death—His political sentiments—Never suspected Henry of being unfriendly—A striking proof of his friendliness.

    • To John Trumbull, June 25th . . . . . 185

      Has received some prints—Price on the Picturesque—How a faction interprets the French Revolution—The people beginning to see clearly—Changes in Congress—The French in Louisiana.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
    • To Jonathan Trumbull, July, 21st . . . . 189

      An extract from a letter to John Trumbull—How the opposition will vote—True policy of the Federalists—Cannot come forward himself—Charges sure to be made were he to become a candidate—The absence of the President from the seat of government causing comment.

    • To James McHenry, August 11th . . . . 193

      Bordley’s Essays—A perplexing situation—Choice of difficulties before the President—The charge of bribery—Should be a punishment for such publications—The charge against Consul-General Stephens—The absence of the President.

    • To Robert Lewis, August 17th . . . . . 195

      An unendorsed draft—Abatement of rent in case of necessity—More negroes than can be usefully employed—Proposes to colonize his western lands with them—An excessive drought—The illness of Lawrence.

    • To Governor Jonathan Trumbull, August 30th . . 198

      A different state of politics and greater unanimity desired—Evil results of factional opposition—France in Louisiana and the Floridas—Will not again ask for the suffrages of the people—The Federal vote—Principles, not men, the true policy.

    • To James McHenry, September 14th . . . 201

      The offer of two months’ pay—His private finances in need of assistance—Will take only a reimbursement for expenses.

    • To James McHenry, September 15th . . . . 202

      Rules as to rank.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, September 15th . . . 204

      Disposition of the force—Troops at Natchez would excite distrust in the Spaniards, and would result in hostility—Position of the corps de reserve—Fort Wayne—An engineer of real skill wanted—Most horrible mismanagement somewhere—Furloughs and small garrisons fritter away the strength of the army—Armed vessels on the lakes—His sentiments more for consideration than decision.

    • To Lawrence Lewis, September 20th . . . 209

      His intentions to provide for the Custis children—Cannot lessen his income, but offers an estate—As to building and title—Keeping the staff in his own hands.

      Edition: current; Page: [xv]
    • To Burges Ball, September 22d . . . . . 212

      The death of Charles Washington—The last of the children by the second marriage—Is prepared to follow.

    • To William Vans Murray, October 26th . . . 213

      A water-throwing mill—Affairs in Europe—Time for peace Pennsylvania politics—His mission—The visit of Lafayette.

    • To James McHenry, November 17th . . . . 215

      Is stricken dumb at the announcement of a determination to send commissioners to France—Foresees some awful crisis—The charge against Pinckney.

    • To James Anderson, December 10th . . . . 217

      His plan for managing the farms—Advantages of a settled plan—Wishes the views of the overseers—Economy to be practised—Butter—A visit to his western lands—Deeds and number of lands—Settlement of old accounts.

    • Instructions for the Management of Farms . . 222
    • To Alexander Hamilton, December 12th . . . 241
    • Extracts from a Diary, December 7th-13th . . 242
    • Last Illness and Death . . . . . . 243
    • Particular Account of the Last Illness and Death of George Washington, by the Attending Physicians 255
    • Tobias Lear to William Augustine Washington, December 15th . . . . . . . 257
    • Tobias Lear to Burges Ball, December 15th . . 258
    • Proceedings in Congress . . . . . . 259
    • Mrs. Washington to President Adams, December 31st 266
    • Mrs. Washington to Governor Trumbull, 15 January, 1800 . . . . . . . . . 267
    • Will of George Washington . . . . . 271
    • To Lund Washington, August 20th, 1775 . . . 311

      Ill behavior of the Scotch at Port Tobacco—Simpson’s mismanagement of the mill—The safety of Mrs. Washington—The people of Massachusetts very indifferent—Cowardice at Bunker’s Hill—The lines of defence and operations—The Massachusetts people suffer nothing to go by them that they can lay hands upon—Farm work to be done—Building operations—The keeping of horses by overseers.

      Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
    • The Washington Family . . . . . . 317
      • Will of Andrew Knowling, 1649 . . . . . 326
      • Will of Simon Heynes, 1628 . . . . . 334
      • Will of Lawrence Washington, 1581 . . . . 336
      • Will of Robert Washington, 1619 . . . . 341
      • Will of Lawrence Washington, 1619 . . . . 344
      • Will of Elizabeth Mewce, 1676 . . . . . 347
      • Will of Samuel Thornton, 1666 . . . . . 348
      • Will of Margaret Sandys, 1673 . . . . . 348
      • Will of Philip Curtis, 1636 . . . . . . 350
      • Will of Amye Curtis, 1636 . . . . . . 350
      • Will of Richard Seymor, 1641 . . . . . 351
      • Will of Elizabeth Washington, 1622 . . . . 353
      • Will of Walter Washington, 1597 . . . . 355
      • Will of John Woodward, 1612 . . . . . 355
      • Will of Sir Lawrence Washington, 1643 . . . 361
      • Will of Reginald Graham, 1679 . . . . . 364
      • Will of Susanna Grahme, 1697 . . . . . 365
      • Will of Sir William Washington, 1643 . . . 366
      • Will of Catherine Curtis, 1622 . . . . . 367
      • Will of Dorothy Wassington, 1678 . . . . 368
      • Will of Martha Hayward, 1697 . . . . . 374
      • Will of Lawrence Washington, 1661 . . . . 378
      • Will of Elianor Pargiter, 1685 . . . . . 380
      • Will of Mary Washington, 1680 . . . . . 382
      • Will of Penelope Washington, 1697 . . . . 383
      • Will of Elizabeth Sandys, 1698 . . . . . 385
      • Will of John Washington, 1677 . . . . . 391
      • Will of Lawrence Washington, 1675 . . . . 398
      • Will of Lawrence Washington, 1697-8 . . . 402
      • Will of Augustine Washington, 1743 . . . . 410
      • Will of Mary Washington, 1788 . . . . . 416
      • Will of Henry Washington, 1747-8 . . . . 419
      • Will of Lawrence Washington, 1752 . . . . 423
    • Aides-de-camp . . . . . . . . 432
  • Indexes:
    • Index of letters from Washington . . . 437
    • Index of Letters from Washington, Printed by Sparks, Omitted in this Edition . . . 470
    • General Index . . . . . . . 481
Edition: current; Page: [1]



George Washington
Washington, George
22 May, 1798
Federal City
James Anderson
Anderson, James


Your letter of the 19th inst. has been received, but not with the surprise it would otherwise have occasioned had I not been prepared in some measure for the notice it gave, by the intimation contained in a former letter (not now by me, and the date forgotten) of your intention to withdraw from my employment at the end of the year.

I shall repeat now, what I said upon that occasion—viz—that I had no intention then, nor have I any desire now, to part with you as a manager; but having made this declaration I shall add, (what I believe I then did) that I have no wish to retain any person in my service who is discontented with my conduct; or who has any prospect more congenial with their inclinations or their interest in the service of another—and this I must presume to be the case with you, for it can hardly be supposed that the reasons you have assigned for leaving mine, are all that have urged you to the measure. Strange and singular indeed would it be, if the proprietor of an estate (than whom no one can be so good a judge of the resources Edition: current; Page: [2] as himself) should have nothing to say in, or controul over, his own expenditures; should not be at liberty to square his œconomy thereto; nor should, without hurting the feelings of a manager, point to such alterations (admitting they were not the best, but such as he might incline to adopt, or at least propose;) especially too when it has been requested by that manager over and over again to do so. It is a matter of regret, and if these things should operate equally on others, it might be a means of preventing my ever having another manager—for I have no hesitation in declaring that I shall never relinquish the right of judging, in my own concerns (though I may be pleased always to hear opinions) to any man living, while I have health and strength to look into my own business—especially as my sole inducement to give standing wages was to prevent those complaints which might arise from a difference of opinion and interference, if a share of the crops was to constitute the reward for service.

Having said this much upon general principles, I am a little curious, I must confess, to know in what instances your plans have been thwarted—that they have been altered by yourself, cannot be denied. I am equally desirous of knowing what improvements have been obstructed or defeated by my withholding the means of carrying them into effect? It will not be denied that you have planned your own crops (except perhaps those at Dogue Run), and that you have directed the carpenters, ditchers, millers and coopers in their work. If I have interfered in either, Edition: current; Page: [3] it has been no further, that I can recollect, than by expressing an opinion that shifting them from one work to another, before anything was completed, is a waste of time, and a backwarding of labor. Have you ever been denied money when it was asked for? and have I not on a variety of occasions given it as my decided opinion that to improve my farms by lessening the quantity of tillage, by dressing the smaller quantity more highly; by hedging, and keeping them clean; by ditching and meadowing, would be more agreeable to me than immediate profit; and that for want of a regular rotation system (adapted to the nature of the soil, and to circumstances) my land hitherto has been sorely pressed, and must ultimately be ruined, if it is not adopted.

If all these things have happened, where have I been deficient? or in what have you just cause to complain? If I cannot remark upon my own business passing every day under my own eyes, without hurting your feelings, I must discontinue my rides, or become a cypher on my own estate. And you will, I am persuaded, do me the justice to say, that I have never undertaken any new thing, or made any material change, or indeed any change at all in the old, without consulting with you thereupon; and you must further acknowledge, that I have never been tenacious of any matters I have suggested, when you have offered reasons against the adoption of them. If your feelings have been hurt by my remarks on the bad clover seed that was purchased, I cannot help that; my views and plan have been much more hurt Edition: current; Page: [4] by it; for it is a fact known to yourself, that field No. 2. at D. R. would not have been sown with oats but for the sake of the clover (with a view to carrying on my rotation system at that farm) and that I required only three or four days to have ascertained by actual experiment whether it was good or not. In a case where facts could be resorted to, there was no occasion to exercise judgment.

But as it is not my wish to hurt the feelings of any one, where it can be avoided—or to do injustice in any respect whatsoever, the foregoing is to be considered in no other light than as a reply to your letter, and as a development of the principles on which I have acted and shall continue to act. I shall proceed then to suggest now what I intended to mention to you some little time hence, and which was the ground on which I proposed the plan of building a house at the mill.

Two things have appeared very clear to me for some time past; one, that your attention is too much divided, and called to so many different objects, that notwithstanding your zeal and industry, with which I always have been, and still am perfectly satisfied, some of them must suffer:—the other, that my mill and distillery, under the uncertainty of cropping of late years, would with good management and close attention to them, be found my best and most certain support.

Under this conviction, under a belief that to carry on the millering and distillery business to the extent of which they are susceptible, would, of themselves, Edition: current; Page: [5] be sufficient to occupy the time and attention of any one person; and under a persuation that if you were relieved wholly, or in part from all the other duties and perplexities of your present employments (still retaining the salary and emoluments you now have) that you would render these two branches more productive than the whole now is to me. These considerations then, had determined me to propose to you to confine your attention to these objects and to the Fishery; if not altogether, at least in a great degree; to enable you to do which with the greatest convenience was one of my motives for proposing to build a convenient house at the mill. In this case you would be relieved from the responsibility of other matters, and in a great measure from the trouble which is now attached to them, altho’ I should still expect and stipulate to receive all the aid that could be derived from your knowledge and advice in the management of my farms, especially at the three nearest to the mill, and that you would ride round them with me whenever required so to do, and do business for me in Alexandria when called upon for that purpose. I am induced, in some degree, to make this proposition from another consideration; namely a belief that one of the overseers which I now have, altho’ he may obey orders, will never carry on business to advantage if controuled by any one except the owner of the farm, if by him.

If you are inclined to accede to this proposition, I will give the three concerns above mentioned up entirely to your management the ensuing year, under regulations Edition: current; Page: [6] to be agreed upon, and will furnish you with means to carry on the business to its utmost extent, and shall, as mentioned before, only require your advice and assistance occasionally in conducting the other parts of my concerns. By a plan of this sort you will be relieved from the most troublesome part of your present occupations—from all the responsibility annexed to them; and from those remarks which seem to be the source of your present uneasiness and complaints.

So soon as you shall have given this proposition due consideration, I shall expect to be informed of the result, as decision and timely measures must be taken on my part to arrange matters for the new order, if you are determined to quit the employ.

I wish you well, and am your friend, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
27 May, 1798
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander


My dear Sir,

Yesterday brought me your letter of the 19th instant. You may be assured, that my mind is deeply impressed with the present situation of our public affairs, and not a little agitated by the outrageous conduct of France towards the United States, and at the inimitable conduct of its partisans, who aid and abet their measures. You may believe further, from assurances equally sincere, that if there was anything in my power, which could be done with consistency, Edition: current; Page: [7] to avert or lessen the danger of the crisis, it should be rendered with hand and heart.

The expedient however which has been suggested by you, would not in my opinion answer the end, which is proposed—the object of such a tour could not be vailed by the extensive cover to be given to it; because it would not apply to the state of my health which never was better and as the measure would be susceptible of two interpretations the enemies to it, always more active and industrious than friends wou’d endeavor, as much as in them lay, to turn it to their own advantage by malicious insinuations; unless they should discover that the current against themselves was setting too strong, and of too serious a nature for them to stem, in which case the journey would be unnecessary, and in either case the reception might not be such as you have supposed.

But, my dear Sir, dark as matters appear at present, and expedient as it is to be prepared at all points for the worst that can happen, (and no one is more disposed to this measure than I am,) I cannot make up my mind yet for the expectation of open war, or, in other words, for a formidable invasion by France. I cannot believe, although I think them capable [of] any thing bad, that they will attempt to do more than they have done; or that, when they perceive the spirit and policy of this country rising into resistance, and that they have falsely calculated upon support from a large part of the people thereof to promote their views and influence in it, that they will desist even from those practices, unless unexpected events Edition: current; Page: [8] in Europe, and their possession of Louisiana and the Floridas, should induce them to continue the measure. And I believe further, that, although the leaders of their party in this country will not change their sentiments, that they will be obliged nevertheless to change their plan, or the mode of carrying it on, from the effervescence which is appearing in all quarters, and from the desertion of their followers, which must frown them into silence, at least for a while.

If I did not view things in this light, my mind would be infinitely more disquieted than it is; for, if a crisis should arrive, when a sense of duty or a call from my country should become so imperious, as to leave me no choice, I should prepare for the relinquishment, and go with as much reluctance from my present peaceful abode, as I should do to the tomb of my ancestors.

To say at this time, determinately, what I should do under such circumstances, might be improper, having once before departed from a similar resolution; but I may declare to you, that, as there [is] no conviction in my breast, that I could serve my country with more efficiency in the command of the armies it might levy than many others, an expression of its wish that I should do so must somehow or another be unequivocally known, to satisfy my mind, that, notwithstanding the respect in which I may be held on account of former services, that a preference might not be given to a man more in his prime; and it might well be supposed, too, that I should like previously to know who would be my coadjutors, and Edition: current; Page: [9] whether you would be disposed to take an active part, if arms are to be resorted to.1

Before this letter can get to your hands, you will have seen the resolutions and proposed address from citizens of Charleston in South Carolina. Their proceedings will, I am persuaded, give the tone to other parts of that State. Two or three very good addresses have already appeared from North Carolina, one with the signature of a late Governor thereof (Spaight.) All the most popular and hardy yeomanry of this State have come and are coming forward, with strong addresses to the executive and assurances of support. The address from Norfolk (I do not mean the impertinent one from Magnien’s Grenadier Company) is a good one. The middle counties of this State, with two or three exceptions, have hitherto been silent. They want leaders; but I shall be much mistaken, if a large majority of them do not forsake, if they have heretofore been with those, who have pretended to speak their sentiments. As to the resolutions, which were entered into at Fredericksburg, it is only necessary to point to the manager of them, and add that the meeting was partial.2

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From Georgia no development of the public sentiment has yet appeared; but I learn from an intelligent gentleman just returned from where he has been some time for the benefit of his health, travelling, going and returning slowly, and making considerable halts, that the people of that State, as also those of South and North Carolina, seem to be actuated by one spirit, and that a very friendly one to the general government. I have likewise heard, that the present governor of the first (Georgia) professes to be strongly attached to it. These disclosures, with what may yet be expected, will, I conceive, give a different impression of the sentiments of our people to the Directory of France, than what they have been taught to believe, while it must serve to abash the partisans of it for their wicked and presumptive information.

Your free communications, on these political topics, is so far from needing an apology, that I shall be much gratified and thankful to you for the continuation of them; and I would wish you to believe, that, with great truth and sincerity, I am always your affectionate friend, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
15 June, 1798
Mount Vernon
Jeremy Belknap
Belknap, Jeremy


Reverend Sir,

Your favor of the 29th ultimo, accompanying the Discourse delivered on the day recommended by the President of the United States to be observed for a fast, was received in the usual course of the mail from Boston, and the copies therewith sent were forwarded agreeably to your desire. My best wishes attend the prosecution of your American Biography; and, (not recollecting whether the request was made before,) I desire I may be considered as a subscriber to the first volume. To the proposal, which came under cover to me, I have fixed my name, and will lodge the paper in the hands of a gentleman in Alexandria for the convenience of those, who may incline to become subscribers thereto, and thereafter to return it to you.

My information, relative to the family of Calvert, is more limited than the one detailed by you. I know little more of it, than what is recited in the history of Virginia; but I will send a transcript of so much of your letter, as relates to this subject, to a well-informed gentleman of my acquaintance in Maryland, Judge Chase, and give you the result.1

I know of no other histories of Virginia, than those mentioned in your letter; but I recollect well to have heard the late Richard Bland, of Prince George County, say before the revolution, that he was either Edition: current; Page: [12] possessed of or was collecting materials, and hoped to furnish a more correct history of it, than any that was then extant. He was very competent to the undertaking, being a man of erudition and intelligence, long a member of the councils of this State, and afterwards a member of the first Congresses that were held in Philadelphia. I cannot add, however, that he was the author of the manuscript transmitted to you by Carter B. Harrison. Colonel Bland, the person of whom I am speaking, has been dead more than twenty years.1 Bishop Madison, with whom you seem to be in the habit of corresponding, is as likely to give information on the point sought after by you as any one person I am acquainted with. To the descendant of a gentleman, (the Honorable Richard Corbin, many years deceased,) who it is said possessed some valuable notes relative to ancient transactions, and the actors of those times in this State, I will write; and if any thing worthy of notice is obtained, you shall be furnished therewith.

If I can render you any service in procuring materials for your valuable Biography, I shall feel pleasure in doing it. I hope both life and health will be dispensed to you by Him, in whose hands all things are, until this and many others of your good works are completed. For the Discourse, which you were so obliging as to send me, and for the favorable sentiments with which it was accompanied, I pray you to accept the best thanks of, Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [13]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 June, 1798
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Adams, John


Dear Sir,

I have heard with much pleasure, that you contemplate a visit to the city designated for the permanent seat of government of the United States, in the course of the summer or early in autumn.

It is unnecessary, I hope, for me in that event to express the satisfaction it would give Mrs. Washington and me to see Mrs. Adams, yourself, and company in the shade of our vine and fig-tree; but I shall request, that, while you remain in these parts, you will make Mount Vernon your head-quarters. It is but about seventeen miles by land, and less by water, from the Federal City; and only half that distance from Alexandria, which is on the direct route between them.

I pray you to believe, that no one has read the various approbatory addresses, which have been presented to you, with more heartfelt satisfaction than I have done; nor are there any, who more sincerely wish that your administration of the government may be easy, happy, and honorable to yourself, and prosperous for the country.

Present, if you please, the best respects of Mrs. Washington, Miss Custis, and myself to Mrs. Adams and Miss Smith. Accept them yourself, and be assured of the high esteem and regard, with which I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
25 June, 1798
Mount Vernon
James Lloyd
Lloyd, James


Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 25th. ulto. has been duly received, and I feel much obliged by your polite attentions to me.

I rejoice to hear of General Marshall’s arrival, and wish sincerely he had been accompanied by his colleagues, for I believe no country will afford them better protection than their own. The stay of one of them has a mysterious appearance, after having jointly declared “that no one of them is authorized to take upon himself a negotiation evidently entrusted by the letter of the powers and instructions to the whole,” and that too after the invidious distinction was made by the minister of foreign relations, which ought in my opinion to have filled him with resentment instead of complaisance.

I wonder the French Government has not more pride than to expose to the world such flimsy performances as the ministers of it exhibit by way of complaint and argument. But it is still more to be wondered at, that these charges, which have been refuted over and over again, should find men * * *1

George Washington
Washington, George
Mount Vernon
27 June, 1798
James Lloyd
Lloyd, James



Accept my thanks for your favor of the 21st Inst and its inclosure. When the whole correspondence between our envoys and the French Minister of Edition: current; Page: [15] Foreign Relations and his agents is brought into one view, and laid before the public, it will be extremely interesting; and must, I conceive, carry conviction to every mind that is open to it, of what the French now are, and have been aiming at from the beginning of their Revolution—or from an early period of it at least; and will at the same time show them in what manner they have been imposed upon by those whose objects were not to be promoted by truth or a clear understanding of matters.

Gen’l Marshall is so capable of making accurate observations, that I am persuade his information may be relied on with certainty. With great esteem, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Adams, John


Dear Sir,

Not being in the habit, since my return to private life, of sending regularly to the post-office, (nine miles from hence,) every post-day, it often happens that letters addressed to me lye longer there on that account, than they otherwise would do.

I have delayed no time unnecessarily since I had the honor of receiving your very obliging favor of the 22d ultimo, to thank you for the polite and flattering sentiments you have been pleased to express relatively to me, and to assure you, that, as far as it is in my power to support your administration, Edition: current; Page: [16] and to render it easy, happy, and honorable, you may command me without reserve.1

At the epoch of my retirement, an Invasion of these States by any European Power, or even the probability of such an event happening in my days, was so far from being contemplated by me, that I had no conception that that or any other occurrence would arise in so short a period, which could turn my eyes from the shades of Mount Vernon. But this seems to be the age of wonders; and reserved for intoxicated and lawless France (for purposes of Providence far beyond the reach of human ken) to slaughter its own citizens, and to disturb the repose of all the world besides.

From a view of the past, from the prospect present—and of that which seems to be expected, it is not easy for me to decide satisfactorily on the part it might best become me to act. In case of actual Invasion by a formidable force, I certainly should not Intrench myself under the cover of age and retirement, if my services should be required by my Country Edition: current; Page: [17] to assist in repelling it. And if there be good cause, which must be better known to the Government than to private citizens, to expect such an event, delay in preparing for it might be dangerous, improper, and not to be justified by prudence. The uncertainty, however, of the latter, in my mind, creates my embarrassment; for I cannot fairly bring it to believe, disregardful as the French are of treaties and of the laws of nations, and capable as I conceive them to be of any species of Despotism and Injustice, that they will attempt to invade this country, after such a uniform and unequivocal expression of the sense of the People in all parts to oppose them with their lives and fortunes.

That they have been led to believe, by their agents and Partisans amongst us, that we are a divided people, that the latter are opposed to their own Government, and that a show of a small force would occasion a revolt, I have no doubt; and how far these men, (grown desperate,) will further attempt to deceive, and may succeed in keeping up the deception, is problematical. Without this, the folly of the Directory in such an attempt would, I conceive, be more conspicuous, if possible, than their wickedness.

Having with candor made this disclosure of the state of my mind, it remains only that I should add, that to those who know me best it is best known, that, if imperious circumstances should induce me to renounce the smooth paths of Retirement for the thorny ways of Public life, at a period too when repose is most congenial to nature, and a calm indispensable Edition: current; Page: [18] to contemplation, that it would be productive of sensations, which can be more easily conceived than expressed.

The difficulty in which you expect to be involved, in the choice of general officers, when you come to form the army, is certainly a serious one; and, in a Government like ours, where there are so many considerations to be attended to and to combine, it will be found not a little perplexing. But, as the mode of carrying on the War against the Foe that threatens must differ widely from that practised in the contest for Independence, it will not be an easy matter, I conceive, to find, among the old set of Generals, men of sufficient activity, energy, and health, and of sound politics, to train troops to the “quick step,” long marches, and severe conflicts they may have to encounter; and, therefore, that recourse must be had, (for the greater part at least,) to the well-known, most experienced, best proved and intelligent officers of the late army without respect to Grade.

I speak with diffidence, however, on this head, having no list by me from which my memory could be refreshed. There is one thing though, on which I can give a decided opinion; and, as it is of the utmost importance to the Public, to the army, and to the officer commanding it, be him whom he will, I will take the liberty of suggesting it now. It is, that the greatest circumspection be used in appointing the General staff. If this corps is not composed of respectable characters, knowledge of the duties of Edition: current; Page: [19] their respective Departments, able, active, and firm, and of incorruptible integrity and prudence, and withal such as the Commander-in-Chief can place entire confidence in, his plans and movements, if not defeated altogether, may be so embarrassed and retarded, as to amount nearly to the same thing; and this almost with impunity on their part. * * *

The opening given me in your letter is such, as hath prompted me to express these sentiments with freedom; and persuading myself, that you will ascribe them to pure motives, although they may differ from your own ideas, I have no doubt of their being well received. With the greatest respect and consideration I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
4 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

The sentiments, which I mean to express to you in this letter on the subject of yours, shall be frank, undisguised, and explicit; for I see, as you do, that Edition: current; Page: [20] clouds are gathering, and that a storm may ensue; and I find, too, from a variety of hints, that my quiet under these circumstances does not promise to be of long continuance.

It cannot be necessary for me to promise to you, or to others, who know my sentiments as well, that, to quit the tranquil walks of retirement, and enter the boundless field of responsibility and trouble, would be productive of sensations, which a better pen than I possess would find it difficult to describe. Nevertheless, the principle by which my conduct has been actuated through life would not suffer me, in any great emergency, to withhold any services I could render, required by my country; especially in a case, where its dearest rights are assailed by lawless ambition and intoxicated power, contrary to every principle of justice, and in violation of solemn compact and Laws, which govern all civilized nations; and this, too, with the obvious intent to sow thick the seeds of disunion, for the purpose of subjugating the Government, and destroying our Independence and happiness.

Under circumstances like these, accompanied by an actual Invasion of our territorial rights, it would be difficult at any time for me to remain an idle spectator under the plea of age or Retirement. With sorrow, it is true, I should quit the shades of my peaceful abode, and the ease and happiness I now enjoy, to encounter anew the turmoils of War, to which, possibly, my strength and powers might be found incompetent. These, however, should not be stumblingblocks Edition: current; Page: [21] in my own way; but there are other things highly important for me to ascertain and settle, before I could give a decided answer to your question.

First, the propriety in the opinion of the public, (so far as that opinion has been expressed in conversation,) of my appearing again on a Public theatre, after declaring the sentiments I did in my Valedictory Address, of September, 1796.

Second, a conviction in my own breast, from the best information that can be obtained, that it is the wish of my country, that the military force of it should be committed to my charge; and,

Third, that the army now to be formed should be so appointed, as to afford a well-grounded hope of its doing honor to the country, and credit to him who commands it in the field.

On each of these heads you must allow me to make observations.

With respect to the first, it will readily be admitted, under the circumstances I at present am, that nothing short of an imperious call would or ought to draw me from Retirement; and, unless this was apparent, the advantages, (if any are expected from the measure,) would not only be weakened, but might be defeated altogether. For the opposers of government, with a view to lessen its influence, would denounce it at once a restless act, evincive of my discontent in retirement, and that my love for it was all a sham. Knowing the purity of my own intentions, such observations would make no impression on my personal feelings, but the necessity thereof in Edition: current; Page: [22] the eyes of the Public ought to be unequivocal; for it would be uncandid in me not to confess, that, although I highly approve of all the defensive and precautionary measures that have been adopted, and wish they had been more energetic, yet that I cannot believe, since the People of this country, (on whose defection the calculation was made,) have come forward with such strong and unequivocal assurances to defend at all hazards their Government and Independence, maugre the attempts to divert them from it, that the Directory of France, intoxicated and abandoned as it is, will have the folly to invade our territorial rights, otherwise than by predatory attempts on the sea-board; unless their agents and Partisans among us, in defiance of the evidence of their senses, should still have the wickedness and address to make that Government believe, that nothing but a force to give countenance to its friends is wanting to effectuate all they wish. This, Sir, is my opinion, with respect to a formidable Invasion. Perhaps, with the information and lights in possession of the Executive, I might think differently.

On the second head I shall be more concise, because, as my whole life has been dedicated to the Service of my country in one shape or another, for the poor remains of it, it is not an object to contend for ease and quiet, when all that is valuable in it is at stake, further than to be satisfied that the sacrifice I should make of these is acceptable and desired by my Country. As neither ambition, Interest, nor personal gratification of any sort could induce me to Edition: current; Page: [23] quit the walks of private life, to be disappointed in the only object I should have in view would be mortifying beyond my powers of utterance. And what this public opinion and wish is, on this occasion, I know not; for I have studiously avoided touching on the subject, lest some inference contrary to my meaning should be drawn from it.

I express these ideas not from affectation, for I despise everything that carries the appearance of it, but from the belief, that, as it is the fashion of the present day, set or adopted by the French with whom we are to contend and with great and astonishing success too, to appoint Generals of Juvenile years to lead their armies, it might not be improbable, that similar ideas and wishes might pervade the minds of our citizens. And when to this a fear might be added, that age may have wrought too powerfully on my body and mind, to make it advisable to commit so important a trust to my direction.

On the third head you must permit me to dwell a little more at large. If an army was in existence, and an officer were invited to take command of it, his course would be plain, for he would have nothing more to do than to examine the constitution of it, and to inquire into the composition, to enable him to decide; but we have one to form, and much indeed depends upon the formation. If a judicious choice is not made of the principal officers, and above all, of the General Staff, in the first instance, it never can be rectified thereafter. The character, then, of the army would be lost in the Superstructure. The Edition: current; Page: [24] reputation of the Commander-in-Chief would sink with it, and the country be involved in inextricable expense.

It is impossible, I know, for the Executive to be intimately acquainted with the qualifications of the Battalion officers; and perhaps, from the manner in which the Volunteer Corps may offer themselves, little will be left to his choice. The presumption however is, that, as these corps will be composed of respectable citizens, the officers will be good, and worthy of as much confidence as can be placed in untried men. The great desiderata lyes in the appointment of the General Officers of the line, and of the Staff, particularly the latter; and the first consists in a great measure in determining whether they shall be taken from the old set of Generals, or formed anew from the most experienced, intelligent, and best proved officers of the late American army, without regard to Grade.

From the want of the list, which I left in the Presidential office, by which my memory could be refreshed as to names, it would be hazardous, and might be improper, to give a decided opinion on this head; but I have no great scruple in saying, that I incline strongly to the latter mode; for, if this country is seriously Invaded, our system of warfare must be the very reverse of the last.

To remark to a military man, how all-important the General Staff of an army is to its well-being, and how essential consequently to the Commander-in-Chief, seems to be unnecessary; and yet a good choice is of Edition: current; Page: [25] such immense consequence, that I must be allowed to explain myself.

The Inspector-General, Quartermaster-General, Adjutant-General, and officer commanding the corps of Artillerists and Engineers, ought to be men of the most respectable character, and of first-rate abilities; because, from the nature of their respective offices, and from their being always about the Commander-in-Chief, who is obliged to entrust many things to them confidentially, scarcely any movement can take place without their knowledge. It follows, then, that, besides possessing the qualifications just mentioned, they ought to have those of Integrity and prudence in an eminent degree, that entire confidence might be reposed in them. Without these, and their being on good terms with the Commanding General, his measures, if not designedly thwarted, may be so embarrassed as to make them move heavily on.

If the Inspector-General is not an officer of great respectability of character, firm and strict in discharging the duties of the trust reposed in him, or if he is too pliant in his disposition, he will most assuredly be imposed upon, and the efficient strength and condition of the army will not be known to the Commander-in-Chief. Of course he may form his Plans upon erroneous calculations, and commit fatal mistakes.

If the Quartermaster-General is not a man of great resource and activity, and worthy of the highest confidence, he would be unfit for the military Station he is to occupy; for, as it is not possible at all times to Edition: current; Page: [26] mask real designs and movements under false appearances, the better and safer way is, to place full confidence in him under the seal of responsibility. Then, knowing the plan, he participates in the concealment; on which, and the celerity of a movement, success oftentimes entirely depends. In addition to these requisites in a Quartermaster-General, œconomy in providing for the wants of an army, proper arrangements in the distribution of the supplies, and a careful eye to the use of them, is of great importance, and call for a circumspect choice.

The Adjutant-Gen. ought also to be a man of established character, of great activity and experience in the details of an army, and of proved integrity, or no alertness can be expected in the execution of the several duties consigned to him on the one hand, and every thing to be feared from treachery or neglect in his office on the other, by which the enemy might be as well informed of our strength as their own.

Though last mentioned, it is not least important, that so essential and scientific a part of the army, as the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers, should have an able and respectable officer at their head, without which it would soon sink into ignorance and disrepute.

Humanity and feeling for the sick and wounded of an army call loudly for skill, attention, and œconomy in the director of the hospitals; and, without the last qualification, profusion and misapplication of its Stores will inevitably take place.

Able, well-informed, active, and spirited General Edition: current; Page: [27] Officers are no doubt of high importance to the honor, reputation, and success of any army; but I have confined my observations in a more particular manner to those of the General Staff, who may be considered as so many parts of the Commander-in-Chief. Viewing them, then, in this light, it will readily be seen how essential it is, that they should be agreeable to him. Such characters are within my view, if they would accept.

I have run into great prolixity, in order to give you a comprehensive view of my ideas on the subject of your letter, and the principles by which I am governed. Without these explanations, the answer might have been conveyed in a few words as follows.

When I retired to the walks of private life, I had no idea, that any event would occur which could induce me to leave them. That the pain I should feel, if it be my fate to do so, cannot easily be expressed; Yet if this Country should be actually Invaded, or such manifestation of a design to do it as cannot be mistaken, I should be ready to render every Service in my power to repel it;—

Provided my declining years are not considered as an objection to the trust, but, on the contrary, (and in support of the partiality which may actuate the President in my favor,) it shall appear unequivocally to you, and to those with whom you act, being at the centre of information from all parts of the Union, and where a Commander for the Troops to be raised must often have been the subject of conversation, that the Public wish was directed to me, notwithstanding Edition: current; Page: [28] my avowed declaration when I retired from office to remain a private Citizen;—

And provided also, That I can have such characters associated with me, as will render the turmoils of War, and the burthen of the Command, as light as the nature of it will admit. For it is well known, that the vicissitudes of war are not within the reach of human controul; and the chances of adding to, are not greater than the hazard of taking from, that reputation which the partiality of the world has been pleased to confer for past services; And that not prompted, as I have observed in a former part of this letter, by motives of ambition or Interest to embark again on a theatre so arduous and responsible, I might in the course of events be left with the single consolation of knowing myself, though possibly deprived even of the credit of that by the malevolence of others; that a sense of duty was the only motive, which had induced me to run the risk, and to make the sacrifice of my ease and quiet at the same time.

In a very handsome, polite, and flattering letter with which I have lately been honored by the President, he has hinted in very delicate terms, not to be misunderstood, a wish that the Command of the Military force of this Country might be in me. I did not conceive myself at liberty, however, to go into such details and explanations with him, as, from the habits of intimacy I have always been in with you, I thought myself authorized to talk with you, who may be assured of the sincere esteem and affectionate regards of, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [29]
George Washington
Washington, George
5 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

I am perfectly satisfied, that the duties of your office were not diminished by the business thrown upon it in the course of the present session of Congress, and far was it from my wish to add to the trouble of them. I expected no more than a simple acknowledgment of my letters, and, with respect to the proposed Arsenal at the confluence of the Potomac and Shanondoah, that you would have said it had or had not been forgotten, according to the fact.

I am well satisfied with your reply to my last; better perhaps than you will be with the trouble of reading the lengthy scrawl herewith enclosed, to which it has given rise, and which if you please, as from yourself, may be shewn to the President; to whom I have expressed tantamount sentiments in more concise terms. If you are at liberty, and deem it expedient, communicate the responses, which shall be made to it to me.

The President’s letter to me, though not so expressed in terms, is nevertheless strongly indicative of a wish, that I should take charge of the military force of this Country; and, if I take his meaning right, to aid also in the selection of the General Officers. The appointment of these is important, but of those of the General Staff all-important; insomuch that, if I am looked to as the Commander-in-Chief, I must be allowed to chuse such as will be agreeable Edition: current; Page: [30] to me. To say more at present would be unnecessary; first, because an army may not be wanted; and, 2dly, because I might not be indulged in this choice if it was.

You will readily perceive, that a main difficulty with me in this business proceeds from the different epochs at which the army may be formed, and at which it would be proper for me to take the Command of it, (in case the preliminaries mentioned in my other letter are solved to my satisfaction. The President, knowing that 10,000 men cannot be raised by the blowing of a Trump, might deem it expedient, from such appearances or information as would justify him under the Act, to prepare for the worst. I, on the other hand, have no disposition, and think it would be bad policy, to come forward before the emergency becomes evident; farther than that it might be known, that I will step forward when it does appear so unequivocally; and if the matters, for which I have stipulated as previously necessary, are ascertained and accommodated, I shall have no objection to the annunciation (if good would result from it) of this determination. But what is to be done in the interval? I see but two ways to overcome the difficulty, if it is an object to accommodate my wishes; first, to delay the appointment of the General Staff to the latter Epoch, if no inconvenience would result from it; or, if this cannot be, then to advise with me on the appointment of them. I mention this matter now, and in this manner, because I have some reason to believe, that there are very fit men that Edition: current; Page: [31] would be coadjutors with me, whose services could not otherwise be commanded.

Although I have made my stand at the General Staff, I conceive that much will depend upon active and spirited officers for the Divisions & Brigades of the army. And (under the rose) I shall candidly declare, that I do not, from my present recollection of them, conceive that a desirable set could be formed from the old Generals, some on account of their age or infirmities, some from never having never displayed any talents for Enterprise, and others from their general opposition to the Government, or predilection to French measures, be their present conduct what it may, for those who will come up with a flowing tide, will descend with the Ebb, and there can be no dependence upon them in moments of difficulty. If circumstances would allow a choice of Field-Officers, the service would be much benefited by it.

With my two letters I must have tired you sufficiently, and therefore I shall only add, what you knew before, and that is that I am your Affectionate, &c.

P. S. I have already been applied to by one Gentleman to recommend him for Director of the Hospital, which I have refused, as well on general ground, as because, if I should ever have occasion for a Physician or Surgeon, I should prefer my old Surgeon, Dr. Craik, who, from 40 years’ experience, is better qualified than a dozen of them together.

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George Washington
Washington, George
10 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
John Sinclair
Sinclair, John



* * * The manner in which the early wheat (respecting which you enquire) came into this country is not ascertained. The history of it, so far as it has come to my knowledge, I will relate. A farmer walking in a field of wheat when it was in bloom, discovered a plant or two that was perfectly ripe, and carefully separating it from the rest sowed it at the usual time the following Autumn. From this small beginning (about 7 years ago) this State and those adjoining are well in seed, the grain is white full and heavy, weighing generally two or three pounds more in the bushel of Winchester measure. It makes excellent flour; and in tight loamy land inclining to sand it is said to be more productive of Grain, and less of straw than wheat in common. It is a tender plant and apt to receive damage both in the field and Garners. It will not from report bear transportation. Of a vessel load sent to Philadelphia for seed, hardly any of it vegitated, and some farmers go so far as to declare, that they are obliged to spread what is intended for seed thin on their barn floors and turn it frequently to prevent the injury above mentioned. From my own experience I can add but little, for as my land is heavy, stiff and slow, not much of it has been sown; but from the growth of the present year, I send you a sack, that by experiment you may ascertain the utility of cultivating it in England. It is fit to harvest three weeks sooner than the Lamas. To Edition: current; Page: [33] give it the best chance to escape injury on shipboard, I have requested the Owner of the vessel (a Mr. Wm. Wilson of Alexandria) to give it in particular charge to the Master, desiring him to keep the sack in his cabin or steerage.

The Egyptian wheat, a head or two of which you had the goodness to send me (about two years ago) has not answered with me. The first year it shot out lateral branches from the heads pretty generally; but this year the heads had hardly any and in neither year did the grain fill well, and appears to have sustained more injury from the severity of our last Winter, than the wheat in common, although that was great in the extreme, in the middle and upper parts of this and the States bordering thereon; occasioned by the long Winter and severe frosts, with very little snow. Nearer the Sea board, contrary to what is usual, they have had more Snow, and of course the crops of Winter grain are better, but on the whole they are remarkably short. With very great esteem, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
11 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy


Dear Sir,

As I never get letters by the mail until the morning after they arrive in Alexandria, and frequently not for several days, as I am not regular in sending thither, your favor of the 6th instant did not reach my hands until yesterday.

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Of the abilities and fitness of the gentleman you have named for a high command in the provisional army, I think as you do, and that his services ought to be secured at almost any price.1 What the difficulties are that present themselves to the mind of the President in opposition to this measure, I am entirely ignorant; but in confidence, and with the frankness with which you have disclosed your own sentiments on this occasion, I will unfold mine, under the view I have taken of the prospect before us, and shall do it concisely.

If the French should be so mad as openly and formidably to Invade these United States, in expectation of subjugating the government, laying them under contribution, or in hopes of dissolving the Union, I conceive there can hardly be two opinions respecting their Plan, and that their operations will commence in the Southern quarter. 1, because it is the weakest. 2, because they will expect, from the tenor of the debates in Congress, to find more friends there. 3, because there can be no doubt of their arming our own negroes against us. And 4, because they will be more contiguous to their Islands and to Louisiana, if they should be possessed thereof, which they will be if they can.

If these premises are just, the inference I am going to draw, from placing Colo. Hamilton over General Pinckney, is natural and obvious. The latter is an officer of high military reputation, fond of the Profession, spirited, active, and judicious, and much advanced Edition: current; Page: [35] in the estimation of the Public by his late conduct as minister and Envoy at Paris.1 With these pretensions, and being senior to Colo. Hamilton, he would not, I am morally certain, accept a junr. appointment. Disgust would follow, and its influence would spread where most to be deprecated, as his connexions are numerous, powerful, and more influential than any others in the three southern States. Under this view of the subject, I think it would be impolitic, and might be dangerous, to sow the seeds of discontent at so important a crisis. To this may be added, that impediments to the return of General Pinckney, and causes unforeseen, might place Colo. Hamilton in the situation you wish to see him. Inspector-General, with a command in ye line, would, I hope and trust, satisfy him. You will readily perceive, that the difficulty in my mind arises from thorough conviction, that, if an Invasion is attempted, it will commence South of Maryland, and from the importance of so influential a character as Pinckney (if among us) being heartily engaged in repelling it. But, not having the Laws at hand to refer to, or knowing precisely what General Officers are authorized by them, I am speaking much at random, and request for that reason that nothing which I have here said may be considered as definite.

What arrangements the Secretary of War is empowered by the President to make with me, I know not. In the letter of the former to me, he has not touched upon them. He is not yet arrived; but the Edition: current; Page: [36] bearer of this to the Post-office in Alexanda. carrys up my carriage in order to accommodate him down, this being the afternoon on which the mail-stage is expected at that place. I regret, however, that he should have left Philadelphia before a letter, which I had written to him, could have reached that place.

This letter went from here on friday last, before I knew, or had the most distant suspicion of the President’s intention of nominating me, (without previous notice,) to the trust he has. But was written in consequence of a wish expressed in a letter from the Secretary to me, that the crisis might overcome my reluctance to appear again on ye public theatre.

Upon this occasion, I thought it expedient, before matters proceeded further, to be candid and explicit, and accordingly wrote him my sentiments in detail, the substance of which was, that, if an actual Invasion by a formidable force, or such demonstrations of the intention as could not be mistaken, I conceive it to be a duty, wch. I owed to my Country and to my own reputation, to step forward with my best endeavors to repel it, however painful the measure might be to a person at my time of life, and under the circumstances I am; that, for the satisfaction of my own mind, I should like to know, from the best evidence the case was susceptible of, that my Services as Commander-in-Chief would be preferred to those of a man of more Juvenile years and more in the prime and vigor of life; and that, as neither ambition, Interest, nor personal gratification of any sort, could induce me to engage again in the turmoils Edition: current; Page: [37] and hazards of War, as I had every thing to risk and hardly any thing to gain (the vicissitudes of War being in the hands of the Supreme Director, where no control is), and, as the army was about to be formed, and every thing in a manner depending upon the arrangement and organization, it could not be expected that I would take the command of it without previously knowing who my Coadjutors were to be, and having the assistance of those in whom I could place confidence. I mentioned no names, for at that time I knew nothing of my own appointment, and thought the matter too much in embryo to go further, and to allow him, if a fit occasion occurred, to let these, as my sentiments, be known to the President. I shall conclude with great esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
13 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Adams, John


Dear Sir,

I had the honor, on the evening of the 11th instant, to receive from the hands of the Secretary of War your favor of the 7th, announcing that you had, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed me Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the armies raised or to be raised for the service of the United States.

I cannot express how greatly affected I am at this new proof of public confidence, and the highly flattering manner in which you have been pleased to make Edition: current; Page: [38] the communication; at the same time I must not conceal from you my earnest wish, that the choice had fallen on a man less declined in years, and better qualified to encounter the usual vicissitudes of war.

You know, Sir, what calculations I had made relative to the probable course of events on my retiring from office, and the determination I had consoled myself with, of closing the remnant of my days in my present peaceful abode. You will, therefore, be at no loss to conceive and appreciate the sensations I must have experienced, to bring my mind to any conclusion that would pledge me, at so late a period of life, to leave Scenes I sincerely love, to enter upon the boundless field of public action, incessant trouble, and high responsibility.

It was not possible for me to remain ignorant of, or indifferent to, recent transactions. The conduct of the Directory of France towards our Country, their insidious hostility to its government, their various practices to withdraw the affections of the People from it, the evident tendency of their arts and those of their agents to countenance and invigorate opposition, their disregard of solemn treaties and the laws of nations, their war upon our defenceless commerce, their treatment of our minister of peace, and their demands amounting to tribute, could not fail to excite in me corresponding sentiments with those my countrymen have so generally expressed in their affectionate addresses to you. Believe me, Sir, no one can more cordially approve of the wise and prudent measures of your administration. They ought to Edition: current; Page: [39] inspire universal confidence, and will no doubt, combined with the state of things, call from Congress such laws and means, as will enable you to meet the full force and extent of the crisis.

Satisfied, therefore, that you have sincerely wished and endeavored to avert war, and exhausted to the last drop the cup of reconciliation, we can with pure hearts appeal to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and may confidently trust the final result to that kind Providence, who has heretofore and so often signally favored the people of these United States.

Thinking, in this manner, and feeling how incumbent it is upon every person of every description to contribute at all times to his country’s welfare, and especially in a moment like the present, when every thing we hold dear is so seriously threatened, I have finally determined to accept the Commission of Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United States; with the reserve only, that I shall not be called into the field until the army is in a situation to require my presence, or it becomes indispensable by the urgency of circumstances.

In making this reservation I beg it to be understood, that I do not mean to withhold any assistance to arrange and organize the army, which you may think I can afford. I take the liberty also to mention, that I must decline having my acceptance considered as drawing after it any immediate charge upon the public, and that I cannot receive any emoluments annexed to the appointment, before entering into a Situation to incur expense.

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The Secretary of War being anxious to return to the seat of Government, I have detained him no longer than was necessary to a full communication upon the several points he had in charge. With very great respect and consideration, I had the honor to be, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander


My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 8th instant, was presented to me by the Secretary of War on the 11th. I have consented to embark once more on a boundless field of responsibility and trouble, with two reservations, First, that the principal officers in the line and of the Staff shall be such as I can place confidence in; and that I shall not be called into the field, until the army is in a situation to require my presence, or it becomes indispensable by the urgency of circumstances; contributing, in the mean while, every thing in my power to its efficient organization, but nothing to the public expense until I am in a situation to incur expense myself.

It will be needless, after giving you this information, and having indelibly engraved on my mind the assurance contained in your letter of the 2d of June, to add that I rely upon you as a coadjutor and assistant in the turmoils I have consented to encounter.

I have communicated very fully with the Secretary Edition: current; Page: [41] of War on the several matters contained in the powers vested in him by the President, who, as far as it appears by them, is well disposed to accommodate. But I must confess, that, besides nominating me to the command of the armies without any previous consultation or notice, the whole of that business seems to me to stand upon such ground as may render the Secretary’s journey and our consultation of no avail.

Congress, it is said, would rise this week. What then has been done, or can the President do, with respect to appointments under that bill, if it has been enacted? Be his inclinations what they may, unless a law could and has passed, enabling him in the recess of the Senate to make appointments conformable thereto, the nominations must have been made, and the business done here with the Secretary is rendered nugatory.

By the pending Bill, if it passes to a Law, two Major-Generals and an Inspector-genl. with the Rank of Majr.-General, and three brigadiers are to be appointed. Presuming on its passing, I have given the following as my sentiments respecting the following characters fit and proper to be employed, in which the Secretary concurs.

Alexr Hamilton, of New York, Inspector.
Cha C. Pinckney, }Majr Genl.
Henry Knox, or if either of the last mend refuses, }
Henry Lee, of Virginia; }
Henry Lee (if not Majr-Genl); }Brigadiers.
John Brooks, Massachusetts; }
Wm S. Smith, N York, or }
John E. Howard, Maryld; }
Edward Hand, Penns; or }Adjt-Genl.
Jonathan Dayton, Jr., N Jer; or }
Willm S. Smith to be; }
Edwd Carrington, QrMr-Genl.
James Craik, Direcr of Hospls.

And I have enumerated the most prominent characters, that have occurred to my mind, from whom to select field-officers for the Regiments of Infantry and that of Cavalry, which are proposed to be raised.

And now, my dear Sir, with that candor, which you always have and I trust ever will experience from me, I shall express to you a difficulty, which has arisen in my mind relative to seniority between you and Genl Pinckney; for, with respect to my friend, General Knox, whom I love and esteem, I have ranked him below you both. That you may know from whence this difficulty proceeds, it is proper I should observe, and give it as my decided opinion, that, if the French should be so mad as to Invade this Country in expectation of making a serious impression, that their operations will commence in the States south of Maryland.1 * * *

If these premises are just, the inference is obvious, that the Services and Influence of General Pinckney in the southern States would be of the highest and most interesting importance. Will he serve, then, under one whom he will consider a junr officer? And what would be the consequence, if he should refuse, and his numerous and powerful connexions and acquaintances in those parts get disgusted? You have no doubt heard, that his military reputation stands high in the Edition: current; Page: [43] Southern States; that he is viewed as a brave, intelligent, and enterprising officer; and, if report be true, that no officer in the late American army made Tactics and the art of War so much his study. To this account of him may be added, that his character has received much celebrity by his conduct as minister and envoy at Paris.

Under this view of the subject, my wish to put you first, and my fear of losing him, are not a little embarrassing. But why? For after all, it rests with the President to use his pleasure. I shall only add, therefore, that, as the welfare of the country is the object I persuade myself we all have in view, I shall sanguinely hope, that smaller matters will yield to measures, which have a tendency to promote it. I wish devoutly, that either of you, or any other fit character had been nominated in my place; for no one can make a greater sacrifice, at least of inclination, than will your ever affectionate, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
16 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry


My dear Sir,

Little did I imagine, when I retired from the theatre of public life, that it was probable or even possible, that any event would arise in my day, that could induce me to entertain for a moment an idea of relinquishing the tranquil walks and refreshing shades, with which I am surrounded. But it is in vain, I perceive, to look for ease and happiness in a world of troubles.

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The call of my country, and the urgency of my friends to comply with it, have produced a letter from me to the President of the United States, which probably will be given to the public; but, if it should not, the principal feature thereof is, that, with the reservation of not being called into the Field until the army is in a situation to require my presence, or it becomes indispensable by the urgency of circumstances, that I will accept the commission with which the Secretary of War came charged; Desiring, however, that it might be understood, that my coadjutors in the first grades and principal staff of the army must be men in whom I could place entire confidence; for that it was not to be expected, at my time of life, that I would forsake the ease and comforts, which are essential in old age, encounter the toils and vicissitudes of War with all its concomitants, and jeopardize the reputation which the partiality of the World has been pleased to bestow on me, (when the hazard of diminishing is at least equal to the prospect of increasing it,) without securing such assistance as would enable me to go with confidence into such a field of responsibility.

After this exordium, it is almost unnecessary to add, that I have placed you among those characters on whom I wish to lean for support. But, my dear Sir, as you always have found, and trust ever will find, candor a prominent trait of my character, I must add, that causes, which would exceed the limits of an ordinary letter to explain, are in the way of such an arrangement as might render your situation Edition: current; Page: [45] perfectly agreeable; but I fondly hope, that the difficulty will not be insurmountable in your decision.

For the present and augmented force three Major-Generals and four Brigadiers are allowed by the act establishing the latter; and, in a consultation with the Secretary of War, the characters proposed for the former are Colo. Hamilton, Gen. Chas. Cotesworth Pinckney, and yourself. The first of these in the public estimation, as declared to me, is designated to be second in command; with some fears, I confess, of the consequences, although I must acknowledge, at the same time, that I know not where a more competent choice could be made. General Pinckney’s character as an active, spirited, and intelligent officer, you are acquainted with, and know that it stands very high in the southern States, it being understood there, that he made Tactics as much if not more his study than any officer in the American army during the last War. His character in other respects in that quarter, before his late Embassy, was also high, and throughout the Union it has acquired celebrity by his conduct as Minister and Envoy. His connexions are numerous, and their influence extensive. But most of all with me when to these considerations I add, as my decided opinion, (for reasons unnecessary to enumerate,) that, if the French intend an Invasion of this country in force, their operations will commence south of Maryland, and probably of Virginia, you will see at once the importance of embarking this gentleman and all his connexions heartily in the active scenes that would follow, instead of damping Edition: current; Page: [46] their ardor, and thereby giving more activity to the leaven that is working in others, where unanimity of sentiment would be most desirable.

Viewing things in this light, I would fain hope, as we are forming an army anew, which army, if needful at all, is to fight for every thing which ought to be dear and sacred to freemen, that former rank will be forgot, and, among the fit and chosen characters, the only contention will be, who shall be foremost in zeal at this crisis to serve his country, in whatever situation circumstances may place him. Most of those, who are best qualified to oppose the enemy, will have sacrifices of ease, Interest, or Inclination to make. But what are these, when put in competition with the loss of our Independence, or the subjugation of our Government? Both of which are evidently struck at, by an intoxicated, ambitious, and domineering Foe.

The arrangement made with the Secretary of War is on a separate sheet of paper, and meant for your perusal alone, until the decision of the President relative to it is announced.

With that esteem and regard, which you know I feel for you, I remain your sincere friend and affectionate servant.

P. S. From the best recollection I have of them, the Secretary of War is furnished with a list of Field and other officers of the late army, of most celebrity, from whence to draw the Field-Officers for the corps to be raised. If you wd afford your aid also, it would be obliging.

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George Washington
Washington, George
22 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 18th was brought by the post of yesterday. The nominations, according to your list, will be agreeable to me, although I retain the opinion that Colo. Smith is better calculated for a command in the line than for Adjutant-General. But what have you done respecting the QuarterMaster-General? I hope and trust it is not intended to overlook the character I recommended in pointed terms, than whom, I will confidently add, one more adequate is not to be found in the U. States, let the operations of the army be in what quarter it will, nor so fit, if they be in the States south of Maryland, as he knows and is known by every one in those Regions, being the Deputy QuarterMaster General under General Greene in all his active movements; and as much esteemed, as he is extensively known. In a word, if this appointment does not take place, after my explanations, (which I was careful to have well understood respecting this officer,) and after it was given specially in charge to you to consult me thereon, I shall feel very much hurt on the general ground I took. And more so, by confiding with certainty that that officer, for the reasons I assigned, would be made agreeable to me, I wrote to Colo. Carrington, & received the answer herewith enclosed, which may be returned after the proper use is made of it.1

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I desire it may be understood, that my predilection for this gentleman proceeds from no other cause, than a full conviction of his fitness to fill the office to which he was assigned in my mind; for having been separated from the main army, he is infinitely better known to me by character than from personal acquaintance (which in fact is slight), and by the steady & firm support he has given to the Government ever since. Such a character, his military knowledge, intelligence, and experience in the duties of QuarterMaster would render him an acquisition to any army; and the only fear I had was, that he would decline accepting it. The present Qr Master Wilkins (I think his name is) may be adequate to the civil duties of that office; & while the present Troops are doing Garrison duty in the Western Country, little more is necessary; but bring him to an assembled & moving army in the field, where encampments & a thousand Military duties would be thrown upon him, and he would be found altogether incompetent, from an entire unacquaintedness with the scenes.

By what circuitous route did you come at Severe1 in the wilderness? He may be an estimable character for ought I know; but, from the impression I have of him, he is better qualified to cut off Indians, than Edition: current; Page: [49] to discipline an army and lead a Brigade to the mouths of Cannon. But, as I may have mistaken his character, I shall halt here with my strictures on it.

Also enclosed you will receive a letter from John Tayloe Esqr. to me, whom you must know by character, being the brother of Mrs. Lloyd, & son-in-law of Mr. Ogle of Annapolis. He is among the most wealthy & respectable men in this State, active, zealous, & attentive to whatever he undertakes. On the Western expedition against the Insurgents, he commanded a Troop of horse, and (I believe, but am not sure,) was aid to the Commander-in-Chief. What he looks to now beyond the expression of his letter, I know not. With respect to the more definite part of it, I have one answer, and that has been & will be given to every application, (unless some very particular case should come forward,) namely that until I take the field, or am in a situation to require Aids, I shall hold myself perfectly disengaged and free; as, in the choice of my (established ones), there are many considerations besides the mere indulgence of my wishes to be combined. In addition to this, I have informed Mr. Tayloe, that I would transmit his letter to you, to be laid before the President, not doubting it would give him, as it had done me, Pleasure to find Gentlemen in his situation, and of Independent fortune, stepping forward at such a Crisis, with a tender of their Services.

I presume he would prefer an appointment in the Cavalry, and I have no doubt that he could raise a very Edition: current; Page: [50] fine troop; but whether he would be satisfied with that, or whether more could be offered with due attention to the old Cavalry Officers of known and acknowledged celebrity, I am not prepared to decide. Possibly such an appointment, with the privilege of chusing his own Lieutenant & Cornet, might induce his acceptance. And here I will take the liberty of giving it as my opinion once for all, that, when the President has fixed upon officers of established character to Command Companies, Gentlemen who prise their own honour and the reputation of their companies, it would be good policy to let them chuse or at least to recommend their own subalterns. It would facilitate recruiting, contribute much to the harmony of the Company, and, if the Captain himself is properly chosen, it may be relied on, that he will be cautious not to hazard his own and the reputation of his company with bad officers, if known or even suspected to be unfit for his purpose.

I do not recollect enough of the present officers in the Cavalry, or of those who have been disbanded, to say with decision which of them is best entitled to the Command of that Corps; but I have no hesitation in declaring it as my opinion, that Major Tallmadge (formerly of Sheldon’s horse) would not disgrace it, & is to be preferred to his former Colonel.

In furnishing the list I gave you when here, from whom Field-Officers might be selected for the Corps to be raised, I omitted, (not seeing his name enrolled), Major Ragsdale of the Artillery. His character in that Corps, I am told stood high. How it Edition: current; Page: [51] has happened, that he is yet in the back-ground, whether from choice or because he has been overlooked, I am unable to say. He is of this State, as Tallmadge is of New York.

A Lieut. Marsteller, (at present of the troop of horse in Alexandria,) has been recommended to me as a man wishing and deserving of an appointment in the army about to be raised. A Doctr. Peyton, son of a very worthy man, and brother to two of the best officers in Lee’s Corps of horse during the Revolution War, has also applied for a birth in the Medical line. I have answered, that appointments are not with me, that recommendations accompanying my letters to them should go to the President direct, or through the Secretary of War. Possibly you may see these. They must speak for themselves.

The first is well spoken of as an officer and Gentleman. He was in the horse in the Western Expedition, and by accident received a wound. The other (Dr. Peyton) is but lately returned after an absence of five years in Europe, I believe in the study of Physick. I have also been told, that the Captain (Young) of the Alexandria Troop is desirous of employment; but, as his application has not been direct, I but barely mention the fact. Doctr. Craik did say something, too, respecting his son (who was in my family) going into the army; but, as nothing definite passed, I shall say nothing more on the subject. His son-in-law, West, (Major in one of the Uniform Corps,) is desirous, in case the Provisional Army is raised, of obtaining an appointment therein. And Edition: current; Page: [52] now, having laid before you every thing that has occur’d to me—I shall add no more at present, than that I am.

P. S. I don’t know whether Mr. Edwd Rutledge would come forward, or not, but I know of none except Genl Knox who would comd. the Corps of Artillery more respectably.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
James Anderson
Anderson, James


Esteemed Sir,

Your favor of the 8th February came safe, and would have received an earlier acknowledgment, if any thing had sooner occurred worthy of communication.

I hope you have not only got relieved of the fever from which you were then recovering, but of the languor with which it had affected you, and that you are now engaged in the literary pursuits, of which you gave the outlines, and which, with your pen and under your arrangement of the subjects, must be curious, entertaining, and instructive. Thus persuaded, if you propose to conduct the work on the plan of subscription, it would give me pleasure to be enrolled in the list of subscribers.1

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I little imagined, when I took my last leave of the walks of public life, that any event could bring me again on a public theatre. But the unjust conduct of France towards these United States has been and continues to be such, that it must be opposed by a firm and manly resistance, or we shall not only hazard the subjugation of our government, but the independence of our nation also; both being evidently struck at by a lawless, domineering power, which respects no rights, and is restrained by no treaties, when it is found inconvenient to observe them.

While we are thus situated, sustaining daily injuries, even indignities, with a patient forbearance, from a sincere desire to live in peace and harmony with all the world; the French Directory, mistaking the American character, and supposing that the people of this country were divided, and would give countenance to their nefarious measures, have proceeded to exact loans (or in other words contributions), and to threaten us, in case of non-compliance with their wild, unfounded, and inconsistent complaints, that we should share the fate of Venice and other Italian states.

This has roused the people from their slumbers, and filled them with indignation from one extremity Edition: current; Page: [54] to the other of the Union; and I trust, if they should attempt to carry their threats into effect, and invade our territorial, as they have done our commercial rights, they will meet a spirit, that will give them more trouble than they are aware of, in the citizens of these States.

When every thing sacred and dear to freemen is thus threatened, I could not, consistently with the principles which have actuated me through life, remain an idle spectator, and refuse to obey the call of my country to lead its armies for defence, and therefore have pledged myself to come forward whensoever the exigency shall require it.

With what sensations, at my time of life, now turned of sixty-six, without ambition or interest to stimulate me thereto, I shall relinquish the peaceful walk to which I had retired, and in the shades of which I had fondly hoped to spend the remnant of a life, worn down with cares, in contemplation of the past, and in scenes present and to come of rural enjoyment, let others, and especially those who are best acquainted with the construction of my mind, decide; while I, believing that man was not designed by the all-wise Creator to live for himself alone, prepare for the worst that can happen.

The gardener, whom you were so obliging as to send me, continues to conduct himself extremely well. He is industrious, sober, and orderly, and understands his business. In short, I never had a hired servant that pleased me better; and what adds to my satisfaction is, that he is himself contented, having Edition: current; Page: [55] declared that he never was happier in his life. My best wishes will always attend you, and, with very great esteem and regard, I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

The Greyheads of Alexandria, pretty numerous it seems, and composed of all the respectable old People of the place; having formed themselves into a company1 for the defence of the Town & its Vicinity, are in want of Colors; and it being intimated that the Presentation of them by Mrs Washington would be flattering to them; I take the liberty of requesting the favor of you to have made and sent to me as soon as it is convenient, such as will be appropriate to the occasion. Handsome, but not more expensive than becomes Republicans (not Bachite Republicans) is reqd. If you think a Motto would be proper, the choice of one “chaste & unassuming”—is left to your own judgment. Send the cost, & the money shall be remitted by yours always.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 July, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 25th instant came to Alexandria yesterday evening, and was put into my hands this morn. For the rules and regulations accompanying it, I thank you, and will read them attentively, if I am Edition: current; Page: [56] allowed time; but this is questionable, as I am assailed from all quarters, and by all descriptions of people, for Commissions, Introductions, and recommendations &c; to all of which common civility makes some sort of reply necessary, while among them there are a few, to whom more particular answers must be given.

This leads me to ask whether a Secretary, previous to the contingencies on which my taking the field is placed, will be allowed? The pay I mean. Without which the moments employed in my usual and necessary avocations, and which at all leisure hours I have been devoting to the arrangement and overhaul of my voluminous public papers, civil and military, that they may go into secure deposits, and hereafter into hands, that may be able to separate the grain from the Chaff; I say, without this aid, my time (and in truth I had from a variety of causes, which it is needless to enumerate, little enough before) will be entirely taken up by personal visits and written applications for office, and such other matters as are incidental to my late appointment.

The motives to this question are explained. The necessity I conceive is apparent; but, as I have placed my own services, pay, and emoluments upon contingencies, which may happen sooner or later, or never, you are to decide, and accordingly advise, whether or not a Secretary can be appointed previously to this event, with the pay and forage allowance annexed to the office or not.1

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You will not have transmitted you the half, perhaps not a tenth part of the applications, which are made to me. It may be taken for granted, therefore, that all who appear to you under my auspices are such, as I am either personally acquainted with their families, or am satisfied with the recommendations they bring.

Your answers to Mr. Caton and Judge Chase were judicious and proper. Of the propriety of remaining perfectly free from all engagements, respecting my aids, I am more and more convinced, as the applications encrease, and the little knowledge displayed of the qualifications, which the aids of the Commander-in-Chief ought to possess, is discovered by the applicants. The variegated and important duties of the Aids of a Commander-in-Chief, or the Commander of a separate Army, require experienced Officers, men of Judgment, and men of business, with ready pens to execute them properly and with dispatch. A great deal more is required of them than attending him at a parade, or delivering verbal orders here and there or copying a written one. They ought, if I may be allowed to use the expression, to possess the soul of the General; and, from a single idea given to them, to convey his meaning in the clearest and fullest manner. This, young men, unacquainted with the service and diffident, would not do, be their abilities what they may. One or two of the latter, as extra, might be received, but the choice must depend on circumstances.

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Why do you not say something about the Quarter-Master-General and Adjutant-General? I am thrown entirely into the field of conjecture, to account for the cause of silence on these interesting points; nor am I relieved in either by the Gazettes, except by a blind account in Bache’s that Col. Smith as Brigadier did not obtain. Will Col. Hamilton accept? Have you heard from the other General Officers? My paper is done, & I am always yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 August, 1798
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry


My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 29th ultimo has filled my mind with disquietude and perplexity in the extreme; but I will say nothing in reply intentionally, that shall give you a moment’s pain. Indeed, from the tenor of your letter, it would seem as if nothing I could say now would be of any avail, after the open, candid, and I think friendly communications in my letter of the 16th of July, assigning reasons for what had been done, which could not, I conceive, be construed into a supposed inferiority on your part by me. But, as there are some things in your letter, which appear to have originated in a misconception of circumstances, justice to myself makes it necessary to explain.

When I observe, then, that the first knowledge I had of my own appointment, nay, the first intimation that such a measure was in contemplation was contained Edition: current; Page: [59] in a newspaper, as a complete act of the President and Senate, accompanied with a few lines from the Secretary of War of equal date (July 4th), informing me that he should be the bearer of my commission, and the President’s Instructions to make some, but does not say what arrangements;—when, with this information I was left, from the receipt thereof until the arrival of the Secretary on the night of the 11th, with sensations occasioned thereby easier to conceive than describe;—and when, upon his arrival I was presented with a pending Bill for augmenting the army of the United States, and informed at the same time, that Congress would, (as it actually did,) adjourn the Monday following, (16,) what was to be done? My earnest desire, often repeated, was, that Congress could be prevailed on, circumstanced as things were, to vest a power in the President to make appointments in the recess of the Senate, rather than precipitate the organization of an army, that time might be allowed for a deliberate and harmonious consultation in the arrangement of the General Officers at least; and I offered to attend in Philadelphia myself, and send for Colo. Hamilton and you to meet me there, for this very desirable purpose. I even hastened precipitately Mr. McHenry’s return, in hopes he might be back in time to accomplish this object, guarding, however, against the failure.

Under this statement, which you will find correct, how was it possible for me, who have never in the remotest degree directly or indirectly interfered in Edition: current; Page: [60] any matter of government since I left the Chair of it, to have consulted you previously to the nomination of the General Officers? And if giving in your name without, in the manner it was handed to the President, which seemed to be the result of necessity, proceeding from causes which have been communicated, is considered as a wound to your feelings, might I not complain upon ground equally strong and hurtful to mine? Brought as I was, without the least intimation, before the Public after it had been officially announced to the world, and I hope, believed, that my soul panted for rest, and that the first wish of my heart was to spend the remnant of a life worn down with care in ease and contemplation, but left as I was by this act without an alternative, or with a very disagreeable one, I passed it over in silence, from a conviction, that, if affairs are in the alarming state they are represented to be, that I was not to complain or stand upon punctilios.

So soon as my nomination as Commander-in-Chief was given in by the President, to which, (according to Mr. McHenry’s account,) he was induced, without consulting me, by the urgency of his friends, I was inundated with letters, describing the crisis and the expediency of my accepting the command.

Through the same channel, and from information I had no cause to distrust, no doubt remained on my mind, that Colo. Hamilton was designated second in command, and first, if I should decline an acceptance, by the federal characters of Congress; whence alone anything like a public sentiment relative thereto Edition: current; Page: [61] could be deduced. On this authority the paragraph, which you quoted from my letter, was founded. I pretend to no other knowledge of the business.

The moment I had resolved to accept the command, with the reservations mentioned in my letter to the President, now before the Public, my first care was to look for coadjutors with whom I could be happy, and in whom I could place entire confidence. A second thought was not necessary for this in the Majr.-Generals for the augmented army; but to arrange them, with an attention to the various views the subject presented, was not easy.

In a free and candid strain I frankly declared to you in my last the principle, and the only principle, which operated in the arrangement of Genl. Pinckney; but, as I was more concise on this head as it related to Colo. Hamilton, I will ask your patience while I detail the reasons, which prevailed in his case.

1. Having already informed you of the evidence, (as given to me,) of the public wish that he should be second in command, if I accepted, and first, if I did not, it is unnecessary to repeat it. 2. Considering the military establishment of this country was about to take a new form, and to commence as it were de novo, without any particular regard to an army which had been disbanded near fourteen years, I conceived that the President, in the choice of officers and arrangement of them, would pay as much attention to circumstances as to former rank. Not supposing, then, that the latter would be viewed in so serious a Edition: current; Page: [62] light, as appears by your letter, I shall readily acknowledge, that I had recourse to no old resolves of Congress, nor did I recollect any that would apply to the case. 3. I might in some measure have been led into this belief, from what happened in consequence of the Insurrection in 1794. Then, you will recollect, Genl. Lee, who had never been more than a Colo. in the army of the U. S., was put over the heads of Mifflin, Irvine, Morgan, and Bland, all of whom had been General Officers in the said Service; not because he was Governor of Virginia, for the moment he crossed the Potomac, which he was obliged to do to get at the insurgents, his office and power as Governor ceased. 4. The same communication of the wishes, that Colo. Hamilton might be second in command, conveyed intimation also, that, from his situation and prospects, having a large family and no certain dependence but his profession, which was lucrative, something as nearly adequate, as the case would admit, ought to be offered to induce his acceptance, and the 2nd rank was proposed. 5. Though his services during the War were not rendered in the grade of a General Officer, yet his opportunities and experience could not be short of those that did;—and 6, adding these to the important trusts reposed in him in various civil walks of life, he will be found, I trust, upon as high ground as most men in the U. States.

I do not know that these explanations will afford you any satisfaction, or produce any change in your determination, but it was just to myself to make them. Edition: current; Page: [63] If there has been any management in the business, it has been concealed from me. I have had no agency therein, nor have I conceived a thought on the subject, that has not been disclosed to you with the utmost sincerity and frankness of heart. And notwithstanding the insinuations, wch are implied in your letter, of the vicissitudes of friendship, and the inconstancy of mine, I will pronounce with decision, that it ever has been, still is, and, notwithstanding the unkindness of the charge, ever will be, (for aught I know to the contrary,) warm and sincere.

I earnestly wished, on account of that friendship, as well as on the score of military talents, to have had the assistance of you and Colonel Hamilton in the arduous contest with which we are threatened. I wish it still and devoutly, as well on public as on private accounts; for dissensions of this sort will have an unhappy effect among the friends of Government, while it will be sweet consolation to the French partisans, and food for their Pride.1 * * *

Lengthy as this letter is I must ask leave to make an observation on the following passage in yours, which I hope inadvertently escaped you. Speaking of Genl. Officers you say, if so “New England which must furnish the majority of the Army, if one shall be raised, will be without a Major General or have the junr. one.—Whether they will possess such a sense of inferiority as to bear such a state of things Edition: current; Page: [64] patiently—whether their zeal & confidence will thereby be excited, time will discover.” I hope in God that at no time, much less the present, when everything sacred & dear is threatened, that local distinctions & little jealousies will be done away. If the arrangement who comd affect New England, Massachusetts , of three Major General’s & three Brigadiers, for the augmented Army would have two? of each, and from New Jersey & P— —ward there are four out of six. What distribution more equal could be made with the strictest eye to locality or Geographical refinement; may it not be asked what advantage would a State or States derive from the Senior more than the junr. Major General, equal privileges being attached to all on the same establishment? except that the Senior in the usual routine has the best chance of being Commander in chief.

I will now close my letter, spun to an infinitely greater length than I expected when I began, with a solemn declaration, that if such powers as I suggested in the early part of this letter had, (as I think they ought, under the circumstances of the case) been given to the President, and the consequent meeting had taken place in Philadelphia, I should have been perfectly satisfied with any arrangement, that would have produced harmony and content; for nothing could be farther from my wish, than to see you in a degraded point of view. How the commissions are dated I know not. I am, as I ever have been, my dear Sir, your sincere friend and affectionate servant.

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George Washington
Washington, George
9 August, 1798
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander


My dear Sir,

By the same Post which brought me your favor, began in Philadelphia and ended in New York the 1st instant, I received a letter from General Knox dated the 29th ulto. in answer to one I had written him on the 16th of that month.—In confidence, and as a proof of my frankness and friendship, I send both of them to you, together with my reply of this date;—which, after reading be so good as to return to me.—

Giving you the perusal of this correspondence, supercedes the necessity of my going into further details on the subject of relative rank;—except, if the Commissions are yet to issue, and it be practicable at this time, and consistent also, I should not be indisposed (so far as my agency in the business extends, if that would satisfy General Knox,) to make him the senior of General Pinckney.—But as the President is absent—and it might have been the understanding of the Senate that the latter should be first—the propriety of the change, unless it could be effected with the consent of Gen. Pinckney, might at least be questioned.—Though upon more mature reflection I do not see upon what principle he could object.—I have a high opinion of General Pinckney’s qualifications as an officer, and his integrity as a man, but under the impression I am that the Southern Hemisphere will be the grand theatre of action, I shall honestly confess that my primary object in gratifying him is, that he may come forward with all his force.—

Your opinion respecting the unfitness of a certain Edition: current; Page: [66] Gentleman1 for the office he holds, accords with mine, and it is to be regretted, sorely, at this time that these opinions are so well founded.—I early discovered, after he entered upon the Duties of his office that his talents were unequal to great exertions, or deep resources.—In truth they were not expected;—for the fact is, it was a Hobson’s choice.—But such is the case, and what is to be done?

I am held in the most profound ignorance of every step that has been taken since he left this place;—and but, for other letters which I have been obliged to have ready for this days Post, I should have written very seriously to him on several matters, highly interesting to me, if I am to be called to the field; and that which you have mentioned among the rest.—I am not at this moment, made acquainted with a single step that is taken to appoint an Officer or Recruit a man, or where the rendezvouses are.—Numberless applications have been made to me, to be recommended for Commissions, and such as appeared to have merit I forwarded, but know nothing of the Result.—

Let me hope that you will be able to devote a good deal of your time to the business of recruiting good men, and the choice of good officers. It is all important. I will endeavor to impress him with propriety of requiring your assistance in these matters; and of the necessity of making you the full allowance of Pay, &c. for these services.—By bringing you thus in contact, a thousand other matters will fall in of course.—Delicacy—if matters became serious, must Edition: current; Page: [67] yield to expediency.—The stake we play for is too great to be trifled with.

Mr. Harper has been presented to my consideration before, as an Aid-de Camp, but as I shall have no use for my military family until matters are more matured, I am unwilling to be embarrassed by engagements. My Aids, as you well know, must be men of business; and ought to be officers of experience.—Many, very many young Gentlemen of the first families in the Country, have offered their services;—and all have received one answer, to the above effect. Indeed in the choice of my Aids, a variety of considerations must combine—political—geographical, &c, as well as experience.

What is become of Walker? Colo. Heth has offered and stands well in my estimation, without a promise.—No Foreigner will be admitted as a member of my family, while I retain my present ideas;—nor do I think they ought to be in any situation where they can come at secrets—and betray a trust.—

Write me as often as you can conveniently;—and believe me to be what I really am

Your sincere & affecte friend.
George Washington
Washington, George
10 August, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

You will consider this letter as private and confidential, dictated by friendship, and flowing from the best intentions. If then anything should be found therein, Edition: current; Page: [68] which may have too much the appearance of plain dealing, look to the motives and manner of the communication, and my apology will be sought for in your candor.

From the moment I accepted my appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States, I considered myself as nearly allied to the Secretary of War, and entitled to particular attentions from him, notwithstanding I drew no pay, nor was acting in the field. It could not have been supposed had it not otherwise been expressed, that I would be called to the army in the moment of danger as ignorant of its formation, its munitions, and every thing relating thereto, as if I had just dropped from the clouds.

My solicitude often and strongly expressed, relatively to the formation of the Army, could not but have impressed you with my ideas of its importance; but, if stronger evidence was necessary, the offer I made to go at this hot season, and in other respects inconvenient, to Philadelphia, would be conclusive. But what fruit has it produced? To this moment I am ignorant of every step, that has been taken in the appointment of the Battalion Officers, for recruiting the men, fixing the places of Rendezvous, &c.

With respect to the Quarter Master-General, finding no mention made of one in the list of appointments, nor any thing said of him in your letter of the 18th of July announcing them, I waited some time to see if any explanation of this matter would be given; but, finding Edition: current; Page: [69] none, I wrote to you on the 22d of that month to be informed of the cause, and not until the first of this was I answered. And, with respect to the Adjutant-General, I am to this moment unadvised of the result of Colo. Smith’s nomination. I have heard, indeed, that Colo. North was appointed, and that it had been announced in the Newspapers; but this I have not seen, altho’ I have examined them with an eye to it, as accurately as my hurried situation would allow.

Having staked my life, my reputation, my fortune, my ease, tranquillity, and happiness, in support of the Government and Independence of our Country, it is not a little interesting and important for me to be advised of the measures, which you are pursuing to organize and provide for the augmented force. For as that act is absolute, no delay can be admitted; and it is much to be desired, that it may take the field with éclat, which will not be effected without great exertion. And, as it will not be supposed that the President, well-disposed, sensible, and zealous as he is, can have many relative ideas in arrangements of this sort, more responsibility will attach to you; and, as the multiplicity of matters and burthens will be great, let me entreat you to call on the Inspector, (allowing him full pay and emoluments,) for assistance. The business of recruiting, in the result, belongs to his Department. Then why not let it commence and be prosecuted, agreeably to your general instructions to him, under his auspices?

It is much easier at all times to prevent an evil Edition: current; Page: [70] than to rectify mistakes; it is infinitely better to have a few good men than many indifferent ones. Officers, whose Recruiting emoluments depend upon numbers, will not be very scrupulous in their choice, without the fullest conviction that the Inspection of the men will be as rigid as the Instructions that are given. You would, besides, find him in your hurried situation extremely useful in a variety of occurrences, which cannot always be foreseen or provided against. I would have suggested a similar measure, with respect to General Knox, as it related more particularly to Arms and the Ordnance Department, but (under the rose for the present) he seems to be so much dissatisfied with the arrangement of the relative rank of the General Officers, that I have no expectation of his serving.

Let me conclude by requesting to be informed, in what state the formation of the augmented corps is; whether the applications for Commissions are numerous and the characters good; what arrangements are made for recruiting; where the general rendezvous are to be; who are appointed to superintend them; what is the present state of your Military supplies; what the means and what the measures for augmenting them. With much truth and sincerity, I remain your affectionate.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
Mount Vernon
10 August, 1798
William Vans Murray
Murray, William Vans


Dear Sir,

I doubt not but you have already set me down as an unprofitable correspondent, and with too much truth perhaps;—but not with as much culpability on my part as appearances may indicate.—

I have written you several letters and having put one or two for Mr. Dandridge under your covers, without receiving any acknowledgment of them, the presumption is that they have fallen into other hands. Nothing, however, was contained in either of them, that could entitle them to the honor of a place in the Bureaus of France to which several of my private letters it seems have found a passage.—And but for the impropriety of such conduct, and the deprivation and invasion of another’s Right, all might go, as I write or say nothing I wish to conceal from that nation. My politicks being straight and my views undisguised towards it and all others.

In examining my file of unanswered letters, I find two of yours dated the 9th of Octr. and 1st of Novr. among them. In acknowledging the Rect. of which permit me to thank you for the interesting communications which are detailed therein; and to express a wish that in your moment of leisure, you would favor me with a continuation of matters so satisfactory to be informed of.

I should have wrote oftener to you, if in retirement I had found matter sufficient for amusement:—but revolving days producing similar scenes of domestic Edition: current; Page: [72] & rural occurrences,—none interesting except to those who were engaged in them; knowing that all things of public concern together with the Gazettes, of different complexions were regularly transmitted to you, from the proper Department and knowing also that you had friends near the fountain of Intelligence, who were in the habit of corresponding with you, I conceived that the details of the latter kind from one might be less correct and at best but second-hand information & therefore avoid giving you the trouble to receive it.

But new and unexpected scenes opening upon us, and all the plans of my retirement likely to be marred, by the Domineering Spirit and boundless ambition of a nation whose Turpitude have set all obligations divine & human at naught, may in time to come enable me to communicate some things more Interesting than are to be found in the circle of my present perambulations, in doing which I shall always feel pleasure.

Little did I think when my Valadictory address was presented to the people of the United States that any event would occur in my day that could draw me from the peaceful walks and tranquil shades of Mount Vernon: where I had fondly hoped to spend the remnant of a life, worn down with public cares, in ruminating the variegated scenes through which I have passed and in the contemplation of others which are yet in embrio.

I will hope however that when the Despots of France find how much they have mistaken the Edition: current; Page: [73] American character, and how much they have been deceived by their partizans among us, that their senses will return to them and an appeal to arms for the purpose of repeling an Invasion at least will be rendered unnecessary. To be prepared for them however is the most certain and perhaps the least expensive mode of averting the evil.—Neither they nor their abetors here expected I believe that such a Spirit would be roused as the occasion has manifested among all classes of citizens except the leaders of Opposition—Upon their obtaining correct Statements of the Treatment they have recd. from their good and Magnanimous Allies. The difficulty under which they will find themselves lie, in treading back their steps,—But Envoy Logan may be sent to keep them out of it;1—or which is to the full as likely, to Direct them into another course to obtain the same end.

Present me if you please to Mrs. Murray; in which Mrs. Washington and Miss Custis unite as they do to yourself and in remembrance to Mr. Dandridge, and be assured of the Sincere Regard & Esteem of, Dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 August, 1798
Mount Vernon
Jonathan Boucher
Boucher, Jonathan


Reverend Sir,

I know not how it is happened, but the fact is, that your favor of the 8th of November last year is but just received, and at a time when both public and Edition: current; Page: [74] private business pressed so hard upon me, as to afford no leisure to give the “View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution,” written by you, and which you had been pleased to send me a perusal. For the honor of its dedication, and for the friendly and favorable sentiments which are therein expressed, I pray you to accept my acknowledgments and thanks.

Not having read the book, it follows of course that I can express no opinion with respect to its political contents; but I can venture to assert beforehand and with confidence, that there is no man in either country more zealously devoted to peace and a good understanding between the two nations than I am, nor one who is more disposed to bury in oblivion all animosities, which have subsisted between them, and the individuals of each.

Peace with all the world is my sincere wish. I am sure it is our true policy, and am persuaded it is the ardent desire of the government. But there is a nation, whose intermeddling and restless disposition, and attempts to divide, distract, and influence the measures of other countries, will not suffer us, I fear, to enjoy this blessing long, unless we will yield to them our rights, and submit to greater injuries and insults, than we have already sustained, to avoid the calamities resulting from war.

What will be the consequences of our arming for self-defence, that Providence which permits these doings in the disturbers of mankind, and which rules and governs all things, alone can tell. To its all-powerful Edition: current; Page: [75] decrees we must submit, whilst we hope, that the justice of our cause, if war must ensue, will entitle us to its protection. With very great esteem, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 August, 1798
Mount Vernon
Bushrod Washington
Washington, Bushrod


My dear Bushrod,

At the time your letter of the 20th instant (with others) was brought to this place, I was not in a situation to acknowledge the receipt of it. And no post has happened since by which I could do it,—that of to morrow of which I shall avail myself will be the first which offers.

On the 18th at night I was seized with a fever, of which I took little notice until the 21st when I was obliged to call for the aid of medicine; and with difficulty a remission thereof was, so far effected as to dose me all night on thursday with Bark—which having stoped it, and weakness only remaining, will soon wear off as my appetite is returning.

I learnt with much pleasure, from the postscript to your letter, of General Marshall’s intention to make me a visit.1 I wish it of all things; and it is from the ardent desire I have to see him, that I have not delayed a moment to express it, lest, if he should have intended it on his way to Frederic, and hear of my indisposition, he might change his route.

I can add with sincerity and truth, that, if you can Edition: current; Page: [76] make it comport with your business, I should be exceedingly happy to see you along with him. The crisis is important. The temper of the people in this State, in many at least in some places, is so violent and outrageous, that I wish to converse with General Marshall and yourself on the elections, which must soon come.

The fictitious letter of John Langhorne may be had at any time. I do not send it now, because if you come up it will do then, and we will let General Marshall into the whole business, and advise with him thereon. Good or evil must flow from Mr. Nicholas’s attempt, according to his establishment of facts. Present my best wishes to General Marshall, my love in which your Aunt unite to Nancy, and believe me to be always your affectionate uncle.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 September, 1798
Mount Vernon



Your favor of the 13th ultimo, with the accounts, came duly to hand, and I thank you for the trouble you have had in paying and taking receipts therefor. The small balance of £1 3. 5½ may, if you please, be given to Mr. Custis.

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It was my intention to have written fully to you by the return of this young gentleman to college, but the debilitated state into which I have been thrown by a fever, with which I was seized on the 18th, and could procure no remission of until the 25th past, renders writing equally irksome and improper.

Were the case otherwise, I should, I confess, be at a loss to point out any precise course of study for Mr. Custis. My views, with respect to him, have already been made known to you, and, therefore, it is not necessary to repeat them on this occasion. It is not merely the best course for him to pursue that requires a consideration, but such an one as he can be induced to pursue, and will contribute to his improvement and the object in view. In directing the first of these objects, a gentleman of your literary discernment and knowledge of the world, would be at no loss, without any suggestions of mine, if there was as good a disposition to receive, as there are talents to acquire knowledge; but as there seems to be in this youth an unconquerable indolence of temper, and a dereliction, in fact to all study, it must rest with you to lead him in the best manner, and by the easiest modes you can devise, to the study of Edition: current; Page: [78] such useful acquirements as may be serviceable to himself, and eventually beneficial to his country.

French, from having become in a manner the universal language, I wish him to be master of, but I do not find from inquiry, that he has made much progress in the study yet. Some of the branches of mathematics, particularly surveying, he ought, possessor as he is of large landed property, to be well acquainted with, as he may have frequent occasion for the exercise of that study.

I have already exceeded the limit I had prescribed to myself when I began this letter, but I will trespass yet a little more, while I earnestly entreat that you will examine him, as often as you can make it convenient, yourself; and admonish him seriously of his omissions and defects; and prevent, as much as it can be done, without too rigid a restraint, a devotion of his time to visitations of the families in Annapolis; which, when carried to excess, or beyond a certain point, can not but tend to divert his mind from study, and lead his thoughts to very different objects. Above all, let me request, if you should perceive any appearance of his attaching himself, by visit or otherwise, to any young lady of that place, that you would admonish him against any such step, on account of his youth and incapability of appreciating all the requisites for a connection which, in the common course of things, can terminate with the death of one of the parties only; and, if done without effect, to advise me thereof. If, in his reading, he was to make common-place notes, as is usual, copy them fair Edition: current; Page: [79] and show them to you, two good purposes would be answered by it. You would see with what judgment they were done, and it might tend much to improve his handwriting, which requires nothing but care and attention to render it good. At present, all of his writing that I have seen is a hurried scrawl, as if to get to the end speedily, was the sole object of writing.

With sincere esteem and regard, I am, sir, your obedient.

P. S. Knowledge of book-keeping is essential to all who are under the necessity of keeping accounts.1

George Washington
Washington, George
3 September, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 25th ulto. has been duly received. The list of applicants from the Southern States, and two large bundles of letters—from these I presume—came at the same time, & in good order.

My last to you was dated the 20th of August; two days previous to which I had been seized with a fever, which I endeavored to shake off by pursuing my usual rides & occupations; but it continued to Edition: current; Page: [80] encrease upon me; when on the 21st at night Doctr Craik was called in, (who it seems chose to have assistance,) and on the 24th procured such a remission as to admit bark. Since which I have been in a convalescent state, but too much debilitated to be permitted to attend much to business. Which I mention with no other view, than to apprise you of my inability to enter so actively upon the duties you have suggested, as you probably have counted upon. I shall, however, do all that the situation of my health and circumstances will enable me to answer your expectations, if I should be finally charged in the manner you have suggested to the President.

The wide expance, you must permit me however to add, which forms the Southern District, will render it very difficult to obtain correct information of characters, will require more time than is supposed, and will, after all, be liable to much imposition, as confidence must be placed in others, who may be actuated more by local considerations than the general weal.

It is much to be wished, that Gen. Pinckney was arrived,1 and if the arrival should be north of this, that he might call here with your ideas, that I might with him arrange matters finally relatively to the States of South Carolina & Georgia, and provisionally as they respect North Carolina and Tennessee. Kentucky from its local situation is not only remote from, but in a manner is unconnected with, any other State; and, as you have taken no notice of the Edition: current; Page: [81] Northwestern territory, the presumption is that you contemplated neither Officers nor men from that Region.

Upon the principle, that the three great districts of the United States give each four of the augmented Regiments, I suppose it is meant that the several States composing these districts should furnish a quota proportioned to its population; and on this principle, without regarding fractions, I shall proceed, when ultimately instructed, unless you direct otherwise. But, for want of a general list of the Revolutionary Officers, to remind one of the Captains & Subalterns, who have distinguished themselves in the late War, many of the most deserving and meritorious may be overlooked. For I have heard already of several coming under this description, who have declared their willingness to serve, but wait to be called upon, adding that, as their names (& they presume characters) are registered in the War Office, they may be called if it shall be adjudged that their services are needful to be preferred. Upon this ground, if you suppose it probable that the selection of Regimental Officers for the Southern District will be entrusted to me to bring forward, I should be glad to be furnished with a general list of them. For the one you left with me, you will recollect, comprehended the field-officers only, and of those only such as continued to the end of the War.

You have said in your letter of the 25th ulto., that “the officers for the Cavalry are to be selected by the Lieutenant-General of the Army,” but do not signify Edition: current; Page: [82] whether they are to be taken from the Southern District wholly, or from the Union at large. On this head I shall require explicit directions.

I have no doubt, that a body of fine Cavalry might be raised in the Southern District, if the price of the horses is not too limited, and that they would stand the Southern operations better than the Northern horses; and I believe a handsome corps of officers might also be had; but it remains with you to direct where both or either are to be taken from. Talmadge, according to your account (in a former letter, although I could perceive no reason for it, unless the promotion of Genl. Dayton has raised his expectations,) looks higher than the Command of such a Corps.

When I am furnished by the Superintendent with a return of the Military stores now on hand and in train to be procured, I shall, agreeably to your desire, offer such observations thereon as may occur. In the mean time, I have no hesitation in declaring, that your Magazines cannot be too well furnished with all necessary articles of foreign dependence; the procuring of which, if the country should be invaded, will not only be rendered precarious, but they must come much higher. Those of our own growth or manufacture we have more at hand. And above all things direct the Keepers of your Powder Magazines to be attentive to the Powder, turning it often, and proving it frequently; otherwise there may appear to be a store, while there is none in fact, that is, none fit for use.

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I have not been in a situation to examine the Printed Rules & Regulations respecting the Recruiting Service, transmitted in your last. I hope they are rigid, and pointed to good men; for it is much better to have a few good soldiers than a multitude of vagrants and indifferent ones, who, besides other imperfections, may desert their Colours in critical moments.

If any change should take place in settling the relative Rank of the Majr.-Generals, I shall hope & expect to be informed of it. With much truth, I am, dear Sir.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 September, 1798
Mount Vernon
Alexander Spotswood
Spotswood, Alexander


Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 11th, came to my hands yesterday.

Two causes, indeed three, prevented my answering the first after your return to New Port sooner, namely—debilitated health, occasioned by the fever wch. deprived me of 20 lbs of the weight I had when you and I were at Troy Mill Scales, and rendered writing irksome; the expectation of hearing from you again, relative to the Carpenter and farmer, to whom you informed me you had written; and the daily expectation of hearing from Rawlins, who had been informed if he could forward satisfactory recommendations of his qualifications to make a good overseer, that he would be employed by me in that character. These reasons must apologize for your not hearing from me sooner.

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By the same mail, that brought me your letter of the 11th. Rawlins sent me satisfactory testimonials of his fitness for my purpose,—of course I stand engaged to him. But I have yet one place certain, perhaps two, requiring overseers: but not at the advanced wages your overseer asks, vizt., £50, &c.—These are my home house which requires an active, stirring, and spirited man; but not an ill-tempered or severe one. The other, in which I have been in some doubt, is what I call Doguerun Farm (where the Octagon Barn and treading floor is).—I could not well afford more than £40 and the usual allowance of provisions for the latter; & £35 is the most I ever gave for the former, and seldom more than thirty pounds. A single man wd. suit the home house best,—would be cheaper to me,—and he himself would live much better in as much as he would eat of the Provisions that went from my table, with the house-keeper and other hired people, about it:—on the other hand a married man would be preferred for Doguerun.

The reason why I doubted about employing an overseer at the latter farm is—that as Union & Doguerun Farms are under one overseer this year, & the latter conducted in a great measure by the foreman—I had some thoughts of entrusting it solely to him next year under the direction of the steward, but when I perceive, but too clearly, that negroes are growing more and more insolent and difficult to govern, I am more inclined to incur the expense of an overseer than to hazard the management and peace of the place to a negro:—Provided I can get a good Edition: current; Page: [85] overseer on moderate terms:—and why any of them should think of an increase of wages when the produce by which they are to be paid, is reduced to half price, and taxes to their employer (which they will not feel) are becoming very high—is to me inconceivable—for these causes I am lowering the wages of my Farms.

I mention these things to possess you of my ideas relative to these matters but will add notwithstanding that I will keep one of the two places before mentioned open until you hear from Richard Rhodes & learn his terms, if he will come to me at all.—I think he would have a better opportunity of Displaying his Knowledge & skill as a farmer at Doguerun (which is really a good Farm) than at the Mansion house, where there is nothing done by the hands that are kept there but jobbing and running from one thing and from one place to another, and for overlooking this farm I would stretch the wages to £45. tho’ I should hope to get him for £40. and if he declines coming altogether, or asks higher wages, I will in that case offer the same pay for the same place to your Overseer;—But if Rhodes accepts and your overseer will come to the Mansion House for £40. which is ten pounds higher than I had intended, I will allow him that sum, which I am persuaded would be better and more profitable to him (if a single man as I understood from you he was) than £50 at a separate Farm, where he would have to find himself many small though expensive articles, from which he would be exempt by eating at my second table with the house keeper.—

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So much for your Overseer and Rhodes. I must add however that both must decide immediately—Yea or Nay—of which you will be so good as to inform me without delay as others are offering (said to be good) which I may also Miss, the Season getting late for valuable Overseers to be disengaged.

From the character you have received of Brookes (the carpenter) I have no hesitation in requesting that he may be engaged immediately, and I did not care how soon he would come up—for as he is spoken of as a complete Joiner, I have work enough for him in that way before the time of the present Overlooker of my Carpenters expires; which will be about the first of Novr.—I go in this case upon the supposition that Brookes is a single man.—If on the contrary he is a married one his wife cannot be brought here (altho’ he might come himself immediately) until my other Carpenter moves his family away & the house in which they live is given up.—If he is single he would not live in that but in one of the houses in my Yard—and eat as before mentioned with the House Keeper & others.

You will oblige me very much by having all these matters adjusted as soon as possible & by informing me of the result; that I may be placed upon a certainty, & conduct myself accordingly—as it will not be in my power to hold those who offer here in suspense more than a few days longer.—

You forgot to leave me the names & grades of those officers whose celebrity were Known in the Revolutionary War; & by expecting it I did not Edition: current; Page: [87] charge my memory with them, & have forgot the names of those you did mention.

I have had no return of my fever and am recovering my flesh fast nearly a pound & a half a day; at which rate if I should hold it for a twelve month I shall be an overmatch for Majr. Willis.

We were very glad to hear that you got safe home in the extreme hot weather you traveled from hence.

Mrs. Washington, Nelly & Washington Custis are all well and unite in best regards and wishes for your self, Mrs. Spotswood, & the family with, Dear Sir, &c.

P. S. To insure this letter getting to you without any delay at the Postoffice I have requested Mr. Parks to send it to you by express.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 September, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 7th instant from Trenton is before me; and no plan is yet decided on, that I can discover, for recruiting the augmented force, or even for appointing the officers therefor.

It is for the Executive to account for this delay. Sufficient it is for me to regret, and I do regret it sorely; because that spirit and enthusiasm, which were inspired by the Dispatches from our Envoys, that resentment which was roused by the treatment of our Commissioners by the Directory, and the demands Edition: current; Page: [88] which were made on them as a preliminary to Negotiation by the latter, are evaporating fast; and Recruiting Service, which might have been successful, (of the best men,) a month ago may be found very difficult a month hence, (of the worst kind). The law passed before the middle of July, and was positive; and the middle of September has produced no fruit from it. This to me is inconceivable!

I must once more, too, my dear McHenry, request that your correspondence with me may be more full and communicative. You have a great deal of business, I shall acknowledge; but I scruple not to add, at the same time, that much of the important and interesting part of it will be to be transacted with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the U States, to whom there ought to be no concealment or want of information. Short letters, therefore, taking no notice of suggestions or queries, are unsatisfactory and distressing. Considering the light in which I think my sacrifices have placed me, I should expect more attention from the Secretary of War; but from Mr. McHenry, as a friend and coadjutor, I certainly shall look for it. Compare then my letter to you of the 3d instant, which I wrote in much pain, from the debilitated state into which the fever had thrown me, with your acknowledgment thereof, dated the 7th, and judge yourself whether I could derive any satisfaction therefrom on the score of business. Nor to this moment, although you know my solicitude respecting the General Staff of the Army, and my asking the question (in one of my letters) in direct Edition: current; Page: [89] terms, what truth there was in the report of Colo. North’s nomination to the office of Adjutant-General, has there been the least notice taken of it.

I will defer saying any thing on the President’s new arrangement of the three Major-Generals, until you shall have communicated the result of Colonel Hamilton’s answer to me.1

But in the name of the Army, what could have induced the nomination of Walter [Anthony Walton] White to the rank of Brigadier, after the State of New Jersey had been complimented with one Brigadier, and other States of more importance had received none? I formerly asked the same question with respect to Sevier to which no reply was made.

White’s name was placed in the list of Field officers (for New Jersey) merely as one that might be considered in that grade when the general organization came on, but I had no idea when you left this place, that General Officers would be appointed at the time they were, for the Provisional Army; and taking it for granted that it was a work for after consideration Edition: current; Page: [90] I bestowed no thought thereon. Of all the characters in the Revolutionary Army, I believe one more obnoxious to the Officers who composed it could not have been hit upon for a Genl. Officer than White, especially among those to the Southward, where he was best known & celebrated for nothing but frivolity—dress—empty show & something worse—in short for being a notorious L—r. This appointment will, I am told, exclude many valuable officers, who will not serve as his juniors. As to Sevier, the only exploit I ever heard of his performance, was the murder of Indians.

What measures, if any, are pursuing to provide small arms, I know not; nor of what sort or length they are intended to be; my opinion is that both musket & bayonet ought to be full as long as those, with whom we expect to contend, to give confidence to the soldiery. And it is a matter deserving consideration whether the latter ought not to resemble the dagger, more than those wch have been in common use with us.

If these, if the new invented artillery of G Britain at the cannon-works in Scotland, if the horse-artillery, in short, if any other articles of foreign manufacture are needed, not a moment is to be lost in the importation. Besides their coming much higher after hostilities shall have commenced, the obtaining of them at all will be attended with hazard and delay.

I have written you a free and friendly letter. It is intended, and I hope will be received, in that light from, my dear Sir, your sincere friend, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
16 September, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

Your confidential letter dated Trenton the 10th instant, with its enclosures, has been duly received. The latter are returned. The contents of them have filled my mind with much disquietude and embarrassment: but it is impossible for me to make any move in consequence at this time, from the want of official grounds, without betraying your confidential communication.

I can perceive pretty clearly, however, that the matter is, or very soon will be, brought to the alternative of submitting to the President’s forgetfulness of what I considered a compact or condition of acceptance of the appointment, with which he was pleased to honor me, or to return him my commission. And as that compact was ultimately and at the time declared to him through you, in your letter written from this place, and the strong part of it inserted after it was first drawn, at my request, to avoid misconception, I conceive I have a right, and accordingly do ask, to be furnished with a copy of it.

You will recollect too, that my acceptance being conditional, I requested you to take the Commission back, that it might be restored or annulled according to the President’s determination to accept or reject the terms on which I had offered to serve; and that, but for your assuring me it would make no difference Edition: current; Page: [92] whether I retained or returned it, and conceiving the latter might be considered an evidence of distrust, it would have been done. Subsequent events evince, that it would have been a measure of utility; for, though the case in principle is the same, yet such a memento of the fact could not so easily have been forgotten or got over.

After the declaration in the President’s letter to you of August 29th, (which is also accompanied with other sentiments of an alarming nature,) and his avowed readiness to take the responsibility of the measure upon himself, it is not probable that there will be any departure from the resolution he has adopted; but I should be glad, notwithstanding, to know the result of the Representation made by the Secretaries, as soon as it comes to hand; and, if there is no impropriety in the request, to be gratified with a sight of the memorial also. I am, &c.

P. S. If you see no impropriety in the measure, and do not object to it, it would be satisfactory to me to receive a copy of the powers, or instructions, from the President under which you acted when here.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 September, 1798
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Adams, John



With all the respect, which is due to your public station, and with the regard I entertain for your private character, the following representation is presented to your consideration. If, in the course of Edition: current; Page: [93] it any expression should escape me, which may appear to be incompatible with either, let the purity of my intentions, the candor of my declarations, and a due respect for my own character, be received as an apology.

The subject, on which I am about to address you, is not less delicate in its nature, than it is interesting to my feelings. It is the change, which you have directed to be made in the relative rank of the Major-Generals, which I had the honor of presenting to you by the Secretary of War; the appointment of an adjutant-General after the first nomination was rejected, and the prepared state you are in to appoint a third, if the second should decline, without the least intimation of the matter to me.

It would have been unavailing after the nomination and appointment of me to the chief command of the armies of the United States, (without any previous consultation of my sentiments,) to observe to you the delicate situation in which I was placed by that act. It was still less expedient to have dwelt more than I did on my sorrow, at being drawn from my retirement, where I had fondly hoped to have spent the few remaining years, which might be dispensed to me, if not in profound tranquillity, at least without public responsibility. But if you had been pleased, previously to the nomination, to have inquired into the train of my thoughts upon the occasion, I would have told you with the frankness and candor, which I hope will ever mark my character, on what terms I would have consented to the Edition: current; Page: [94] nomination, and you would then have been able to decide whether they were admissible or not.

This opportunity was not afforded before I was brought to public view. To declare them afterwards was all I could do, and this I did in explicit language to the Secretary of War, when he honored me with your letter of the 7th of July, showed me his powers, and presented the commission. They were, that the General Officers and General Staff of the army should not be appointed without my concurrence. I extended my stipulations no further, but offered to give every information, and render every service in my power, in selecting good officers for the Regiments.

It would be tedious to go into all the details, which led to this determination, but before I conclude my letter, I shall take the liberty of troubling you with some of them. Previously to the doing of which, however, let me declare, and I do declare in the most unequivocal manner, that I had nothing in view in making this stipulation, than to insure the most eligible characters for these highly responsible offices, conceiving that my opportunities, both in the civil and military administration of the affairs of this country, had enabled me to form as correct an opinion of them as any other could do.

Neither the Secretary of War nor myself entertained any doubt, from your letters to me and Instructions to him, that this was the meaning and object of his mission. Unwilling, however, to let a matter of such serious importance to myself remain Edition: current; Page: [95] upon uncertain ground, I requested that gentleman to declare this in his official letter to you, supposing, as was the case, that the one I should have the honor of writing to you might be laid before the public, and that to encumber it with stipulations of that sort would be improper. Nay more, as the acceptance was conditional, and you might or might not be disposed to accede to the terms, I requested him to take the commission back, to be annulled or restored according to your conception of the propriety or impropriety of them. His remark upon this occasion was, that it was unnecessary, inasmuch as, if you did not incline to accept my services upon the condition they were offered, you would be under the necessity of declaring it, whilst, on the other hand, silence must be construed into acquiescence. This consideration, and believing that the latter mode would be most respectful, as the other might imply distrust of your intentions, arrested that measure.

This, Sir, is a true, candid, and impartial statement of facts. It was the ground on which I accepted and retained the Commission, and was the authority on which I proceeded to the arrangement, that was presented to you by the Secretary of War.

Having no idea, that the General officers for the Provisional army would be nominated at the time they were, I had not even contemplated characters for those appointments.

I will now respectfully ask, in what manner these stipulations on my part have been complied with?

In the arrangement made by me with the Secretary Edition: current; Page: [96] of War, the three Major-Generals stood, Hamilton, Pinckney, Knox; and in this order I expected their commissions would be dated. This, I conceive, must have been the understanding of the Senate, and certainly was the expectation of all those with whom I have conversed. But you have been pleased to order the last to be first, and the first to be last. Of four Brigadiers for the Provisional army, one, whom I never heard of as a military character, has been nominated and appointed, and another is so well known to all those, who served with him in the Revolution, as (for the appointment) to have given the greatest disgust, and will be the means of preventing many valuable officers of that army from coming forward. One adjutant-General has been, and another is ready to be appointed, in case of the non-acceptance of Mr. North, not only without any consultation with me, but without the least intimation of the intention; although in the letter I had the honor to write you on the 4th of July, in acknowledgment of your favor of the 22d of June preceding, and still more strongly in one of the same date to the Secretary of War, which, (while here,) his clerk was I know directed to lay before you, I endeavored to show you in a strong point of view how important it was, that this officer, (besides his other qualifications,) should be agreeable to the Commander-in-Chief, and possess his entire confidence.

To increase the Powers of the Commander-in-Chief, or to lessen those of the President of the United States, I pray you to be persuaded was most foreign Edition: current; Page: [97] from my heart. To secure able coadjutors, in the arduous task I was about to enter upon, was my sole aim. This the public good demanded, and this must have been equally the wish of us both. But to accomplish it required an intimate knowledge of the component parts of the characters among us in the higher grades of the late army. And I hope, (without incurring the charge of presumption,) I may add that the opportunities I have had to judge of these are second to none. It was too interesting to me, who had staked every thing which was dear and valuable upon the issue, to trust more to chance than could be avoided. It could not be supposed, that I was insensible to the risk I was about to run, knowing that the chances of losing were at least equal to those of increasing the reputation, which the partiality of the world had been pleased to bestow on me. No one then acquainted with these circumstances, the sacrifices I was about to make, and the impartiality of my conduct in the various walks of life, could suppose that I had any other object in view, than to obtain the best aids the country afforded, and my judgment could dictate.

If an army had been in actual existence, and you had been pleased to offer the command of it to me, my course would have been plain. I should have examined the constitution of it, looked into the organization, and inquired into the character of its officers, &c. As the army was to be raised, and the officers to be appointed, could it be expected, (as I was no candidate for the office,) that I should be Edition: current; Page: [98] less cautious, or less attentive to secure these advantages?

It was not difficult for me to perceive, that, if we entered into a serious contest with France, the character of the war would differ materially from the last we were engaged in. In the latter, time, caution, and worrying the enemy until we could be better provided with arms and other means, and had better disciplined troops to carry it on, was the plan for us. But if we should be engaged with the former, they ought to be attacked at every step, and if possible not suffered to make an establishment in the country, acquiring thereby strength from the disaffected and the slaves, whom I have no doubt they will arm, and for that purpose will commence their operations South of the Potomac.

Taking all these circumstances into view, you will not be surprised at my solicitude to intrench myself as I did; nor is it to be supposed, that I made the arrangement of the three Major-Generals without an eye to possible consequences. I wished for time, it is true, to have effected it, hoping that an amicable adjustment might have taken place; and offered at a very short summons, (inconvenient as it would have been,) to proceed to Philadelphia for that purpose; but as no subsequent notice was taken thereof, I presumed there were operative reasons against the measure, and did not repeat it.

It is proper too I should add, that, from the information which I received from various quarters, and through different channels, I had no doubt in my Edition: current; Page: [99] mind, that the current sentiment among the members of Congress, and particularly among those from New England, was in favor of Colonel Hamilton’s being second in command, and this impression has been since confirmed in the most unequivocal manner by some respectable members of that body, whom I have myself seen and conversed with on the subject.

But if no regard was intended to be had to the order of my arrangement, why was it not altered before it was submitted to the Senate? This would have placed matters upon simple ground. It would then have been understood as it is at present, namely, that the gentlemen would rank in the order they are named; but the change will contravene this, and excite much conversation and unpleasant consequences.

I cannot lay my hand readily upon the resolves of the old Congress, relative to the settlement of Rank between officers of the same grade, who had been in service and were disbanded, while a part of the army remained in existence; but if I have a tolerable recollection of the matter, they are totally irrelevant to the present case. Those resolves passed, if I am not mistaken, at a time when the proportion of officers to men was so unequal as to require a reduction of the former, and when the army was about to undergo a reduction in part, and the officers might be called upon again. But will a case of this sort apply to the officers of an army, which has ceased to exist more than fourteen years? I give it frankly as my opinion, (if I have not entirely forgotten the principle on which the resolves took place,) that they will not; Edition: current; Page: [100] and I as frankly declare, that the only motive I had for examining a list of the officers of that army was to be reminded of names.

If the Rule contended for were to obtain, what would be the consequences, and where would the evil end? In all probability, resort would be had to the field-officers of the Revolutionary army to fill similar grades in the augmented and Provisional corps, which are to be raised. What then is to be done with General Dayton, who never ranked higher than captain in it? The principle will apply with equal force in that case, as in the case of Hamilton and Knox. The injury, (if it is one,) of putting a junr. over the head of a senr. officer of the last war, is not ameliorated by the nomination or appointments of them on different days. It is the act itself, not the manner of doing it, that affects.

I have dwelt longer on this point than perhaps was necessary, in order to show, that in my opinion former rank in the Revolutionary army ought to have no influence in the present case, farther than may be derived from superior experience, brilliant exploits, or general celebrity of character; and that, as the armies about to be raised are commencing de novo, the President has the right to make officers of citizens or soldiers at his pleasure, and to arrange them in any manner he shall deem most conducive to the public weal.

It is an invidious task at all times to draw comparisons, and I shall avoid it as much as possible; but I have no hesitation in declaring, that, if the Edition: current; Page: [101] public is to be deprived of the services of Colo. Hamilton in the military line, that the post he was destined to fill will not be easily supplied; and that this is the sentiment of the public, I think I can venture to pronounce. Although Colonel Hamilton has never acted in the character of a General Officer, yet his opportunities, as the principal and most confidential aid of the commander-in-chief, afforded him the means of viewing every thing on a larger scale than those, whose attentions were confined to Divisions or Brigades, who knew nothing of the correspondences of the commander-in-Chief, or of the various orders to, or transactions with, the General Staff of the Army. These advantages, and his having served with usefulness in the Old Congress, in the General convention, and having filled one of the most important departments of government with acknowledged abilities and integrity, have placed him on high ground, and made him a conspicuous character in the United States, and even in Europe.

To these, as a matter of no small consideration, may be added, that, as a lucrative practice in the line of his profession is his most certain dependence, the inducement to relinquish it must in some degree be commensurate. By some he is considered as an ambitious man, and therefore a dangerous one. That he is ambitious, I shall readily grant, but it is of that laudable kind, which prompts a man to excel in whatever he takes in hand. He is enterprising, quick in his perceptions, and his judgment intuitively great; Edition: current; Page: [102] qualities essential to a military character, and therefore I repeat, that his loss will be irreparable.

With respect to General Knox, I can say with truth, there is no man in the United States with whom I have been in habits of greater intimacy, no one whom I have loved more sincerely, nor any for whom I have had a greater friendship. But esteem, love, and friendship can have no influence on my mind, when I conceive that the subjugation of our government and independence are the objects aimed at by the enemies of our Peace, and when possibly our all is at stake.

In the first moments of leisure, after the Secretary of War left this place, I wrote a friendly letter to General Knox, stating my firm belief, that, if the French should invade this country with a view to the conquest or the division of it, their operations would commence at the southward, and endeavored to show him, in that case, how all-important it was to engage General Pinckney, his numerous family, friends, and influential acquaintance heartily in the cause; sending him at the same time a copy of the arrangement, which I supposed to be final; and, in a subsequent letter, I gave him my opinion fully with respect to the relative situation of himself and Colonel Hamilton, not expecting, I confess, the difficulties which have occurred.

I will say but little relative to the appointment of the Brigadiers before alluded to; but I must not conceal, that, after what has passed, and my understanding of the compact, that my feelings were not Edition: current; Page: [103] a little wounded by the appointment of any, much more such characters, without my knowledge.

In giving these details I have far exceeded the limits of a letter, but I hope to be excused for the prolixity of it. My object has been to give you a clear and distinct view of my understanding of the terms, on which I received the commission with which you were pleased to honor me.

Lengthy as this letter is, there is another subject not less interesting to the commander-in-chief of the armies, (be he whom he may,) than it is important to the United States, which I beg leave to bring respectfully to your view. We are now near the end of September, and not a man recruited, nor a Battalion officer appointed, that has come to my knowledge. The consequence is, that the spirit and enthusiasm, which prevailed a month or two ago, and would have produced the best men, in a short time, are evaporating fast, and a month or two hence may induce but few, and those perhaps of the worst sort, to enlist. Instead, therefore, of having the augmented force in a state of preparation, and under a course of discipline, it is now to be raised, and possibly may not be in existence when the enemy is in the field. We shall have to meet veteran troops inured to conquest, with militia or raw recruits. The consequence is not difficult to conceive or foretell.

I have addressed you, Sir, with openness and candor, and I hope with respect, requesting to be informed, whether your determination to reverse the order of the three Major-Generals is final, and whether Edition: current; Page: [104] you mean to appoint another Adjutant-General without my concurrence. With the greatest respect and consideration I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
30 September, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

I have lately received information, which, in my opinion, merits attention. It is, that the brawlers against governmental measures in some of the most discontented parts of this State have all of a sudden become silent; and, it is added, are very desirous of obtaining commissions in the army about to be raised.

This information did not fail to leave an impression upon my mind at the time I received it; but it has acquired strength from a publication I have lately seen in one of the Maryland gazettes, (between the author of which and my informant there could have been no interchange of sentiments to the same effect). The motives ascribed to them are, that in such a situation they would endeavor to divide and contaminate the army by artful and seditious discourses, and perhaps at a critical moment bring on confusion. What weight to give to these conjectures you can judge as well as I. But, as there will be characters enough of an opposite description, who are ready to receive appointments, circumspection is necessary. For my opinion is of the first Edition: current; Page: [105] that you could as soon scrub the blackamore white as to change the principle of a profest Democrat, and that he will leave nothing unattempted to overturn the Government of this Country. Finding the resentment of the people at the conduct of France too strong to be resisted, they have in appearance adopted their sentiments, and pretend that, notwithstanding the misconduct of government have brought it upon us, yet, if an invasion should take place, it will be found that they will be among the first to defend it. This is their story at all Elections and Election meetings, and told in many instances with effect.

Whether there be little, much, or nothing in the information, I shall not take upon me to decide; but it appeared to me to be of sufficient moment to apprize you thereof. With esteem & regard, I am.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


[private and quite confidential.]

My dear Sir,

You will be at no loss to perceive, from my private letter to you of the 16th ulto., extracts from which you sent to the President of the United States; and from my representation to him, dated the 25th following, the rough draught of which was enclosed in my last, what my determination is, if he perseveres in his Resolution to change the order of the Major Generals, Edition: current; Page: [106] and to disregard the conditions on which I accepted the Commission of Lieut. Genl. of the Armies, &c.—

Let me then request you, with the frankness and candor of a friend, to give me your opinion fully and freely of the measure;—to ask if you think I could, with propriety and a due respect for my own character retain the Commission under such violations of the terms on which I accepted it;—and what you conceive will be the consequences of my resignation thereof.

If Col. Pickering, and the Gentlemen who act with you, are intimately acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, it would be satisfactory to me, to know their opinions also, with respect to my eventual resignation; but not as a matter required by me, but as questions propounded by yourself, entirely and absolutely.

Be so good as to let me know the ground on which you and Colo. Pickering are certain the President is mistaken in his conjectures that the New England States would be disgusted if Hamilton preceeds Knox in Rank; and add, if you please whether Pickering’s predelection in favor of the former proceeds from pure conviction of the utility of the measure, or from some personal dislike to the latter. I have some suspicion that he is not a friend to Knox, but cannot suppose that this would have any influence in the case.

I should like to have seen a copy of Mr. Wolcott’s letter to the President, but as it was not sent, I presume Edition: current; Page: [107] there was some reason for withholding, and do not repeat the request.1

I wish to hear from you on the subject of this letter as soon as possible.—Burn it, as soon as it is perused, as I will do your answer, that neither the one, nor the other may appear hereafter. With much truth I am.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy


Dear Sir,

The information contained in your letter of the 3d instant was highly grateful to me. Such communications are not only satisfactory to me, but are really useful; for, while I hold myself in readiness to obey the call of my country, it is expedient that I should have more authentic information, than News Paper inconsistencies, of the approaching or receding storm, that I may regulate my private concerns accordingly. So far then as you can give this with propriety, would be received with thankfulness, and if under the seal of confidence, will be locked up in my own breast.

It is pleasing to hear, that we had so few ships in France when the Directory thereof were pleased to Edition: current; Page: [108] lay an Embargo thereon. I wish, on many accounts, that General Pinckney was safely landed in his own country, as I heard Mr. Gerry is come after his terrible fright. I hope, so soon as he is relieved from the Panic with which he was struck, and which must have continued whilst he remained on the watery element, he will come forward in stronger language than his last letter to Mr. Talleyrand contains and with such explanations, as his own character requires, and His Country has a right to demand.

We have nothing new in this quarter. An excessive drought, which still prevails, has been hurtful to our crops, and presses sorely upon the winter grain and grass seeds, which have been sown this autumn.

Maryland, instead of acquiring strength in her Federal representation by the last Election, has lost ground. What will be the result of the Elections in this State, in March next, is more I believe than any one can foretell at present. No stone is left unturned, that can affect the Federal Interest, by the Democrats. I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy


Dear Sir,

The contents of your letter of the 13th instant, which I received last night, gave me much pleasure; and it has been increased since by the annunciation (in the gazettes) of General Pinckney’s safe arrival Edition: current; Page: [109] at New York. I hope he will not play the second part of the difficulty created by General Knox.

The extracts of letters from our consuls, and other characters in France to you, are satisfactory and useful to me.

My opinion always has been, (however necessary to be in a state of preparation,) that no formidable invasion is to be apprehended from France, while Great Britain and that country are at War; not from any favorable disposition the latter has towards us, but from actual inability to transport Troops and the Munitions of War, while their ports are blockaded. That they would willingly, and perhaps necessarily, employ their forces in such an enterprise in case of Peace I have little doubt, unless adverse fortune in their foreign relations,—a Revolution at home,—or a wonderful change of sentiment in the governing powers of their country, should take place.

If any thing in the conduct of their agents could excite astonishment, it would be Talleyrand’s effrontery, duplicity, and supposed Diplomatic skill, in his management of matters with Mr. Gerry; but, as his object to those, who are not determined to be blind, may be read as they run, it is unnecessary to comment upon it. And with respect to Mr. Gerry, I observed in my last, that his own character and public satisfaction require better evidence, than his letter to the Minister of Foreign Relations, to prove the propriety of his conduct during his Envoyship.

I fear, from the paragraph which you have extracted from a Paris Paper of the 23d of August, Edition: current; Page: [110] relative to Madame de Lafayette, that the General and his son are on their Passage to this Country. I had a letter from him dated late in May, wherein he says, that her health was too much impaired to attempt a sea voyage at that time, and therefore that she and the female part of his family would go to France, while he and son would visit the United States, whither he expected to arrive in the month of September. On Public and his own private account, I hope that would not happen while matters were in the train they are at present; but, as one part of the information appears to have been accomplished, the other may be expected.

I have read your letter of the 29th ult. to P. Johnston, on the subject of the Prince Edward Address and with pleasure.

It ought to flash conviction of the impropriety of that address, on all minds that are open to it—but it is not easier to change the principles of the leaders of such measures, than it would be to wash a blackamoor white. Truth and information is not their object. To blind, and irritate the People against Government (to effect a change in it) is their sole aim.

With much truth and sincere regard, I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry


My dear Sir,

Several causes have occurred to retard the acknowledgment of the receipt of your favor of the 26th of August. At the time it came to hand, I Edition: current; Page: [111] was much engaged in matters that could not be well postponed; and before I got through them, I was seized with a fever which was unremittingly severe for several days, and left me in so debilitated a state as to render writing, and business generally (when it could be avoided) not only irksome, but improper, and was forbidden by my Physicians.

During this state of convalescence, letters which required prompt attention were pouring in upon me.—This state of things—not knowing what the President’s final decision would be, and not perceiving that I could say more to you on the subject of relative rank, than I had done in former letters, unless, to dilate on the several points which had before been touched, (and this appeared to me unnecessary, as your own ideas would anticipate all I could say), I delayed from day to day to do what I am now in the act of doing, that is, writing to you.

I can again, my dear Sir, with much truth and sincerity repeat to you the declaration made on a former occasion, namely, that, if an amicable arrangement of precedence could have been settled between Generals Hamilton, Pinckney, and yourself, previous to the nomination, it wd. have been perfectly satisfactory to me; but, driven as I was to make it myself, at the time and in the manner it was transmitted, I was governed by the best views and best evidence I could obtain, of the public sentiment relative thereto. The Senate acted upon it under an impression, that it was to remain so, and in that light the matter is understood by the public; and it would be uncandid Edition: current; Page: [112] not to add, that I have found no cause since to believe I mistook that sentiment. Let me add further, that, as an army was to be raised de novo, fourteen years after the Revolutionary Troops had ceased to exist, I do not see that any Resolution of the ancient Congress can apply at this day to the officers of that army. If it does, and the matter is viewed by others as it is by you, will any field-officer of that army serve under General Dayton? Would it not deprive the President of the advantage of selection and arrangement? And what difficulties and perplexities would not follow, if this idea and conduct should prevail generally? Accompanied with the opinion which you seem to have imbibed of incidental Rank, Few knowing and deserving officers of this description would feel very easy under such a decision, or be content with a feather, if they conceived that rank meant nothing, when inserted in their commissions.

On what ground did the Baron de Steuben command a separate corps in the State of Virginia in the year 1781, and Colo. Hamilton a select one at the siege of York, if Incidental Rank does not give command according to circumstances and the discretion of the Commanding General?

But I am running into details, which I did not intend. It would (if you could reconcile it to your own feelings,) give me sincere pleasure to see you in the augmented corps, a major-genl.

We shall have either, no war, or a severe contest, with France; in either case, if you will allow me to express my opinion, this is the most eligible time for Edition: current; Page: [113] you to come forward. In the first case, to assist with your counsel and aid in making judicious provisions and arrangements to avert it; in the other case, to share in the glory of defending your Country, and, by making all secondary considerations yield to that great and primary object, display a mind superior to embarrassing punctilios at so critical a moment as the present.

After having expressed these sentiments, with the frankness of undisguised friendship, it is hardly necessary to add, that, if you should finally decline the appointment of Majr-General, there is none to whom I would give a more decided preference as an Aid-de-Camp, the offer of which is highly flattering, honorable, and grateful to my feelings, and for which I entertain a high sense. But, my dear Genl. Knox, (and here again I speak to you in the language of candor and friendship,) examine well your mind on this subject. Do not unite yourself to the suit of a man, whom you may consider as the primary cause of what you call a degradation, with unpleasant sensations. This, while it was gnawing upon you, would (if I should come to the knowledge of it) make me unhappy; as my first wish would be, that my military family and the whole army should consider themselves as a band of brothers, willing and ready to die for each other. I shall add no more than assurances of the sincere friendship and affection, with which I am, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [114]
George Washington
Washington, George
21 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

Enclosed is a copy of the President’s letter to me, which I request may be with this letter, burnt as soon as they are read, & no more said respecting the contents than might be proper for him to hear repeated again; Otherwise, a knowledge that the contents of my letters to and from him are in possession of others, may induce him to believe, in good earnest, that intrigues are carrying on, in which I am an actor—than which, nothing is more foreign from my heart.

I return the press copies which were enclosed to me. But in future, whenever you require my opinion on any points, let them be stated in your letter, or on a paper to remain in my possession, without wch. my acts & proceedings, will appear incomplete & mysterious.

Do you mean to furnish me with a copy of the letter you wrote to the President from hence & of his Instructions to you, or not? Long, long since, I informed you that it would be extremely useful to Edition: current; Page: [115] me (if I was to have any hand in selecting the Officers for the four Regiments & Cavalry proposed to be raised in the Southern division of the Union) to be furnished with a list of the Captains & Subalterns therein, who served in the Revolutionary Army; but none has been sent. This with the date of their Commissions might be the means of coming at many valuable officers, and preventing many disputes hereafter.

Has Mr. Wolcott received any answer to his letter to the President? and to what effect. You know that I am always, &c.

P. S. It is some time since Nelly Custis Enclosed you a Post note furnished by me, to discharge your advance for the Colours—Has it ever been received?

George Washington
Washington, George
21st Octr., 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 16th instant came by the last mail.1 The enclosures are well calculated to effect their objects. But the explicit declaration contained in the one to General Knox, added to his knowledge Edition: current; Page: [116] of my sentiments on the subject of relative Rank, leaves little hope in my mind, that he will obey your summons, and render his aid in the manner required of him.

I hope no difficulty will occur with General Pinckney; and, if he cannot be prevailed on to remain at the Seat of Government until the 10th of November, (the ulterior day allowed for the assembling of the Major-Generals,) that you will avail yourself of all his information relatively to the characters best qualified to officer the Corps allotted to the States of South Carolina & Georgia; and as far as his knowledge extends to those of No. Carolina and Tennessee also.

I have said in the beginning of this letter, that the enclosures were well calculated to effect their objects, but I must except that part of them, which relates to the officering of the New Corps in the Southern and Western States, as greatly inferior to the one I suggested in my last letter to you, dated the 15th instant; first, because it involves more delay; and, Edition: current; Page: [117] 2dly because the chance of obtaining good officers is not equal.

If the President of the United States, or the Secretary of War, had a personal and intimate knowledge of the characters of the applicants, the mode suggested by me would be indelicate & improper; but at such a distance, & in cases where information must govern, from whom, (as I observed in my former letter,) can it be so much relied on, as from those whose interest, honor, and reputation are pledged for its accuracy?

The applications are made chiefly through members of Congress. These, oftentimes to get rid of them, oftener still perhaps for local & electioneering purposes, and to please & gratify their party, more than from any real merit in the applicant, are handed in, backed by a solicitude for success in order to strengthen their interest. Possibly no injustice might be done, if I were to proceed a step further, and give it as an opinion, that most of the candidates brought forward by the opposition members possess sentiments similar to their own, and might poison the army by disseminating them, if they were appointed. If, however, the plan suggested by you is to be adopted, indeed in any case, you will no doubt see the propriety of obtaining all the information you can from Majr.-General Pinckney; and, if he accepts his appointment, and cannot be prevailed on to remain with you until the other Majr.-Generals assemble, of requesting him to call on Brigr.-General Davie on his route to Charleston, and, after a full & Edition: current; Page: [118] free conversation with him on fit characters to officer the quota of Troops from the States of No. Carolina (and Tennessee, if he can aid in it,) to inform you of the result without delay.1

I hardly think it will be in my power to attend at Trenton or Philadelphia at the time alloted to the Majr.-Generals; 1st, because I am yet in a convalescent state, (although perfectly recovered of the fever,) so far at least as to avoid exposure and consequent colds; 2dly, my Secretary, (Mr. Lear,) has had a severe fever, and is now very low, and several others of my family are much indisposed; and, 3dly and principally, because I see no definite ground to proceed upon, if I should go, from anything that has hitherto appeared. Nor is it probable you will have received the President’s instructions, and Genr. Knox’s answer, in time to serve me with a notice of the results by the 10th of November; I mean, for me to get there, on or about that day.

If General Pinckney could be prevailed on to remain with you, & there was a moral certainty of Edition: current; Page: [119] meeting Generals Hamilton and Knox, I would, maugre the inconveniences and hazard I might run, attempt to join them, for the valuable purpose of projecting a plan in concert with you and them, which might be ineffectually accomplished at a partial meeting. I shall therefore stand prepared, as well as the situation of things will admit, and wait your full communications on these several points, and govern myself accordingly.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
G. W. Snyder
Snyder, G. W.


Reverend Sir,

I have your favor of the 17th instant before me, and my only motive to trouble you with the receipt of this letter is, to explain and correct a mistake, which I perceive the hurry in which I am obliged often to write letters have led you into.

It was not my intention to doubt, that the doctrines of the Illuminati and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am.

The idea that I meant to convey was, that I did not believe that the lodges of freemasons in this country had, as societies, endeavored to propagate the diabolical tenets of the former, or pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of separation). That individuals of them may have Edition: current; Page: [120] done it, or that the founder, or instrument employed to found the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects, and actually had a separation of the people from their government in view, is too evident to be questioned.

My occupations are such, that little leisure is allowed me to read newspapers or books of any kind. The reading of letters and preparing answers absorb much of my time. With respect, I remain, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
26 October, 1798
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy


Dear Sir,

I have been duly favored with your letters of the 15th & 20th Instant, and received great satisfaction from the communications in both.

That General Pinckney not only accepts his appointment in the Army of the United States, but accompanies the acceptance with declarations so open and candid, as those made to General Hamilton, affords me sincere pleasure. It augers well of the aid that may be expected from his services.

I should suppose that a correspondence between the Department of State, and the Governors of Individual States, would be attended with salutary consequences,—whilst no evil that I can perceive, would flow from it. By such communications as would be proper to make to them, the well disposed part would be possessed of useful information, and those of a contrary description would in many cases be bereft Edition: current; Page: [121] of a plea which they often make—the want of it.—To enable you to do this, and to exe[cute] with ease the other important duties of your office you ought, certainly, to be allowed all the aid that is necessary.

If Mr. Gerry has it in his power to dispel the cloud that hovers over him, I wish on account of this country;—for his own sake;—and as the only attonement he can make to his Colleagues for his separate transactions, and secret conduct with the French Minister, that he would come forward with an open and manly representation of all the circumstances that occurred, and governed in that business.—Though nothing can excuse his secret negociations—a measure of this sort is the only one I can see, that can irradicate unfavorable suspicions.—I fear however, that vanity, which may have led him into the mistake,—and consciousness of being duped by the Diplomatic skill of our good and magnanimous Allies are too powerful for a weak mind to overcome. With very great esteem and regard I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 November, 1798
Alexander Spotswood
Spotswood, Alexander


Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 13th enclosing a publication under the signature of Gracchus, on the alien and sedition laws, found me at this place deeply engaged in business.

You ask my opinion of these laws, professing to place confidence in my judgment. For the compliment Edition: current; Page: [122] of which I thank you. But to give opinions unsupported by reasons might appear dogmatical, especially as you have declared that Gracchus has produced “thorough conviction in your mind of the unconstitutionality and inexpediency of the acts above mentioned.” To go into an explanation on these points I have neither leisure nor inclination, because it would occupy more time than I have to spare.

But I will take the liberty of advising such as are not “thoroughly convinced,” and whose minds are yet open to conviction, to read the pieces and hear the arguments, which have been adduced in favor of as well as those against, the constitutionality and expediency of those laws, before they decide; and consider to what lengths a certain description of men in our country have already driven, and seem resolved further to drive matters, and then ask themselves if it is not time and expedient, to resort to protecting laws against aliens (for citizens you certainly know are not affected by that law), who acknowledge no allegiance to this country, and in many instances are sent among us (as there is the best circumstantial evidence to prove) for the express purpose of poisoning the minds of our people, and to sow dissensions among them, in order to alienate their affections from the government of their choice, thereby endeavoring to dissolve the Union, and of course the fair and happy prospects, which were unfolding to our view from the revolution.

But, as I have observed before, I have no time to enter the field of politics; and therefore shall only Edition: current; Page: [123] add my best respects to the good family at New Port, and the assurances of being, dear Sir, your very humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 December, 1798
Mount Vernon
General Lafayette
General Lafayette


My dear Sir,

* * * * * *

To give you a complete view of the politics and situation of things in this country would far exceed the limits of a letter, and to trace effects to their causes would be a work of time. But the sum of them may be given in a few words, and amounts to this. That a party exists in the United States, formed by a combination of causes, which oppose the government in all its measures, and are determined (as all their conduct evinces) by clogging its wheels indirectly to change the nature of it, and to subvert the constitution. To effect this, no means which have a tendency to accomplish their purposes are left unessayed. The friends of government, who are anxious to maintain its neutrality, and to preserve the country in peace, and adopt measures to secure these are charged by them as being monarchists, aristocrats, and infractors of the constitution, which, according to their interpretation of it, would be a mere cipher. While they arrogated to themselves (until the eyes of the people began to discover how outrageously they had been treated in their commercial concerns by the Directory of France, and that that was a ground on which they could no longer tread) the sole merit Edition: current; Page: [124] of being the friends of France, when in fact they had no more regard for that nation than for the Grand Turk, further than their own views were promoted by it; denouncing those who differed in opinion, (whose principles are purely American, and whose sole view was to observe a strict neutrality) with acting under British influence, and being directed by her counsels, now with being her pensioners.

This is but a short sketch of what requires much time to illustrate; and is given with no other view, than to show you what would be your situation here at this crisis under such circumstances as it unfolds.

You have expressed a wish, worthy of the benevolence of your heart, that I would exert all my endeavors to avert the calamitous effects of a rupture between our countries. Believe me, my dear friend, that no man can deprecate an event of this sort with more horror than I should, and that no one, during the whole of my administration, labored more incessantly, and with more sincerity and zeal, than I did, to avoid this, and to render every justice, nay favor, to France, consistent with the neutrality, which had been proclaimed, sanctioned by Congress, approved by the State legislatures, and the people at large in their town and country meetings. But neutrality was not the point at which France was aiming; for, whilst it was crying Peace, Peace, and pretending that they did not wish us to be embroiled in their quarrel with Great Britain, they were pursuing measures in this country so repugnant to its sovereignty, and so incompatible with every principle of neutrality, as must Edition: current; Page: [125] inevitably have produced a war with the latter. And when they found, that the government here was resolved to adhere steadily to its plan of neutrality, their next step was to destroy the confidence of the people in and to separate them from it; for which purpose their diplomatic agents were specially instructed, and in the attempt were aided by inimical characters among ourselves, not, as I observed before, because they loved France more than any other nation, but because it was an instrument to facilitate the destruction of their own government.

Hence proceeded those charges, which I have already enumerated, against the friends to peace and order. No doubt remains on this side of the water, that to the representations of, and encouragement given by, these people is to be ascribed, in a great measure, the infractions of our treaty with France; her violation of the laws of nations, disregard of justice, and even of sound policy. But herein they have not only deceived France, but were deceived themselves, as the event has proved; for, no sooner did the yeomanry of this country come to a right understanding of the nature of the dispute, than they rose as one man with a tender of their services, their lives, and their fortunes to support the government of their choice, and to defend their country. This has produced a declaration from them (how sincere let others judge), that, if the French should attempt to invade this country, they themselves would be amongst the foremost to repel the attack.

You add in another place, that the Executive Edition: current; Page: [126] Directory are disposed to accommodation of all differences. If they are sincere in this declaration, let them evidence it by actions; for words unaccompanied therewith will not be much regarded now. I would pledge myself, that the government and people of the United States will meet them heart and hand at fair negotiation; having no wish more ardent, than to live in peace with all the world, provided they are suffered to remain undisturbed in their just rights. Of this, their patience, forbearance, and repeated solicitations under accumulated injuries and insults, are incontestable proofs; but it is not to be inferred from hence, that they suffer any nation under the sun, (while they retain a proper sense of virtue and independence,) to trample upon their rights with impunity, or to direct or influence the internal concerns of their country.

It has been the policy of France, and that of the opposition party among ourselves, to inculcate a belief that all those, who have exerted themselves to keep this country in peace, did it from an overweening attachment to Great Britain. But it is a solemn truth, and you may count upon it, that it is void of foundation, and propagated for no other purpose, than to excite popular clamor against those, whose aim was peace, and whom they wished out of the way.

That there are many among us, who wish to see this country embroiled on the side of Great Britain, and others, who are anxious that we should take part with France against her, admits of no doubt. But it is a fact, on which you may entirely and absolutely Edition: current; Page: [127] rely, that the governing powers of the country and a large part of the people are truly Americans in principle, attached to the interest of it, and unwilling under any circumstances whatsoever to participate in the politics or contests of Europe; much less, since they have found that France, having forsaken the ground she first took, is interfering in the internal concerns of all nations, neutral as well as belligerent, and setting the world in an uproar.

After my Valedictory Address to the people of the United States, you would no doubt be somewhat surprised to hear, that I had again consented to gird on the sword. But, having struggled eight or nine years against the invasion of our rights by one power, and to establish our independence of it, I could not remain an unconcerned spectator of the attempt of another power to accomplish the same object, though in a different way, with less pretensions; indeed, without any at all.

On the politics of Europe I shall express no opinion, nor make any inquiry who is right or who is wrong. I wish well to all nations and to all men. My politics are plain and simple. I think every nation has a right to establish that form of government, under which it conceives it shall live most happy; provided it infracts no right, or is not dangerous to others; and that no governments ought to interfere with the internal concerns of another, except for the security of what is due to themselves.

I sincerely hope, that Madame de Lafayette will accomplish all her wishes in France, and return safe Edition: current; Page: [128] to you with renovated health. I congratulate you on the marriage of your eldest daughter, and beg to be presented to them both and to Virginia in the most respectful and affectionate terms. To George I have written. In all these things Mrs. Washington, as the rest of the family would do if they were at home, most cordially joins me; as she does in wishing you and them every felicity, which this life can afford, as some consolation for your long, cruel, and painful confinement and sufferings.

I shall now only add, what you knew well before, that, with the most sincere friendship and affectionate regard, I am always yours, &c.

P. S. Your old aid de camp—and my worthy nephew George A. Washington; died about five years ago of a pulmonary complaint. He left 3 fine children, a daughter & two sons, the eldest of the boys was called after you.

The letters herewith enclosed and directed one to yourself, another to George and the third to Mr. Frestel, have been some time in my possession and detained to be delivered to you here upon the same principle that prevented me from writing to you at an earlier period.

George Washington
Washington, George
26 December, 1798
Mount Vernon
William Vans Murray
Murray, William Vans


Dear Sir,

Having some cause to believe the vessel was captured, in which went the original of the enclosed copy, I forward a duplicate.

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I returned a few days ago from Philadelphia, whither I had been for the purpose of making some military arrangements with the Secretary of War, respecting the force which is about to be raised. It was there I received a letter from Mr. Dandridge, announcing his intention of returning to America, (partly on account of his health,) expressing in lively and grateful terms his sense of your attentions and kind treatment; and adding, that, as experience had more and more convinced him that a sedentary life was incompatible both with his health and turn of mind (a sentiment he had often expressed whilst he lived with me), he wished for an appointment in the army we were about to raise. The application arriving opportunely, he stands arranged as captain of a company of infantry in one of the regiments, which will be raised in Virginia; and it is necessary he should enter upon the duties thereof as soon as it can be made convenient.

Mr. Envoy Logan, who arrived at Philadelphia about the time I did, brings very flattering accounts of the disposition of the French Directory towards this country. He has dined with one, supped with another, and in short has been as familiar with all, (that were in place,) as the hand is with its gloves; and he is not a little employed in propagating this doctrine in all parts of the United States by means of the presses, who are at the command of that party. He says the inclinations of France to be upon good terms with the United States is now so strong, that it must be our own mismanagement and disinclination Edition: current; Page: [130] to peace, if matters with that country are not accommodated upon terms honorable and advantageous to this.1

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Both houses of Congress were formed before I left Philadelphia, but had not been long enough in session for an opinion of the result to be prognosticated.

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Their answer to the speech wou’d it seems have passed unanimously, could Mr. Varnum of Massachusetts have retained his spleen.—How far this measure is indicative of a tranquil & energetic session, remains to be decided by more unequivocal evidence.

The Alien and Sedition Laws are now the disiderata of the Opposition.—But any thing else would have done,—and something there will always be, for them to torture; and to disturb the public mind with their unfounded and ill favored forebodings.

The family join me in presenting Mrs. Murray and yourself with the compliments of the season, and in wishing you many happy returns of them.

With very sincere esteem, I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
30 December, 1798
Mount Vernon
David Stuart
Stuart, David


Dear Sir,

Company, ever since my return home has prevented my mentioning a matter before, which will be the subject of this letter now.

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When the applications for Military appointments came to be examined at Philadelphia it was pleasing to find among them so many Gentlemen of family, fortune and high expectations, soliciting Commissions; & not in the high grades.—

This, and a thorough conviction that it was a vain attempt to keep Washington Custis to any literary pursuits, either in a public Seminary, or at home under the direction of any one, gave me the first idea of bringing him forward as a Cornet of Horse.—To this measure too I was induced by the conviction paramount in my breast—that if real danger threatened the country, no young man ought to be an idle spectator of its defence; and that, if a state of preparation would avert the evil of an Invasion, he would be entitled to the merit of proffered service without encountering the dangers of War;—and besides, that it might divert his attention from a matrimonial pursuit (for a while at least) to which his constitution seems to be too prone.

But though actuated by these ideas, I intended to proceed no farther in the business than to provide a vacancy in one of the Troops of light Dragoons, and to consult Mrs. Stuart and his Grandmother as to their inclinations respecting his filling it, before any intimation of it should be given to him;—But Mr. Lear hearing the matter talked of, and not knowing that this was the ground on which I meant to place the appointment (if the arrangement met the President’s approbation) wrote to Washington on the subject, in order to know if it would be agreeable to him, or no to receive it.

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Under these circumstances (and his appearing highly delighted) concealment, I mean an attempt at it,—would have proved nugatory.—He stands arranged therefore, a Cornet in the Troop to be commanded by Lawrence Lewis, (who I intended as his Mentor,) Lawrence Washington junr. (of Chotanck) is the Lieutenant of the Troop. But all this it will be remembered is to be approved, first by the President, and consented to by the Senate to make it a valid act, and therefore, the less it is publicly talked of the better.

Mrs. Washington does not seem to have the least objection to his acceptance of the Commission; but it rests with Mrs. Stuart to express her sentiments thereon, and soon; as I requested the Secretary of War to forward the Commissions for this Troop of Light Dragoons, under cover to me.

The only hesitation I had, to induce the caution before mentioned, arose from his being an only Son;—indeed the only male of his Great great Grandfather’s family;—but the same Providence that wd. watch over and protect him in domestic walks can extend the same protection to him in a Camp, or the field of battle, if he should ever be in one.

With compliments to the family, and with the greatest esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
31 December, 1798
Mount Vernon
Bushrod Washington
Washington, Bushrod


My dear Sir,

It gave me pleasure to hear from Judge Cushing, that you had returned from your southern circuit in good health. I presume you will soon have to Edition: current; Page: [135] undertake another journey, when I shall hope to see you.1

I was not unmindful of your application in behalf of Captain Blackburn; but, when the list of applicants came to be unfolded, it was found, that there were so many requests of a similar nature from officers of the existing corps, that it was impossible to comply with them, and difficult to discriminate, for which reasons it was deemed best to reject them in toto; especially as in the raising of new corps it rarely happens, that officers are drawn from the old, and nothing but length of service, or very distinguished merit, or powerful interest or influence, gives birth to the measure.

By this conveyance I have sent to General Marshall Judge Addison’s charge to the grand juries of the county courts of the Fifth Circuit of the State of Pennsylvania, and requested, after he had read it, to give it to you, or dispose of it in any other manner he might think proper. This charge is on the liberty of speech and of the press, and is a justification of the sedition and alien laws.

But I do not believe that any thing contained in it, in Evans’s pamphlet,2 or in any other writing, will produce the least change in the conduct of the leaders of opposition to the measures of the general government. They have points to carry, from which Edition: current; Page: [136] no reasoning, no inconsistency of conduct, no absurdity, can divert them. If, however, such writings should produce conviction in the mind of those who have hitherto placed faith in their assertions, it will be a fortunate event for this country.

Has any thing been done, and what, with my correspondent Mr. Langhorne? I have heard since my return from Philadelphia, that there has been some stirring matter, but of the result I am ignorant. The family here present the compliments of the season to you and Mrs. Washington. I remain your sincere friend, &c.


George Washington
Washington, George
15 January, 1799
Mount Vernon
Patrick Henry
Henry, Patrick


Dear Sir,

At the threshold of this letter I ought to make an apology for its contents; but, if you will give me credit for my motives, I will contend for no more, however erroneous my sentiments may appear to you.

It would be a waste of time to attempt to bring to the view of a person of your observation and discernment, the endeavors of a certain party among us to disquiet the public mind among us with unfounded alarms; to arraign every act of the administration; to set the people at variance with their government; and to embarrass all its measures. Equally useless would it be to predict what must be the inevitable consequences of such policy, if it cannot be arrested.

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Unfortunately, and extremely do I regret it, the State of Virginia has taken the lead in this opposition. I have said the State, because the conduct of its legislature in the eyes of the world will authorize the expression, because it is an incontrovertible fact, that the principal leaders of the opposition dwell in it, and because no doubt is entertained I believe, that, with the help of the chiefs in other States, all the plans are arranged and systematically pursued by their followers in other parts of the Union, though in no State except Kentucky, that I have heard of, has legislative countenance been obtained beyond Virginia.1

It has been said that the great mass of the citizens of this State are well-affected, notwithstanding, to the general government and the Union; and I am willing to believe it, nay, do believe it; but how is this to be reconciled with their suffrages at the elections of representatives, both to Congress and their State legislature, who are men opposed to the first, and by the tendency of their measures would destroy the latter? Some among us have endeavored to account for this inconsistency, and, though convinced themselves of its truth, they are unable to convince others, who are unacquainted with the internal policy of the State.

One of the reasons assigned is, that the most respectable and best qualified characters amongst us will not come forward. Easy and happy in their circumstances at home, and believing themselves secure Edition: current; Page: [138] in their liberties and property, will not forsake their occupations, and engage in the turmoil of public business, or expose themselves to the calumnies of their opponents, whose weapons are detraction.

But, at such a crisis as this, when every thing dear and valuable to us is assailed; when this party hangs upon the wheels of government as a dead weight, opposing every measure that is calculated for defence and self-preservation, abetting the nefarious views of another nation upon our rights, preferring, as long as they durst contend openly against the spirit and resentment of the people, the interest of France to the welfare of their own country, justifying the first at the expense of the latter; when every act of their own government is tortured, by constructions they will not bear, into attempts to trample and infringe upon the constitution with a view to introduce monarchy; when the most unceasing and the purest exertions, which were making to maintain a neutrality, proclaimed by the executive, approved unequivocally by Congress, by the State legislatures, nay, by the people themselves in various meetings, and to preserve the country in peace, are charged as a measure calculated to favor Great Britain at the expense of France, and all those, who had any agency in it are accused of being under the influence of the former and her pensioners; when measures are systematically and pertinaciously pursued, which must eventually dissolve the Union or produce coercion; I say, when these things are become so obvious, ought characters who are best able to rescue their country from the Edition: current; Page: [139] pending evil to remain at home? Rather ought they not to come forward, and by their talents and influence stand in the breach, which such conduct has made on the peace and happiness of this country, and oppose the widening of it?

Vain will it be to look for peace and happiness, or for the security of liberty or property, if civil discord should ensue. And what else can result from the policy of those among us, who, by all the measures in their power, are driving matters to extremity, if they cannot be counteracted effectually? The views of men can only be known, or guessed at, by their words or actions. Can those of the leaders of opposition be mistaken, then, if judged by this rule? That they are followed by numbers, who are unacquainted with their designs, and suspect as little the tendency of their principles, I am fully persuaded. But, if their conduct is viewed with indifference, if there is activity and misrepresentation on one side, and supineness on the other, their numbers accumulated by intriguing and discontented foreigners under proscription, who were at war with their own governments, and the greater part of them with all governments, they will increase, and nothing short of Omniscience can foretell the consequences.

I come now, my good Sir, to the object of my letter, which is, to express a hope and an earnest wish, that you will come forward at the ensuing elections (if not for Congress, which you may think would take you too long from home), as a candidate for representative in the General Assembly of this commonwealth.

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There are, I have no doubt, very many sensible men, who oppose themselves to the torrent, that carries away others who had rather swim with than stem it without an able pilot to conduct them; but these are neither old in legislation, nor well known in the community. Your weight of character and influence in the House of Representatives would be a bulwark against such dangerous sentiments, as are delivered there at present. It would be a rallying-point for the timid, and an attraction of the wavering. In a word, I conceive it of immense importance at this crisis, that you should be there; and I would fain hope, that all minor considerations will be made to yield to the measure.

If I have erroneously supposed that your sentiments on these subjects are in unison with mine, or if I have assumed a liberty, which the occasion does not warrant, I must conclude as I began, with praying that my motives may be received as an apology, and that my fear, that the tranquillity of the Union, and of this State in particular, is hastening to an awful crisis, has extorted them from me.

With great and very sincere regard and respect, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20th Jany., 1799
Mount Vernon
Bryan Fairfax
Fairfax, Bryan


Dear Sir,

* * * * * *

When I presented my Valedictory address to the People of the United States, in September, 1796, I little thought that any event would occur in my day, Edition: current; Page: [141] that could again withdraw me from the Retirement after which I had been so long panting;—but we know little of ourselves, and still less of the ways of Providence.—The injurious treatment this Country had received from France, in an open violation of the Treaty between the two Countries, and the laws of Nations.—The Insults & Indignities with which all our overtures for an amicable adjustment of the disputes were treated.—The increasing depredations on our commerce, accompanied with outrage & threats, if we did not comply with their demands, leaving no hope of obtaining restitution for the past, or preserving the little that remained, or the Country from Invasion, but by the adoption of vigorous measures for self defence, having come fully to the view of the People, their resentments have been roused, and with one voice as it were, have made a tender of their lives and fortunes to repel any attempts which may be made on the Constitution or Government of their Country—In consequence of which, and to be prepared for the dernier ressort, if unhappily we shall be driven to it—Troops are to be raised, and the United States placed in a posture of defence—Under these circumstances, and it appearing to be the wish of my Countrymen, and the request of the governing Powers that I should take charge of their Armies, I am embarked so far in the business as will appear by my letter to the President of the 13th of July last—which, as it has run through all the news-papers here, and Published in many of the Foreign Gazettes, you probably may have seen; and though still at home, Edition: current; Page: [142] where indeed I hope to remain, under a persuasion that the French will discover the injustice and absurdity of their conduct;—I hold myself in readiness to gird on the sword, if the immergency shall require it.

Notwithstanding, the Spirit of the People is so animated, that party among us who have been uniform in their opposition to all the measures of Government; in short to every Act, either of Executive or Legislative Authority, which seemed to be calculated to defeat French usurpations, and to lessen the influence of that Nation in our Country, hang upon & clog its wheels as much as in them lye—and with a rancor & virulence which is scarcely to be conceived;—Torturing every act, by unnatural construction, into a design to violate the Constitution—Introduce Monarchy—& to establish an aristocracy—And what is more to be regretted, the same Spirit seems to have laid hold of the major part of the Legislature of this State, while all the other States in the Union (Kentucky, the child of Virginia, excepted) are coming forward with the most unequivocal evidences of their approbation of the measures which have been adopted by both, for self preservation.— In what such a spirit, and such proceedings will issue, is beyond the reach of short sighted men to predict, with any degree of certainty.—I hope well—because I have always believed and trusted, that that Providence which has carried us through a long and painful War with one of the most powerful nations in Europe, will not suffer the discontented among ourselves to produce more than a temporary Edition: current; Page: [143] interruption to the permanent Peace and happiness of this rising Empire—That they have been the cause of our present disquietudes, and the means of stimulating (by mis-representing the sentiments of the mass of citizens of this Country) the Directory of France to their unwarrantable Acts—not from more real affection to the nation than others possess, but to facilitate the design of subverting their own government—I have no more doubt than that I am now in the act of writing you this letter—

It was at the request of the Secretary of War, my journey to Philadelphia was undertaken to assist in the formation of the Augmented Force and to effect some other military arrangements; and although your letter from York of the 7th of September came to hand before I set out, & was taken with me to be acknowledged from thence, yet my time & attention was so much occupied with the business that carried me there, that I never found leisure to do it—

Lady Huntingdon, as you may have been told, was a correspondent of mine;—and did me the honor to claim me as a relation, but in what degree, or by what connexion it came to pass, she did not inform me, nor did I ever trouble her Ladyship with an enquiry—The favorable sentiments which others, you say, have been pleased to express respecting me, cannot but be pleasing to a mind who always walked on a straight line & endeavored as far as human frailties, & perhaps strong passions would enable him, to discharge the relative duties to his Maker & fellowmen, without seeking any indirect, or left handed attempts to acquire popularity.—

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Our crops of Wheat & Indian Corn last year (except in places) were extremely short—The drought of the Autumn exceeded anything that has been recollected, in so much that the Mills were scarcely able to work before New Years day.—and the Fly has again begun its ravages on the Wheat in the Counties above us—This calamity, with the severity of the Drought on the Fall seeding, has given a discouraging aspect to the ensuing crop of Wint’r Grain—

We have the pleasure, frequently, of seeing or hearing from Mrs. Fairfax—and on Wednesday last Mrs. Washington & myself took a family dinner at Mount Eagle—and left all the family in good health & Spirits in the afternoon—Miss Custis was, at that time, with her mother, at Hope Park, or she would have accompanied us on that visit.—She is now returned, & unites with Mrs. Washington & myself in offering best wishes for your health & safe return—and with very great & sincere esteem & respect, I remain, dear Sir, your most obedient, &c.

P. S. Finding that I could not comprise what I had to say in one sheet of paper, I have rambled on until I have almost filled a second.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20 January, 1799
Mount Vernon
James Washington
Washington, James



Through the goodness of Mr. Adams, the American minister at Berlin, I am indebted for the safe conveyance of your letter, dated the 19th of Octr. in Edition: current; Page: [145] that city; and through the same medium I have the honor to present this acknowledgment of it.

There can be but little doubt, Sir, of our descending from the same stock, as the branches of it proceeded from the same country. At what time your ancestors left England is not mentioned. Mine came to America nearly one hundred and fifty years ago.1

The regular course of application for military appointments is to the President of the United States, through the Secretary of War. But it would be deceptious not to apprize you beforehand, that it does not accord with the policy of this government to bestow offices civil or military upon foreigners, to the exclusion of our own citizens, first, because there is an animated zeal in the latter to serve their country, and, secondly, because the former, seldom content with the rank they sustain in the service of their own country, look for higher appointments in this; which, when bestowed, unless there is obvious cause to justify the measure, is pregnant with discontent, and therefore it is not often practised, Except in those branches of the Military Science, which relate to Engineering and Gunnery. For in those our Military establishment is defective, and men of known and acknowledged abilities, with ample testimonials thereof, would be certainly encouraged.

Deeming it better to give this candid detail, than to raise hopes that might prove fallacious, is the best apology I can offer for my plain dealing.

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At the same time be pleased to accept the assurances of my being, Sir, your most obedient, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 January, 1799
Mount Vernon
David Stuart
Stuart, David


Dear Sir,

Washington leaves this day on a visit to Hope Park, which will afford you an opportunity to examine the progress he has made in the studies he was directed to pursue.

I can, and I believe I do, keep him in his room a certain portion of the twenty-four hours, but it will be impossible for me to make him attend to his books, if inclination on his part is wanting; nor while I am out if he chooses to be so, is it in my power to prevent it. I will not say this is the case, nor will I run the hazard of doing him injustice, by saying he does not apply as he ought to what has been prescribed, but no risk will be run, and candor requires I should declare it as my opinion, that he will not derive much benefit in any course which can be marked out for him at this place, without an able preceptor always with him.

What is best to be done with him I know not. My opinion always has been, that the university in Massachusetts would have been the most eligible seminary to have sent him to; first, because it is on a larger scale than any other; and secondly, because I believe that the habits of youth there, whether from the discipline of the school, or the greater attention of the Edition: current; Page: [147] people generally to morals, and a more regular course of life, are less prone to dissipation and excess than they are at the colleges south of it. It may be asked, if this was my opinion, why did I not send him there? The answer is as short as to me it was weighty; being the only male of his line, and knowing (although it would have been submitted to) that it would have proved a heart-rending stroke to have him at that distance, I was disposed to try a nearer seminary, of good repute, which, from some cause, or combination of causes, has not, after the experiment of a year, been found to answer the end that was contemplated. Whether to send him there now, or, indeed, to any other public school, is, indeed, problematical, and to misspend his time at this place would be disgraceful to himself and to me.

If I were to propose to him to go to the university at Cambridge, in Massachusetts, he might, as has been usual for him on like occasions, say, he would go wherever I chose to send him, but if he should go, contrary to his inclination, and without a disposition to apply himself properly, an expense without any benefit would result from the measure. Knowing how much I have been disappointed, and my time disturbed by his conduct, he would not, I am sure, make a candid disclosure of his sentiments to me on this or any other plan I might propose for the completion of his education, for which reason, I would pray that you (or perhaps Mrs. Stuart could succeed better than any one) would draw from him a frank and explicit disclosure of what his own wishes and Edition: current; Page: [148] views are; for, if they are absolutely fixed, an attempt to counteract them by absolute control would be as idle as the endeavor to stop a rivulet that is constantly running. Its progress, while mound upon mound, is erected, may be arrested, but this must have an end, and everything will be swept away by the torrent. The more I think of his entering William and Mary, unless he could be placed in the bishop’s1 family, the more I am convinced of its inutility on many accounts, which had better be the subject of oral communication than by letter. I shall wish to hear from you on the subject of this letter. I believe Washington means well, but has not resolution to act well. Our kind regards to Mrs. Stuart and family, and I am, my dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 January, 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

The enclosed letter for Mr. McAlpin, (my Tayler in Philadelphia,) left open for your perusal, may be delivered or not, as you shall judge best; and, if the former takes place, to be accompanied with your sentiments on the doubtful parts of it.

It is predicated, first, on the supposition, that the uniform for the different grades of officers is conclusively Edition: current; Page: [149] fixed, & to be established as a standing regulation; and, secondly, on the presumption that no attempts will be made this Session of Congress to repeal the law for augmenting the army of the United States, or to reduce it below its present establishment. If the former is liable to no change, and there is no indication of an attempt to effect the latter, I would go to the expense of providing a uniform, previously to the spur of the occasion, in conformity with the regulations ordered by the war department agreeably to the President’s command. On the other hand, if either of the above things is likely to happen, I shall suspend doing it.

On reconsidering the uniform for the Commander-in-Chief, it has become a matter of doubt with me, (although, as it respects myself personally, I was against all embroidery,) whether embroidery on the Cape, Cuffs, and Pockets of the Coat, and none on the buff waistcoat, would not have a disjointed and awkward appearance. It is neither required nor forbidden. Which then, in your judgment, or that of connoisseurs, if you should confer with any on the subject, would be most agreeable in itself, and accordant to what is expected? To you I submit the matter, as I also do whether the coat shall have slash Cuffs, (with blue flaps passing through them,) and slash pockets, or both shall be in the usual manner.

These apparently are trifling matters to trouble you with; but, as it is the commencement of a new scene, it is desirable that the thing should take a right direction. I have therefore upon the whole, and since I Edition: current; Page: [150] began this letter, determined to direct Mr. McAlpin to apply to and follow your directions in making the uniform. I should not prefer a heavy embroidery, or one containing much work. A light and neat one would in my opinion be more elegant and more desirable, as well for the Coat as the Waistcoat, if the latter is to receive any. If there are workers in this way in Philadelphia (and the French are most likely to understand it), they will no doubt have a variety of patterns to choose from, and I pray you to examine them.

The eagle, too, having become part of the American cockade; have any of them been brought into use yet? My idea of the size is, that it ought not to be larger than would cover a quarter of a dollar at most, and should be represented (for the officers) as clothed with feathers. This any ingenious silversmith can execute; and, if four were sent to me, I would thank you, and would remit the cost as soon as known to me.

I must further beg, that proper stars for the epaulets (the latter I possess) may be sent to me with the other articles, that I may be equipped in dress at least; and if there are any handsome cockades (but not whimsically foolish) in wear, or any one who can make them, I should be glad if they were sent with the eagles fixed thereon, ready to be placed in the hats. Does the Presidt. and yourself wear them? Excuse this scrawl and trouble, as I wish to set out right; and be assured of the sincere esteem & regard of, dear Sir, your affectionate.

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George Washington
Washington, George
10 February, 1799
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy


Dear Sir:

Your two letters of the 24th of the last, and 2d. of the present month, have been duly received, for which and their enclosures, I thank you.

I am not surprised that some members of the House of Representatives should disrelish your report. It contains remarks and speaks truths which they are desirous should be unknown to the People. I wish the parts which were left out had been retained. The crisis in my opinion calls loudly for plain dealing; that the citizens at large may be well informed and decide with respect to public measures upon a thorough knowledge of facts. Concealment is a species of misinformation, and misrepresentation and false alarms found the ground work of opposition—the plan of which is to keep the people as much as possible in ignorance and terror, for it is believed by themselves that a perfect understanding of our real situation, in regard to our foreign relations would be a death blow to their consequence and struggles, and for that reason have always something on foot to disquiet the public mind.1

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I am sorry to see Mr. Gerry is pursuing a mischievous path. That he was led astray by his own vanity and self-importance, and was the dupe of diplomatic skill, I never had a doubt; but these doubts were accompanied by faint hopes (faint indeed they were) that he possessed candor, fortitude and manliness enough to have come forward with an open declaration that he had been practised upon, and was deceived. But Mr. Gerry’s mind is not enlarged enough for such conduct as this, especially assailed as I presume it was on his arrival by those whose labors are unceasing to inculcate their doctrines of hostility against the proceedings of their own government.

The session of Congress is fast drawing to a close. What traits it will leave behind of strong and energetic measures remain to be seen—such I hope as will show that we are ready at all times to negotiate upon fair and honorable terms, but never to be bullied into them. With very great esteem, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 February, 1799
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander


My dear Sir,

Your private letter of the 16th instant came duly to hand, and safe; and I wish you at all times and upon all occasions, to communicate interesting occurrences with your opinions thereon, (in the manner you have designated,) with the utmost unreservedness to me.

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If the augmented force was not intended as an in terrorem measure, the delay in Recruiting it is unaccountable, and baffles all conjecture on reasonable grounds. The zeal and enthusiasm, which were excited by the Publication of the Despatches from our Commissioners at Paris, (which gave birth to the Law authorizing the raising of twelve Regiments, etc.,) are evaporated. It is now no more. And if this dull season, when men are idle from want of employment, and from that cause might be induced to enlist, is suffered to pass away also, we shall by and by, when the business of agriculture and other avocations call for the labor of them, set out as a forlorn hope to execute this business.1

Had the formation of the army followed closely the passage of this act, and Recruiting Orders had tread on the heels of that, the men who might have been raised at that time would for their numbers have been equal to any in the world; inasmuch as the most reputable yeomanry of the Country were ready to have Edition: current; Page: [154] stepped forward with alacity. Now, the measure is not only viewed with indifference, but deemed unnecessary by that class of People, whose attentions being turned to other matters, the officers who in August and September could, with ease, have Enlisted whole Companies of them, will find it difficult to Recruit any; and if this idle and frolicksome season is spent in inactivity, none but the riff-raff of the Country, and the scape-gallowses of the large cities will be to be had.

Far removed from the Scene, I might ascribe these delays to wrong causes, and therefore will hazard no opinion respecting them; but I have no hesitation in pronouncing, that, unless a material change takes place, our Military theatre affords but a gloomy prospect to those, who are to perform the principal parts in the Drama. Sincerely and affectionately I am yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
3 March, 1799
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy


Dear Sir,

The unexpectedness of the event communicated in your letter of the 21st ultimo did, as you may suppose, surprise me not a little. But far, very far indeed was this surprise short of what I experienced the next day when, by a very intelligent Gentm, immediately from Philadelphia, I was informed, that there had been no direct overture from the government of France to that of the United States for a negotiation; on the contrary, Edition: current; Page: [155] that M. Talleyrand was playing the same loose and roundabout game he had attempted the year before with our envoys; and which, as in that case, might mean any thing or nothing, as would subserve his purposes best.

Had we approached the ante-chamber of this gentleman when he opened the door to us, and there waited for a formal invitation into the Interior, the Governments would have met upon equal ground, and we might have advanced or receded according to circumstances, with commitment. In plainer words, had we said to M. Talleyrand, through the channel of his communication; “We still are, as we always have been, ready to settle by fair negotiation all differences between the two nations upon open, just, and honorable terms, and it rests with the Directory (after the indignities with which our attempts to affect this have been treated, if they are equally sincere), to come forward in an unequivocal manner, and prove it by their acts;” such conduct would have shewn a dignified willingness on our part to negotiate, and would have tested their sincerity on the other. Under my present view of the subject, this would have been the course I should have pursued; keeping equally in view the horrors of War, and the dignity of the Government.

But, not being acquainted with all the information and the motives, which induced the measure, I may have taken a wrong impression, and therefore shall say nothing further on the subject at this time. With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
3 March, 1799
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Adams, John


Dear Sir,

I have been duly honored with your favor of the 19th ultimo, mentioning the nomination of Mr. Murray to be Minister Plenipotentiary to the French Republic.1

With the writer of the letter, which I did myself the honor to inclose in my last to you, I truly observed Edition: current; Page: [157] that I had never held any correspondence; and I only knew him in his public mission from this country to the Barbary States, the functions of which he discharged at that time with ability and propriety. I have, indeed, lately heard of a letter that has been published, which he wrote to Mr. Baldwin, filled with abuse of this Government and its Administration; but I have never met with it in any of the Papers wch I take.

As you have had more opportunities of knowing this man’s character than have fallen to me, I have no doubt but you have formed a just estimate of him; and, as I had no other desire than to be useful in transmitting any sentiments you might wish to convey, I shall, impressed with your observations, take no notice of his letter.

I sincerely pray, that in the discharge of these arduous and important duties committed to you, your health may be unimpaired, and that you may long live to enjoy these blessings, which must flow to our Country, if we should be so happy as to pass this critical period in an honorable and dignified manner, without being involved in the horrors and calamities of war.

Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Lewis (late Miss Custis) thank you for your kind remembrance of them, and offer their best respects to you; at the same time that they unite with me in every good wish for the perfect restoration of health to Mrs. Adams. With sentiments of very great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
25th March, 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

You will not only consider this letter as a private one, but as a friendly one, from G. W. to J. M.; and, if the sentiments which you will find in it are delivered with more freedom and candour than are agreeable, say so; not by implication only, but in explicit language; and I will promise to offend no more by such conduct, but confine myself, (if occasion should require it,) to an Official Correspondence.

Thus premising, let me, in the name and behalf of the Officers, who have been appointed, and of the Army intended to be raised, ask what keeps back the Commissions, and arrests the Recruiting Service? Be assured that both among the friends of Government, excite astonishment and discontent. Blame is in every mind, but it is not known where to fix it. Some attach it to the P, some to the S. of W, and some, fertile in invention, seek for other causes. Many of the appointed Officers have quitted their former occupations, that they might be in perfect readiness to proceed in their Military duties, the moment they should receive their Commissions and Recruiting Instructions. Others, who were about to enter into business and plans of future life, stand suspended. Many are highly disgusted; some talk of giving up the idea of becoming Officers, unable to remain longer in the awkward situation they are involved in; and all are complaining. Applications are made by numbers to me to know what the cause Edition: current; Page: [159] of the delay is, what they are to expect, and what they ought to do.

What could I say? Am I not kept in as much ignorance as they are themselves? Am I advised of any new appointments, any changes, which have taken place; any of the views or designs of Government relatively to the Army? It is not unreasonable to suppose, that, if there be reasons of State operating the policy of these delays, that I was entitled to sufficient confidence to be let into the secret; or, if they proceeded from uncontrolable causes, I, still more than the public, ought not to have been left in the field of Conjecture, without a guide to direct me to a knowledge of them. For I shall frankly declare, that I do not, nor ever shall, consider myself in the light of a Mercenary Officer. Nothing short of a high sense of the Amor Patriæ could have placed me in my present situation; and though I stand bound, and will obey the call of my Country whenever it is made, agreeably to my letter of acceptance, none will regret the event with more poignancy, none will forsake the walks of retirement with more heartfelt sorrow, none can leave them with more real inconvenience to their private concerns, than I shall do. A sixteen years’ absence from home (with short intervals only) could not fail to derange them considerably, & to require all the time I can spare from the usual avocations of life to bring them into tune again. But this is not all, nor the worst; for, being the Executor, the Administrator, & Trustee for other Estates, my greatest anxiety is to leave all these concerns in such a Edition: current; Page: [160] clear and distinct form, that no reproach may attach itself to me, when I shall have taken my departure for the land of Spirits.

I have been thus full, as it regards myself, in order to shew you, that information in all matters of a Military nature are necessary for my Government, thereby having a prospective view of things, I may prepare accordingly, and not, though detached from the army until the exigencies of our affairs may require my presence with it, appear like a person just dropped from the clouds when I take the Command, ignorant of preceding occurrences. Nor will it, without doing great violence to the concerns of others equally with my own, be in my power to “take up my bed & walk” at any unexpected requirement, nor without great exertions, which it may not be in my power to make on a sudden call, unless previously hastened (which would be unnecessary), and unless I could discern beforehand the utility of the measure by the gradual unfolding of the prospect before us.

I shall now, with your permission, make a few observations as they respect the Recruiting Service. Had the organization of the Augmented Corps, and consequent Instructions for raising it, tread as close on the passage of the Law as the nature of the case would have permitted, a finer army for the size of it (with the discipline it might have received) the world had never seen. But the golden opportunity is passed, & probably will never occur again. The zeal, enthusiasm, and indeed resentment, which warmed the breasts of the American youth, and would have Edition: current; Page: [161] induced the sons of the respectable Yeomanry, (in all parts of the United States,) to enlist as noncommissioned officers & privates, are now no more. They are evaporated, & a listlessness has supplied their place. The next most favorable opportunity, namely, the idle & dreary scenes of winter, which bring on dissipation & want, from the cessation of labor, has also passed away. The enlivening prospect of Spring, the calls of the Husbandman indeed of every avocation for laborers in the approaching busy season, hath supplanted all thoughts of becoming soldiers; and now many young Gentlemen, who had (conditionally) last Summer & Autumn engaged their Companies, will find it difficult to enlist a single man of those so engaged; the latter pretending that, having waited a considerable time to see if their services would be wanted in the Field, and no overtures for them made, it became necessary for them to seek some other employment.

What is the natural consequence of all this? Why, that we must take the Rif-raf of the populous cities, Convicts, & foreigners, or have officers without men. But even this is not the worst of it. The Augmented Corps, (if I have conceived the matter rightly,) must have been intended as a well-organized and well-disciplined body of men, for others, (in case of need,) to resort to and take example from. Will this be the case if the enemy shall invade this country? Far from it! What better, in the first instance, are Regiments so composed than militia? And what prospect have those, who command them, of rendering service Edition: current; Page: [162] to their Country, or doing honor to themselves in the Field, opposed to Veteran troops, practiced in Tactics, and unaccustomed to defeat? These, my dear McHenry, are serious considerations to a man, who has nothing to gain, and is putting every thing to hazard.

When I began this letter I intended to stop here; but, as I may not again write to you with the freedom I now do, I shall make a few remarks on some other transactions, which have not struck me in the most favorable point of view.

1The two Major-Generals and myself were called to Philadelphia in November last, and there detained five weeks, (very inconveniently to all of us,) at an inclement season, in wading through volumes of applications & recommendations for Military Appointments; and I will venture to say, that it was executed with as much assiduity, and under as little influence of favor or prejudice, as a work of that sort (from the materials which were laid before us) ever was accomplished. And what has followed? Why, any Member of Congress, who had a friend to serve, or a prejudice to endulge, could set them at nought. Out of a number, I will select one instance only in proof of this. It is a striking one. The case of Gibbes I allude to. He was personally known to you, General Hamilton, & myself, in his former services. He served through the whole Revolutionary war, from the assembling of the first Troops at Cambridge to the closing of the Military Drama at the Edition: current; Page: [163] conclusion of Peace, without reproach; and in the last Act of it, if I mistake not, was a Major in the selected Corps of light Infantry. He was strongly recommended by Generals Lincoln, Knox, Brooks, & Jackson, all on the same theatre with himself, and who ought to be perfectly acquainted with his respectability & pretensions; yet the vote of a member of Congress (I presume) was more respected & sufficient to set him aside.—

Another thing I will remark on, because, if the practice is continued, you will find that serious discontents & evils will result from it.

I find by the Gazettes (I have no other information of these matters), that Lieutt. Mercer of the Light Dragoons is promoted to the Rank of Captn. in that Corps. In the arrangement of officers, where every attention was paid, (that personal knowledge or information could reach,) to merit, age, respectability & standing in the community, he was not even placed (if my memory serves me) high up among the Lieutenants. What then will those Lieutenants, who are his Seniors in that arrangement, greatly his Seniors in age, of at least as much respectability, better known, and of equal merit, think of having him placed over them? Mercer, compared to them is a boy; and in such an army, as it was our wish to form, it will have an odd appearance to place a young man of 20 or 21 years of age over a Lieutent. of 30, in every other respect his equal.

I do not mean to derogate from the merits or deserts of this young Gentleman. On the contrary, I wish to Edition: current; Page: [164] see them properly rewarded, although his whole family are bitter in their enmity to the General Government. Nor would I be understood to mean, that, if a Captain (and so of any other grade) declines his appointment that during the act of formation, the vacancy is necessarily to be filled by the next in seniority. Necessarily so far from this, I maintain, that, when a vacancy is occasioned by non-acceptance, that it may without injustice be filled by a new character as in the first instance. But it is my opinion, at the same time, that, if you have recourse to promotion, the arrangement, which was made by the Board of General Officers in all its parts, who had regard to all the combinations and qualifications that have been enumerated in settling the relative rank, is the safest guide you could have resorted to.

It is not my intention to dispute the Powers of the President to make this or any other promotion, which his inclination or the solicitation of others may prompt him to; but I will add, without fear of contradiction by any one acquainted with the usages & prescriptive rights of armies, that, if he wishes to preserve the Peace and harmony of ours, rules must be observed, and the feelings of the officers attended to in promotions.

These observations relatively to the promotion of Lieutenant Mercer are not the result of any discontent I have heard expressed on the occasion; for, except those who take the Philadelphia Gazette, but a few of the Officers may be acquainted therewith, and of those few I have seen none since its annunciation to the Edition: current; Page: [165] public. It is on general grounds they are made, & by judging of the feeling of others by what would be my own in a similar case; for I do not think it will be a very reconcilable matter to Gentlemen of more respectable ages, better known in the walks of life, and much more likely to Recruit men, to have a young man fresh from College placed over their heads.

As vacancies have happened in the Cavalry by non-acceptances &c, and promotions have begun, may I ask if there would be any impropriety in letting Mr. Custis step from a cornetcy into the Rank of Lieutenant? If I mistake not, in the arrangement given in, he stands the first for promotion; that is, he was made the senior Cornet. The Major-Generals were desirous of placing him as lieutenant in the first instance; but, his age considered, I thought it more eligable that he should enter into the lowest grade of Commissioned Officers. If ample fortune, good education, more than common abilities, and good disposition, free from vice of any kind, give him a title, in the 19th year of his age, his pretensions thereto (though not to the injury of others) are good. But it is not my desire to ask this as a favor. I never have, and never shall, solicit any thing for myself or connexions. I mean nothing more than the statement of facts, in order to bring his situation to view.

There is one matter more, which I was in doubt whether to mention to you or not, because it is of a more delicate nature than any I have touched upon; but finally friendship have got the better of my scruples.

It respects yourself personally. You will recollect, Edition: current; Page: [166] I dare say, that more than once I expressed to you my opinion of the expediency of committing the Details of the Department to the exertion of others, and to bestow your thoughts and attention on the more important Duties of it; which, in the scenes we were contemplating, were alone sufficient to occupy the time and all the consideration of the Secretary. I I went no further then, nor should I have renewed the subject now, had not the delay in issuing the Commissions and commencing the recruiting service excited great reprobation and blame, though, as I have observed before, no one knows where with precision to fix it. Generally, however, it is attributed to the want of system & exertion in the Department of War. To apprize you of this is my motive for this communication.

I prefaced the sentiments of this letter with a request, that they might be considered as proceeding from a private man to his friend. No one would be struck more forcibly than myself with the impropriety of such a letter from the Commander-in-chief of the army of the U. States to the Secretary of War. If they are received in good part, the end is obtained. If otherwise, my motives and the purity of my intentions are the best apology I can offer for the liberty I have taken. In either case, however, be assured of this truth, that, with very great esteem and regard, I remain, my dear Sir, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
31 March, 1799
Mount Vernon
Charles C. Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles C.


My dear Sir,

Your favor of the 8th inst from Charleston has been duly received, and it gave us the pleasure of hearing that you, Mrs. P., and Miss Pinckney had arrived in good health at that place. The first few days of January excepted, you could not have been more favored in the weather than all the remainder of that month, and until the middle of Feby afforded. Although your Report of the arrangement for South Carolina and Georgia, your Reconnoitre of the seaboard to St. Mary’s, and visit of the posts on the Indian Frontier of the latter State, will be made to the Department of War, I should be glad, nevertheless, to know the result of them; for, although I do not mean to act in the present state of our military concerns, yet it is my wish to be regularly informed of the real situation of them; that I may not have every thing to learn, if the exigencies of our affairs should require my attendance in the Field. To have been informed of the arrangements made by you with General (now governor) Davie would have been satisfactory also.

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I am disposed to believe, from circumstances which had just got to my knowledge before I left the helm of Government, that the Garrisons on the frontier of Georgia required a strict Inspection; not only for the purpose of restoring due subordination, but for the correction of other misdemeanors in the officers. Your determination, therefore, to look closely into these matters, and to establish strict discipline, is highly proper, and will certainly be supported. An army cannot be governed without, and no mistake in him who commands it is greater, or more fatal to its existence, and the welfare of its Country, than Lax Discipline. Nor is it the right road to true and permanent popularity. Civility is due to, but obedience is required from, all its members. These, accompanied with strict justice, and a proper attention to army rights and wants, will secure love and respect; while one indulgence begets an application for another and another, until order is lost in disorder, and contempt of him brings up the Rear.

I shall be very glad to see Brigadier-General Washington on his route to Princeton, but he will find but little to do in the military line in this State. To what cause to attribute the delay I know not; but the fact is, that not an officer, that I have heard of, has received his commission, nor one who has had any orders to Recruit. The enthusiasm of last summer and autumn was suffered to evaporate for want of these. The dreary months of Winter which (for want of employment of that class of men who usually become Soldiers) bring on idleness and dissipation is Edition: current; Page: [169] now succeeded by the opening of spring, when laborers are in demand by the husbandmen, and other avocations, and has passed away also. In a word, all is a mystery to me.

I have very little more knowledge of the captains in the Virginia line, as arranged by us at Philadelphia, than what was derived from the source of information then laid before us. I have no hesitation, however, in mentioning the name of a gentleman (conditionally,) to whom, under my present view of them, I should give a decided preference. It is Presley Thornton, son of one of the most respectable gentlemen, now deceased, of the same name, in this State. He is thirty or thereabouts, amiable in his character. He was a British officer during our Revolution, but would not fight against his country, and therefore went to Gibraltar, and was in Garrison there during its siege by the Spaniards, where it is said he distinguished himself by his gallant behavior.

The condition I alluded to, and which I annex to this recommendation, is, that, if I shd want him myself, and circumstances in the combinations I should have to make in the choice of my own aids-de-camp should not be opposed to it, that you may not take amiss my calling him into my military suite. I have never given him the most distant hint of such an intention, nor would I have him know, that it ever was in contemplation; especially as it is an event that may never happen. Indeed, I mean to be under no engagement to any of my established aids, until I am about to enter on my military duties.

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Mrs. Washington is much obliged to Mrs. Pinckney for the Mellon seeds—as I am to you for your attention to the Paines, and with Mrs. Lewis (that now is,) &c. best wishes to you, Mrs. Pinckney, & family, & to enquiring frds. I am always your sincere and affectionate, &c.

P. S.—Mr. Lewis & Nelly Custis fulfilled their matrimonial engagement on the 22nd of February. In consequence the former, havg relinquished the lapp of Mars for the sports of Venus, has declined a Military appointmt.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 April, 1799
Mount Vernon
James Welch
Welch, James



I have received your letters of the 10th of March from Rockingham County, and although I have no expectation of deriving any payment from your Kentucky Expedition, yet, I will (inconvenient as it is to me) wait a while longer to know the result of it; desiring you to be persuaded in the mean time, that you have not got a person now, that will be trifled with in your dealings.

It would be uncandid, Mr. Welch, not to inform you, that I have heard too much of your character lately not to expect tale after tale, and relation after relation, of your numerous disappointments, by way of excuses for the non compliance of your agreement with me;—but this I can assure you will not answer your purposes.

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It is not difficult for a person who has no ground on which to expect a thousand cents, to talk with facility and ease of his expectation of receiving ten times as many dollars—the relation of disappointments in which, according to his account, he conceives is quite sufficient to ward off the payment of his own solemn contracts, and to satisfy his Creditors.

I am not unacquainted, Sir, with your repeated declarations of your having purchased my Lands on the Great Kanahwa and endeavoring by that means, and such like impositions, and misrepresentations, to abtain extensive credit where you were not known.—Letters, to enquire into the truth of these things, have been written to me on the subject. Be cautious therefore how you provoke explanations that must inevitably end in your disgrace and entire loss of character.—A character is valuable to all men, and not less so to a Speculator.

I will before I conclude, assure you in the most unequivocal terms of two things.

First, that I am in extreme want of the money which you gave me a solemn promise I should receive the first of January last; and secondly—that however you may have succeeded in imposing upon, and deceiving others, you shall not practice the like game with me with impunity.

To contract new Debts is not the way to pay old ones.—nor is it a proof that you have any disposition to do it, when you are proposing to buy lands, &c. &c. on credit (or partial advances) which can answer no other purpose than that of speculation—or (if you Edition: current; Page: [172] have them) of withholding the means which ought to be applied in the discharge of engagements & debts, proceeding therefrom, which you are bound by every tie to do.

Consider this letter well;—and then write without any deception to, Sir.

George Washington
Washington, George
23d April, 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

Six days do I labor, or, in other words, take exercise and devote my time to various occupations in Husbandry, and about my mansion. On the seventh, now called the first day, for want of a place of Worship (within less than nine miles) such letters as do not require immediate acknowledgment I give answers to (Mr. Lear being sick and absent). But it hath so happened, that on the two last Sundays—call them the first or seventh day as you please, I have been unable to perform the latter duty on account of visits from Strangers, with whom I could not use the freedom to leave alone, or recommend to the care of each other, for their amusement.

This Short history of the manner in which I employ my time is given by way of an apology for suffering your letters of the 30th & 31st ulto. to remain so long unanswered—acknowledged they were—and two points which related most immediately to yourself, personally, were dwelt upon in my last. Were it not Edition: current; Page: [173] for this, I should have appropriated sooner, one of the six days I am now about to borrow, for the following communications.

I have perused with attention your Instructions to General Hamilton, and can readily conceive from the purport of them what the tenor of those are, which you have issued to General Pinckney. These Instructions appear to me to be well digested, and are appropriate to the ends contemplated.

I once thought, it being more regular, that the old Troops under the command of General Wilkinson had better have remained subordinate to the orders of Gen. Hamilton, to whom, through the Department of War, (for the reasons alleged in the Instructions) all reports and returns ought to be made. But, on more mature consideration of the multiplied, extensive, and checkered position of those troops, I am disposed to believe that your plan is preferable.

In my last, I gave what I conceived to be the reason why you were uninformed of the intentions of so many of the appointed Officers, and took the liberty of suggesting a mode by which their acceptance, or refusal, might speedily be ascertained. This suggestion and your Circular, (which now appears in all the Gazettes) renders it unnecessary for me to say anything more on that head. And if the obstacles, which were opposed to the preparatory measures for Recruiting, were such as not to be overcome, like many other things, most desirable, but unattainable, we may regret the loss, though we submit to the disappointment.

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Until your Circular appeared, I do not believe that it was the expectation of the newly appointed officers, (who had not received their Commissions,) that they were to draw pay from the date of their Acceptances; and to this uncertainty, after having thrown themselves out of other business, was their discontents to be ascribed. Your circular communication, and a just arrangement of Rank hereafter, will, no doubt, put all matters to rights. But if these officers are not speedily employed in the Recruiting Service, a clamor will soon arise in another quarter; for it will be asked why are they in actual pay & unemployed.

Care will be taken, I presume, in settling relative Rank, not to be governed by the date of the acceptances, for that would give to the Officers of those States, who are most contiguous to the seat of Government, advantages which would be as unjust as they are great.1

I do not recollect with precision the circumstances you allude to, as having taken place in the year 1792 Edition: current; Page: [175] under the auspices of one of your Predecessors. But however anxious Officers are to be possessed of their Commissions, I have no hesitation in declaring it as my opinion, that I see no cause they would have to complain of their being withheld, for the reasons you have mentioned, when the matter is explained to them, & they are in receipt of emoluments. With respect to Connecticut and the States South of Virginia, I was at no loss to account for the delays, which had taken place in them, not only as it respected the Recruiting Service, but as it related to the appointment of the Officers also.

General Hamilton having communicated to me his arrangement of the State of Virginia into districts & subdivisions, with the places of rendezvous in each, I have suggested a few (un) important alterations in the sub-districts with which I am best acquainted.

In the revised printed Instructions for Recruiting, which you have been pleased to send to me, there are several blanks, which I presume will be filled up before they are finally issued. These are to be found in the 2d. 5th & 28th Articles.

The quotation of the answer given to your representation respecting the suspension of the arrangement, and consequent delay in Recruiting betrays a manifest want of knowledge of the subject. There is a “tide, it is said, in all things,” and there was a combination of circumstances at the passing of the act, among which resentment was not the least, which produced an uncommon enthusiasm; & which, until it began to slacken & ebb, might have been improved Edition: current; Page: [176] to great advantage. But, taking the matter up, upon the principle of the answer, could there have been a stronger reason assigned agt. delay, than the difficulty of obtaining men?1

If the enumerated obstacles were such as would retard the Recruiting Service, it ought to have commenced with redoubled ardor. The voice of the People, as expressed by their representatives, adjudged this Force necessary. The law was positive. Where then lay a Power to dispense with or suspend it? I will go no farther, however, on this point. Perhaps I have gone too far already; but, as you have not only authorized, but requested, that I would communicate my sentiments to you with freedom and candor, I could not restrain this effusion, while I acknowledge & have declared upon all proper occasions, that you were not responsible for the delay in organizing the army; as you have been informed in my last letter.

In the case of Major Gibbs, I shall make but two short remarks. 1st: that it was not from any predilection Edition: current; Page: [177] for the man, that he was brought forward by the Board of Gen. Officers; and 2d, that I should have thought, that the testimony of Generals Lincoln, Knox, Brooks, Jackson, & others, added to the weight of that board, would be a counterpoise to the objectioners, unless something injurious to his character was adduced. But, with respect to young Mercer’s promotion, I cannot but express my regrets; notwithstanding the high opinion I have of his merit, and the sincere regard I entertained for his deceased father. This promotion, you may rely on it, is radically wrong, & will be felt sorely.1 Although no one is less disposed than I am to call in question the right of the President to make appointments (with the participation of the Senate) yet I must be permitted to add, that, if there is not a good deal of circumspection observed in the exercise of it, as it respects the regulation of the army, he will find it much easier to plunge into, than to extricate himself from, embarassments occasioned by injudicious arrangements. Of this, I can speak from the experience I have had.

In the arrangement of Mr. Mercer at Philadelphia, his comparative pretensions were duly considered, & a lieutenancy was considered a handsome appointment for him. Many applications for Captaincies of Dragoons from meritorious characters, who had had commands in the horse on the Western Expedition in 1794, could not, from the smallness of that Corps, be accommodated; & on that acct. only were turned Edition: current; Page: [178] over to the Infantry. Among these a Capt. Thos. Turner, highly spoken of as a horse officer, & a very respectable character, is numbered. How then must this gentleman, how must Captn. Randolph, so highly recommended by Genl. Morgan for past services, how must others, who served through a winter’s campaign on that occasion with éclat, and how must the Senior Lieutenants of equal pretensions with those of Mr. Mercer, feel on the appointment of a student just from College in preference to them? The question is easily answered; but as there is no remedy for it now, my only motive for dwelling on the case is to shew you how necessary precaution is, in your Military movements; & to prove, moreover, that, after five weeks’ diligent application of the three first officers of your Army, their work ought not to be battered down by sinester or local considerations, unless impeachments, or discoveries unknown while they were about it, are of sufficient weight to affect this measure.1

Edition: current; Page: [179]

Having now gone through all the points of your last letter, I have only to declare, that the observations I have made on the several parts of them, and the opinions delivered thereon, proceed from the purest motives, and from an earnest desire, that the Military system may be well composed, may harmonize in all its parts, may perfectly answer the end of its institution, and that the President & Secretary of War may find no difficulty, but be quite easy and happy in their government of it. As it respects myself, I have no object separated from the general welfare to promote. I have no predilections, no prejudices to gratify, no friends, whose interests or views Edition: current; Page: [180] I wish to advance at the expence of propriety, and, I may add in the sincerity of my heart, there is no wish of it equal to that of there being no exigency in our affrs., which may call me from retirement to take the direction of our forces.

With sincere esteem & regard, I am, my dear Sir.

In the hands of an English Gentleman lately at this place, I have seen a map of the United States on a large scale, Edited by A. Arrowsmith, London. It is very necessary the Commander-in-Chief should be possessed of such an one. If the Public will not furnish it (in a travelling case) I would wish to have one sent me at my own expense; if to be procured in Philadelphia.

George Washington
Washington, George
5 May, 1799
Mount Vernon
John Marshall
Marshall, John


Dear Sir,

With infinite pleasure I received the news of your Election.1 For the honor of the District I wish the majority had been greater; but let us be content, and hope, as the tide is turning, the current will soon run strong in your favor.

I am sorry to find that the publication you allude to should have given you a moment’s disquietude. I can assure you it made no impression on my mind, of the tendency apprehended by you.2

Edition: current; Page: [181]

The doubt you have expressed of Mr. Hancock’s Election is as unexpected as it is painful. In these parts we had set it down as certain; and our calculations went to eleven instead of nine. A few days now will give us the result of all the Elections to Congress and the Legislature of the State; and, as you are at the fountain of information, respecting the politics of the members, give me, I pray you, the amount of the parties on each side, if you have leisure and can ascertain it.1 With very sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [182]
George Washington
Washington, George
19 June, 1799
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander


Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 7th instant with its enclosures has been duly received. I am very glad to learn that the recruiting business, so far as it has been put in operation, succeeds agreeably to your wishes. It has commenced in Virginia, and I am informed that, in this vicinity (I have no intelligence from the more distant parts of the State) its progress is very flattering. A supply of clothing would, however, promote this service even hereabouts; and, unless it is furnished soon, I am apprehensive it will languish, if not stop entirely.

I understand by a letter, which I received a few days since from General Pinckney, that the selection of officers from N. and S. Carolina and Georgia has been transmitted to the war office. I hope, on every account, there will be no delay in completing this arrangement. The disposition which you have made of the artillery regiment is, I have no doubt, just and proper, and calculated to promote the good of the service.

I thank you for the information from Mr. King. I have long believed that France owes the facilities of her conquests more to the jealousy and want of cordial coöperation among the powers of Europe, whose interest it is to check her desolating ravages, than to any exertions of her own, great as they have been. It appears from every account (although there is none so full and distinct as I could wish), that her Edition: current; Page: [183] armies have not only been checked, but obliged to retreat. And her internal affairs do not seem to be in the best situation. Should these advantages be properly improved, I think the happiest effects may result from them. With very sincere regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
24 June, 1799
Mount Vernon
Archibald Blair
Blair, Archibald



Your favor of the 19th inst., enclosing the copy of a letter from our deceased friend, Patrick Henry, Esqr.,3 to you, dated the 8th of Jany. last, came duly to hand. For this instance of your polite attention to me, I pray you to accept my thanks, and an assurance that the letter shall find a distinguished place in my Beaureau of Public Papers.4

At any time I should have recd. the account of this Gentleman’s death with sorrow. In the present crisis of our public affairs, I have heard it with deep regret. Edition: current; Page: [184] But the ways of Providence are inscrutable, and not to be scanned by short-sighted man, whose duty is submission without repining at its decrees.

I had often heard of the political sentimts. expressed in Mr. Henry’s letter to you, and as often a wish that they were promulgated through the medium of the gazettes; the propriety or inexpediency of which measure none can decide more correctly than yourself. But, after what you have written to me, I feel an incumbency to inform you, that another copy of that letter has been either surreptitiously obtained, or fabricated, and more than probably is now in the Press; for I was informed on the day preceding my receipt of your letter, that one was in the hands of a Gentleman in this County Fairfax, and that he had been asked to and it was supposed would have it printed.

My breast never harbored a suspicion, that Mr. Henry was unfriendly to me; although I had reason to believe that the same spirit, which was at work to destroy all confidence in the Public functionaries, was not less busy in poisoning private fountains, and sowing the Seeds of distrust amg. men of the same Political sentiments. Mr. Henry had given me the most unequivocal proof, whilst I had the honor to command the troops of the United States in their revolutionary struggle, that he was not to be worked upon by Intriguers; and, not conscious that I had furnished any cause for it, I could not suppose that without a cause he had become my enemy since. This proof, contained in the letter to wch. you allude, Edition: current; Page: [185] is deposited among my files (for want of a proper receptacle for them, which I mean to erect), they are yet in packages. When I shall be able to open them with convenience, I will furnish you with a copy of what passed between Mr. Henry and myself, in consequence of the attempt which was made by a Party in Congress to supplant me in that command, since you think they are not to be found among his papers and wish to be possessed of them.

Your letter to me, Sir, required no apology, but has a just claim to the thanks and gratitude of one, who has the honor to be, your most obedient obliged humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 June, 1799
Mount Vernon
John Trumbull
Trumbull, John


Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 18th of September last, with the small box containing four pair of Prints, came safe to hand, but long after the date of the letter. Immediately upon the receipt of these having forgot the terms of the Subscription, and not knowing, as you were absent, to whom the money was to be paid, I wrote to Governor Trumbull for information on this head, without obtaining further satisfaction, than that he thought it probable Mr. Anthony of Philadelphia was authorized by you to receive the amount. In consequence I addressed this Gentleman, (who being absent from that City—as is said, by way of apology for the delay, in answering my letter in a reasonable Edition: current; Page: [186] time), and shall immediately pay what is due from me thereon.

I give you the trouble of this detail, because I should feel unpleasant myself, if, after your marked politeness and attentions to me in this as in every other transaction, any tardiness should have appeared on my part in return for Prints so valuable.

The two vols. put into your hands by Mr. West, for transmission to me, are the production of a Mr. Uvedale Price on the Picturesque; accompanied by a very polite letter, of which the enclosed is an acknowledgement to that Gentleman, recommended to your care, with my best respects to Mr. West.1

I was on the point of closing this letter, with my thanks for the favorable sentiments you have been pleased to express for me, and adding Mrs. Washington’s complimts and best wishes thereto, when the mail from Philadelphia brought me your interesting letter of the 24th of March.

For the political information contained in it I feel grateful, as I always shall for the free and unreserved communication of your sentiments upon subjects so important in their nature and tendency. No well-informed and unprejudiced man, who has viewed with attention the conduct of the French Government since the Revolution in that Country, can mistake its Edition: current; Page: [187] objects, or the tendency of the ambitious plans it is pursuing. Yet, strange as it may seem, a party, and a powerful one too among us, affect to believe that the measures of it are dictated by a principal of self-preservation; that the outrages of which the Directory are guilty proceeds from dire necessity; that it wishes to be upon the most friendly and agreeable terms with the President of the United States; that it will be the fault of the latter, if this is not the case; that the defensive measures, which this Country have adopted, are not only unnecessary and expensive, but have a tendency to produce the evil, which to deprecate is mere pretence, because war with France, they say, is the wish of this government; that on the militia we should rest our Security; and that it is time enough to call upon these, when the danger is imminent, &c., &c., &c.

With these and such like ideas, attempted to be inculcated upon the public mind, (and prejudices not yet eradicated,) with all the arts of sophistry, and no regard to truth or respect to characters public or private who happen to differ from themselves in politics, I leave you to decide on the probability of carrying such extensive plans of defence as you have suggested in your last letter into operation, and in the short period you suppose may be allowed to accomplish it in.

The public mind has changed, and is yet changing every day, with respect to French principles. The people begin to see clearly, that the words and actions of the governing powers of that nation cannot be reconciled, Edition: current; Page: [188] and that hitherto they have been misled by words; in a word that, while they were pursuing the shadow, they lost the substance. The late changes in the Congressional Representation sufficiently evince this opinion; for, of the two sent from the State of Georgia, one certain, some say both, are Federal characters; of six from South Carolina, five are decidedly so; of ten from North Carolina, seven may be counted upon; and, of nineteen from this State, (Virginia), eight are certain, a ninth doubtful, and, but for some egregious mismanagement, Eleven supporters of governmental measures would have been elected.

I mention these facts merely to shew, that we are progressing to a better state of things, not that we are quite right yet. Time I hope will shew us the necessity, or at least the propriety, of becoming so. God grant it, and soon.

It is unfortunate when men cannot or will not see danger at a distance; or, seeing it, are undetermined in the means, which are necessary to avert or keep it afar off. I question whether the evil arising from the French getting possession of Louisiana and the Floridas would be generally seen, until it is felt; and yet no problem in Euclid is more evident, or susceptible of clearer demonstration. Not less difficult is it to make them believe, that offensive operations oftentimes are the surest, if not (in some cases) the only means of defence.

Mrs. Washington is grateful for your kind remembrance of her, and with Mrs. Lewis’s (formerly your Edition: current; Page: [189] old acquaintance Nelly Custis) compliments and good wishes united, I am, with sentiments of the most perfect esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 July, 1799
Mount Vernon
Jonathan Trumbull
Trumbull, Jonathan


My dear Sir,

Your favor of the 22d ultimo got to my hands yesterday, only. It came safe, and without any apparent marks or violence; but whence the length of its passage, I am unable to inform you.

To you and to your brother, Colonel John Trumbull, I feel much indebted for the full, frank, and interesting communication of the political sentiments contained in both your letters.

The project of the latter is vast,—and under any circumstances would require very mature consideration; but in its extent, and an eye being had to the disorganizing party in the United States, I am sure it would be impracticable in the present order of things.

Not being able to convey my ideas to you, on this subject, in more concise terms than I have already done to your brother, in answer to the letter he informs you he had written to me, I shall take the liberty of giving you an extract thereof, as follows:—

“For the political information contained in it, (that is, his letter) I feel grateful, as I always shall for the free, unreserved communication of your sentiments upon subjects so important in their nature and tendency. No well-informed and unprejudiced man, who Edition: current; Page: [190] has viewed with attention the conduct of the French government since the revolution in that country, can mistake its objects, or the tendency of its ambitious projects it is pursuing. Yet, strange as it may seem, a party, and a powerful one too, among us, affect to believe that the measures of it are dictated by a principle of self-preservation; that the outrages of which the Directory are guilty, proceed from dire necessity; that it wishes to be upon the most friendly and amicable terms with the United States; that it will be the fault of the latter if this is not the case; that the defensive measures which this country has adopted, are not only unnecessary, but expensive, but have a tendency to produce the evil which, to deprecate, is mere pretence in the government; because war with France, they say, is its wish; that on the militia we should rest our security; and that it is time enough to call upon these when the danger is imminent and apparent.

“With these and such like ideas attempted to be inculcated upon the public mind (aided by prejudices not yet eradicated), and with art and sophistry, which regard neither truth nor decency; attacking every character, without respect to persons, public or private, who happen to differ from themselves in politics, I leave you to decide on the probability of carrying such an extensive plan of defence as you have suggested in your last letter, into operation, and in the short period which you suppose may be allowed to accomplish it in.”

I come now, my dear sir, to pay particular attention to that part of your letter which respects myself.

Edition: current; Page: [191]

I remember well the conversation which you allude to, and have not forgot the answer I gave you. In my judgment it applies with as much force now as then; nay more, because at that time the line between parties was not so clearly drawn, and the views of the opposition so clearly developed as they are at present: of course, allowing your observation (as it respects myself) to be founded, personal influence would be of no avail.

Let that party set up a broomstick, and call it a true son of liberty,—a democrat,—or give it any other epithet that will suit their purpose, and it will command their votes in toto.

Will not the Federalists meet, or rather defend their cause, on the opposite ground? Surely they must, or they will discover a want of policy, indicative of weakness and pregnant of mischief; which cannot be admitted. Wherein, then, would lie the difference between the present gentleman in office, and myself?

It would be matter of sore regret to me, if I could believe that a serious thought was turned towards me as his successor, not only as it respects my ardent wishes to pass through the vale of life in retirement, undisturbed in the remnant of the days I have to sojourn here, unless called upon to defend my country (which every citizen is bound to do), but on public ground also; for, although I have abundant cause to be thankful for the good health with which I am blessed, yet I am not insensible to my declination in other respects. It would be criminal, therefore, in me, although it would be the wish of my countrymen, Edition: current; Page: [192] and I could be elected, to accept an office under this conviction, which another would discharge with more ability; and this, too, at a time when I am thoroughly convinced I should not draw a single vote from the anti-Federal side, and, of course, should stand upon no other ground than any other Federal character well supported; and, when I should become a mark for the shafts of envenomed malice and the basest calumny to fire at,—when I should be charged not only with irresolution, but with concealed ambition, which waits only an occasion to blaze out,—and, in short, with dotage and imbecility.

All this, I grant, ought to be like dust in the balance, when put in competition with a great public good, when the accomplishment of it is apparent. But, as no problem is better defined in my mind than that principle, not men, is now, and will be, the object of contention; and that I could not obtain a solitary vote from that party; that any other respectable Federal character would receive the same suffrages that I should; that at my time of life (verging towards threescore and ten) I should expose myself, without rendering any essential service to my country, or answering the end contemplated; prudence on my part must arrest any attempt of the well-meant but mistaken views of my friends to introduce me again into the chair of government.

Lengthy as this letter is, I cannot conclude it without expressing an earnest wish that some intimate and confidential friend of the President’s would give him to understand that his long absence from the seat Edition: current; Page: [193] of government, in the present critical conjuncture, affords matter for severe animadversion by the friends of government, who speak of it with much disapprobation, while the other party chuckle at and set it down as a favorable omen for themselves. It has been suggested to me to make this communication, but I have declined it, conceiving that it would be better received from a private character, more in the habits of social intercourse and friendship.

With the most sincere friendship and affectionate regard, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
11 August, 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James



My dear Sir,

Your private letters of the 29th ulto. and 5th instant, have been duly received. Mr. Bordley for presenting, and you for forwarding his Essays on Husbandry, are entitled to, and accordingly receive, my thanks for these instances of both your kindnesses.


I think you Wise men of the East, have got yourselves in a hobble, relatively to France, Great Britain, Russia and the Porte, to which, allow me the priviledge of adding our worthy Demos. All cannot be pleased! Whom will you offend? Here then is a severe trial for your Diplomatic skill, in which the Edition: current; Page: [194] Editor of the Aurora says you are great adepts. But to be serious, I think the nomination, & appointment of Ambassadors to treat with France would, in any event, have been liable to unpleasant reflections (after the Declarations wch have been made) and in the present state of matters, in Europe, must be exceedingly embarrassing. The President has a choice of difficulties before him, in this business: If he pursues the line he marked out, all the consequences cannot be forseen: If he relinquishes it, it will be said to be of a piece with all the other acts of the Administration—unmeaning, if not wicked, deceptious, &c., &c., &c., and will arm the opposition with fresh weapons, to commence new attacks upon the Government, be the turn given to it, and reasons assigned what they may.—I come now to the Scene of Bribery.

And pray, my good sir, what part of the $800.000 have come to your share? As you are high in Office, I hope you did not disgrace yourself in the acceptance of a paltry bribe—a 100.000 $ perhaps—But here again I become serious. There can be no medium between the reward and punishment of an Editor, who shall publish such things as Duane has been doing for some time past. On what ground then does he pretend to stand in his exhibition of the charges, or the insinuations which he has handed to the Public? Can hardihood, itself be so great as to stigmatise characters in the Public Gazettes for the most heinous offences, and when prosecuted, pledge itself to support the alligation, unless there was Edition: current; Page: [195] something to build on? I hope & expect that the Prosecutors will probe this matter to the bottom. It will have an unhappy effect on the public mind if it be not so.

But how stands the charge—in verity & truth with respect to the Consul General (Stephens) purchase of Coffee, and breach of trust; or in other words taking advantage of his official knowledge to monopolise that article at a low price? This thing made a good deal of noise among the friends as well as the enemies of government; and if true, proves him unworthy, altogether, of public confidence; & denominates him a mercenary [] one who would do anything for lucre.

Is the President returned to the seat of Government? When will he return? His absence (I mention it from the best motives) gives much discontent to the friends of government, while its enemies chuckle at it, & think it a favorable omen for them.

I am always your affecte.
George Washington
Washington, George
17 August, 1799
Mount Vernon
Robert Lewis
Lewis, Robert


Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 7th instant came duly to hand, but being received with many other letters, it was laid by, and entirely forgotten until I came across it yesterday again. Mr. Ariss’s draught on Mr. James Edition: current; Page: [196] Russell for £42 pounds shall be presented to him, but if he is indisposed to pay it, or wants time to do it, he has a good pretext for delay, as you have sent it without your endorsement, although made payable to you.

Of the facts related in the enclosed letter relative to the loss of his crop, by the Hessian fly, I know nothing. If it should appear to your credit, that Kercheval has used his true endeavor to raise the means to discharge his rent, and is deprived thereof by an Act of Providence, I am willing, however illy I can afford to do it, to make some reasonable abatement therefrom; of which you, from inquiry, will be the best judge.

It is demonstratively clear, that on this Estate (Mount Vernon) I have more working negros by a full moiety, than can be employed to any advantage in the farming system, and I shall never turn Planter thereon.

To sell the overplus I cannot, because I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species. To hire them out, is almost as bad, because they could not be disposed of in families to any advantage, and to disperse the families I have an aversion. What then is to be done? Something must or I shall be ruined; for all the money (in addition to what I raise by crops, and rents) that have been received for Lands, sold within the last four years, to the amount of Fifty thousand dollars, has scarcely been able to keep me afloat.

Under these circumstances, and a thorough conviction Edition: current; Page: [197] that half the workers I keep on this Estate, would render me a greater nett profit than I now derive from the whole, has made me resolve, if it can be accomplished, to settle Plantations on some of my other Lands. But where? without going to the Western Country, I am unable, as yet to decide; as the best, if not all the Land I have on the East side of the Alleganies are under Leases, or some kind of incumbrance or another. But as you can give me the correct information relative to this matter, I now early apply for it.

What then is the state of Kercheval’s lot, & the other adjoining? Are they under Leases? if not, is the land good? and how many hands would it work to advantage? Have I any other good land in Berkeley that could be obtained on reasonable terms? Is that small tract above the Warm Springs engaged for the ensuing year? How much cleared land is there on it? and what kind of buildings? How many hands could be usefully employed thereon? Information on these points, and any others relative thereto, would be acceptable to me.

The drought has been so excessive on this Estate that I have made no oats—& if it continues a few days longer, shall make no corn. I have cut little or no grass; and my meadows, at this time, are as bare as the pavements; of consequence no second crop can be expected. These things will compel me, I expect to reduce the mouths that feed on the Hay. I have two or three young Jacks (besides young Royal Gift) and several she asses, that I would dispose Edition: current; Page: [198] of. Would Fauquier, or where else, be a good place to dispose of them?

I am glad to hear that your brother Lawrence is so much amended, as your letter indicates. Whether it be from sulphur application, or other cause:—but if Doctr. Baysham, under whose hands he was, was unable to effect a radical cure, I should not place much confidence in Voss’s Spring, as the disorder must be deep rooted.

Your aunt unites with me in best wishes for Mr. Lewis, yourself & family and I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
30th August, 1799
Mount Vernon
Jonathan Trumbull
Trumbull, Jonathan


My Dear Sir:

Your favor of the 10th instant came duly to hand. It gave me pleasure to find, by the contents of it, that your sentiments respecting the comprehensive project of Colonel Trumbull coincided with those I had expressed to him.

A very different state of politics must obtain in this country, and more unanimity prevail in our public counsels, than is the case at present, ere such a measure could be undertaken with the least prospect of success. By unanimity alone the plan could be accomplished—while, then, a party, and a strong one too, is hanging upon the wheels of government, opposing measures calculated solely for internal defence, and is endeavoring to defeat all the laws which have Edition: current; Page: [199] been passed for this purpose, by rendering them obnoxious, to attempt anything beyond this, would be to encounter certain disappointment. And yet, if the policy of this country, or the necessity occasioned by the existing opposition to its measures, should suffer the French to possess themselves of Louisiana and the Floridas, either by exchange or otherwise, I will venture to predict, without the gift of “second sight,” that there will be “no peace in Israel,”—or, in other words, that the restless, ambitious, and intriguing spirit of that people will keep the United States in a continual state of warfare with the numerous tribes of Indians that inhabit our frontiers, for doing which their “diplomatic skill” is well adapted.

With respect to the other subject of your letter, I must again express a strong and ardent wish and desire that no eye, no tongue, no thought, may be turned towards me for the purpose alluded to therein. For, besides the reasons which I urged against the measures in my last, and which, in my judgment and by my feelings, are insurmountable, you yourself have furnished a cogent one.

You have conceded, what before was self-evident in my mind, namely, that not a single vote would thereby be drawn from the anti-Federal candidate. You add, however, that it might be a means of uniting the Federal votes. Here, then, my dear sir, let me ask, what satisfaction, what consolation, what safety, should I find in support which depends upon caprice?

Edition: current; Page: [200]

If men, not principles, can influence the choice on the part of the Federalists, what but fluctuations are to be expected? The favorite today may have the curtain dropped on him tomorrow, while steadiness marks the conduct of the Anti’s; and whoever is not on their side must expect to be loaded with all the calumny that malice can invent; in addition to which I should be charged with inconsistency, concealed ambition, dotage, and a thousand more et ceteras.

It is too interesting not to be again repeated, that if principles, instead of men, are not the steady pursuit of the Federalists, their cause will soon be at an end; if these are pursued, they will not divide at the next election of a President; if they do divide on so important a point, it would be dangerous to trust them on any other,—and none except those who might be solicitous to fill the chair of government would do it. In a word, my dear sir, I am too far advanced into the vale of life to bear such buffeting as I should meet with in such an event. A mind that has been constantly on the stretch since the year 1753, with but short intervals and little relaxation, requires rest and composure; and I believe that nothing short of a serious invasion of our country (in which case I conceive it to be the duty of every citizen to step forward in its defence) will ever draw me from my present retirement. But, let me be in that or in any other situation, I shall always remain your sincere friend, and affectionate humble servant, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [201]
George Washington
Washington, George
14 September, 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


Dear Sir,

I feel much obliged and accordingly thank you for your kind intention of ordering me two months’ pay, and I shall not suffer false modesty to assert, that my finances stand in no need of it; because it is not the time, nor the attention only, which the public duties I am engaged in require, but their bringing upon me applicants, recommenders of applicants, and seekers of information, with their servants and horses (none of whom perhaps are of my acquaintances,) to aid in the consumption of my forage, and what to me is more valuable, my time, that I most regard; for a man in the Country, nine miles from any house of Entertainment, is differently situated from one in a City, where none of these inconveniences are felt.

Yet even under these circumstances, which may be little known to those who wd. appreciate them, and would be totally disregarded by such as are always on the look-out for something to cavil at, I am resolved to draw nothing from the Public but reimbursements of actual expenditures; unless by being called into the Field I shall be entitled to full pay and the Emoluments of office.

Without this it would be said by the latter description of People, that I was enjoying retirement on very easy and lucrative terms; whilst the former might remark, that I had forgot the conditions on which I accepted my commission; opposed to these Edition: current; Page: [202] the loss of time and incidental expenses are not to be compared.

I thought this explanation of my motives, for declining the acceptance of your offer, was due to your kind attention in behalf of, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 September, 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James



Your letter of the 3d instant, with the papers accompanying it, did not get to my hands till the 11th. At the same time I received a long letter from General Hamilton, with voluminous references, to which he requested my immediate attention, and the communication of my sentiments thereon. These circumstances will account for your not having received an answer before this time.

The rules, which have been adopted by the President of the U. S. relative to rank in the army, point out the mode, which must determine the relative rank of those officers, who have heretofore been in service. The documents in the war-office, and the information obtained from the parties, would enable you to fix the rank of those officers, at least as well as I can do it. But to manifest my readiness to comply, so far as is in my power, with any request from your department, I have in the enclosed list noted numerically the names of the lieutenant-colonels and majors, who have been in service, as they should rank, agreeably to the documents from the war-office, which you Edition: current; Page: [203] forwarded to me, annexed to their names, and in conformity with the regulations established by the President relative to rank.

By these rules resignation precludes all claim to rank, and places the party on a footing with those officers, who have never before been in service; but, where a resignation took place from any cause not affecting the character of the officer (as it is presumed is the case with all who are now appointed under this circumstance), it does not, in my opinion, deprive the party of that consideration, which his having been in service would give, provided he stands on equal ground, in other respects, with those who have never served.

As the relative rank of officers, who have not been in service, is to be determined by the Commander-in-chief, I shall make the arrangement in the best manner I can, with respect to the officers in your list who are of this description. But, in order to do this with propriety and satisfaction, a personal knowledge of the several officers, or full information of their respective qualifications, talents, and merits, is necessary. The former I do not possess. The latter I have, respecting most of those who have not been in service, so far as could be ascertained from the documents laid before the general officers in November last from the war-office. But to proceed on this ground alone, and without any document relative to the characters of the officers from Connecticut, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, (who, you will recollect, were selected without any agency of mine,) Edition: current; Page: [204] and fix the rank definitively, would be very repugnant to my ideas of propriety and justice. In a word, it would be little better than to decide their relative rank by lot. I have tried and tried again to make an arrangement of the majors, who have been in service, and I enclose a list of the result; but it is so unsatisfactory to myself, that I request no weight may be given to it, farther than it accords with better information and circumstances.

In your letter you have requested, that the relative rank of the field-officers of the cavalry, as well as of the twelve regiments of infantry, should be fixed; but you have not furnished the names of those officers; and there is one major wanting, according to your list, to complete the number for the twelve regiments of infantry.

I feel much obliged by your intention of remitting me two months’ pay; but, excepting in cases which may involve me in pecuniary expenses, I must beg leave, on the principle I set out with, to decline the acceptance of it. The letters written to you by the Lieut.-Colonels and Majors, in answer to your queries, are herewith returned. With due consideration, I have the honor to be, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 September, 1799
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander


Dear Sir,

Mrs. Washington’s indisposition, (being confined for 10 days) and other circumstances, would not allow me to give your letter of the 9th instant, and the reports Edition: current; Page: [205] and journals which accompanied it, an earlier consideration. Having done this, however, with as much thought, as I have been able to bestow, under the circumstances mentioned, I see no cause (with the limited force which has been enumerated, and which I presume is all that can be calculated upon,) to differ from you in the disposition of it. Although at the same time I shall make some observations thereupon for consideration.

It may be remembered, that, at the time the Secretary of War laid before the general officers in Philadelphia the letters of General Wilkinson, respecting the propriety in his judgment of placing a considerable force at the Natchez, I gave it my decided disapprobation; inasmuch as it would excite in the Spaniards distrust and jealousy of our pacific disposition; would cause an augmentation of force on their part; and so on with both, if our government would go into the measure; until the thing which was intended to be avoided would more than probable be produced, i. e., hostility. Whereas by keeping that force in the upper country, besides its looking to all points, and exciting no alarm in any, might, if occasion should require it either for defence or offence, descend the stream like lightning with all its munitions and equipments; which could be accumulated with ease, and without noise, at the upper posts, and make the surprise more complete.

Although I have said, (in effect,) that the corps de reserve, or army of observation, should take post at the place you have mentioned, namely, in the vicinity Edition: current; Page: [206] of the Rapids of the Ohio, (Louisville,) yet I can see but two reasons which entitle it to be preferred to the present post above, i. e., Fort Washington, in a geographical point of view. And these are, that there is no water above the former, that can float large vessels at all seasons; and that, by being so much lower down, the passage of the Ohio would be facilitated if an expedition should descend the Mississippi. In other respects the latter, in my opinion, has the advantage. 1st, because it is a post already established, and would incur no additional expense. 2ndly, because it is more contiguous to Fort Wayne, Detroit, Michilimackinac, and all the Indians on the Lakes, from whom in that quarter we have most danger to apprehend. 3rdly, because communications with it, for the most part by water, are already established. And, 4thly, in case of insurrections above or below, it is equally as well if not better situated.

Were it not that the mouth of the Wabash empties itself into the Ohio so low down, and yet above its confluence with the Cumberland and Tennessee, I should be inclined to give a position near the mouth of the Wabash the preference of either the Rapids or Fort Washington, because it would command a great water inlet towards the Lakes.

But whether the position for the corps de reserve be chosen at the Rapids of the Ohio, above or below, it had better, I conceive, be on the north side of the Ohio, then within the State of Kentucky; thereby impeding more the intercourse between the army and the citizens, and guarding against the Edition: current; Page: [207] evils, which result from that mixture and too much familiarity.

I am so far from agreeing with General Wilkinson, that Fort Wayne ought to be abolished, that, if I mistake not the place, central between the heads of the Miamis of Lake Erie and the Ohio, the St. Joseph and the Wabash, affording good water transportation, with small portages in every direction, I should pronounce it, were it not for the expense of subsisting troops there, the most eligible position for the army of observation of any in that country. It would be an effectual security against all the Indians, who could annoy us in that region; it would cover our barrier posts on the line between the British and us; and troops from thence might descend rapidly into the Mississippi by the Wabash.

General Wilkinson, in speaking of posts along our southern frontier, is general; and you only notice Fort Stoddert. But, on an inspection of the maps, a place presents itself to my view as very eligible to occupy, provided the Creek Indians would consent to it. I mean the Appalachicola, at its confluence with Flint River, where the line of demarkation strikes it.

But, in my opinion, if we had or could obtain an engineer of real skill, and attached to the true policy and interest of the United States, he ought to devote his whole time to the investigation of our interior country, and mark and erect its proper defences; for these hitherto have been more the work of chance and local consideration, than national design.

Edition: current; Page: [208]

If the harbor of Presque Isle is good, I should think a small garrison ought to be retained there. It certainly is the best on the American side of Lake Erie, and one there is important. But I see very little use of a sergeant and eight privates at Fort Knox. It is either unnecessary, or too small; and sergeants at a distance rarely conduct well, when they have not the eye of an officer to inspect their conduct.

There are several references in General Wilkinson’s report, which were not sent. No. 1 appears to have been essential. They are all returned. By his statement of the mutilated condition of the troops, and present disposition of them, there must have been most horrible mismanagement somewhere. A corrective is, indeed, highly necessary. The practice of furloughing officers, and then renewing the furloughs from time to time, is extremely injurious to the service, and ought to be discontinued on ordinary occasions. And that of frittering the army into small garrisons is, if possible, worse. It will never be respectable while these evils exist; and until it can be more concentrated, and the garrisons frequently relieved by detachments from the main body, discipline will always be lax, and impositions on the public will prevail.

If the British are resolved to keep up armed vessels on the Lakes, I presume it will be expedient for us to do the same; but in time of peace a better way, in my opinion, is for neither to have any. In case of a rupture, or the appearance of one, with that Edition: current; Page: [209] nation, there can be no doubt of our arming on those waters much more expeditiously than they would be able to do.

I have now gone over the material points in your letter and General Wilkinson’s report; but, as I mentioned before, it has been done under circumstances unfavorable to minute investigation or mature deliberation, and my sentiments, where differing from you, are given more for consideration than decision. Should any thing of importance on this subject, not noticed here, occur to me, I shall not fail to communicate it to you; for the measures now taken with respect to guarding our frontiers and interior country ought to be such, as will be permanent and respectable. With very great regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 September, 1799
Mount Vernon
Lawrence Lewis
Lewis, Lawrence


Dear Sir:

From the moment Mrs. Washington and myself adopted the two youngest children of the late Mr. Custis, it became my intention (if they survived me, and conducted themselves to my satisfaction) to consider them in my will when I was about to make a distribution of my property. This determination has undergone no diminution, but is strengthened by the connection one of them has formed with my family.

The expense at which I live, and the unproductiveness of my estate, will not allow me to lessen my income while I remain in my present situation. On Edition: current; Page: [210] the contrary, were it not for occasional supplies of money in payment for land, sold within the past four or five years, to the amount of upward of fifty thousand dollars, I should not be able to support the former without involving myself in debt and difficulties.

But as it has been understood, from expressions occasionally dropped from Nelly Custis, now your wife, that it is the wish of you both to settle in this neighborhood, contiguous to her friends, and as it would be inexpedient as well as expensive for you to make a purchase of land, when a measure which is in contemplation would place you on more eligible ground, I shall inform you that, in the will which I have made, which I have by me, and have no disposition to alter, that the part of my Mount Vernon tract which lies north of the public road leading from the Gum spring to Colchester, containing about two thousand acres, with the Dogue-river farm, mill, and distillery, I have left you. Gray’s heights is bequeathed to you and her jointly, if you incline to build on it; and few better sites for a house than Gray’s hill and that range are to be found in this country or elsewhere.

You may also have what is properly Dogue-run farm, the mill, and distillery, on a just and equitable rent; as also the lands belonging thereto, on a reasonable hire, either next year, or the year following—it being necessary in my opinion, that a young man should have objects of employment. Idleness is disreputable under any circumstances; productive of no good, even when unaccompanied by vicious Edition: current; Page: [211] habits; and you might commence building as soon as you please, during the progress of which Mount Vernon might be made your home.

You may conceive that building before you have an absolute title to the land is hazardous. To obviate this, I shall only remark that it is not likely any occurrence will happen, or any change take place, that would alter my present intention (if the conduct of yourself and wife is such as to merit a continuance of it); but be this as it may, that you may proceed on sure ground with respect to the buildings, I will agree—and this letter shall be an evidence of it—that if hereafter I should find cause to make any other disposition of the property here mentioned, I will pay the actual cost of such buildings to you or yours.

Although I have not the most distant idea that any event will happen that could effect a change in my present determination, nor any suspicions that you or Nelly could conduct yourselves in such a manner as to incur my serious displeasure, yet, at the same time that I am inclined to do justice to others it behooves me to take care of myself, by keeping the staff in my own hands.

That you may have a more perfect idea of the landed property I have bequeathed to you and Nelly in my will, I transmit a plan of it, every part of which is correctly laid down and accurately measured, showing the number of fields, lots, meadows, &c., with the contents and relative situation of each; all of which except the mill and swamp, which has never Edition: current; Page: [212] been considered as a part of Dogue-run farm, and is retained merely for the purpose of putting it into a better state of improvement, you may have on the terms before-mentioned.

With every kind wish for you and Nelly, in which your aunt, who is still much indisposed, unites, I remain your affectionate uncle.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 September, 1799
Mount Vernon
Burges Ball
Ball, Burges


Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 16th inst. has been received, informing me of the death of my brother.1

The death of near relations always produces awful and affecting emotions, under whatsoever circumstances it may happen. That of my brother has been so long expected, and his latter days so uncomfortable to himself [that they] must have prepared all around him for the stroke though painful in the effect.

I was the first, and am, now, the last of my father’s children by the second marriage who remain.

When I shall be called upon to follow them, is known only to the Giver of Life. When the summons comes I shall endeavor to obey it with a good grace.

Mrs. Washington has been and still is very much indisposed, but unites with me in best wishes for you, Mrs. Ball, and family.

With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [213]
George Washington
Washington, George
26 October, 1799
Mount Vernon
William Vans Murray
Murray, William Vans


Dear Sir,

Within the space of a few days I have been favored with your letters of the 26th of July, and duplicate of one of the 7th of April (the original is missing), and of those dated the 9th and 17th of August with their enclosures. For the information in these, and for your kindness in sending me a sketch of the Water-throwing mill, I feel much obliged, and thank you for the trouble you have been at in making the drawing of it; being persuaded of its utility, although, advanced as I am, and engaged in other pursuits, I shall not be able to avail of the insight it conveys. Others, however, may, and I shall take care to make it known on all proper occasions.

The affairs of Europe have taken a most important and interesting turn. What will be the final result of the uninterrupted successes of the combined army, so far as the accounts which have been received in this country are brought down, is not for a man at the distance of 3,000 miles from the great theatre of action to predict; but he may wish, and ardently wish from principles of humanity, and for the benevolent purpose of putting a stop to the further effusion of human blood, that the successful Powers may know at what Point to give cessation to the Sword for the purpose of negotiation. It is not uncommon, however, in prosperous gales, to forget that adverse winds may blow. Such was the case with France. Such Edition: current; Page: [214] may be the case of the Coalesced Powers against her. A by-stander sees more of the game generally, than those who are playing it. So Neutral Nations may be better enabled to draw a line between the Contending Parties, than those who are actors in the war. My own wish is, to see every thing settled upon the best and surest foundation for the Peace and happiness of mankind, without regard to this, that, or the other Nation. A more destructive sword never was drawn, (at least in modern times,) than this war has produced. It is time to sheathe it, and give Peace to mankind.

A severe Electioneering contest has just closed in the State of Pennsylvania adverse to the Federal Party by from majority in favour of Chief Inspector agt. Mr. Ross Senator for the State much pains was taken both sides and considerable abuse of character which neither was exempt from1

You are going to be employed in an important and delicate negotiation, for the success, of which in all its relations no one more ardently and sincerely wishes than I do. Your colleagues in this business will be able to give you such accurate details of the internal concerns of our country, as not only to render any attempts of mine to do it nugatory, but injudicious; for which reason I shall refer you to them for the state of our Political prospects.

I most devoutly wish, that the cogent, indeed unanswerable arguments you urged to dissuade our Edition: current; Page: [215] friend from visiting the United States in the present crisis of our affairs, may have prevailed.1 The measure would be injudicious in every point of view (so says my judgment) in which he can be placed; Embarrassing to himself, Embarrassing to his friends, and possibly embarrassing to the government in the result. His final decision, however, must have been made ere this. I shall add no more on this head, nor indeed, for the reasons already assigned, on any other subject. Mrs. Washington who has been much indisposed for some time past (now better) unites her best wishes with mine for Mrs. Murray and yourself. With sincere and affectionate regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
17th Novr., 1799
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James


My dear Sir,

Your confidential and interesting letter of the 10th instant came duly and safely to hand; with the contents of which I have been stricken dumb; and I believe it is better that I should remain mute than express any sentiment on the important matters, which are related therein.

I have, for some time past, viewed the political concerns of the United States with an anxious and Edition: current; Page: [216] painful eye. They appear to me to be moving by hasty strides to some awful crisis; but in what it will result, that Being, who sees, foresees, and directs all things, alone can tell. The Vessel is afloat, or very nearly so, and considering myself as a Passenger only, I shall trust to the Mariners, whose duty it is to watch, to steer it into a safe Port.1

The charge of British influence, in the appointment of Major Pinckney to be Minister at the Court of London, is a perfect enigma. My curiosity leads me to inquire on what ground it is built, and you Edition: current; Page: [217] would oblige me by giving an explanation. Was it the measure or the man that gave rise to this insinuation? The first it cannot be, because an exchange of Ministers had long been invited, sought after, and the tardiness of G Britain, in not meeting the advances of the U. States in this respect, was considered & complained of as an indignity. Could it be the man? Could he, who had fought against that Country, and bled in defence of his own in the conflict, a man of acknowledged abilities & irreproachable character, be suspected of undue influence? If neither, I ask again on what is the accusation founded? The whole is a mystery to me. And merely to satisfy my curiosity, I wish to have it unriddled; & not, from the present view which I have of the subject, because I shall think myself bound to answer any interrogatories, which may be dictated by insiduous impertinence.1 With the greatest esteem and regard I remain My dear Sir Your sincere friend and affectionate Hble. Servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
10th December, 1799
Mount Vernon
James Anderson
Anderson, James


Mr. Anderson,

From the various plans suggested by you, at different times, for cropping the Farms which I propose to retain in my own hands—in the year 1800,—and with a reduced force of the laborers on them in Edition: current; Page: [218] succeeding years, together with the operations necessary to carry them into effect;—and comparing these with the best reflections I am able to bestow on the subject: considering moreover, the exhausted state of my arable fields, and how important it is to adopt some system by which the evil may be arrested, and the fields in some measure restored, by a rotation of crops which will not press hard upon, while sufficient interval between them, is allowed for improvement;—I have digested the following instructions for my Manager (while it is necessary for me to employ one) and for the government of my Overseers; and request that they may be most strictly and pointedly attended to and executed; as far however as the measures therein required, will admit.

A system closely pursued (altho’ it may not in all its parts be the best that could be devised) is attended with innumerable advantages.—The conductor of the bu[si]ness in this case can never be under any dilemma in his proceedings;—The Overseers, & even the negroes, know, what is to be done, and what they are capable of doing, in ordinary seasons; in short every thing would move like clock work; and the force to be employed, may be in due proportion to the work which is to be performed; & a reasonable and tolerably accurate estimate may be made of the produce.—But when no plan is fixed,—when directions flow from day to day,—the business becomes a mere chaos; frequently shifting,—and sometimes at a stand—for want of directions what to do,—or the manner of doing it—These occasion a Edition: current; Page: [219] waste of time, which is of more importance than is generally imagined.

Nothing can so effectually obviate the evil, as an established, & regular course of proceeding; made known to all who are actors in it; that all may, thereby, be enabled to play their parts, to advantage.

This would give ease to the principal conductor of the business;—It would be more satisfactory to the persons who immediately overlook it;—and would be less harrassing to those who labour,—as well as more beneficial for those who employ them.—

Under this view of the subject, & of the change which is about to take place next year, by having rented one of the Farms,—the Mill,—and Distillery,—and having it in contemplation to do the same with the Fishery at the Ferry, the principal services which you can render me (after these events take place) is to explain to the Overseers (who will be furnished with duplicates), the plan, in all its parts, which is detailed in the following sheets;—hear their ideas with respect to the order in which the different sorts of work therein pointed out, shall succeed each other, for the purpose of carrying it into ye best advantage,—correct any erroneous projects they may be disposed to adopt for the execution thereof; and then see that, they adhere strictly to whatsoever may be resolved on—and that they are (except when otherwise permitted) on their respective Farms, & with their People.

The work under such circumstances will go on smoothly;—and that the stock may be well fed,—littered,—and Edition: current; Page: [220] taken care of according to the directions which are given; it will be necessary to Inspect the conduct of the Overseers in this particular, and those also whose immediate business it is to attend upon them,—with a watchful eye;—otherwise, and generally in severe weather, when attention & care is most needed, they will be most neglected.—

Economy in all things is as commendable in the Manager as it is beneficial and desirable by the Employer.—And on a Farm, it shews itself in nothing more evidently or more essentially, than in not suffering the provender to be wasted, but on the contrary, that every atom of it be used to the best advantage;—and likewise in not suffering the Ploughs, Harrows and other implements of husbandry thereon, and the Gears belonging to them, to be unnecessarily exposed; trodden under foot, Carts running over them and abused in other respects.

More good is derived from looking into the Minutiæ on a Farm than strikes people at first view; and by examining the Farm yards, fences, & looking into fields—to see that nothing is within, but what are allowed to be there, produces more good,—or at least avoids more evil, oftentimes, than riding from one working party, or from one Overseer to another, generally accomplishes.—

I have mentioned these things not only because they have occurred to me, and tho’ apparently trifles, but because they prove far otherwise in the result.

And It is hoped, and will be expected, that more effectual measures will be pursued to make butter Edition: current; Page: [221] another year; for it is almost beyond belief, that from 101 cows actually reported on a late enumeration of the cattle, that I am obliged to buy butter for the use of my family.

To visit my Lands in the Western Country (at my expence) so soon as the weather becomes temperate and settled in the Spring—Reporting the circumstances under which they are—and what they are capable of—will be expected, It being of importance for me to receive a just, & faithful acct. respecting them.

After perusing the accompanying plans carefully, furnish me with your opinion on the two following points.—1st. What quantity of Seeds, & of what kinds, I shall have occasion to buy and against what periods, for seeding the Grounds in the year 1800 in the manner therein directed:—and 2d. whether any & what number of hands can be withdrawn from the three Farms I retain in that year; In considering this last mentioned point hear the opinions of the Overseer.

The Accts. for the present quarter must be made final;—as an entire new scene will take place afterwards;—In doing this, advertise (in the Alexa. Paper) for the claims, of every kind and nature whatsoever against me to be brot. in to you by ye 1st of Jan; that I may wipe them off, & begin on a fresh score;—All balances in my favr. must either be recd., or reduced to specialties, that there may be no disputes thereafter.

I am yr. sincere friend—well wisher—and Servant.
Edition: current; Page: [222]



Field No 1 Is now partly in Wheat Part thereof is to be sown with Oats another part may be sown with Pease, broad cast.—Part is in meadow, and will remain so; the most broken, washed, and indifferent part is to remain uncultivated, but to be harrowed and smoothed in the Spring, and the worst parts thereof (if practicable,) to be covered with litter, straw, weeds, or any kind of vegetable Rubbish, to prevent them from running into gullies.

No 2 One fourth is to be in Corn, and to be sown with wheat; another fourth in Buckwheat and Pease, half of it in the one, and half of it in the other, sown in April, to be ploughed in as a green dressing, and by actual experiment to ascertain which is best. The whole of this fourth is to be sown with Wheat also; another fourth part is to be naked fallow for wheat; and the other and last quarter to be appropriated for Pumpkins, Cymlins, Turnips, Yateman Pease, (in hills,) and such other things of this kind as may be required; and to be sown likewise with Rye, after they are taken off, for seed.

No 3 Is now in wheat, to be harvested in the year 1800; the stubble of which, immediately after Harvest, is to be ploughed in and sown thin with Rye; and such parts thereof as are low, or produces a luxuriant growth of grain, is to have grass-seeds sprinkled over them. The whole for sheep to run on in the day (but housed at night) during the winter and Spring months. If it should be found expedient, part thereof in the spring might be reserved for the purpose of seed.

No 4 Will be in Corn, and is to be sown in the autumn of that year with wheat, to be harvested in 1801—and to be treated in all respects as has been directed for No 3 the preceding year. It is to be manured as much as the means will permit, with such aids as can be procured during the present Winter and ensuing Spring.

Nos 5 6 7 and 8 Are to remain as they are, but nothing suffered to run upon them; as ground will be allotted for the sole purpose of Pasturage, and invariably used as such.

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No 1, Counting from the Spring Branch is to be planted in potatoes.

No 2, That part thereof which is now in Turnips is to be sown with oats and clover; the other part, being now in clover, is to remain so until it comes into potatoes by rotation.

No 3 Is also in clover at present, and is to remain so, as just mentioned, for No. 2.

No 4 Is partly in clover and partly in timothy, and so to be until its turn for potatoes.


Invariably is to be, 1st. Potatoes, highly manured; 2d. Oats, and clover sown therewith; 3d. Clover; 4th. Clover. Then to begin again with Potatoes, and proceed as before. The present clover lots must be plastered.

All green sward, rough ground, or that wch. is heavily covered with weeds, bottle-brush grass, and such things as by being turned in will ferment, putrefy, and ameliorate the soil, should be ploughed in autumn and at such times in winter as it can be done while the ground is dry, and in condition for it.


The large lot adjoining the negro houses and orchd. is to have oats sown on the potato and pumpkin ground; with which, and on the rye also in that lot, and on the melon part, orchard grass-seeds are to be sown; and thereafter to be kept as a standing calf pasture, and for ewes (which may require extra care) at yeaning, or after they have yeaned.

The other large lot, northeast of the Barn lane, is to be appropriated always as a pasture for the milch cows, and probably working oxen during the summer season.

The Woodland, and the old field commonly called Johnston’s, are designed for common pasture, and to be so applied always. To which, if it should be found inadequate to the stock of the farm, field No. 8, and the woodland therein, may be added.

Edition: current; Page: [224]


Those already established and in train must continue, and the next to be added to them is the arm of the creek, which runs up to the spring-house, and forks, both prongs of which must be grubbed, and wrought upon at every convenient moment when the weather will permit, down to the line of the Ditch, which encloses the lots for clover, &c.

And, as the fields come into cultivation, or as labour can be spared from other work, and circumstances will permit, the heads of all the inlets in them must be reclaimed, and laid to grass, whether they be large or small. Forasmuch as nothing will run on, or can trespass upon, or injure the grass, no fencing being reqd.


The season is now too far advanced, and too cold, to be engaged in a work, that will expose the hands to wet; but it is of such essential importance, that it should be set about seriously and with spirit next year, for the summer’s sun and winter’s frost to prepare it for the corn and other crops of 1801. That all the hands of the farm, not indispensably engaged in the crops, should, so soon as corn-planting is completed in the spring, be uninterruptedly employed in raising mud from the pocosons and from the bed of the creek, into the scow; and the carts, so soon as the manure for the corn and potatoes in 1800 is carried out, is to be incessantly drawing it to compost heaps in the fields which are to be manured by it. What number of hands can be set apart for this all-important work, remains to be considered and decided upon.


On the fields intended for wheat, from the first of May, when the former should be turned out to pasture, until the first of November, when they ought to be housed, must be practised invariably; and to do it with regularity and propriety, the pen for the first, and the fold for the latter, should be proportioned to the number of each kind of stock; and both these to as much ground as they will manure sufficiently in the space of a week for wheat, beyond which they are not to remain in a place, except on the poorest spots; and even these had better be aided by litter or something Edition: current; Page: [225] else, than to depart from an established rule, of removing the pens on a certain day in every week. For in this, as in every thing else, system is essential to carry on business well, and with ease.


The work-horses and mules are always to be in their stalls, and well littered and cleaned, when they are out of harness; and they are to be plenteously fed with cut straw, and as much chopped Grain, meal, or Bran, with a little salt mixed therewith, as will keep them always in good condition for work; seeing also, that they are watered as regularly as they are fed; this is their winter feed. For spring, summer, and autumn, it is expected, that soiling of them on green food, first with Rye, then with lucerne, and next with clover, with very little grain, will enable them to perform their work.

The oxen, and other horned cattle, are to be housed from the first of November until the first of May; and to be fed as well as the means on the farm will admit. The first (oxen) must always be kept in good condition, housed in the Stalls designed for them; and the cows (so many of them as can find places), on the opposite side. The rest, with the other cattle, must be in the newly-erected sheds; and the whole carefully watered every day; the ice, in frozen weather, being broken, so as to admit them to clean water.

With respect to the sheep, they must receive the best protection that can be given them this winter; against the next, I hope they will be better provided for.

And with regard to the hogs, the plan must be, to raise a given number of good ones, instead of an indiscriminate number of indifferent ones, half of which die or are stolen before the period arrives for putting them up as porkers. To accomplish this, a sufficient number of the best sows should be appropriate to the purpose; and so many pigs raised from them as will insure the quantity of pork, the farm ought to furnish.

Whether it will be most advisable to restrain these hogs from running at large or not, can be decided with more precision after the result of those now in close pens is better known.

The exact quantity of corn used by those, which are now in pens, should be ascertained and regularly reported, in order to learn the result.

Edition: current; Page: [226]


These ought to be kept well littered, and the stalls clean; as well for the comfort of the creatures that are contained in them, as for the purpose of manure; but, as straw cannot be afforded for this purpose, leaves and such spoiled straw or weeds as will not do for food, must serve for the stables; and the first, that is leaves, and Cornstalks is all that can be applied to the pens. To do this work effectually, let the cornstalks be cut down by a few careful people with sharp hoes, so low as never to be in the way of scythes at harvest; and, whenever the wheat will admit carts to run on it without injury, let them be brought off and stacked near the farm pens. In like manner, let the people, with their blankets, go every evening, or as often as occasion may require, to the nearest wood, and fill them with leaves for the purposes above mentioned; bottoming the beds with cornstalks, and covering them thick with leaves. A measure of this sort will be, if strictly attended to, and punctually performed, of great utility in every point of view. It will save food, make the cattle lay warm and comfortable, and produce much manure. The hogs also in pens must be well bedded in leaves.


As stock of no kind, according to this plan, will be suffered to run on the arable field or clover lots, (except sheep in the day on the Rye field, as has been mentioned before,) partition fences between the fields, until they can be raised of quicks, may be dispen’d with. But it is of great importance, that all the exterior or outer fences should be substantially good; and those also, wch. divide the common or woodland pasture from the fields and clover Lots, are to be very respectable.

To accomplish this desirable object in as short a time as possible, and with the smallest expense of timber, the post-and-rail fence which runs from the negro quarters, or rather from the corner of the lot enclosing them, up to the division between fields Nos. 7 and 8, may be placed on the bank (which must be raised higher) that runs from thence (where it was burnt) to the Creek. In like manner, the fence from the gate, which opens into No. 2, quite down to the River, along the Cedar Hedge-row, as also Edition: current; Page: [227] those rails which are between No. 1 and 2, and between No. 2 and 3, may all be taken away, and applied to the outer fences, and the fences of the lanes from the Barn into the Woodland Pasture, and from the former (the barn) into No. 5; for the fences of all these lanes must be good, as the stock must have a free and uninterrupted passage along them at all times, from the barn-yard to the woodland pasture.

One of the gates near the Fodder house may be moved up to the range of the lane, by the gate, near that which leads into field No. 2; and the other may be placed at the other end of the lane, by the negroe quarters:—and so long as Mr. Mason’s old field remains uninclosed the other gate in the Field No. 8 wd. stand better in the Fence which runs from the division between fields No. 7 and 8 to the creek than where it now is.

All the feng. from the last-mentioned place, (between me and Mr. Mason,) until it joins Mr. Lear’s Farm, and thence with the line between him and me, until it comes to the river, will require to be substantially good; at its termination on the river, dependence must be placed in a water fence; for if made of common Rails, they would be carried off by boatmen for firewood. The fences separating fields No 1 and No 8 from the woodland pasture must also be made good, to prevent depredations on the fields by my own stock.

CROPS, &C. FOR 1801.

No 5 is to be in Corn, and to be invariably in that article. It is to be planted (if drills are thought to be ineligible until the ground is much improved) in Rows 6 feet by 4, or 7 feet by 3½, the wide part open to the south. These fields are to be manured as highly as the means will admit; and the corn planted every year in the middle of the rows of the preceding year; by doing which, and mixing the manure and Earth by the plough and other workings, the whole in time will be enriched.

The washed and gullied parts of this field should be levelled, and as much improved as possible, or left uncultivated. Although it is more broken than some of the other fields, it has its advantages. 1st, It has several Inlets extending into it, with easy assents therefrom; 2d, it is convenient to the mud in the bed of the Edition: current; Page: [228] creek, whensoever (by means of the scow) resort is had thereto, and good landing-places; and, thirdly, it is as near to the Barn as any other, when a bridge and causeway is made over the Spring Branch. To these may be added, that it is more remote from Squirrels than any other.

No. 6 and 7, or such part thereof as is not so much washed and gullied, as to render ploughing ineligible, are to be fallowed for wheat. One of which, if both cannot, is to have the stubble ploughed in and sown with rye, and the low and strong parts to have timothy or orchard grass seeds, perhaps both, in different places, sprinkled over them, for the purpose of raising seed. On the rye pasture the sheep are to be fed in winter and spring, and treated in all respects as directed in the case of No. 3 in 1800.

IN THE YEARS 1802, 1803, AND SO ON.

The corn ground remaining the same, two fields, in following numbers, will be fallowed for wheat, and treated in all respects as mentioned above; and if Pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, pease, and such like growths, are found beneficial to the land, or useful and profitable for stock, ground may readily be found for them.

These are the great outlines of a Plan, and the operations of it, for the next year, and for years to come for River Farm. The necessary arrangements and all the preparatory measures for carrying it into effect ought to be adopted without delay, and invariably pursued. Smaller matters may, and undoubtedly will, occur occasionally; but none, it is presumed, that can militate against it materially. To carry it into effect advantageously, it becomes the indispensable duty of him, who is employed to overlook and conduct the operations, to take a prospective and comprehensive view of the whole business, which is laid before him, that the several parts thereof may be so ordered and arranged, as that one sort of work may follow another sort in proper succession, and without loss of labour or of time; for nothing is a greater waste of the latter, and consequently of the former, (time producing labour, and labour money,) than shifting from one thing to another before it is finished, as if chance or the impulse of the moment, not judgmt. and foresight, directed the measure. It will be acknowledged, that weather and other circumstances Edition: current; Page: [229] may at times interrupt a regular course of proceedings; but, if a plan is well digested beforehand, they cannot interfere long, with a man who is acquainted with the nature of the business, and the crops he is to attend to.

Every attentive and discerning person, who has the whole business of the year laid before him, and is acquainted with the nature of the work, can be at no loss to lay it out to advantage. He will know that there are many things wch. can be accomplished in winter as well as in summer—Others, that Spring, Summer and Autumn are fit for. In a word, to use the wise man’s saying “That there is a time and a season for all things, and that unless they are embraced, nothing will thrive; or go on smoothly. There are many sorts of in-doors work, which can be executed in Hail, Rain, or Snow, as well as in sunshine; and if they are set about in fair weather (unless there be a necessity for it), there will be nothing to do in foul weather; the people therefore must be idle. The man of prudence and foresight will always keep these things in view, and order his work accordingly, so as to suffer no waste of time, or idleness. The same observations apply with equal force to frozen ground, and grounds too wet to work in, or if worked, will be injured thereby.

These observations might be spun to a greater length, but they are sufficient to produce reflection; and reflection, with Industry and proper attention, will produce the end that is to be wished.

There is one thing, however, I cannot forbear to add, and in strong terms; it is, that whenever I order a thing to be done, it must be done, or a reason given at the time, or as soon as the impracticability is discovered, why it cannot be done, which will produce a countermand or change. But it is not for the person receiving the order to suspend, or dispense with, its execution; and, after it has been supposed to have gone into effect, for me to be told, that nothing has been done in it, that it will be done, or that it could not be done; either of these is unpleasant and disagreeable to me, having been accustomed all my life to more regularity and punctuality. And know that nothing but system and method is required to accomplish all reasonable requests.

Mount Vernon, December 10th, 1799.

Edition: current; Page: [230]



Field No 1 Is now sown with wheat, to be harvested in 1800.—the stubble of which is to be immediately ploughed in, and rye sowed thereon for a sheep pasture. Grass-seeds must be sown therewith, on such parts as will yield grass for seed, to supply my own wants, and the market, so far as it can be spared. This field, after the rye has been eaten off by the sheep, is to be reined from stock of all kinds, and nothing suffered to run thereon, until it comes, in course, to be cultivated, in the regular routine of crops.

No 2 Will be in corn, and, although but an indifferent field, washed in some places, gullied in others, and rich in none, is, all things considered, best to be appropriated constantly for this crop. 1st, and primarily, because it is most contiguous to the barn, and the corn therein more easily secured and attended to. 2ndly, because it is as handy to the mud from the pocoson and the bed of the creek as any other, to mix in a compost, and more convenient to the manure from the farm-yard and stables. 3dly, because it is entirely out of the reach of squirrels. And, 4thly, because it is hoped and expected, from the manner of treating it, that it will be so much amended as to become more and more productive every year, and the impoverished places, if not restored to some degree of fertility, prevented from getting worse, and becoming such eye-sores as they now are.

The corn will be planted in rows, 6 feet by 4, or 7 by 3½; the wide part open to the south. And must be as highly manured in the hill as the means on the farm (respect being had to other species of crops) will admit. The rows of the succeeding year will be in the middle of the last, and alternately shifted; by which, and the workings the field will yearly receive, the whole will be enriched, and, it is hoped, restored.

No 3 As No 2 is to be appropriated as a standing field for corn, and of course cannot be sown with wheat in the autumn of 1800, this field, that is, No 3, ought, if it be practicable, to be fallowed, and sown with that article; otherwise the farm will produce no wheat the following year, and the stock must suffer for Edition: current; Page: [231] want of the straw; and is to be treated in every respect as has been directed for No 1, that is, the stubble to be ploughed in immediately after harvest, and rye sowed thereon, with grass-seeds where the soil is strong enough to rear them, for the purpose of producing seed again.

No 4 The part thereof which lyes No. Et. of the meadow, (commonly called Manley’s Field,) is to remain well enclosed, and no stock suffered to run thereon until it comes in rotation to be fallowed for wheat in 1801. The other part of the same No 4 is to be equally well enclosed, and reined up from stock; and, except the part along Muddy-Hole Branch (that is to be added to No. 5, in order to supply the deficiency occasioned by taking clover lot No. 2 from it), is to be planted with Peach trees, at 16½ asunder, except so much of it as lays flat, by the gate on the Mill road, which, if properly prepared, it is supposed would bring grass, and on that account is to be planted at double that distance, viz., at 33 feet apart. What is here meant by enclosing this part of No. 4 well, is, that the outer fence shall be secure, for it will remain as now undivided from No. 3, otherwise than by the Branch.

No 5 Is also to be kept from stock; and, when it comes in course to be fallowed for wheat, is to have the addition above mentioned, (along the Branch,) added thereto, and sown in this article.

No 6 Will receive such an addition to its size from No. 7, as will make it, exclusive of the lot for clover, lucerne, &c., of equal size thereto. Part of this field is now sown with, and will be in wheat in 1800. Part will be in oats, particularly where the pease grew; and all that part of it, and No. 7 also, which lyes low, from the meadow fence by the overseer’s house, quite up to the head springs of the Branch, (reclaimed in the spring,) is to be planted with rare-ripe corn; and in the fall to be treated in every respect as the great meadow at this Farm (but at an earlier period) has been this year. For, although I am not sanguine enough to expect, that it will make good mowing meadow, I shall be much disappointed if it does not produce grass, yielding a good deal of seed, which, until the fields come into cultivation, in regular rotation, and afterwards, if it answer expectation, will be an annual Edition: current; Page: [232] profit without any other labour than gathering of it. The other part of No. 6, which will be taken from No. 7, laying south of this low ground between it and No. 1, might, if it does not involve too much ploughing, be put in corn also; but this is a measure, which will require consideration, and probably must depend upon circumstances. The poor and washed parts of No. 6 must remain uncultivated; but ought, [if] it be practicable, to be levelled, Harrowed, and trash of some kind to be thrown thereon, as will keep them from growing worse.

No. 7 Some part of this field may be sown with Buckwheat, in no great quantity, and a part may be planted with the Yateman pease, in hills, both for a crop; some of the other kind of pease may be sown broad-cast, and mowed at a proper season for the stock. The rest of the ground, by laying uncultivated, and nothing running thereon, will be increasing in strength while idle.


No 1 Next the overseer’s house, same side of the lane, (excepting the ground now in and designed for lucerne, south of the slash by the Barn, and two acres where the turnips grew, or at the other end for experiments) is to be in oats, and to be sown with clover seed.

No 2 Opposite thereto, and at present part of No. 5, is to be well manured and planted with potatoes; whether in Hills, or Drills, may be considered.

No 3 May receive pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, and melons, there being no sown grass remaining on it; and the manure for, and shade occasioned by, these vines, together with the working the lot will get, will be of service instead of a detriment to the potato crop wch. will follow.

No 4 Is to remain in clover, until, by rotation, it comes into potatoes again.


Are uniformly to be, 1st. Potatoes, highly manured; 2d. Oats, and Clover sown therewith; 3d. clover; 4th. Clover. Then to begin again with Potatoes, and proceed as before.

Edition: current; Page: [233]

The present clover lots must be plastered.

All green sward, rough ground, or that which is heavily covered with weeds, bottle-brush grass, and such things as by being turned in will ferment, putrefy, and ameliorate the soil, should be ploughed in autumn, and at such time in winter as can be done while the ground is dry and in condition for working.


As stock of all sorts, except sheep upon the rye, are to be excluded from the arable fields and clover lots, resort must be had to the woodland and unreclaimed swamps therein for Pasture for them; (the Lane up to the Barn will serve for calves) and this will be provided by a fence extending from the So. west corner of Muddy-Hole field (No. 2,) to the So. Et. corner of Dogue-run field (No. 4,) leaving all South of it for this Farm; as the north part will be for Muddy-Hole Farm; and, as it will be for the mutual benefit of both Farms, the fence must be erected at the joint expense of both.


The one just mentioned must be completed in the course of the winter; and every possible exertion to strengthen, and render substantially good, the whole of the exterior or outer fence of the Farm. To do which, and to avoid all unnecessary consumption of timber, the partition fence between the fields No. 6 and No. 7, as it now stands, quite up to the woods, and thence to the fence leading from the Ferry to the Mill road (from the Mansion-House,) may be taken away and applied to that fence, and to the trunnel-fence on the Mill road, where they unite, until it comes to the meadow fence at the bridge; leaving the fields No. 6 and No. 7, and the woodland adjoining, under one enclosure. In like manner, the fences dividing No 1 from 2, and No. 2 from 3, may be used for a fence around the creek, until it unites with that opposite to the Mill house; without which neither of those fields will be secure, as hogs have been taught, or of themselves have learnt, to cross the creek in pursuit of food; and for strengthening effectually the fence from the plank bridge by the Barn lane to the Branch opposite to the Mill house, new rails must Edition: current; Page: [234] be got in the nearest wood between the Mill road and the road leading to the Gum Spring.

The West Fence of No. 5 must, next year, or as soon as it can be accomplished, be removed across the Branch, and placed in a line with the new ditch fence of the lower meadow, until it comes in range with the south line of the said field; and, until a fence is run from the end thereof to the nearest part of the outer fence opposite to the Mill, and a second gate established thereat, or that that intercourse between the Barn and the Mill is effectually barred, (which would be the cheapest and by odds the most convenient mode,) there would be no security for any Crop growing in fields Nos. 1, 2, and 3, as the leaving the gate by the Mill run open only five minutes might deluge the whole with the hogs at that place; and they might be in there a night or two, perhaps more, before they were discovered, and do irreparable damage. Indeed, the latter mode has so much the advantage of the former, especially as my intercourse with the Mill will in a great measure cease, that I see no cause to hestitate a moment in adopting it; and, to prevent opening the fence where the gate now is, a deep ditch and high bank would be necessary, from a distance below to the foot of the hill above, (if not quite up to the meadow). One among other advantages resulting from this measure would be, that the west and even south fence of No. 5 might, if occasion required it, be applied, instead of new rails, in making the fence from the meadow towards the Mill, and around the creek, more substantial; for it must be repeated again, that, as there will be few or no inner fences, the outer ones must be unassailable to the most vicious stock.

The fences that are already around the meadows may remain, but there is no occasion for their being formidable. To guard them against hogs, if any should by chance get through the outer fence, is all that would be necessary.


The large meadow below the Barn lane, and half of that above the lane, have had every thing done for them that is requisite, except manuring when necessary and the means are to be had. The remaining part of the last-mentioned meadow above must Edition: current; Page: [235] receive a complete summer fallow, to cleanse it of rubbish of all sorts, and be sown in proper season with timothy, with a protecting crop of rye for soiling the working mules, etc., in the spring.

Although I may find myself mistaken, I am inclined to put the other prong of this swamp, running through No. 6 and heading in No. 7, into meadow; and I have for this reason directed already the mode to be pursued for accomplishing it. Next to this, let as much of the inlet in No. 2 as can be laid dry enough for corn, be planted therewith, in order to eradicate the wild growth. When this is effected, lay it to grass. As the fields come round, the unreclaimed Inlets may be prepared for Grass, if circumstances and the force of the Farm will admit of it. Of these there is one, besides a swamp in No. 3, which is susceptible of being converted into good grass ground; and the flat and low ground (in West) No. 4, it is presumed, wd. bring grass also. Whether the part proposed to be added to field No. 5 had better be retained for arable uses, or laid to meadow, can be determined better after it is cleared, and cleansed of the wild growth, than now. But the Inlets at the Ferry, between the dwelling, and Fish houses, might, by a small change of the fence from the gate of No. 1, be thrown into that field and brought into excellent meadow at very little expense, whensoever time and labor can be afforded for this purpose. To dwell on the advantages of meadow would be a mere waste of time, as the produce is always in demand in the market and for my purposes, and obtained at no other expense, than that of cutting the grass and making it into hay.

CROPS, &C. FOR 1801.

No 2 Being the field appropriated for Corn, will be planted with this article accordingly, as already directed for 1800. The poor and washed parts continuing to receive all the aids that can be given to them.

No 3 Supposing it to have been fallowed and sown the year before, will this year produce a crop of wheat, the stubble of which, immediately after harvest, is to be turned in, sown with rye for the benefit of sheep in the day, during winter and spring, but to be housed at night. All the low and rich spots, capable of producing grass, must be sown with Timothy or orchard-grass seeds, Edition: current; Page: [236] for the purpose of supplying seeds again; and a part of the field may be reserved for a rye crop, or the sheep taken off early enough for the whole to yield enough of this grain to pay for the harvesting of it.

No 4 and 5 That part of No. 4, which lays next to the Mill, is, as has been directed already, to be planted with peach trees; the other part, called Manley’s Field, with all that can be added to it, not exceeding 40 acres, of woodland adjoining No. 6, and the upper meadow below the plank bridge, is to be fallowed for wheat, as No. 5 also is to be, with the addition at the west end taken from No. 4; and both of them, if it can be accomplished, but one certainly, must have the stubble, when the wheat comes off, sowed with Rye (for the sheep), and with grass-seeds upon low and Rich places, for the purpose of raising seed, and to be treated in all other respects as has been directed for number 3.

The reason for preferring an addition to No. 4 from the woods East of the meadow, (although the land is of inferior quality), is, because it requires no additional fencing, for the same fence that encloses Nos. 6 and 7 encompasses this also; because it will be more convenient for supplying the Mansion with fire-wood; and because it will give a better form and appearance to the Farm, than breaking into the woodland on the north side of the Mill Road.

CROPS FOR 1802, 1803, AND SO ON.

The Corn ground remaining the same always, two fields, in following numbers, will every year be fallowed for wheat, and treated in all respects as hath been mentioned before. And, if pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, and such like growths are found beneficial to the land, or useful and profitable for stock, places enough may be found to raise them in.

All unnecessary wood is to be cut down, and removed from the fields, as they are cultivated in Rotation.

mud and rich earth for compost,

penning cattle and folding sheep,

feeding, stables and farm pens,

are all to be managed precisely as is directed for River Farm.

Edition: current; Page: [237]


Rotation No. 1.
No. of the Fields. 1793. 1794. 1795. 1796. 1797. 1798. 1799.
3 Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover or Crass. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass.
4 Clover or Grass. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass.
5 Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover or Grass.
6 Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Corn or Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat.
7 Wheat. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Corn or Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure.
1 Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat.
2 Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Clover or Grass. Corn and Potatoes.
Number of ploughings, the times at which they must be given, and the days it will take.
Acres. Fall. Wint. Mar. Aprl. May. June. July. Aug. Sep. Total.
No. 3. 75 Corn and Pots.
Breaking up 100 100
Layg off, & listing 60 60
Crossing for plantg 10 10
Ploughing balks 70 70
Crossing them 70 70
Re-crossing 70 70
Sowing Wheat 75 75
4 } 225 Clovr or Grass
5 }
6 }
1. 75 B. wheat for mane.
Breaking up 100 100
Crossing for sowg 100 100
Ploughing in 100 100
2 75 Wheat. Corn grd
7 75 Wheat. or B wheat, 100 100
525 200 60 110 70 170 70 175 855
Probable Yield.
No. 3. 75 in Corn, a. 12½ bushls 937½ bushls. a. 2/6 £117 3s. 9d.
& Potatoes, 12½ 937½ 1 46 17 6
2, 7. 150 Wheat, 10 1500 5 375
1. 75 B. wht for mane.
4, 5, 6. 225 Clover or Grass.
525 3375 £539 1s. 3d.

Remarks.—The above rotation favors the land very much; inasmuch as there are but three corn crops taken in seven years from any field, and the first wheat crop is followed by a buckwheat manure for the second wheat crop, wch is to succeed it, and which, by being laid to clover or Grass, and continued therein three years, will afford much mowing or Grazing, according as the seasons happen to be, besides being a restorative to the soil. But, then, the produce of the salable crops is small, unless increased by the improving state of the fields. Nor will the Grain for the use of the Farm be adequate to the consumption of it in this course, and this is an essential to attend to—and quere—whether the clover does not remain too long.

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Rotation No. 2. Same place.
No. of the Fields. 1793. 1794. 1795. 1796. 1797. 1798. 1799.
3 Corn and Potatoes. Bwheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover. Wheat. Clover.
4 Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Bwheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover. Wheat.
5 Pasture. Pasture. Corn and Potatoes. Bwheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover.
6 Pasture. Wheat. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Bwheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat.
7 Wheat. Clover. Wheat. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Bwheat. Bwheat for Manure.
1 Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover. Wheat. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Bwheat.
Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. Clover. Wheat. Clover. Corn and Potatoes.
Ploughings, &c., for the above Crops.
Acrs. Fall. Wintr. Mar. Apl. May. June. July. Aug. Sep. Total.
No. 3. 75 in Corn and Potatoes, same as No. 1. } 100 60 10 70 70 70 75 455
4. } 150 Clover
6. }
1. 75 B. wheat Crop
Breaking up 100 100
2d ploughing, 100 100
2. 75 Wheat. Corn grd
7. 75 Wheat. or BW.
Breaking up 100 100
Crossg and sawing 100 100
Ploughing in BW 100 100
Sowing wheat 100 100
75 Buckwht for m, as above, }
525 200 160 110 70 270 70 175 1055
Probable Yield.
Bushls. Bushels.
No. 3. 75 in Corn, 12½ 937½ a. 2s. 6d. £117 3s. 9d.
and Potatoes, 12½ 937½ 1 46 17 6
4. } 225 Clover and Grass.
5. }
6. }
2, 7. 150 Wheat, 10 1500 5/ 375 0 0
75 Suppd in B wheat, 12 900 1/8 75 0 0
525 4275 £614 1s. 3d.

Remarks.—By the above Rotation, 900 bushls of b wheat, amounting to £25 is added to the proceeds of No. 1. at the expense of 200 days’ more ploughing; and no two Corn Crops follow in immediate succession. Wheat, in one instance, follows a Clover lay on a single Ploughing; the success of this, tho well ascertained in England, may not answer so well in this Country, where our lands, from the exhausted state of them, require more manure than the Farm can afford, and our Seasons are very precarious.

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Rotation No. 3. Same place.
No. of the Fields. 1793. 1794. 1795. 1796. 1797. 1798. 1799.
3 Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. B. Wheat. Clover or othr. grass. Clover or othr. grass.
4 Clover or other grasses. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. B. Wheat. Clover or othr. grass
5 Clover or other Grasses. Clover or other Grasses. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. B. Wheat.
6 B. Wheat. Clover or other Grasses. Clover or other Grasses. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure. Wheat.
7 Wheat. B. Wheat. Clover or other Grasses. Clover or other Grasses. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. Bwheat for Manure.
1 Bwheat for Manure. Wheat. B. Wheat. Clover or other Grasses. Clover or other Grasses. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat.
2 Wheat. Buckwheat for Manure. Wheat. B. Wheat. Clover or other Grasses. Clover or other Grasses. Corn and Potatoes.
Ploughings, &c. for the above Crops.
Acrs. Fall. Wint. Mar. Apl. May. June. July. Aug. Septr. Total.
No. 3. 75 Corn as before and P 100 60 10 70 70 70 75 455
4. } 150 Clover or etc
5. }
6. 75 B wheat.
2d Ploughing
1. 75 B. wht mane. 100 100 200
1st Ploughing 100 100 200
2d Ploughing & Sowg.
3— Ploughing Plowg. in
4. Ploughing Sowg. wht.
7. 75 Wheat. sown as above
2. 75 Wheat. with corn 100 100
525 100 60 110 170 170 170 175 955
Probable Yield.
No. 3. 75 as. in Corn, a. 12½ bushls. 937½ bushls. a. 2/ 6d. £117 3s. 9d.
Potatoes, 12½ 937½ 1 46 17 6
4, 5. 150 Clovr. or Grass
6. 75 B. Wheat 12 900 1/8 75 0 0
1. 75 B. Wht. mane.
2. } 150 Wheat 10 1500 5/ 375 0 0
7. }
525 4275 £614 1 3.

Remarks.—The above Rotation in point of produce and profit is precisely the same as No. 2, but differs in the succession of crops. It requires about the same plowings and these plowings are pretty regularly distributed through the Spring and Summer months. The Wheat field which follows the B. Wheat manure might have the stubble turned in immediately after harvest for manure and for Green food (proceeding from the shattered grain) for sheep, Calves, &c—in the Winter and Spring.—

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Rotation No. 4. Same place.
No. of the Fields. 1793 1794. 1795. 1796. 1797. 1798. 1799.
3 Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. B. Wht. Clover. Wheat. B. Wheat. Clover.
4 Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. B. Wht. Clover. Wheat. B. Wheat.
5 B. Wht. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. B. Wht. Clover. Wheat.
6 Clover. B. Wht. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. B. Wht. Clover.
7 Wheat. Clover. B. Wht. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat. B. Wheat.
1 B. Wht. Wheat. Clover. B. Wht. Clover. Corn and Potatoes. Wheat.
2 Wheat. B. Wht. Wheat. Clover. B. Wht. Clover. Corn and Potatoes.
Ploughings, &c. for the above Crops.
Acs. Fall. Wint. Mar. Apl. May. June. July. Aug. Sep. Total.
No. 3. 75 for Corn and Potatoes 100 60 10 70 70 70 75 455
4. } 150 Clover
6. }
5. } 150 B.-Wheat—Breakg. 100 100 200
1. } Sowing 100 100 200
7. } 150 Wheat—one field follows Corn The other—Clover. 1. plowing. 100 100
2. }
100 60 110 170 170 170 175 955
Probable Yield.
Acres. Bushels. Bushels.
No. 3. 75 in Corn, a. 12½ 937½ a. 2s. 6d. £117 3s. 9d.
Same in Potatoes, 12½ 937½ 1 46 17 6
4. } 150 Clover
6. }
5. } 150 B. Wheat 12 1800 1/8 150 0 0
1. }
7. } 150 Wheat 10 1500 5/ 375 0 0
2. }
525 5127 £689 1 3.

Remarks.—This Rotation, for quantity of Grain and the profit arising from it is more productive than either of the preceding, and with no more plowing, excepting No. 1. No field gives more than three Corn crops in 7 years except the Crop of B. Wht.—The last of wch with the Indian Corn will be more than adequate for all the demands of the Farm.—The Cover is to be sown with the B. W in July and by being only one year in the grd. may be too expensive on acct. of the C— nor will the fields in this course receive any great manure.—And the advantages of sowing wheat on a Clover lay in this Country is not well ascertained—Again, preparg. 2 fields for B. Wht. may in practice be found difficult—Wheat Stubble may be placed in here for Green food.

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George Washington
Washington, George
12 December, 1799
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander



I have duly received your letter of the 28th ultimo, enclosing a copy of what you had written to the Secretary of War, on the subject of a Military Academy.

The establishment of an Institution of this kind, upon a respectable and extensive Basis, has ever been considered by me as an object of primary importance to this Country; and while I was in the Chair of Government, I omitted no proper opportunity of recommending it, in my public speeches and other ways, to the attention of the Legislature. But I never undertook to go into a detail of the Organization of such an Academy; leaving this task to others whose pursuits in the paths of Science, and attention to the arrangements of such Institutions, had better qualified them for the execution of it. For the same reason I must now decline making any observations on the details of your plan; and as it has already been submitted to the Secretary of War, through whom it would naturally be laid before Congress, it might be too late for alterations if any should be suggested.

I sincerely hope that the subject will meet with due attention, and that the reasons for its establishment which you have so clearly pointed out in your letter to the Secretary, will prevail upon the Legislature to place it upon a permanent and respectable footing.

With very great esteem & regard, I am, &c.

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7th. Rainy morning, with the wind at north; mercury at 37. Afternoon, clear and pleasant; wind westerly. Mercury 41 at night. Dined at Lord Fairfax’s.

8th. Morning perfectly clear, calm, and pleasant; but about nine o’clock the wind came from the northwest and blew frost. Mercury 38 in the morning, and 40 at night.

9th. Morning clear and pleasant, with a light wind from northwest. Mercury at 33. Pleasant all day; afternoon calm. Mercury 39 at night. Mr. Howell Lewis and wife set off on their return home after breakfast; and Mr. Lawrence Lewis and Washington Custis, on a journey to New Kent.

10th. Morning clear and calm; mercury at 31. Afternoon lowering; mercury at 42, and wind brisk from the southward. A very large hoar-frost this morning.

11th. But little wind, and raining. Mercury 44 in the morning, and 38 at night. About nine o’clock the wind shifted to the northwest, and it ceased raining, but continued cloudy. Lord Fairfax, his son Thomas, and daughters, Mrs. Warner Washington and son Whiting, and Mr. John Herbert, dined here and returned after dinner.

12th. Morning cloudy; wind at northeast; mercury 33. A large circle round the moon last night. About one o’clock it began to snow; soon after, to hail, and then turned to a settled cold rain. Mercury 28 at night.

13th. Morning snowing, and about three inches deep. Wind at northeast, and mercury at 30. Continued snowing till one o’clock, and about four it became perfectly clear. Wind in the same same place, but not hard. Mercury 28 at night.1

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[Mount Vernon, Saturday, December 14th, 1799.

This day being marked by an event, which will be memorable in the history of America, and perhaps of the world, I shall give a particular statement of it, to which I was an eye witness.]

On Thursday Dec. 12 the General rode out to his farms about ten o’clock, and did not return home till past 3 o’clk. Soon after he went out, the weather became very bad, rain hail and snow falling alternately, with a cold wind.—When he came in I carried some letters to him, to frank, intending to send them to the Post Office in the evening.—He franked the letters; but said the weather was too bad to send a servant up to the office that evening.—I observed to him that I was afraid he had got wet, he said no, his great coat had kept him dry; but his neck appeared to be wet, and the snow was hanging on his hair.—He came to dinner [(which had been waiting for him)] without changing his dress. In the Evening he appeared as well as usual.

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A heavy fall of snow took place on Friday, which prevented the General from riding out as usual.—He had taken cold (undoubtedly from being so much exposed the day before) and complained of having a sore throat—[He, however, went out in the afternoon into the ground between the house and the river to mark some trees, which were to be cut down in the improvement of that spot.] he had a hoarseness, which increased in the evening; but he made light of it, as he would never take anything to carry off a cold, always observing, “let it go as it came.”—In the evening the papers having come from the post office, he sat in the room [parlour], with Mrs. Washington and myself, reading them, till about nine o’clock, [when Mrs. Washington went up into Mrs. Lewis’s room, who was confined, and left the General and myself reading the papers. He was very cheerful;] and, when he met with anything which he thought diverting or interesting, he would read it aloud [as well as his hoarseness would permit].—He desired me to read to him the debates of the Virginia Assembly, on the election of a Senator and Governor; which I did.—[and, on hearing Mr. Madison’s observations respecting Mr. Monroe, he appeared much affected, and spoke with some degree of asperity on the subject, which I endeavored to moderate, as I always did on such occasions.] On his retiring to bed, he appeared to be in perfect health, excepting the cold before mentioned, which he considered as trifling, and had been remarkably cheerful all the evening.1

About [Between] 2 or 3 o’clk on Saturday morning he awoke Mrs. Washington & told her he was very unwell, and had had an ague. She observed that he could scarcely speak, and breathed with difficulty—and would have got up to call a servant; but he would not permit her lest she should take cold.—As soon as the day appeared, the woman (Caroline) went into the room to make a fire—[and Mrs. Washington sent her immediately to call me] & he desired that Mr. Rawlins, one of the overseers who was used to bleeding the people, might be sent for to bleed him before the Edition: current; Page: [247] Doctor could arrive—And the woman (Caroline) came to my room requesting I might go to the General, who was very ill.—I got up, put on my clothes as quick as possible, and went to his chamber.—Mrs. Washington was then up, and related to me his being taken ill about 2 or 3 o’clk, as before stated.—I found him breathing with difficulty—and hardly able to utter a word intelligibly.—I went out instantly—and wrote a line to Dr. Craik, which I sent off by my servant, ordering him to go with all the swiftness his horse could carry him,—and immediately returned to the General’s chamber, where I found him in the same situation I had left him. A mixture of Molasses, Vinegar & butter was prepared, to try its effect in the throat; but he could not swallow a drop, whenever he attempted it he appeared to be distressed, convulsed, and almost suffocated.—Mr. Rawlins came in soon after sun rise—and prepared to bleed him. When the Arm was ready—the General, observing that Rawlins appeared to be agitated, said, as well as he could speak, “don’t be afraid,” and after the incision was made, he observed, “the orifice is not large enough.” However, the blood ran pretty freely.—Mrs. Washington, not knowing whether bleeding was proper or not in the General’s situation, beg’d that much might not be taken from him, lest it should be injurious, and desired me to stop it; but when I was about to untie the string, the general put up his hand to prevent it, and as soon as he could speak, he said “more” [more].—Mrs. W. being still [very] uneasy lest too much blood should be taken, it was stop’d after about half a pint was taken from him.—Finding that no relief was obtained from bleeding, and that nothing would go down the throat, I proposed bathing the throat externally with salvolitillata, which was done, and in the operation, which was with the hand, and in the gentlest manner, he observed “’t is very sore.” A piece of flannel [dipped in sal volatile] was then put round his neck. His feet were also soaked [bathed] in warm water.—This, however, gave no relief.—In the meantime, before Dr. Craik arrived, Mrs. Washington requested me to send for Doct. Brown of Port Tobacco,1 whom Dr. Craik had recommended to be called, if any case should ever occur that was seriously Edition: current; Page: [248] alarming. I despatched a Messenger (Cyrus) to Dr. Brown immediately (about [between eight and] nine o’clk)—Doctor Craik came in soon after, and after examining the General he put a blister of Cantharides on the throat & took [some] more blood from him, and had some Vinegar & hot water put into a Teapot, for the General to draw in the steam from the nozel—which he did, as well as he was able.—He also ordered sage tea and Vinegar to be mixed for a Gargle.—This the General used as often as desired; but when he held back his head to let it run down, it put him into great distress and almost produced suffocation. When the mixture came out of his mouth some phlegm followed it, and he would attempt to cough, which the Doctor encouraged him to do as much as he could; but without effect, he could only make the attempt.—About eleven o’clock Dr. Dick1 was sent for. [Dr. Craik requested that Dr. Dick might be sent for, as he feared Dr. Brown would not come in time. A messenger was accordingly despatched for him.]—Dr. Craik bled the General again about this time.—No effect however was produced by it, and he continued in the same state, unable to swallow anything.—Dr. Dick came in about 3 o’clk, and Dr. Brown arrived soon after.—Upon Dr. Dick’s seeing the Genl. & consulting a few minutes with Dr. Craik he was bled again, the blood ran [very] slowly—appeared very thick, and did not produce any symptoms of fainting.—Dr. Brown came into the chamber room soon after, and upon feeling the General’s pulse &c., the Physicians went out together.—Dr. Craik soon after returned.—The General could now swallow a little—(about 4 o’clk) Calomel & tartar em. were administered; but without any effect—About half past 4 o’clock, he desired me to ask Mrs. Washington to come to his bedside—when he requested her to go down into his room & take from his desk two wills which she would find there, and bring them to him, which she did.—Upon looking at them he gave her [one], which he observed was useless, as it was superceeded by the other, and desired her to burn it, which she did, and then took the other & put it away [into her closet].—After this was done, I returned again to his bed side and took his hand. He said to me, “I find I am going, my breath cannot Edition: current; Page: [249] continue long; I believed from the first attack it would be fatal, do you arrange & record all my late military letters & papers—arrange my accounts & settle my books, as you know more about them than any one else, and let Mr. Rawlins finish recording my other letters, which he has begun.”—[I told him this should be done. He then asked, if I recollected any thing which it was essential for him to do, as he had but a very short time to continue with us. I told him, that I could recollect nothing, but that I hoped he was not so near his end. He observed, smiling, that he certainly was, and that, as it was the debt which we must all pay, he looked to the event with perfect resignation.

In the course of the afternoon he appeared to be in great pain and distress, from the difficulty of breathing, and frequently changed his posture in the bed. On these occasions I lay upon the bed and endeavored to raise him, and turn him with as much ease as possible. He appeared penetrated with gratitude for my attentions, and often said, “I am afraid I shall fatigue you too much;” and upon my assuring him, that I could feel nothing but a wish to give him ease, he replied, “well, it is a debt we must pay to each other, and I hope, when you want aid of this kind, you will find it.”] He asked “when Mr. Lewis1 &. Washington2 would return?” [(They were then in New Kent.)]. I told him I believed about the 20th of the month. He made no reply to it.—[About five o’clock Dr. Craik came again into the room, and, upon going to the bedside the General said to him; “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. I believed, from my first attack, that I should not survive it. My breath cannot last long.” The Doctor pressed his hand, but could not utter a word. He retired from the bedside, and sat by the fire absorbed in grief.] The Physicians [Dr. Dick and Dr. Brown] again came in (between 5 & 6 o’clock), and when they came to his bed side, Dr. Craik asked him if he could sit up in the bed. He held out his hand to me & was raised up, when he said to the Physicians. “I feel myself going, [I thank you for your attention] you had better not take any more trouble about me; but let me go off quietly; I cannot last long.”—[They found out that all which had been done Edition: current; Page: [250] was without effect. He lay down again, and all retired except Dr. Craik. He continued in the same position, uneasy and restless, but without complaining; frequently asking what hour it was. When I helped to move him at this time, he did not speak, but looked at me with strong expressions of gratitude.] The Doctor pressed his hand but could not utter a word—He retired from the bedside—and sat by the fire absorbed in grief—About 8 o’clk the Physicians again came into the Room, and applied blisters [and cataplasms of wheat bran] to his legs [and feet];—but went out [except Dr. Craik] without a ray of hope.—[I went out about this time, and wrote a line to Mr. Law and Mr. Peter, requesting them to come with their wives (Mrs. Washington’s granddaughters) as soon as possible to Mt. Vernon.] From this time he appeared to breathe with less difficulty than he had done; but was very restless, constantly changing his position to endeavor to get ease.—I aided him all in my power, and was gratified in believing he felt it; for he would look upon me with his eyes speaking gratitude; but unable to utter a word without great distress.—About ten o’clock he made several attempts to speak to me before he could effect it—at length, he said, “I am just going. Have me decently buried, and do not let my body be put into the Vault in less than two [three] days after I am dead.”—I bowed assent [for I could not speak].—He [then] looked at me again, and said, “Do you understand me?”—I replied Yes Sir. “’T is well” said he.—About ten minutes before he expired his breathing became much easier—he lay quietly—he withdrew his hand from mine & felt his own pulse—I spoke to Dr. Craik who sat by the fire—he came to the bedside.—The General’s hand fell from his wrist.—I took it in mine and laid it upon my breast—Dr. Craik put his hand on his eyes and he expired without a struggle or a Sigh!—While we were fixed in silent grief—Mrs. Washington [who was sitting at the foot of the bed] asked, with a firm and collected voice, “Is he gone?”—I could not speak, but held up my hand as a signal that he was—“’T is well” said she in a plain voice. “All is now over.—I have no more trials to pass through.—I shall soon follow him!”

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The General’s servant,1 Christopher, attended his bed side & in the room, when he was sitting up, through his whole illness.—About 8 o’clk in the Morning the General expressed a wish to get up. His clothes were put on, and he was led to a chair, by the fire. [He found no relief from that position.]—He lay down again about two hours afterwards.—A glister was administered to him, by Dr. Craik’s directions, about one o’clock; but produced no effect.—He was helped up again about 5 o’clock—and after sitting about one [half an] hour, he desired to be undressed and put in bed, which was done.—Between the hours of 6 and nine o’clk, he several times asked what hour it was.—During his whole illness, he spoke but seldom & with great difficulty and distress, and in so low & broken a voice as at times hardly to be understood.—His patience, fortitude & resignation never forsook him for a moment.—In all his distress he uttered not a sigh nor a complaint, always endeavoring [from a sense of duty as it appeared] to take what was offered him, or to do what was desired [by the physicians].—

At the time of his decease Dr. Craik & myself were in the situation before mentioned—Christopher was standing by the bedside.—Mrs. Washington was sitting near the foot of the bed.—Caroline, [Molly and] Charlotte, and some other of the servants were standing in the Room near the door.—Mrs. Forbes, the House-keeper, was frequently in the Room in the day & evening.

As soon as Dr. Craik could speak, after the distressing scene was closed, he desired one of the servants to ask the Gentlemen below to come up stairs.—When they came around the bed, I kissed the cold hand, which I had ’till then held [to my bosom], laid it down, went [to the other end of the room] to the fire and was for some time lost in profound grief, until aroused by Christopher desiring me to take care of the General’s keys and things which he had taken out of his pockets, and which Mrs. Washington directed him to give to me.—I wrapped them up in the Edition: current; Page: [252] General’s Handkerchief, and took them with me down stairs;—About 12 o’clk the Corps was brought down and laid out in the large Room.—

[Sunday, December 15th. The foregoing statement, so far as I can recollect, is correct. Jas. Craik.]

Sunday—Dec. 15.—Mrs. Washington sent for me in the morning and desired I would send up to Alexa. and have a Coffin made, which I did.—Doctor Dick measured the body which was as follows.—

In length 6 ft. 3½ inches exact.

Across the shoulders 1 — 9 —.

Across the elbows—2 — 1 —

After breakfast—I gave Dr. Dick and Dr. Brown forty dolls. each, which Sum Dr. Craik advised as very proper, and they left us.—I wrote letters to the following persons informing them of the melancholly event.—

Mrs. Washington informed me that the Executors to the Generals Will were—Wm. Washington, Bushrod Washington, G. S. Washington, Saml Washington, & G. W. P. Custis.

Bushrod Washington, Col. Wm. Washington, Inclosed to Colo. Blackburn, desiring him to forward them by express.—

Lawrence Lewis, G. W. P. Custis, Sent by express to New Kent by Cæsar.

The President of the United States, General Hamilton, John Lewis, desiring him to give information to his brothers George, Robert & Howell, & to Capt. Sam’l Washington—Sent to the Post Office.

George S. Washington, Colo. (Burges) Ball, Genl Pinckney, Capt. Hammond—Sent off to Berkley on Monday Morning by my Servant Charles.

Mr. Stuart was sent for in the Morning.—About 10 o’clock Mr. Thos. Peter came down—and about 2 came Mr. & Mrs. Law to all whom I had sent on Saturday Evening.—Dr. Thornton came down with Mr. & Mrs. Law.—Dr. Craik tarried here all this day and night.—

In the evening I consulted with Mr. Law, Mr. Peter & Dr. Craik on fixing a day for depositing the body in the vault.—I Edition: current; Page: [253] wished the ceremony to be postponed ’till the last of the week, to give time to some of the General’s Relations to be here. But Dr. Craik & Dr. Thornton gave it decidedly as their opinion that, considering the disorder of which the General died, being of an inflammatory kind, it would not be proper, nor perhaps safe to keep the body so long, and therefore Wednesday was fixed upon for the funeral, to allow a day (Thursday) in case the weather should be unfavorable on Wednesday.—

Monday, Dec. 16.—People were directed to open the [family] Vault, clean away the rubbish from about it & make everything decent around it.—[Ordered a door to be made to the Vault, instead of closing it again with brick, as had been the custom. Engaged Mr. Inglis and Mr. Munn to have a mahogany coffin made, lined with lead.]

Dr. Craik, Mr. Peter & Dr. Thornton left us after breakfast—Mrs. Stuart and her two daughters came here in the forenoon.—Mr. Anderson went to Alexa. to get a number of things preparatory for the funeral.—Mourning clothes were ordered for the family, domestics, & overseers.—

Information being received from Alexa. that the Military, Free Masons, &c., were determined to show their respect to the memory of the General, by attending his body to the grave—measures were taken to make provision for the refreshments of a large number of people, as some refreshment wd be expected. Mr. Robt Hamilton wrote a letter informing that a schooner of his would be off Mt. Vernon to fire minute guns on the funeral of the deceased.—Gave notice of the time fixed for the burial to the following persons by Mrs. Washington’s desire.—Mr. Mason & family—Mr. Peake & family—Mrs. Peake—Mr. Nichols & family—Mr. McCarty & family—Miss McCarty—Mr. & Mrs. McClanahan—Lord Fairfax & family—Mr. Triplett & family—Mr. Anderson & family—Mr. Diggs—Mr. Cockburn & family—L. W. (?) Massey & family, [and Mr. R. West.]

I wrote also to the Rev. Mr. Davis to read the services.—

Mrs. Washington desired that a door might be made for the Vault, instead of having it closed up as formerly, after the body should be deposited—observing—“That it will soon be necessary to open it again..

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Tuesday, Dec. 17.—Every preparation for the mournful ceremony was making.—Mr. Diggs came here in the forenoon, and also Mr. Stewart Adjutant to the Alexa. Regt. to view the ground for the procession.—About one o’clk the Coffin was brought from Alexa. in a stage.—Mr. Inglis the Cabinet maker, and Mr. W. Munn, the plumber came with it, also Mr. Grater, with the Shroud.—The body was laid in the Coffin, at which time I cut off some of the General’s hair for Mrs. Washington.—

The Mahogany Coffin was lined with lead, soddered at the joints—and a cover of lead to be soddered on after the body should be in the Vault.—The whole put into a case lined & covered with black cloth.

Wednesday, Dec. 18.—About 11 o’clk numbers of persons began to assemble to attend the funeral, which was intended to have been at twelve o’clk; but as a great part of the Troops expected could not get down in time it did not take place till 3.—Eleven pieces of Artillery were brought down [from Alexandria].—And a Schooner belonging to Mr. R. Hamilton came down and lay off Mt. Vernon to fire minute guns.—The Pall holders were as follow—Colonels Little, (Charles) Simms, Payne, Gilpin, Ramsay, & Marsteller—and Colo. Blackburne walked before the Corps. [Col. Deneal marched with the military.]

[About three o’clock the procession began to move.] Col. Little, Simms & Deneal and Dr. Dick formed the arrangements of the Procession—[The procession moved out through the gate at the left wing of the house, and proceeded round in front of the lawn, and down to the vault on the right wing of the house.] which was as follows—The Troops—Horse & foot—Music playing a Solemn dirge with muffled Drums.—The Clergy—viz The Revd. Mr. Davis—Mr. (James) Muir, Mr. Moffatt, & Mr. Addison—[The General’s horse, with his saddle, holsters, and pistols, led by two grooms, Cyrus and Wilson, in black.] The Body borne by officers & masons who insisted upon carrying it to the grave.—The Principal Mourners—viz. Mrs. Stuart & Mrs. Law—Misses Nancy & Sally Stuart—Miss Fairfax & Miss Dennison—Mr. Law & Mr. Peter—Doctor Craik & T. Lear—Lord Fairfax & Ferdinando Fairfax—Lodge No. 23.—Corporation of Edition: current; Page: [255] Alexandria.—All other persons, preceded by Mr. Anderson, Mr. Rawlins, the Overseers, &c., &c.—

The Rev. Mr. Davis read the service & made a short extemporary speech—The Masons performed their ceremonies—and the Body was deposited in the Vault—All then returned to the House & partook of some refreshment—and dispersed with the greatest good order & regularity—The remains of the Provision were distributed among the Blacks.—Mr. Peter, Dr. Craik & Dr. Thornton tarried here all night.

James Craik
Craik, James
Elisha C. Dick
Dick, Elisha C.
21 December, 1799


Some time in the night of Friday, the 10th instant, having been exposed to a rain on the preceding day, General Washington was attacked with an inflammatory affection of the upper part of of the windpipe, called in technical language Cynache Trachealis. The disease commenced with a violent ague, accompanied with some pain in the upper and forepart of the throat, a sense of stricture in the same part, a cough, and a difficult, rather than painful deglutition, which was soon succeeded by fever and a quick and laborious respiration. The necessity of blood-letting suggesting itself to the General, he procured a bleeder in the neighborhood, who took from his arm in the night twelve or fourteen ounces of blood. He could not by any means be prevailed on by the family to send for the attending physician till the following morning, who arrived at Mount Vernon at about 11 o’clock on Saturday. Discovering the case to be highly alarming, and foreseeing the fatal tendency of the disease, two consulting physicians were immediately sent for, who arrived, one at half after three, and the other at four o’clock in the afternoon: in the mean time were employed two pretty copious bleedings, a blister was applied to the part affected, two moderate doses of calomel were administered, which operated on the Edition: current; Page: [256] lower intestines, but all without any perceptible advantage, the respiration becoming still more difficult and distressing. Upon the arrival of the first of the consulting physicians, it was agreed, as there were yet no signs of accumulation in the bronchial vessels of the lungs, to try the result of another bleeding, when about thirty-two ounces of blood were drawn, without the smallest apparent alleviation of the disease. Vapours of vinegar and water were frequently inhaled, ten grains of calomel were given, succeeded by repeated doses of emetic tartar, amounting in all to five or six grains, with no other effect than a copious discharge from the bowels. The powers of life seemed now manifestly yielding to the force of the disorder; blisters were applied to the extremities, together with a cataplasm of bran and vinegar to the throat. Speaking, which was painful from the beginning, now became almost impracticable; respiration grew more and more contracted and imperfect, till half after 11 on Saturday night, retaining the full possession of his intellect—when he expired without a struggle.

He was fully impressed at the beginning of his complaint, as well as through every succeeding stage of it, that its conclusion would be mortal; submitting to the several exertions made for his recovery, rather as a duty, than from any expectation of their efficacy. He considered the operations of death upon his system as coeval with the disease; and several hours before his death, after repeated efforts to be understood, succeeded in expressing a desire that he might be permitted to die without further interruption.1

During the short period of his illness, he economized his time, in the arrangement of such few concerns as required his attention, with the utmost serenity; and anticipated his approaching dissolution with every demonstration of that equanimity Edition: current; Page: [257] for which his whole life has been so uniformly and singularly conspicuous.

James Craik,
Attending Physician.
Elisha C. Dick,
Consulting Physician.1
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias
Dec. 15, 1799
Mount Vernon
William Augustine Washington
Washington, William Augustine


Dear Sir:

I have the painful task of communicating to you information of the death of your much revered Uncle, General Washington. He died last evening about 11 o’clock, after a severe illness of about 20 hours. His complaint was an inflammatory sore throat, commonly called the Quincy.—Every aid that medicine could give, was had; but without effect. Dr. Craik & Dr. Dick of Alexa. & Dr. Brown of Port Tobacco were here.—He died as he lived.—Fortitude in extreme pain & composure at his latest breath never left him, & he retained his reason to the last moment. You are appointed one of his Executors in conjunction with Messr. Bushrod Washington, George S. Washington, Saml. Washington, Lawrence Lewis & G. W. P. Custis.

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The Body will be deposited in the Vault on Wednesday or Thursday next.

With great respect, I am Dear Sir
Your most obed. Servt.
Tobias Lear.
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias
Dec. 15th, 1799
Mount Vernon
Burges Ball
Ball, Burges


My Dear Sir:

Little did I think, when I last saw you, that I should have the painful task at this time imposed on me of informing you of the death of our beloved friend, General Washington. Alas, he is no more. These hands performed the last act of friendship to that great and good man between ten and eleven o’clock last night. He expired after a short illness of about twenty hours. On Friday he complained of a cold, but gave himself little trouble about it. On Saturday morning, he became ill. Dr. Craik was sent for. The symptoms appeared alarming an inflammation having taken place in this throat, which terminated in the disease called the quinsy. Dr. Dick, of Alex’a. and Dr. Brown, of Port Tobacco, were called in, and every medical aid used but in vain.

He bore his distress with astonishing fortitude; and conscious, as he declared, several hours before his death, of his approaching dissolution, he resigned his breath with the greatest composure, having the full possession of his reason to the last moment. While I am writing I conceive it all to be a dream. But when I consider for a moment I find, alas! there is but too much reality in it. The body will be deposited in the vault on Wednesday or Thursday. His executors are Col. Wm. Washington, of Westmoreland; Bushrod, George S., and Samuel Washington, Lawrence Lewis, and G. W. P. Custis.

Mrs. Washington bore the afflicting stroke with a pious resignation and fortitude which shew that her hopes were placed beyond this life. Present my best and affectionate regards to your good lady, Miss Milly, and the boys and believe me, &c.

Tobias Lear.
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The first intimation of the death of General Washington, was given to Congress on the 18th of December, in the following manner:

Mr. Marshall, in a voice that bespoke the anguish of his mind, and a countenance expressive of the deepest regret, rose, and delivered himself as follows:

Mr. Speaker:

“Information has just been received, that our illustrious fellow-citizen, the Commander in Chief of the American Armies and the late President of the United States, is no more.

“Though this distressing intelligence is not certain, there is too much reason to believe its truth. After receiving information of this national calamity, so heavy and so afflicting, the House of Representatives can be but ill fitted for public business. I move you therefore, they adjourn.”

The motion was unanimously agreed to; and the House adjourned till to-morrow morning, 11 o’clock.

December 19.

This event was confirmed officially by a message from the President communicating a letter from Tobias Lear, Esq. private secretary to General Washington.

John Adams
Adams, John
George Washington
Washington, George
Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives.

The letter herewith transmitted will inform you that it has pleased Divine Providence to remove from this life, our excellent fellow-citizen GEORGE WASHINGTON, by the purity of his character and a long series of services to his country, rendered illustrious through the world. It remains for an affectionate and grateful people, in whose hearts he can never die, to pay suitable honor to his memory.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [260]
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias
December 16, 1799
Mount Vernon
George Washington
Washington, George

It is with inexpressible grief that I have to announce to you the death of the great and good General WASHINGTON. He died last evening between 10 and 11 o’clock, after a short illness of about 24 hours. His disorder was an inflammatory sore throat, which proceeded from a cold, of which he made but little complaint on Friday. On Saturday morning about 3 o’clock he became ill. Doctor Dick attended him in the morning, and Dr. Craick, of Alexandria, and Dr. Brown, of Port Tobacco, were soon after called in. Every medical assistance was offered, but without the desired effect. His last scene corresponded with the whole tenor of his life. Not a groan or a complaint escaped him, in extreme distress. With perfect resignation and a full possession of his reason he closed his well spent life.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Tobias Lear.

Mr. Marshall with deep sorrow on his countenance, and in a low, pathetic tone of voice, rose and addressed the House as follows:

The melancholy event which was yesterday announced with doubt, has been rendered but too certain. OUR WASHINGTON is no more! The hero, the sage, and the patriot of America—the man on whom in times of danger every eye was turned and all hopes were placed, lives now, only in his own great actions, and in the hearts of an affectionate and afflicted people.

If, sir, it had even not been usual openly to testify respect for the memory of those whom Heaven had selected as its instruments for dispensing good to men, yet such has been the uncommon worth, and such the extraordinary incidents which have marked the life of him whose loss we all deplore, that the whole American nation, impelled by the same feelings, would call with one voice for a public manifestation of that sorrow which is so deep and so universal.

More than any other individual, and as much as to one individual was possible, has he contributed to found this our Edition: current; Page: [261] wide-spreading empire, and to give to the western world its independence and its freedom.

Having effected the great object for which he was placed at the head of our armies, we have seen him convert the sword into the ploughshare, and voluntarily sink the soldier into the citizen.

When the debility of our federal system had become manifest, and the bonds which connected the parts of this vast continent were dissolving, we have seen him the chief of those patriots who formed for us a constitution, which, by preserving the union, will, I trust, substantiate and perpetuate those blessings our revolution had promised to bestow.

In obedience to the general voice of his country, calling on him to preside over a great people, we have seen him once more quit the retirement he loved, and in a season more stormy and tempestuous than war itself, with calm and wise determination, pursue the true interest of the nation, and contribute more than any other could contribute, to the establishment of that system of policy, which will, I trust, yet preserve our peace, our honor, and our independence.

Having been twice unanimously chosen the chief magistrate of a free people, we see him, at a time when his re-election with the universal suffrage could not have been doubted, affording to the world a rare instance of moderation by withdrawing from his high station to the peaceful walks of private life.

However the public confidence may change, and the public affection may fluctuate with respect to others, yet with respect to him they have, in war and in peace, in public and in private life, been as steady as his own firm mind, and as constant as his own exalted virtues.

Let us then, Mr. Speaker, pay the last tribute of respect and affection to our departed friend. Let the grand council of the nation display those sentiments which the nation feels.

For this purpose I hold in my hand some resolutions which I will take the liberty to offer to the House.

Resolved, That this House will wait on the President of the United States, in condolence of this mournful event.

Resolved, That the Speaker’s chair be shrouded in black, Edition: current; Page: [262] and that the members and the officers of the House wear black during session.

Resolved, That a committee in conjunction with one from the Senate, be appointed to consider on the most suitable manner of paying honor to the memory of the man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his country.

Resolved, That this House when it adjourn, do adjourn to Monday.”1

These resolutions were unanimously agreed to.—Sixteen members were appointed on the third resolution.

Generals Marshall and Smith who were appointed to wait on the President with the first resolution, reported, that the President would be ready to receive them at one o’clock this day. The House accordingly waited on him.

The Speaker addressed the President in the following words:


The House of Representatives, penetrated with a sense of the irreparable loss sustained by the nation, by the death of that great and good man, the illustrious and beloved WASHINGTON, Edition: current; Page: [263] wait on you, sir, to express their condolence on this melancholy and distressing event.

To which the President made the following answer:

John Adams
Adams, John
George Washington
Washington, George
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I receive with great respect and affection the condolence of the House of Representatives on the melancholy and afflicting event in the death of the most illustrious and beloved personage which this country ever produced. I sympathize with you, with the nation, and with the good men through the world, in this irreparable loss sustained by us all.

John Adams.

A message was received from the Senate informing the House that they had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee, to consider a suitable manner of paying honor to the memory of the man first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his country, and that they had appointed seven members to join a committee of the House for that purpose.


December 23.

Agreeably to the first resolution the House waited on the President, whom they addressed in the following words:

The Senate of the United States respectfully take leave, sir, to express to you their deep regret for the loss their country sustains in the death of General GEORGE WASHINGTON.

This event, so distressing to all our fellow citizens, must be peculiarly heavy to you, who have long been associated with him in deeds of patriotism. Permit us, sir, to mingle our tears with yours: on this occasion it is manly to weep. To lose such a man at such a crisis is no common calamity to the world; our country mourns her father. The Almighty disposer of human events has taken from us our greatest benefactor and ornament. It becomes us to submit with reverence to him, who “maketh darkness his pavilion.”

With patriotic pride we review the life of our WASHINGTON, and compare him with those of other countries who have been pre-eminent in fame. Ancient and modern names are diminished Edition: current; Page: [264] before him. Greatness and guilt have too often been allied; but his fame is whiter than it is brilliant. The destroyers of nations stood abashed at the majesty of his virtue. It proved the intemperance of victory. The scene is closed, and we are no longer anxious lest misfortune should sully his glory; he has travelled on to the end of his journey and carried with him an encreasing weight of honor; he has deposited it safely, where misfortune cannot tarnish it, where malice cannot blast it. Favored of Heaven, he departed without exhibiting the weakness of humanity; magnanimous in death, the darkness of the grave could not obscure his brightness.

Such was the man whom we deplore. Thanks to God, his glory is consummated. WASHINGTON yet lives on earth in his spotless example—his spirit is in Heaven.

Let his countrymen consecrate the memory of the heroic general, the patriotic statesman, and the virtuous sage; let them teach their children never to forget that the fruits of his labors, and his example are their inheritance.

To which the President returned the following answer:

John Adams
Adams, John
George Washington
Washington, George
Gentlemen of the Senate,

I receive with the most respectful and affectionate sentiments, in this impressive address, the obliging expressions of your regret for the loss our country has sustained, in the death of her most esteemed, beloved, and admired citizen.

In the multitude of my thoughts and recollections, on this melancholy event, you will permit me only to say, that I have seen him in the days of adversity, in some of the scenes of his deepest and most trying perplexities; I have also attended him in his highest elevation and most prosperous felicity; with uniform admiration of his wisdom, moderation and constancy.

Among all our original associates, in that memorable league of the continent in 1774, which first expressed the sovereign will of a free nation in America, he was the only one remaining in the general government. Although, with a constitution more enfeebled than his, at an age when he thought it necessary to prepare for retirement, I feel myself alone, bereaved of my last brother; yet I derive a strong consolation from the unanimous disposition, Edition: current; Page: [265] which appears in all ages and classes, to mingle their sorrows with mine, on this common calamity to the world.

The life of our WASHINGTON cannot suffer by a comparison with those of other countries, who have been most celebrated and exalted by fame. The attributes and decorations of royalty, could have only served to eclipse the majesty of those virtues, which made him, from being a modest citizen, a more resplendent luminary. Misfortune, had he lived, could hereafter have sullied his glory only with those superficial minds, who, believing that characters and actions are marked by success alone, rarely deserve to enjoy it. Malice could never blast his honor, and envy made him a single exception to her universal rule. For himself he had lived enough, to life and to glory. For his fellow-citizens, if their prayers could have been answered, he would have been immortal. For me, his departure is at a most unfortunate moment. Trusting, however, in the wise and righteous dominion of Providence over the passions of men, and the results of their councils and actions, as well as over their lives, and nothing remains for me, but humble resignation.

His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read. If a Trajan found a Pliny, a Marcus Aurelius can never want biographers, eulogists or historians.

John Adams.

In the House of Representatives General Marshall made a report from the joint committee appointed to consider a suitable mode of commemorating the death of General WASHINGTON.

He reported the following resolutions:

Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a marble monument be erected by the United States at the capitol of the city of Washington, and that the family of General WASHINGTON be requested to permit his body to be deposited under it, and that the monument be so designed as to commemorate the great events of his military and political life.

And be it further resolved, That there be a funeral procession Edition: current; Page: [266] from Congress hall to the German Lutheran church, in memory of General GEORGE WASHINGTON, on Thursday the 26th inst., and that an oration be prepared at the request of Congress, to be delivered before both Houses that day; and that the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, be desired to request one of the members of Congress to prepare and deliver the same.

And be it further resolved, That it be recommended to the people of the United States, to wear crape on their left arm, as mourning, for thirty days.

And be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to direct a copy of these resolutions to be transmitted to Mrs. Washington, assuring her of the profound respect Congress will ever bear for her person and character, of their condolence on the late affecting dispensation of Providence, and entreating her assent to the interment of the remains of General WASHINGTON in the manner expressed in the first resolution.

And be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to issue his proclamation, notifying the people throughout the United States, the recommendation contained in the third resolution.

These resolutions passed both Houses unanimously.

Martha Washington
Washington, Martha
Dec. 31, 1799
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Adams, John



While I feel with keenest anguish, the late dispensation of Divine Providence, I cannot be insensible to the mournful tributes of respect and veneration, which are paid to the memory of my dear deceased husband; and, as his best services and most anxious wishes were always devoted to the welfare and happiness of his country, to know that they were truly appreciated, and gratefully remembered, affords no inconsiderable consolation.

Taught by the great example, which I have so long had before me, never to oppose my private wishes to the public will, I must Edition: current; Page: [267] consent to the request made by Congress, which you have had the goodness to transmit me, and in doing this, I need not say, I cannot say, what a sacrifice of individual feeling I make to a sense of public duty.

With grateful acknowledgment, and unfeigned thanks for the personal respect, and evidences of condolence, expressed by Congress and yourself, I remain very respectfully, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,

Martha Washington.
Martha Washington
Washington, Martha
January 15, 1800
Mount Vernon
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull


Dear Sir,

When the mind is deeply affected by those irreparable losses which are incident to humanity, the good Christian will submit without repining to the dispensations of Divine Providence, and look for consolation to that Being who alone can pour balm into the bleeding heart, and who has promised to be the widow’s God. But, in the severest trials, we find some alleviation to our grief in the sympathy of sincere friends; and I should not do justice to my sensibility, was I not to acknowledge that your kind letter of condolence of the 30th of December was grateful to my feeling. I well knew the affectionate regard which my dear deceased husband always entertained for you, and therefore conceive how afflicting his death must have been to you. The quotation which you have given of what was written to you on a former melancholy occasion, is truly applicable to this. The loss is ours; the gain is his.

For myself, I have only to bow with humble submission to the will of that God who giveth and who taketh away, looking forward with faith and hope to the moment when I shall be again united with the partner of my life. But, while I continue on earth, my prayers will be offered up for the welfare and happiness of my friends, among whom you will always be numbered, being,

Dear Sir,
Your sincere and afflicted friend,
Martha Washington.
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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 Edition: current; Page: [272] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [2]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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [3] that such of the latter description Edition: current; Page: [273] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [4] 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) Edition: current; Page: [274] 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

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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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [5] 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 anEdition: originalEd; Page: [6]nuity of fifty pounds has since been paid towards the support of this institution.

Edition: current; Page: [276]

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 adopEdition: originalEd; Page: [7]ted, 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, Edition: current; Page: [277] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [8] 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 Edition: current; Page: [278] friendships in Juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices and habitEdition: originalEd; Page: [9]ual 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [10] 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

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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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [11] 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 Edition: current; Page: [280] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [12] 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.

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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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [13] 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 Edition: current; Page: [282] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [14] 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 Edition: current; Page: [283] 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.

Edition: originalEd; Page: [15] 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 Edition: current; Page: [284] 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 & Edition: originalEd; Page: [16] 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, Edition: current; Page: [285] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [17] 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 Edition: current; Page: [286] 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 Edition: current; Page: [287] finely wrought steel pistols taken from the enemy in the Revolutionary war—To my sisters in law Edition: originalEd; Page: [18] 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 Edition: current; Page: [288] 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 posEdition: originalEd; Page: [19]sessed, 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

Edition: current; Page: [289]

and now,

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, Edition: current; Page: [290] 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 comprehenEdition: originalEd; Page: [20]ded 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 Edition: current; Page: [291] 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, Edition: originalEd; Page: [21] 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 Edition: current; Page: [292] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [22] 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 Edition: current; Page: [293] 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 folEdition: originalEd; Page: [23]lowing 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 Edition: current; Page: [294] square, numbering twenty one, in the city of Washington.

Edition: originalEd; Page: [24] 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 Edition: current; Page: [295] Washington, Harriot Edition: originalEd; Page: [25] 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.

To Elizabeth Parke Law,7 Martha Parke Peter,8 and Eleanor Parke Lewis,9 I give and bequeath three other parts—that is, a part to each of them.10

And to my nephew Bushrod Washington & Lawrence Edition: current; Page: [296] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [26] 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.

Edition: originalEd; Page: [27] The family Vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire Edition: current; Page: [297] 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 Edition: originalEd; Page: [28] 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 Edition: current; Page: [298] 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.

Edition: originalEd; Page: [29] 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.

Go. Washington.

Schedule of Property2 comprehended in the foregoing Will, which is directed to be sold, and some of it, conditionally is sold; with descriptive and explanitory notes relative thereto.


Acres Price Dollars
Difficult Run 300 6,666 (a)

(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 Edition: current; Page: [299] 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.

Ashby’s Bent 2,481 10 24,810 } (b)
Chattin’s Run 885 8 7,080 }

(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.—

So. Fork of Bullskin 1,600
Head of Evan’s M 453
In Wormley’s Line 183
2,236 20 44,720 (c)

(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.

1 John Francis Mercer.
Bought from Mercer1 571 20 11,420 (d)

(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.

On Potk River above B. 240 15 3,600 (e)

(e) This tract though small, is extremely valuable—it lyes on the Potomac River, about twelve miles above Edition: current; Page: [300] 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.

On North River 400 abt 3.600 (f)

(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.

Near Suffolk ⅓ of 1119 acres 373 8 2,984 (g)

(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.

My dividend thereof abt 20,000 (h)

(h) This is an undivided interest wch I held in the Great Dismal Swamp Company, containing about 400 Edition: current; Page: [301] acres, with my part of the Plantation and Stock thereon belonging to the Company in the s’d Swamp.1

2 See Vol. II., 295, 392, 410.
Round Bottom2 587 10
Little Kanhawa 2,314
16 miles lower down 2,448
Opposite Big Bent 4,395
9,744 10 97,440 (i)

(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.

Near the mouth west 10,990
East Side above 7,276
Mouth of Cole River 2,000
Opposite thereto 2,950
Burning Spring 125
23,341 200,000 (k)

(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 Edition: current; Page: [302] 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.

Charles County 600 6 3,600 (l)
Montgomery County 519 12 6,228 (m)

(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

Great Meadows 234 6 1,404 (n)

(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

Edition: current; Page: [303]
Mohawk River abt 1000 6 6,000 (o)

(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

On little Miami 839
On little Miami 977
On little Miami 1235
3051 5 15,251 (p)

(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.—

Rough Creek 3,000
Rough Creek 2,000
5,000 2 10,000 (g)

(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.

Edition: current; Page: [304]


Two near the Capital Sqr 634 } 15,000 (r)
Cost $963, and with Buildgs. }
No. 5, 12, 13, & 14, the 3 last water lots on the } 4,132 (s)
Eastern Branch }
in Sqr 667, containing together }
34,438 Sqr. feet at 12 cts. }

(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

Corner of Pitt and Prince Strts } 4,000 (t)
half an acre—laid out into buildgs }
3 or 4 of wch are let on grd Rent at $3 pr foot }
Edition: current; Page: [305]

(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

A lot in the Town, of half an acre & another on the Commons of about 6 acres—supposed } 400 (u)

(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.

Two well situated and had buildings to the amount of £150. } 800 (w)

(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

Edition: current; Page: [306]


UNITED STATES 6 pr ct. 3,746
UNITED STATES deferred 1,873
3 pr ct. 2,946 2,500 6,246 (x)

(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

Edition: current; Page: [307]
24 Shares cost ea £100 Sterl’g 10,666 (y)

(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.

5 Shares each cost $100 $500 (z)

(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.

170 shares—$40 each 6,800 } (&)
BANK OF ALEXANDRIA—besides 20 to the Free School 5 } 1,000 }

(&) 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.

1 Carriage (?)
1 covering horse, 5 Coh1 15,653
Aggregate amt: $530,000
Edition: current; Page: [308]

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 “Recorded Liber H, folio 1, and examined.” George Deneale became clerk 2d May, 1798.
The original of this will is in the County Court House, at Fairfax Court House, Virginia, in charge of the County Clerk. A story occasionally appears in print, that the MS. is in the secret vaults of the British Museum, having been sold to that institution by one who obtained it during or after the civil war. The fact was, fearing lest some damage should be done to it, in July, 1861, the will was taken to Richmond by the then County Clerk, Mr. Alfred Moss, and deposited for safe keeping with the then Secretary of the Commonwealth, Mr. George W. Mumford. The office of the Secretary was looted by the Federal troops, but by some happy chance the will was thrown away, and was later found in a heap of rubbish. It was restored to the Fairfax County Court House.
R. L. H. fo: Exd by1
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Edition: current; Page: [310] Edition: current; Page: [311]
George Washington
Washington, George
Augt. 20th, 1775
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund


Dear Lund:

Your letter by Captn. Prince came to my hands last night—I was glad to learn by it that all are well.—the acct. given of the behaviour of the Scotchmen at Port Tobacco & Piscataway surprizd & vexed me—Why did they Imbark in the cause?—What do they say for themselves?—What does other say of them?—are they admitted into Company?—or kicked out of it?—What does their Countrymen urge in Justification of them?—they are fertile in invention, and will offer excuses where excuses can be made.—I cannot say but I am curious to learn the reasons why men who had subscribed, & bound themselves to each other, & their Country, to stand forth in defence of it, should lay down their arms the first moment they were called upon.

Although I never hear of the Mill under the direction of Simpson, without a degree of warmth & vexation at his extreame stupidity, yet, if you can spare money from other Purposes, I could wish to have it sent to him, that it may, if possible, be set agoing before the Works get ruined & spoilt, & my whole money perhaps totally lost.—If I am really to loose Barrand’s debt to me, it will be a pretty severe Edition: current; Page: [312] stroke upon the back of Adams, & the expence I am let into by that confounded fellow Simpson, & necessarily so in seating my Lands under the Management of Cleveland.

Spinning should go forward with all possible dispatch, as we shall have nothing else to depend upon if these disputes continue another year—I can hardly think that Lord Dunmore can act so low, & unmannerly a part, as to think of seizing Mrs. Washington by way of revenge upon me; howevr. as I suppose she is, before this time gone over to Mr. Calvert’s, & will soon after retng., go down to New Kent, she will be out of his reach for 2 or 3 months to come, in which time matters may, & probably will, take such a turn as to render her removal either absolutely necessary, or quite useless—I am nevertheless exceedingly thankful to the gentlemen of Alexandria for their friendly attention to this point & desire you will if there is any sort of reason to suspect a thing of this kind provide a kitchen for her in Alexandria, or some other place of safety elsewhere for her and my Papers.

The People of this government have obtained a Character which they by no means deserved—their officers generally speaking are the most indifferent kind of People I ever saw.—I have already broke one Colo. and five Captains for Cowardice & for drawing more Pay & Provisions than they had Men in their Companies—there is two more Colos. now under arrest, & to be tried for the same offences—in short they are by no means such Troops, in any respect, as Edition: current; Page: [313] you are led to believe of them from the accts. which are published, but I need not make myself enemies among them, by this declaration, although it is consistent with truth.—I dare say the Men would fight very well (if properly officered) although they are an exceeding dirty & nasty people.—Had they been properly conducted at Bunkers Hill (on the 17th of June) or those that were there properly supported, the Regulars would have met with a shameful defeat, and a much more considerable loss than they did, which is now known to be exactly 1057 killed & wounded—it was for their behaviour on that occasion that the above officers were broke, for I never spared one that was accused of Cowardice but brot ’em to immediate Tryal.1

Our Lines of Defence are now compleated, as near so at least as can be—we now wish them to come out, as soon as they please, but they (that is the enemy) discover no Inclination to quit their own Works of Defence; & as it is almost impossible for us to get to them, we do nothing but watch each other’s motions all day at the distance of about a mile, every now and then picking off a stragler when we can catch them without their Intrenchments, in return, they often attempt to cannonade our Lines to no other purpose than the waste of a considerable of Powder to themselves which we should be very glad to get.

What does Doctr. Craik say to the behaviour of his Countrymen, & Townspeople?—remember me Edition: current; Page: [314] kindly to him, & tell him that I should be very glad to see him here if there was anything worth his acceptance; but the Massachusetts People suffer nothing to go by them that they can lay hands upon.

I wish the money could be had from Hill, & the Bills of Exchange (except Colo. Fairfax’s which ought to be sent to him immediately) turned into cash; you might then, I should think, be able to furnish Simpson with about £300: but you are to recollect that I have got Cleveland & the hired People with him to pay also.—I would not have you buy a single bushel of wheat till you can see with some kind of certainty what market the flour is to go to—& if you cannot find sufficient employment in repairing the Mill works, & other things of this kind for Mr. Roberts and Thomas Alford, they must be closely Imployed in making cask, or working at the Carpenters or other business otherwise they must be discharged, for it is not reasonable, as all Mill business will probably be at an end for a while, that I am to pay them £100 a year to be Idle.—I should think Roberts himself must see, & be sensible of this reasonableness of this request, as I believe few Millers will find Imploymt. if our Ports are shut up, & the Wheat kept in the straw, or otherwise for greater security.—

I will write to Mr. Milnor to forward you a good Country Boulting Cloth for Simpson, which endeavour to have contrived to him by the first safe conveyance—I wish you would quicken Lanphire & Sears about the Dining Room Chimney Piece (to be executed as mentioned in one of my last Letters) as Edition: current; Page: [315] I could wish to have that end of the House compleately finished before I return.—I wish you had done the end of the New Kitchen next the Garden as also the Old Kitchen with rusticated Boards; however, as it is not, I would have the Corners done so in the manner of our new Church. (those two especially which Fronts the Quarter)—What have you done with the Well?—is that walled up?—have you any accts. of the Painter?—how does he behave at Fredericksburg?—

I much approve of your sowing wheat in clean ground, although you should be late in doing it, & if for no other purpose than a tryal—It is a growing I find, as well as a new practice, that of overseers keeping Horses, & for what purpose, unless it be to make fat Horses at my expence, I know not, as it is no saving of my own Horses—I do not like the custom, & wish you would break it—but do as you will, as I cannot pretend to interfere at this distance.

Remember me kindly to all the neighbors who enquire after

Yr. affecte. friend & Servt.1
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Edition: current; Page: [318]
Edition: current; Page: [319]

After a century of spasmodic research, the history of the ancestry of Washington cannot be written with accuracy or fulness. The records available are few and disconnected, and until the year 1889 an important link in the chain was wanting. The old pedigree had been discredited, and a new could not be framed. It was not even known in what part of England the needed evidence on which to base the new tree could be looked for, and in this wide field investigators must grope their way. It was idle to conjecture, for one guess was as good as another. Trickery and forgery were brought into the question, and the usual accompanying nonsense, which have thrown so much discredit upon genealogical writing. Nothing short of heroic origin must satisfy these charlatans; and so Odin is made the ancestor of Washington, and Rurik of Hamilton; and all between is composed of facts where they can be found, of manufactured evidence where required, and of stupid and clumsy compilation where the imagination failed. The result comes into the market to gull the public and mystify the reader; while clouding the subject for the student. I propose in this place to summarize what has been obtained in the century of investigation, eliminating, as far as Edition: current; Page: [320] possible, conjecture; or so distinguishing the assured from the doubtful, that no error can arise. In this, there is little original investigation, and the labors of others are freely drawn upon, full credit being given to each individual worker.

In December, 1791, Sir Isaac Heard, then Garter King of Arms in London, wrote to Washington, that he had investigated the English ancestry of the President, and desired to complete his record with such particulars as could be furnished by the family in America. To gratify this request, Washington addressed a number of his relations, asking them to supply what information they could, copies of wills, inscriptions on tombstones, and any documents that could throw light upon the matter.1 From such replies as he received, Washington drew up a paper, naturally imperfect, and confined to the immigrants into Virginia and their descendants. Of the English ancestry the President could only give a hint: “I have often heard others of the family, older than myself, say, that our ancestor, who first settled in this country, came from some one of the northern counties of England; but whether from Lancashire, Yorkshire, or one still more northerly, I do not precisely remember.”2 From the material at hand, Sir Isaac prepared a tentative genealogical table, which was sent to Mount Vernon; but Sir Isaac became unable to pursue the matter, and it was left in this incomplete condition.

Edition: current; Page: [321]

It was ascertained, however, that two brothers were the first of the family to emigrate, settling in Virginia. Washington believed that they came over about 1657, and started from the north of England. Sir Isaac found recorded in the Visitation of Northamptonshire of 1618, the names of John and Lawrence Washington, described as sons of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave, who had died in 1616. The year and the identity of names led Sir Isaac to believe that these were the brothers who emigrated, and he traced the descent of the President through this family of Northamptonshire, from one still more ancient in Lancashire. This pedigree did not completely satisfy Sir Isaac, who regarded it as conjectural, and left a note distinctly stating that he was by no means certain if the connection with the Sulgrave family was, or even could be, substantiated. When Baker prepared his history of Northamptonshire, he adopted the results obtained by Sir Isaac, but omitted to express any doubt of its finality. He asserted that the emigrant John, son of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave, was of South Cave, co. York; and that his brother Lawrence was a student at Oxford in 1622, afterwards emigrating to America. This pedigree of Baker’s, passing into other compilations as authoritative, came to be received as definite and complete.

Mr. Sparks, when compiling the Writings of Washington, had access to all the manuscripts of Sir Isaac Heard, and, with the assistance of some county histories, prepared a statement of the “origin Edition: current; Page: [322] and genealogy of the Washington family.” This account was published in the appendix to his first volume; and while adding little of value to what the Garter King of Arms had discovered, became the basis of subsequent investigation; while the extended circulation of the volumes stamped the pedigree as of high authority. An important link was, however, wanting. Sir Isaac Heard thought the emigrants came from Northamptonshire, and traced their ancestors to Lancashire. Mr. Sparks found a parish, called Washington, in Durham, where persons of the name had resided towards the close of the twelfth century. It was supposed that the holder of the manor, William de Hertburn, or some descendant, assumed the local name. A William de Wessyngton was recorded as a witness about the middle of the thirteenth century.1 Before 1400 the manor had passed out of the male line of the family. Such remote and disconnected facts were of little service in determining the ancestors of the President in a direct line, and Mr. Sparks, making a long leap from these early records, located these ancestors in Whitfield and Wharton, in the county of Lancaster.2

In 1860 a contribution to the subject was made by the rector of Brington, in Northamptonshire, in a Edition: current; Page: [323] story entitled The Washingtons; a Tale of a Country Parish in the 17th Century, Based on Authentic Documents. The “documents” were found in the parish register and among the manuscripts at Althorpe, the residence of the Spencers. The author of this story, Mr. John Nassau Simpkinson, brought to light some curious entries from the account books of the Spencer family, relating to the Washingtons, and attempted to identify the very house in Little Brington which was occupied by them—an attempt that subsequent investigation proved to have been without result. Mr. Simpkinson also made some corrections in Baker’s pedigree, of which I shall make use later. It cannot be said, however, that The Washingtons gave any reason for rejecting the Baker table so far as the immediate ancestors of the President were concerned.

In 1863 Mr. Isaac J. Greenwood suggested that Heard and Baker must be in error on a very important point, as the John and Lawrence Washington, whom they believed to have emigrated to Virginia, were too old at the date of the emigration to take so active a part. To obviate this difficulty Mr. Greenwood advanced the supposition that the emigrants might have been the sons of Sir William Washington of Packington, the eldest son of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave. His doubts of the correctness of the Heard-Baker pedigree were fully verified in an essay in destructive criticism by Colonel Joseph Lemuel Chester, published in the Herald and Genealogist (London, September, 1866), and reprinted Edition: current; Page: [324] in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (Boston, 1867). In this essay it was established that John, the son of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave, was Sir John Washington of Thrapston, who was twice married, and whose second wife, Dame Dorothy, survived him. So it was not possible for this John Washington to have left the country and married in Virginia, as it was known the emigrant John did, and as the Greenwood supposition thus made an essential. Colonel Chester also showed that the children of the two John Washingtons were of different names: those of Sir John being Mordaunt, John, and Philip; while those of the emigrant were John, Lawrence, and Anne. As a further point against the Heard pedigree, he made the objection that Lawrence, brother of Sir John, was a clergyman of the Established church; and, on a forced construction of a sentence in John Walker’s work on the sufferings of the clergy in the rebellion,1 asserted that Lawrence continued in the profession of a clergyman in England for some years after the date of the emigration; while Lawrence, the emigrant, described himself as a “gentleman,” which he would hardly do was he in holy orders.

Edition: current; Page: [325]

With this overturning in one point of the accepted pedigree, which naturally cast doubt upon the whole, Colonel Chester rested his case, and sought for the evidence which would enable him to prepare a correct one to take its place. In March, 1879, he published a letter in the New York World holding out a promise of something definite, but he died before this promise was fulfilled, and his papers and notes on the Washingtons passed into other hands, and have not yet been published.

Colonel Chester’s researches seemed to point to locating the immediate ancestors of Washington in Northants. In 1884-’85 Mr. Henry F. Waters, then engaged in genealogical research in England, took as a starting point the letters of administration which had been granted in England on the goods of Lawrence Washington of Virginia, as follows:

Mense Maij 1677 tricesimo die Emt Como Edmondo Jones principali creditori Laurentii Washington nuper de Luton in Comitatu Bedford sed apud Virginiã in partibus transmarinis decedeñ ad ads̃trand bona jura et credita dict deft de bene etc jurat. (Admon. Act Book, P. C. C.)1

That paper led him to restrict the field of his search for the Washingtons—for the name is found in many counties of England—to the parish of Luton, in the southern part of Bedfordshire, and its immediate neighborhood. A suggestive piece of evidence was found among certain bonds once belonging to Edition: current; Page: [326] the Hitchin Registry of the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon. John Dagnall, of Grove in the parish of Tring, co. Herts, yeoman, and William Roades, of Middle Claydon, in co. Bucks, Gentleman, executed on 29 January, 1649 (50) a bond as administrators on the goods of Andrew Knowling, of Tring, during the minority of Lawrence Washington the younger, then fourteen years of age, and as guardians or curators of said Lawrence Washington.1

In the will dated 13 January, 1649, Andrew Knowling made the following bequests:

Item I will give and bequeath unto Lawrance Washington the younger (my godsonne) all my freehould Landes and Tenemtes whatsoeur lying and being within the Parish of Tring aforesaid or else where within the Realme of England. To haue and to hould the same to him and his heires for euer. Item I give and bequeath unto Amphilis Washington my daughter in lawe (& mother of the said Lawrance) the some of Threescore poundes of Currt mony of England to be paid her within six months after my decease. Item I give and bequeath unto Elizabeth ffitzherbert one other of my daughters in Lawe the some of ffortye pounds of Currt mony to be paid in sorte and mannr as is last above menc̃oned. Item I give and bequeath unto William Roades my sonne in Lawe the some of Tenn poundes of Currt mony to be paid within sixe months next after my decease: Item I give and bequeath unto the said Elizabeth ffitzherbert all my corne & graine whatsoeur now within doores or without. Item I give and bequeath unto the Two daughters of my late daughter in Lawe Susan Billing deceased begotten of her body by her late husband John Billing of Lillington in the County of Buck, Tallowe Chaundler, Tenn poundes apeece to be paid within sixe months after my decease. And my will is that if either of the said Two children dye before her Legacie shalbecome due and payable Then I will Edition: current; Page: [327] that the Legacie of her dying shalbe paid to the other surviving. Item I give and bequeath unto John Washington, William Washington, Elizabeth Washington, Margarett Washington, & Martha Washington (children of the said Amphilis Washington my daughter in Lawe) The some of Eight and Twenty pounds a peece of Currt. mony to be paid to them att theire seu’all & respective Ages of One and Twenty years, To be putt out in the meane tyme for theire best benefitt & advantage * * * * All the rest of my goodes Cattles and chattles & personall estate not heerin given and disposed of, my debts and Legacies heerin giuen paid and my funrall chardges defrayed I give unto the said Lawrance Washington the younger my Godsonne whome I make sole and wholle executor of this my last will and Testament. * * *1

This Andrew Knowling, it was inferred, married the widowed mother of William Roades, Amphillis Washington, Elizabeth Fitzherbert, and Susanna Billing; and, while the name of the husband of Amphillis Washington was not given, it was conjectured to be Lawrence, as the executor and residuary legatee in the will was called Lawrence the younger. Tring is a village of Hertfordshire, only a few miles from Luton, in the adjoining county of Bedford. And upon visiting that parish, Mr. Waters found some entries in the parish register which confirmed these conjectures.

The next clue found was a record in the Probate Court of Canterbury, showing that letters of administration had been issued on 8 February, 1655, to John Washington, “the nr̃all and lawfull sone of Amphillis Washington late of Tring in the County of Hertford dec̃d to ads̃ter the goodes Chẽlls and debtes of the said dec̃d.” Admon. Act Book (P. C. C.), Edition: current; Page: [328] 42. Mr. Waters based upon this document and the entries on the Tring register that “Mr. Lawrence Washington husband of Amphillis and father of John and Lawrence, had pre-deceased his wife; and that John Washington, to whom the letters of admon. issued, was the eldest son. As we have seen, Lawrence was baptized in the summer of 1635 and Elizabeth in 1636. John could not have been born later than 1634, and must have been at least twenty-one years of age at the grant of admon., and twenty-three in 1657, the date of the emigration.”

It was still in question if these Washingtons of Tring, John and Lawrence, were the emigrants to Virginia, and no light was thrown upon this question by the wills of William Roades or Elizabeth Fitzherbert. As the prefix “Mr.” on the church register indicated that Lawrence Washington was either a clergyman or a person of some importance, Mr. Waters suspected that he might be the Lawrence Washington who was the rector of Purleigh described by Col. Chester. He determined to examine carefully the papers connected with the probate of Andrew Knowling’s will, and found a bond of guardianship of John Dagnall, dated 29 January, 1649-50, as guardian and curator of the two daughters of John and Susanna Billing. Mr. Waters continues:

I then saw a little bit of paper, doubled or folded upon itself, * * * covered with writing. Seeing at a glance, that it was evidently an official memorandum of the issuing of the letters of guardianship and of the oath taken by Mr. Dagnall for the faithful performance of his trust, I did not read it through but at once Edition: current; Page: [329] set about copying it in full, little realizing the start of surprise and gratification I should experience when I should come to the end of what proved to be the most valuable and important bit of genealogical evidence that I ever saw or ever expect to see in the course of my gleanings. This little memorandum was as follows:—

Mdu qd 29° die Januarij Anno dñi 1649° apud Whethamsted concessæ fuerunt lr̃æ Curatoriæ ad lites duabus filiabus Susannæ Benning defi legatariis in testm̃o Andreæ Knowlinge precupac̃one legatorũ eisdem in dco testm̃o donat et de disposic̃oe eorundẽ ad usũ et commodũ dc̃arũ filiarũ duran earũ respẽ minori ætate et fidelr̃ se gereud etc. et de reddo Compto etc Johũi Dagnall de Grove Pochiæ de Tring Marito Elizabethæ Materteræ dc̃arũ filiaru iurat etc corã.

pñte me Guil: Rolfe
nor̃io pubc̃o
Laurentio Washington
in Art: Mag̃ro Surrog̃: Offilis
etc, hac vice.
Oblig̃tur dc̃us Johẽs Dagnall in 50 [Editor: illegible character]

Here we have proof of identification, and of the most positive and conclusive character. There cannot be the least doubt that this Lawrence Washington, M.A., was the husband of Amphillis and the father of her children. He was there in the Archdeacon’s Court at Whethampsted, evidently to protect the interests of that wife and those children, who, under the will presented and allowed in court that day, were to receive the bulk of Mr. Knowling’s personal estate, while the second son, Lawrence, as the acknowledged heir of his godfather and the executor of his will, was to inherit the real estate of the deceased and all the residuum of the personal estate after the debts, legacies and funeral expenses and other charges should have been settled and paid. There can be but little doubt that this same Lawrence Washington, M. A., who was acting as temporary Surrogate in the Archdeacon’s Court on this occasion, was a clergyman; for that court was an ecclesiastical one, and the office of Surrogate in testamentary courts was usually, if not invariably, held by a clergyman. The Edition: current; Page: [330] father of these children, then was a clergyman and a Master of Arts. We have record of only one Lawrence Washington to whom that would apply, namely the fifth (?) son of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave, brother of Sir William Washington of Packington, and of Sir John Washington of Thrapston. He was a student, Lector and Fellow of Brasenose, and in 1631 Proctor of the University of Oxford, and afterwards Rector of Purleigh. The long search after the true line of ancestry of our Washington, begun in 1791, was practically brought to a successful close when that little paper was discovered on Monday, the third of June, 1889.1

Since the publication of Mr. Waters’ memoir, a number of other facts have been discovered that must contribute to a final determination of this vexed question, and there are rumors of important documents in the hands of individual investigators, as yet unpublished. At the present writing the facts seem to be as follows:—First, there is no doubt that the emigrants John and Lawrence of Virginia were the legatees under Andrew Knowling’s will, and that their mother was named Amphillis. Second, there is no moral doubt that their father was Mr. Lawrence Washington of Tring. Third, no trace has been found of any Lawrence Washington, M.A., in that generation, except the rector of Purleigh. Fourth, the rector of Purleigh, in all probability, after his ejectment therefrom, became a preacher at Little Braxted in Essex, and was buried, January 21, 1652, at Maldon, co. Essex, only three miles from Purleigh. Fifth, although it is possible that Lawrence Washington, M.A., was present at court in 1649 in the Edition: current; Page: [331] interest of the children of a namesake or cousin, yet this is a more violent supposition than that he was acting for his own children. In 1642 Lawrence Washington was ejected from Purleigh; in 1649 he was apparently a poor man, or at best a preacher in a living “so small that few would accept of it.” If he were the husband of Amphillis, there was every reason for him to attend the probate court to look after the bequest to his children. In 1652 Rev. Lawrence Washington died; in January, 1654-5 Mrs. Washington of Tring died, and in February her son John was appointed administrator. These latter dates all agree with the husband of Amphillis, who was most probably alive in January, 1649-50, when Andrew Knowling made his will.

We lack positive evidence that Rev. Lawrence Washington of Purleigh was the husband of Amphillis Washington of Tring, but so far nothing has appeared to make the identity improbable, and the coincidences in favor of it are numerous and very strong.

First Generation.

  • 1.

    John Washington, of Whitfield, co. Lancaster.1


    • 2. John.
    • 3. Robert.
Edition: current; Page: [332]

Second Generation.

  • 2. John Washington (John1), of Whitfield.
  • 3. Robert Washington (John1), of Warton, co. Lancaster. Described as second son, and gentleman. Married three times. By his first wife — Westfield he had issue
    • 4. John.
    • 5. Thomas.
    • 6. Ellen, married James Mason, of Warton.
  • By his second wife — Whittington, daughter of Miles Whittington, of Barwick, co. Lancaster, he had:
    • 7. Robert.
    • 8. Miles.
  • By his third wife, Agnes, daughter of — Bateman, of Haversham, co. Westmoreland, he had:
    • 9. Anthony.
    • 10. Matthew.
    • 11. Elizabeth.

Third Generation.

  • 4.

    John Washington (Robert3, John1), of Warton, co. Lancaster, married Margaret, daughter of Robert Kitson, of Warton, and sister of Sir Thomas Kitson, Kt., and Alderman of London. Sir Thomas was a great wool and cloth merchant. (Simpkinson, 308.)


    • 12. Lawrence.
    • 13. Nicholas.Edition: current; Page: [333]
    • 14. Leonard.
    • 15. Peter.
    • 16. Thomas (twice married).
    • 17. Jane, married Humphrey Gardiner, of Cockerham, Lanc.
  • 7.

    Robert Washington (Robert3, John1).


    • 18. Thomas.

Fourth Generation.

  • 12. Lawrence Washington (John4, Robert3, John1), of Northampton and Gray’s Inn; Mayor of Northampton, 1532. On the dissolution of the monasteries in 30 Hen. viii. (1538-9), Lawrence received a grant of a parcel of the dissolved priory of St. Andrew,—the manor of Sulgrave,—with all the lands in Sulgrave and Woodford, certain lands in Stotesbury and Colton near Northampton, that belonged to this priory, and all lands in Sulgrave belonging to the dissolved priories of Canons Ashby and Catesby.1 He died 19 February, 26 Elizabeth (1584). He was twice married: (1) Elizabeth, widow of Edition: current; Page: [334] William Gough of Northampton, who bore him no children; and (2) Anne (or Amy) Pargiter, daughter of Robert Pargiter,1 of Gretworth, gent. She died 7 October, 1564. Issue:
    • 19. Robert, born circa 1543-4.
    • 20. Lawrence.
    • 21.
    • 22.

Baker merely says “two other sons.” Welles gives William and John, but no authority for his statement. Mr. J. Henry Lea found in the Malmsbury Abbey Register the will of Henry Washington, of Malmsbury, dated 2 July, 1570, mentioning wife, Agnes, and daughter, Elyn; also noted a George Washington, married Johann Hatt, 20 July, 1601, and buried 2 May, 1625. Mr. Lea conjectures that Henry and George were the two unnamed sons of Lawrence.

    • 23. Frances, married John Thompson, of Sulgrave.
    • 24. Anne, married Edmund Foster, of Hanslop, Bucks.
    • 25. Elizabeth, married Henry Marshall.

Mr. Waters prints, p. 40, the will of Simon Heynes of Towerstone (Turweston) in the county of Bucks, Esq., dated 20 December, 1626, and proved 17 May, 1628. In it he said: “As touching my freehold lands called Millfield, lying in Stuttesbury, Northampton, which I heretofore purchased of my cousin Lawrence Washington, of the King’s Majesty in capite, I dispose, &c,” and he makes his “friends and kinsmen Lawrence Washington, Esq., and Simon Heynes, Esq., son of Joseph Heines, overseers.” Simon Haynes of “Tarston, was son of Simon, dean of Exeter and Windsor, and married Amye, daughter and one of three coheiresses of Henry Marshall of Co. Northum, and of Elizabeth, Edition: current; Page: [335] aunt to Sir Lawrence Washington.”1 It may be conjectured that Mrs. Marshall was the Elizabeth Washington mentioned above.

    • 26. Magdalen.
    • 27. Barbara, married Simon Butler of Appletre, gent. He was baptized 6 May, 1549, and buried, 16 June, 1628. She was buried 1 April, 1635. A son, John Butler, died in May, 1651, aged 81.
    • 28. Mary, married Abel Makepeace, of Chipping Warden, Northampton. His will,2 proved 14 October, 1602, mentioned his wife, Mary, two unmarried daughters, Dorothy and Bridget, and three married, Lucy, Jane, and Amy. His only son, Lawrence, married Elizabeth, daughter of J. Croker, of Hooknorton, co. Oxon. Amy [also printed Anne] married Edward Edens of Banbury, co. Oxon; Dorothy married James Pountney, of London; and Bridget married Fabian Cole of Sulgrave.
    • 29. Margaret, married Gerard Hawtayne, of Esington, Oxon. Children (Hawtayne):
      • i. Lawrence, d.s.p.
      • ii. Edward. d.s.p.
      • iii. Henry, married Mary, daughter of John Doyley of Chiselhampton, co. Oxon.
      • iv. Margery, married Richard Wallop, of Bugbrooke, co. Northampton.

Lawrence Washington was buried in Sulgrave church, and a stone slab, with six brass plates let Edition: current; Page: [336] into it, marked the spot. The first of these plates contained the Washington coat-of-arms, argent, two bars gules, in chief three mullets of the second. On either side, in brass, were effigies of Washington and his wife (the latter was missing as early as 1793), and below them on a brass plate of oblong form was the following inscription in three lines, in the old black character:

Here lyeth buried ye bod-ys of Laurence Wasshingto & Amee his | wyf by whome he had issue iiij sons & vij daughts wç laurence Dyed ye day of | ano 15 & Amee Deceassed the vi day of october ano Dñi 1564.

Under this plate were representations of the four sons and seven daughters. “The costume of Lawrence Washington and his children is that of the ordinary attire of civilians of the middle of the 16th century. The father wears a close-fitting doublet, a large loose gown, with demi-cannon sleeves, purfled with fur, and large broad-toed shoes. The boys wear large doublets, knee breeches, long hose, and shoes like their father; and each has his gyficière at his girdle. The girls wear close-fitting caps, with gowns reaching to the ancles, and secured round the waist with a band.”—Daily Reporter, Northampton, 24 August, 1889. In August, 1889, the portions representing the “iiij sons & vij daughts” were stolen.

Will of Lawrence Washington of Souldgrave in the Co. of Northampton, gentleman, 18 October, 1581, proved 11 February, 1584. Edition: current; Page: [337] As concerning my body, which, as it was made of earth, so must it return to dust and earth again, I desire therefore and require mine ‘exequitor’ to cause the same to be inhumate and buried in the parish church of Souldgrave aforesaid, in the South Aisle there before my seat where I usually used to sit, according to his discretion. To Mr. Walter Light a whole sovereign of gold and to his now wife a ‘ducate’ of gold. Towards the amending of Stanbridge Lane twenty shillings. And I will that Roger Litleford shall have the oversight in amending the said lane and bestowing the said twenty shillings. And for his pains in that behalf to be sustained I will him two shillings. And I will to every one of my sons’ and daughters’ children five shillings apiece, and to every one of my brother Leonard Washington’s children six shillings eight pence a piece willed to them by Parson Washington.1 Also I give to my brother Thomas Washington’s children by his last wife forty shillings. Also I devise to my son Lawrence Washington one goblet parcel gilt, with the cover for the same, and four pounds of current English money to buy him a salt. And I further will to him one featherbed in the gate-house, one feather bed over the day-house, one coverlet with a blue lining, one coverlet in the gate-house chamber, two boulsters, two pairs of blankets, four home made coverlets & four mattresses. Also I give to Lawrence Washington, son to Robert Washington my son and heir apparent, the ring which I usually wear. Also I forgive and acquit my brother Thomas Washington of all such debts and duties as he by any manner of means oweth unto me. And I forgive and discharge John Lagoe, sometime my servant, of all such sums of money as he oweth unto me and of all rents and arrearages of rents due unto me for such lands tenements hereditaments as he holdeth of mine, by lease or otherwise, for term of my natural life. And I will to every one of my servants which shall be in service with me at the time of my decease twelve pence. Also I will that the said Robert Washington shall yearly give to my servant Symon Wood Edition: current; Page: [338] a livery coat and forty shillings of current English money for his wages yearly during his life. And whereas I stand charged by the last will and testament of William Bond, gentleman, for the amending and repairing of Preston Lane and for the repairing of the way between Darlington and the Westbridge at Northampton called Spangstone, I earnestly require my executor and overseer to call upon the said John Balgoye for the amending of the said places, for that I have, long time heretofore, delivered into the hands of the said John Balgaye the sum of ten pounds of currant English money for the repairing of Preston Lane and twenty shillings for the amending of Spangston, for that only use and purpose.1 Also I will and devise that widow Compton shall have, hold, possess and enjoy for term of her life so much of one cottage as she now possesseth in Sulgrave, so as she well and honestly behave herself during her life, without making or doing any reparations thereupon and without paying any rent therefor, other than one red rose at the feast of St. John the Baptist yearly, if the same be demanded. And my further meaning and intent is that the said Robert and his heirs shall from time to time forever appoint some honest aged or impotent person to inhabit the same cottage for term of life, and that such aged or impotent person as shall not pay to my heirs any manner of rent therefor for term of his life other than a red rose payable as aforesaid, nor shall be charged to repair the same cottage during his or their lives. And my mind, intent and meaning is that if any doubt, ambiguity or controversy shall appear to arise or grow in respect of these presents then I will the same shall be decided and determined by my overseers or any one of them. And of this my last will and testament I constitute, ordain and appoint the said Robert Washington my sole executor, and of the same I make Edition: current; Page: [339] and ordain my well-beloved and trusty friends the said William Baldwyn and William Pargiter my overseers, desiring them to call on my executor if any default or slackness shall evidently in him appear, for or towards the performance of this my last will and testament, and for their pains I will to either of them forty shillings. Witnesses, William Baldwin, William Pargiter, Robert Calcott, George Woodward.

Brudenell, 5 (P. C. C.).1

  • 18.

    Thomas Washington (Robert,7 Robert3 John1) of Compton, Sussex. Captain in Flanders. Married — Deering.


    • 30. Richard, ob. s. p. 1612.
    • 31. Lucy, married — Cheesewright [some say Chiselwright] of co. Cambridge.
    • 32. Anne, married Robert Bateman.

“Commission issued 4 May, 1612, to Anne Bateman als Washington, and Lucy Cheesewright als Washington, natural and lawful sisters of Richard Washington, bachelor, in parts beyond the seas deceased, to administer his goods, &c.”

Admon. Act Book (P. C. C.)
    • 33. Katharine, married Melchior Reynolds.

Fifth Generation.

  • 19. Robert Washington (Lawrence12 John4 Robert3 John1) of Sulgrave, Esq., born circa 1543-4. Jointly with his son Lawrence he sold the manor of Sulgrave in 8 Jac. (1610) to his nephew Lawrence Makepeace, of the Inner Temple, London, gent. Robert was twice married. By Elizabeth, Edition: current; Page: [340] daughter and heir of Robert Light1 of Radway, co. Warwick, he had issue:
    • 34. Lawrence.
    • 35. Robert.
    • 36. Walter.
    • 37. Christopher, matriculated at Oxford, 6 December 1588; married Margaret Palmer, of Radway.
    • 38. William, matriculated at Oxford, 6 December 1588.
    • 39. Thomas.
    • 40. Anne (or Amy), married Alban Wakelyn.
    • 41. Ursula, married Thomas Adcock, of Swinford, Leic.
    • 42. Elizabeth, married Lewis Richardson, of Turvey, Beds.
  • By his second wife Anne Fisher, of Hanslop, Bucks., he had issue:
    • 43. Alban, born about 1599.
    • 44. Guy.
    • 45. Robert.

Baker says this Robert was alive in 1676. If that be true, he was probably the Robert mentioned in the indenture dated 2 May, 1674, in which John Shotter of Midhurst, co. Sussex, mercer, transferred to Robert Washington the younger, of Petworth, co. Sussex, currier, the messuage called the Haws (?) in Petworth, (then occupied by Robert Washington, the elder,) Edition: current; Page: [341] adjoining the beast-market on the west and south street on the south.1

    • 46. Mary, married Martin Edon, of Banbury, co. Oxon.
    • 47. Margaret, married John Gardiner, of London.
    • 48. Catherine, married John Ireton.

Robert Washington of Souldgrave, in the co. of Northampton Esq., 7 February, 1619, proved 3 January, 1620. My body to be buried in the South Aisle of the church before my seat where I usually sit under the same stone that my father lieth under.

I give to my three sons which I had by my second wife, namely to my son Albane Washington, to my son Guy Washington and to my son Robert Washington, the sum of one hundred pounds apiece of currant English money, to be paid unto them and to each of them at their ages of four and twenty apiece, always provided, and I do mean, that my said three sons shall have the said sums of money afore-named and at the time aforesaid if they be obedient, and will be ruled in the mean space by their mother my executrix and do carry themselves well and as dutiful children to her; but if they, or any of them, be undutiful unto her and will not be ruled by her as it becometh them to be then I will by this my last will and testament that they, or so many of them as shall be undutiful or that will not be ruled by her, shall have but ten pounds apiece at their ages of four and twenty years apiece aforesaid.

Also I give unto three other sons which I had by my former wife, namely to my son Christopher Washington, to my son William Washington and to my son Thomas Washington, the sum of ten shillings apiece. And I do further give unto my son William Washington aforesaid the sum of fifty pounds to be paid unto him out of a debt of four hundred and odd pounds due unto me from the executors or administrators of my son Lawrence Washington deceased, and the said fifty pounds to be paid unto my son William Washington aforesaid, as soon as it is recovered from the executors or administrators of my son Lawrence as is aforesaid.

Edition: current; Page: [342]

The rest of my goods and chattells unnamed and unbequeathed I give unto my wife Ann Washington whom I make sole executrix of this my last will and testament she discharging my last will and testament and discharging my debts and funerals.

Wit: Thomas Court, scriptor, Christopher Pargiter, John Ireton. Dale, 5 (P. C. C.).1

  • 220.

    Lawrence Washington (Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1). Entered at Gray’s Inn in 1571; may have been the Lawrence, a fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, who, with others, appealed to Lord Burghley in August, 1573, relative to the election of a master of their college. Called to the bar in 1582, and in 1583 was styled of “Gray’s Inn, co. Middlesex, gent.” In that year he purchased the manor of Whitacre inferior, co. Warwick, selling it six years later to George Villiers. In 1594 he was living at Much Hadham, Herts, and towards the close of Elizabeth’s reign he purchased Jordan’s Hall, Maidstone, Kent. He was appointed Registrar of the court of chancery in March, 1593, which office he discharged through that reign. From the Privy Council Register, 15 January, 1599, it appears that among the lawyers of chancery assessed for the suppression of the Irish rebellion, was Lawrence Washington, who paid £ 10 sterling. He was in the Parliament of King James the First (1603), a member from Maidstone; and, assisted by deputies, continued personally to discharge the duties of Registrar until his Edition: current; Page: [343] death on 21 December, 1619, at his house in Chancery Lane.1

    Lawrence was twice married: 1 Martha Newce, spinster, daughter of Clement Newce of Hadham Magna, Herts. (license granted 31 January, 1577-8). Issue:

    • 49. Lawrence, baptized 5 April, 1579.
    • 50. Clement, baptized 4 May, 1580; buried, 5 May, 1580.
    • 51. Mary, baptized 4 February, 1581-2; married 27 May, 1602, at St. James, Clerkenwell, William Horsepoole, of Great Marlow, Bucks, son of Symon Horsepoole, citizen and draper of London. He died in 1647.
      • Children: Symon, born 1604 (?); John, born 1607 (?); Lawrence, born 1613; William, born 1616; Mary; Martha; Elizabeth; and Catherine.
    • 52. Clement, baptized 22 January, 1583-4; died before 1619.
    • 53. Ralph died before 1619.
    • 54. William died before 1619.
    • 55. A son died before 1619.
    • 56.

      Martha, married 15 January, 1609-10, Arthur Edition: current; Page: [344] Beswick, gent., son and heir of William Beswick, of Spilmander, co. Kent. He was sheriff of the county in 1616. She died in 1616, leaving one child, Mary.

      The second wife of Lawrence was Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Scott, of Scott’s Hall, co. Kent. By her he had no issue.

The will of Lawrence Washington was made 10 August, 1619, and proved 10 January, 1619. All his lands, tenements, and hereditaments were left to his “well-beloved son Lawrence Washington, his heirs and assigns forever; and all my goods and chattels, other than such legacies as I shall give and bequeath, to my loving daughter Mary Horspoole, wife to William Horspoole, gent., and to any of her children, and to my loving brother Robert Washington and to my very good loving cousin Sir Justinian Lewyn, Knight, and to the poor of the parish of Soulgrave in the county of Northampton, &c. His son Lawrence was constituted sole executor.—Soame, 3 (P. C. C.).1


  • Here resteth the body of Lawrence
  • Washington Esq; of the Family of the
  • Washingtons, antientlie of Washington
  • in the Countie Palatine of Durham:
  • Register of the Highe Court of Chancery
  • Edition: current; Page: [345]
  • xxvii Yeares: He had two Wyvfs, Martha
  • Daughter of Clement Newce of Hartford-
  • shire Esq: and Mary Daughter of Sir Raynold
  • Scott of this Countie Knight: By his First
  • He had 5 Sons and 2 Daughters; Lawrence
  • and Mary, the Eldest only lyving. Lawrence
  • succeeded him in his Office, married Ann
  • daughter of William Lewyn Judge of the
  • Prerogative Court. Mary married William
  • Horsepoole of this Parish Gentlem. His other
  • Daughter Martha married to Arthur
  • Beswick Gentlem. Son of William Beswick
  • of this County Esq.; He having lived a
  • Virtuous and Xtian Life of singular Intiecrity
  • in his place. Being of the age of lxxiii Yeares
  • Died the xxi of December Ano Dni 1619. A
  • Faithfull Believer in the Merritts &
  • Mercies of his Saviour. To whose Memorie
  • His Sonne hath erected this monument
  • Though after my Skinne
  • Worms destroy this Body,
  • Yet shall I see God in my Flesh

Sixth Generation.

  • 34. Lawrence Washington (Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Sulgrave and Brington. With his father, he sold the manor of Sulgrave and retired to Brington. Died 13 December, 1616,1 buried at Brington, 15 December, 1616. Married at Aston, 3 August, 1588, Margaret, Edition: current; Page: [346] daughter of William Butler of Tighes, Sussex. She was alive in 1641. Children:
    • 57. Sir William.
    • 58. Sir John.
    • 59. Robert.
    • 60. Richard, born about 1600.
    • 61. Lawrence.
    • 62. Thomas, born about 1605, was a page in the suite of Prince Charles, and accompanied that Prince on his visit to Spain in 1623 to see the Spanish Infanta.

Madrid, 15 August, 1823.

Mr. Washington the Prince’s page is lately dead of a calenture, and I was at his funeral, under a fig-tree behind my Lord of Bristol’s house. A little before his death one Ballard an English Priest went to tamper with him: and Sir Edward [Edmund] Verney meeting him coming down the stairs of Washington’s chamber, they fell from words to blows, but they were parted. The business was like to gather very ill-blood and come to a great height, had not Count Gondamar quasht it; which I believe he could not have done, unless the times had been favorable, for such is the reverence they bear to the Church here, and so holy a conceit they have of all ecclesiastics, that the greatest Don in Spain will tremble to offer the meanest of them any outrage or affront.1

    • 63. Gregory, baptized at Brington, 16 January, 1606-7; buried the next day.
    • 64. George, baptized at Wormleighton, Warr., 3 August, 1608.Edition: current; Page: [347]
    • 65. Elizabeth, married, 25 May, 1615. at St. Mary le Strand, Middlesex, Francis Mewce of Holdenby, co. North.2

Elizabeth Mewce in the Co. of Middlesex, widow, 11 August, 1676, proved 12 December, 1676. My body I commit to the earth whence it came, to be decently buried according to the discretion of my executors. I give and bequeath to my niece Mrs. Penelope Thornton fifty pounds and my black shelf and my cabinet with all things that I shall leave therein. I give and bequeath to my niece Thornton’s five children, John, Charles, Samuel, Roger and Dorothy Thornton, forty pounds. I give and bequeath to my sister the Lady Washington, twenty pounds. I give and bequeath to my sister Mrs. Alice Sandys the sum of twenty pounds. I give and bequeath to my sister Mrs. Frances Gargrave the sum of twenty pounds and my clock and bed and hangings and sheets and all things to my bed belonging whatsoever. To my God-daughter Mrs Elizabeth Sandys ten pounds. To my niece Mrs. Margaret Stevenage ten pounds and to her two children, William and Mercy Stevenage, five pounds apiece.

Item I give and bequeath to my Uncle Mr. Robert Washington the sum of five pounds: to Mrs. Elizabeth Rumball, my niece, five pounds: to my nephew William Pill five pounds: to my niece Mrs. Francis Collins five pounds: to my nephew Mr. Robert Gargrave’s five children, Robert, John, William, Elizabeth and Cotton Gargrave twenty pounds apiece and to Elizabeth Gargrave my silver dish and silver porringer and cup and two spoons and all the rest of my small silver things that my note speaks of. Edition: current; Page: [348] To my maid Ann Freestone thirty pounds and her bed that she lieth on, with all things belonging to it, and my suit of purple curtains and the other things in my rooms not mentioned.

I do make my loving nephews Mr. Robert Gargrave and Mr. Roger Thornton executors of this my last will and testament, intreating them to take the care and trouble upon them, and I further desire these my executors, to let that money which I have given to my nephew Thornton’s children be put into the hands of their trusty and loving uncle Mr. Francis Pargiter, merchant, to put the sons apprentices or for the daughter’s preferement in marriage &c.

Bence, 154 (P. C. C.).1

    • 66. Joan, married Francis Pill, of Midford.
    • 67. Margaret, married (1) Samuel Thornton, who died 1666-7; and (2) Sir — Sandys, knight; and had issue (Thornton):
      • i. Roger.
      • ii. A daughter, who probably married — Kirby or Kirkby.

Samuel Thornton of St. Giles in the Fields, Middlesex, Esq. 9 January 1666, proved 2 May 1666. To my dear wife the sum of four hundred pounds, to my grand child John Thornton two hundred pounds, to Charles Thornton my grand child, one hundred pounds, to my grand child Penelope Thornton one hundred pounds, to my daughter Kirby two hundred pounds, and I make and ordain my dear wife sole executrix.

Wit: Jo: Coell, Eliza: Mewce, Margaret Talbott.

Proved by the oath of Dame Margaret Sandis als Thornton his Relict and Executrix named in the will. Carr, 41 (P. C. C.).2

Will of Dame Margaret Sandys.

October the eleventh 1673. Into the hands of God the father, the son and the Holy Ghost, three persons but one eternal God, I do commend my soul, and I desire my body may be buried in Edition: current; Page: [349] a private plain decent manner. And that little I have I do desire should be thus disposed of. I do give to my dear sister Mewce twenty pounds and the hangings in our chamber and the silk blanket and my pair of sheets we lie in. I do give to my sister Washington, my sister Sandys and my sister Gargrave ten pounds apiece, which in all is thirty pounds. I give to my nephew John Washington, my dear eldest brother’s son, twenty pounds. I give to my son Thornton my Indian gown. I give to my daughter Thornton twenty pounds and the hair trunk in my chamber and the linen in it. I give to my son Kerby twenty pounds and my Turkey work chairs and the tables and carpets in the Parlour during his life and my daughter’s, and after their deaths I give them to Lucy Kerk [Kerkby?] that waiteth on me. I give to my daughter Kerkby twenty pounds and my blue box in my closet and her father’s picture in it and all else in the box. I give to my uncle Robert Washington five pounds. I give to young Lucy Kerkby that waits upon me ten pounds and the feather bed, bolster and pillows and blankets and three pairs of sheets she lies in and the wrought sheet and the chairs and stools in my closet and all other things in my closet. I give also to her and her sisters my wearing linen and my clothes. I give to little Peg Kerkby my silver cup with the cover. I give to little Sam Thornton my thirty shilling piece of gold. I give to little Nan Doman a broad piece of gold. I give to the poor of Soham five pounds. I give to the poor of Fordham two pounds. And I make and ordain my dear son Thornton sole executor of this my last will and testament, desiring him to perform the same and those poor goods I have given that they may have them when I die, and the money I have given, that it may be paid to every one at the end of six months. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal in the presence of the witnesses whose names are subscribed the day and year above written, and what money I have either here or at Haxey undisposed I give two parts of it to John Thornton and one part to Charles Thornton, my son Thornton’s sons. And I desire my son that they may have it as soon as it is gotten, but the charge of my burying must be taken out of the money I leave.

Margarett Sandys.

Edition: current; Page: [350]

Wit: Do: Washington, Elizabeth Mewce, Lucy Kirkby.

Proved 16 November, 1675 by Roger Thornton the executor.1

    • 68.

      Alice, married Robert, eldest son of Thomas Sandys of London, gent. Children:

      Thomas and four other children.

    • 69. Frances, married — Gargrave.
    • 70. Amy, married at Brington, 8 August, 1620, Philip Curtis, of Islip, co. Northampton, gent. She died in 1636.

Philip Curtis of Islip in the Co. of Northampton, gentleman, delivered his will nuncupative in the presence of Sir John Washington, Knight, and Michael Westfield, clerk, 19 May 1356, proved 30 May, 1636. To my daughter Catherine Curtis one thousand pounds, at day of marriage or age of twenty one, which shall first happen. Item I give unto my nephew John Washington the sum of fifty pounds to be paid unto him at his age of twenty and one years. Item I give unto my nephew Phillip Washington the like sum of fifty pounds to be paid at his age of twenty and one years. And for my nephew Mordant Washington I leave in trust to my wife. Item I give unto my wife Amy Curtis and to her heirs forever all my freehold land to be sold towards the raising of my daughters portion &c. And I make her the full and sole executrix, &c. Item I make choice of Sir John Washington of Thrapston, Knight, and Michael Westfield of Islipp, clerk, to be guardians for my daughter.

Pile, 55 (P. C. C.).2

Amye Curtis of Islipp, in the Co. of Northampton widow, 27 June, 1636, proved 19 November, 1636. My body to be buried in the chancel of Islipp, near unto the grave of my deceased husband. I give towards the repair of the church of Islipp twenty shillings; to the poor there forty shillings: to the poor of Denford twenty shillings.

Edition: current; Page: [351]

Item whereas there was given unto my nephew Mordaunt Washington, the eldest son of Sir John Washington, Knight, by the last will and testament of his grandmother Curtis deceased the sum of fifty pounds to be employed as [in] the said will is further expressed, my will is and I do give unto the said Mordaunt two hundred and fifty pounds more to be employed for his best benefit so soon as my debts be paid and the said money can conveniently be raised, and to be paid unto him at his age of twenty and one years or at the day of his marriage, which shall first happen. Item, whereas my husband, late deceased, gave unto John Washington, the second son of Sir John Washington the sum of fifty pounds, my will is and I do give unto the said John my nephew the sum of fifty pounds more, to be employed for his best use and benefit, my debts first paid and the money conveniently raised, and to be paid to him at his age of twenty and one years, or at the day of his marriage.

A similar bequest to Phillip Washington, the third son of Sir John Washington.

To my god daughter Amy Hynde twenty pounds. To Michael Westfield, clerk, five pounds, and to Mr. Richard Allen of Lowick five pounds. To my neighbor Mrs. Margaret Westfield five pounds. The freehold land given to me by my husband Phillip Curtis, I give unto my daughter Katherine Curtis. My mother Margaret Washington and my brother Sir John Washington to be guardians for my daughter.

Wit: Michael Westfield, William Washington and Phillip Freeman.

Pile, 108 (P. C. C.).

    • 71. A daughter. Simpkinson says she was named Barbara, and married Simon Butler, of Apeltree, Northants—a repetition of what Baker gives to Barbara, No. 27, ante. The dates would render it possible that Simpkinson was correct.
    • 72. Jane, married Richard Seymour.

Richard Seymor of St. Mary Savoy als Strand, Middlesex, gen. 13 April, 1641.

Edition: current; Page: [352]

I give and bequeath unto my loving wife Mris Jane Seymor, for and during the term of her life, the interest, benefit and profit which shall be made, raised and received of and for the sum of six hundred pounds which is owing to me by the persons hereafter named, vizt. the right Honoble the Earl of Northton four hundred pounds, the Earl of Peterborough one hundred pounds, Mris Margaret Washington my wife’s mother fifty pounds and my wife’s brother in law Mr. Francis Muce fifty pounds. All the securities for the said moneys shall be made in the name of my loving nephew Lawrence Swetnam gent., whom I do desire to pay the said interest money to my said wife from time to time as he shall receive the same during the term &c. To my son Spencer Seymor all my goods, chattels, moneys, leases, bonds, bills, debts and other things whereof I am possessed, he to be executor of this my will and my said nephew Mr. Lawrence Swetnam to be guardian to my said son during his minority. Richard, Arthur, Robert and Stephen Squibb my nephews, sons of my brother in law, Mr. Arthur Squibb. I humbly beseech and desire the right Honble the Earl of Northampton, my noble lord and master, and my brother in law Arthur Squibb, Esq., one of the four tellers of the Receipt of H. M. Exchequer at Westminster, to be supervisors of this my last will, etc.

On the last day of May, 1641, commission issued to Lawrence Swetnam, guardian named in the will, to administer the goods etc. of the deceased according to the tenor of the will during the minority of Spencer Seymor the executor named &c.

Evelyn, 62.1

    • 73. Lucy. [?]
        • Here lieth the bodi of Lavrence
        • Washington sonne and heire of
        • Robert Washington of Sovlgrave
        • In the countie of Northamton
        • Esquier who married Margaret
        • The eldest daughter of William
        • Butler of Tees in the Countie
        • Edition: current; Page: [353]
        • of Sussexe Esquier, who had issu
        • By her 8 sonns and 9 daughters
        • Which Lavrence decessed the 13
        • of December a. dni. 1616.
        • Those that by chance or choyce
        • Of this hast sight
        • Know life to death resignes
        • As days to night;
        • But as the sunns retorne
        • Revives the day
        • So Christ shall us
        • Though turnde to dust & clay.1
  • 35. Robert Washington (Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1). Died 11 March 1622-23; buried at Brington. Married Elizabeth, daughter of John Chishull, of More Hall, Essex. She died 19 March 1622-23, and was buried at Brington.

Elizabeth Washington of Brington, in the Co. of Northampton widow, 17 March 1622, proved 12 April, 1623. I do give unto John Washington one hundred pounds and four pairs of my best sheets, two long table cloths, two pairs of pillow-biers and four dozen napkins, four side board cloths, four cupboard cloths and four long towels, one nut to drink in trimmed with silver, one silver beaker to drink in, one silver bowl to drink in, half a dozen of the best silver spoons and one double silver salt cellar, one pewter charger and a plate to it, six of the best platters and six dishes, a pair of andirons and tongs, a fire shovel, a chafing dish, a great brass pot which came from Solgrave, the best standing bed in the great chamber, with all that belongs to it, and half a dozen of Turkey work ‘quishions’ and two long velvet ‘quishions’ and a leather coffer. I do give unto Sir William Washington one hundred pounds. Item I do give unto Mrs. Mywse [Mewce] Edition: current; Page: [354] twenty pounds and one silver bowl and one brass pot. Item I do give unto Mrs. Francis Washington twenty pounds. Item I do give unto my cousin Pill the bed wherein I do now lie, with all that appertains unto it. ‘Item I doe give unto my Cosen Lawrence Washington who is now at Oxford my husband’s seal ringe.’ Item I do give unto A: me Adcocke twenty five pounds, a pied cow and a pied colt and a yearling bullock, a great brass pott and two great deep platters and two pairs of fine sheets, one pair of pillowbiers and a dozen of napkins, a kettel and a dripping pan. Item I do give unto my cousin Penelope Leake, who is now with me ten pounds. And of this my last will and testament I do make and ordain Mr. Francis Mewce my sole executor. And I do desire that all those dues and debts which is now owing by my late husband Mr. Robert Washington may be first discharged and then after them the legacies herein set down performed. And my desire is that my honorable good lord Spencer would be pleased to be my supervisor of this my last will and testament.

Swann, 33 (P. C. C.).1

Here lies interred ye bodies of Elizab. Washington widdowe who changed this life for iM̄ortalitie ye 19h of March 1622. As also ye body of Robert Washington Gent. her late husband second sonne of Robert Washington of Solgrave in ye county of NorthmacrUC. Esqr. who deptmacrUCed this life ye 10th of March 1622. After they lived lovingly together many yeares in this parish.2

  • 36.

    Walter Washington (Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Radway, Warr. Died 1597. Married Alice, daughter of John Morden alias Marden of Morton Morell, Warwickshire, by Katherine, daughter and coheir of Richard Marston of Draughton, Northamptonshire.

    Edition: current; Page: [355]


    • 74. John.
    • 75. Katherine, married Thomas Stanton of Woolverton, co. Warr., Esq. Issue:
      • Thomas, born 1616.
      • Walter.
      • Alice, born in 1619.

Will of Walter Washington, of Radway in the parish of Bishop’s Ithington, in the countie of Warwicke, Gent. Being asked by his uncle, George Warner, to whom he willed his goods, he answered that he gave all he had to his wife and children. Witnesses: Richard Hill, George Warner, John Murdon, Catharine Murdon. Dorothea Caunt, Wodnefrode Brown. April 23, 1597. Admon, issued to his widow Alicie Washington. Cobham, 31 (P. C. C.).1

Alice Washington survived her husband, and married John Woodward, “who, I suppose was the eldest son of Thomas Woodward of Butlers Marston.”2

John Woodward of Quinton, in the co. of Gloucester, gent. 21 April, 1612, proved 13 May, 1612.

Item, I give and bequeath unto Thomas Washington gent. my wife’s brother in law, all that my pasture ground and meadow in Quinton, Glouc., for a term of one thousand years, he paying yearly unto Alice my wife, during her natural life one annuity of twenty pounds heretofore by me granted unto her, issuing forth of the said lands.3

Alice Woodward of Stratford on Avon, 20 August 1642, proved 22 May, 1647. To be buried in the church at Stratford near late husband John Woodward gent. To my son John Washington twenty pounds in six months. Bequests to grandchildren, Edition: current; Page: [356] George, Elizabeth, Ann, Thomas and Katherine Washington, the children of the said John Washington, at their ages of one and twenty or days of marriage: also to grandchildren Thomas, Walter and Alice Stanton. Friend Thomas Wash, Esq.

Fines, 112 (P. C. C.).1

  • 49. Sir Lawrence Washington (Lawrence20, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1). Born about 1579, and matriculated at Oxford, November, 1594. Purchased the manor of Garsden, co. Wilts (three miles from Malmesbury), of the Moody family; obtained a grant in reversion of the Registrarship in the High Court of Chancery, 16 April, 1604, and succeeded his father in that office towards the close of 1619.

The office of Registrar was greatly in demand, and applications were made for reversions which could hardly have come in during the lives of the intended incumbents. In 1636 (?) Thomas Bray petitioned for a reversion of the office to George and Lodovic Bray for their lives, and recited that “the late king in the 2d year of his reign granted to Lawrence Washington the younger the office of Registrar of the Court of Chancery, after the death of Lawrence Washington the elder. And in the 12th year of his reign the said king also granted the said office to Lawrence Makepeace after the death of Lawrence Washington the younger. The present king also on the petition of George Kirke, one of the grooms of the bed chamber, granted the said office to John Dalton after the deaths of Washington and Makepeace, Edition: current; Page: [357] who are still living.” The Brays could not come into the office till both had died.

In the Midsummer vacation of 1637 Sir Lawrence Washington petitioned Archbishop Laud for a hearing on the question of fees in the Chancery Court, but was unable to obtain a reference through the sickness and occupation of the Archbishop. Postponed to the “first Star Chamber day next term,” the appointment was held in November, 1637, when Sir Lawrence presented his petition, thus summarized in the Calendar of State Papers:

Petition of Sir Lawrence Washington to the king. States the history of his office of Registrar of the Court of Chancery, of which he had a grant from the Crown for his own life and that of another, and that the reversion had been granted to one Mr. Dalton. The office was founded by Henry VIII. Before that time the business was discharged by the six clerks, who, being attorneys retained in causes in the court, were not indifferent parties to set down orders. No fees were ever settled. The six clerks in the 40th Elizabeth presented the fees whilst the employment was in them, but greater fees had been taken for 28 years by the patentees. On the present commission upon exacted fees petitioner had looked into the same, but can find no other settlement than the usage of 66 years. Prays a reference to settle the fees, and also to compound with petitioner for a grant in reversion after Mr. Dalton.

Lawrence was knighted in 1627 by King Charles the first; and married Anne, daughter of William Lewyn, Esq., D. C. L., of Ottringden, co. Kent, and sister of Sir Justinian Lewyn,1 Kt. He died at Edition: current; Page: [358] Oxford in 1643, aged 64, and was buried in Garsden Church, Wiltshire. His widow died 13 January, 1645, and was interred in the same grounds three days later.1


    • 76. Martha, married, in June, 1630, Sir John Tyrell,2 of Springfield, Essex, and died 17 December, 1670, æ. 90. He was born 14 December 1597; knighted, 27 January, 1627-8; died in 1675, æ. 82, and was buried at East Hornden. Issue: [Tyrell]
      • i. Lawrence, born, at Springfield, 1 November, 1632. D. s. p.
      • ii. Sir John, of Heron, born 14 March, 1635; died 30 March, 1673, æ. 36. Married Lettice, daughter of Thomas Coppin, of Mercatel, co. Herts. She died 8 March, 1660. He married a second time.
      • iii. Thomas, d. s. p.
      • iv. Charles, d. s. p.
      • v. Martha, married Sir Benjamin Ayloffe, of Braxsted, co. Essex, bart.

The Ayloffes are of note because it was probably with that family that Lawrence Washington, rector of Purleigh, found a refuge in Braxted Parva after his living at Purleigh was sequestered. Sir Benjamin Ayloffe, father of the husband of Martha Tyrell was distinguished by his loyalty to the king; he was, by order of Parliament, imprisoned in the Tower, his estates sequestered, and, with many others, was sent to Yarmouth, to be transported to the English plantations in the West Indies. That order was reversed, and returning to Braxted, he compounded for his estate, lived to Edition: current; Page: [359] see the restoration, and was a member of Parliament. He died in 1662, and was succeeded by his son William. This son dying without surviving issue, his brother Benjamin succeeded to the estate and title. This Sir Benjamin was the husband of Martha Tyrell, and was an eminent merchant of London.1

Some curious facts may be noted on the Tyrells. In November, 1637, Sir John Tyrell petitioned to the King, stating that “about 13 years since petitioner was advanced in marriage by Sir John Tyrrell, his uncle, who received petitioner’s wife’s portion of £3000, and settled upon petitioner and his wife £400 per annum in present, and agreed to settle £800 per annum after the death of Thomas, petitioner’s father and his mother, but reserving in his uncle’s own power to dispose of £600 per annum, which he often declared he intended to confer on petitioner’s father and mother for their lives, and to charge it with £2000 for petitioner’s younger children. But Sir Henry Browne and Lady Eyres persons of strait fortunes, have put themselves upon petitioner’s uncle, he being aged, blind, and otherwise infirm. They cohabit with him, and upon pretence that he was indebted £1000, have removed him to a cottage in Hampshire, where they have obscured him these two or three years, have caused the £600 per annum to be sold away, the timber to be felled,2 the coppice wood to be destroyed, the fences to be laid waste, and have received his rents, sold his plate, and great part of his household stuff.” Having ineffectually sought to restrain this waste through the Lord Keeper and unwilling to incense his uncle by a suit, Sir John appeals to the King.

The referees in effect denied the petition, and further found Sir Henry Brown “faultless in all those things wherewith he is charged in the said petition, and hold the petitioner very much to blame to asperse a gentleman of so much honor and worth, and who performed towards old Sir John Tyrell the offices of a very affectionate kinsman and real friend.”3

Edition: current; Page: [360]

May it please this honorable Com̃ittee to take notice that I was sequestered for being at Oxford, & the occations of my goeing thither weare these—Sir Laurence Washingtõ my wife’s father (haueing noe more children besides my wife & one sonne then under age) carried my wife frõ my house att Springfield in Essex to his house at Garsden in Wilts that Midsom̃er before the warrs began, & she being with child sent for me about Christmas after, whereupõ I procured a Passe from the Lords and Com̃ons of ye Close Com̃ittee to travell to her, & about Shrouetide after I got to Garsden, where the King Com̃anded by his Garison in Malmsbury; sooneafter Sir Laurence went to attend the Seale at Oxford being ill before & at ye tyme of his goeing, but ye disease being quicker uppõ him (for it began with a gentle flux) & his sonne lying there also desperately sick, & his man sending m[e] word he spoke of my coming, for ye settleing his Estate by deed (wch accordingly he did) uppõ his sonne & after, uppõ his daughter; I went to Oxford, where Sir Laur. shortly after died & his sonne hardly escaped, & then I returned to Garsden. Then my wife being sick at ye Bath & haueing spent or monys, I went shortly after to Bracly to my Tenant; & there procuring a Passe frõ my L: of Essex I came to Londõ last January was twelve months & found my estate sequestered & soone after my goods & stock weare sold; & I attended the L: & Com̃ons of ye honorble Com̃ittee for sequestratiõs till I was heard, & after, aboad in Londõ till Mich: last when haueing no means longer to subsist I repaired to Springfield in Essex to my wife & childrẽ, where I aboad till about 3 weeks since.

I gave 10£ to the first Propositions. I have payd the 5th & 20th pt to the full, as appears by Certificate of ye Com̃ittee at Chelmisford. I have taken ye National Covenant. I have payd all Rates without distresse, before I was sequestred; & [] except 50£ to Habberdashers Hall last Mich: for 20th pt wch I hope I am that my Certificate saith I have payd to the Full. My goods have been sold & stock. My estate in Northamtõsheire lost & utterly spoyled. I had a passe to goe into ye K: Quarters, & was at Ox: before or when the Ordenance for sequestratiõs bears date; the occatiõ was a great Concerne unto Edition: current; Page: [361] me, to wit ye setteling Sir Laur. whole estate by intaile; And my owne land near Bracley. I never boar arams; nor assisted ye K: Nor kissed his hand whilest I was there.

Yr humble Servant Jo: Tirell

24° April: 1645.1

    • 77. Lawrence, baptized at Chiselhurst, Kent, in the place at Modingha (Mottingham), 24 July, 1614; buried, 29 December, 1617.
    • 78. Anne, baptized 30 September, 1622; married Christopher Gyse (Gise?). She was buried at Garsden, 4 June, 1642, æ. 20.

Sacrum Memoriæ Annæ Filias | Lavrentij Washington Egvitis | et vxoris Christopheri Gise | Hic Sepvltæ Jvnij 4to An: Do: | 1642 Ætat Svæ 20.2

    • 79. Lawrence.

Will of Sir Lawrence Washington.

Sir Lawrence Washington of Garsden, in the co. of Wilts, knight, 11 May, 1643, proved 23 May, 1643. To be buried in the church of Garsden. My daughter the Lady Tirell. My nephew Simon Horsepoole. My servants Francis Cliffe, Allan Moore, Thomas Benson and William Freame. My son Lawrence to be executor. To the poor of Garsden twelve pence a week for ever, to be bestowed in bread every Sunday morning, chargeable on my manor of Garsden.3

To the | Memory of Sr | Lawrence Washington | Kt lately chief Register of the | Chauncery of known Pyety of | Charitye exemplarye A louinge | Husband A tender Father A boun | tifull Master A constant Reliever of | the Poore and to those of this Parish A | perputuall Benefactour Whom it pleased | God to take unto his Peace from the fury | of the insuing Warrs Oxon Maij 14to. Edition: current; Page: [362] Here | interred. 24to Ano. Dni. 1643° Ætat suæ 64° | Where allso lyeth Dame Anne his wife who | deceased Junij 13to and was buried 16to Ano Dni 1645.

  • Hic Patrios cineres curauit filius Urna
  • Condere qui tumulo nunc jacet ille pius.
  • The pious Son his Parents here inter’d
  • Who hath his share in Urne for them prepar’d.1

Seventh Generation.

  • 57. Sir William Washington (Lawrence34 Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Packington, co. Leic., Kt. He was knighted at Theobalds, 17 January, 1621-2.2

In February, 1629, the king, Charles I., directed his Attorney-General to prepare a grant to Sir William Washington and Dame Anne his “now wife,” of the keepership of Grafton Park and Potters Pury Park [Northampton], with the fee of 2d per diem from each of them, with the herbage, pannage, and fallen wood, as the same had been held by the late Duke of Buckingham. At the expiration of four years, the king made a new grant of the keepership to Sir Francis Crane, “during the lives of Richard Crane and Anne Washington.”3

Edition: current; Page: [363]

In August 1635 he petitioned the king for a renewal to himself of a patent of the “sole benefit of transporting lampernes alive beyond the sea, to be taken in the Thames or elsewhere in England.” Buried at St. Martin’s in the Fields, Midd., 22 June, 1643. Married Anne, daughter of Sir George Villiers, of Brooksby, Kt., and half-sister of George, Duke of Buckingham. She was buried at Chelsea, 25 May, 1643.


    • 80. Henry, born about 1615.
    • 81. George, baptized at St. Martin’s in the Fields 13 January, 1619-20.
    • 82. Christopher.
    • 83. Elizabeth, married, at St. Faith’s (16 March, 1641-2),2 William Legge, the ancestor of the Earls of Dartmouth. Died 14 December, 1688.

“William Legge, eldest son of Edward Legge and Mary Walsh, was brought out of Ireland by Henry Danvers, Earl of Danby, President of Munster, his god-father, who had promised to take care of his education. He was sent to the Low Countries to serve under Prince Maurice of Saxony. On his return to England he was made groom of the bedchamber to Charles I, and had a commission as lieutenant-general of the Ordnance, under Lord Newport as general, in the first expedition against the Scots in 1639. He served in Rupert’s regiment in the battle of Newark, was taken prisoner at Dunsmore Heath and again at Lichfield. . . . In 1644 he was governor of Chester and Oxford, and at a later date was one of the three companions Charles I. chose to accompany him in his flight from Hampton Edition: current; Page: [364] Court. Referring to the latter occasion Lord Clarendon writes of him—‘Legge had had so general a reputation of integrity and fidelity to his master that he never fell under the least imputation or reproach with any man. He was a very punctual and steady observer of the orders he received, but no contriver of them, and though he had in truth a better judgment and understanding than either of the other two (Ashburnham and Berkeley) his modesty and diffidence of himself never suffered him to contrive bold councils.’ After the death of Charles I. William Legge was imprisoned in succession at Plymouth, Bristol and Arundel, where he obtained leave to go abroad. In 1650 he went with Prince Charles into Scotland, was wounded, and taken prisoner at Worcester. With the aid of his wife he made his escape in women’s clothes out of Coventry gaol. During the commonwealth he was busy in many Royalist plots, and on the restoration of monarchy, he reaped the reward of his fidelity. . . . He died 13 October 1670, in the eighty-third year of his age.”1 In January 1678-9 a license was granted by council to Mrs. Elizabeth Legge (Papist) to stay in London, “she being very weak and sickly.” She lodged in Berey Street, next door to the sign of the Dolphin in St. James’ Fields. On 15 December, 1688, Barbara, Lady Dartmouth, wrote to Lord Dartmouth: “It hath pleased God to take away your mother yesterday after a lingering illness . . . She desired to be carried privately to the Minorits [Minories].”

The will of Ranald Grahme of Nunington, co. York, Esq., dated 14 November 1679, with a codicil dated 25 May 1680, proved 2 December 1685, left to Elizabeth Legg, twenty pounds to buy mourning; to his “sister Sands” [Elizabeth (Washington) Sandys], and to her daughter, Elizabeth Washington, one hundred pounds; to Mrs. Penelope Washington and Mrs. Mary Washington, ten pounds apiece to buy them mourning.2

Edition: current; Page: [365]
    • 84. Susanna, baptized at St. Martin’s in the Fields, 15 November, 1618; married Reginald Graham of Lewisham, co. Kent, Esq. Died 26 February, 1698-9, and was buried at Lewisham, Kent.

Here lyeth | Mrs. Susanna Grahme | wife of Reginal Grahme Esqre | Lord of this manor and second daughter of Sir William Washington | who departed this life | the 26th day of February, Anno Domini | 1698 aged 81 years.1

Susanna Grahme of Blackheath in the parish of Lewisham in the Co. of Kent 6 October, 1697, proved 30 March, 1699. I desire my body may be interred in the parish church of Lewisham. To the Lady Dartmouth twenty broad pieces of gold which are sealed up in a paper with her name upon it. To my niece Mrs. Bilson ten broad pieces (as before) and the sum of one hundred pounds payable out of the arrears of rent which shall be due to me at the day of my death. Besides I give my said niece all the pictures in my little parlour at Blackheath, except my Lady Mordants. To my nephew William Leg Esq. one hundred pounds. To my niece Mrs. Dorothy Heron one hundred pounds. To Mrs. Penelope Washington five broad pieces of gold. To Mrs. Katherine Tonstall five guineas and to Mrs. Gelet, sister to Mrs. Katherine Tonstall five guineas. To my niece Mrs. Musgrave all my plate and china which I have in my house at Blackheath. To my Lord Preston all my furniture and household stuff at Nunnington, except my plate and china, which I give and bequeath to my niece Mrs. Susanna Grahme, his Lordship’s sister. To the said Lord Preston his father’s picture and my husband’s set in gold. To Deborah Sanders all my furniture and household stuff in my house at Blackheath not otherwise disposed of. Edition: current; Page: [366] To my Lord Dartmouth two hundred pounds, out of the arrears of rent, and four hundred pounds which he oweth me, provided always that his Lordship in consideration of the said six hundred pounds settle upon the minister of the parish of Lewisham for the time being and to all future generations such a salary for the reading of prayers once a day at Blackheath as is agreed between us, and I beg and desire of him that the said salary may be so settled according to law that it may be firm to all future ages. To the said Lord Dartmouth all my pictures at Blackheath not otherwise disposed of, with my coach and horses, and five guineas to defray the charges of my funeral. And I constitute and appoint the said Lord Dartmouth sole executor of this my last will and testament. Proved by the oath of William, Lord Dartmouth.

Pett, 40 (P. C. C.).1

Sir William Washington of Thistleworth in the co. of Middlesex, Knight, 6 June, 1643, proved 1 March, 1648. Whereas I am justly indebted unto Elizabeth Washington, my daughter, in the sum of twelve hundred pounds which she lent me in ready money and for payment whereof, at a time shortly to come, I have given her my bond of the penalty of two thousand pounds, my said daughter shall have and retain to her own use, towards satisfaction of the said sum, all that debt of eight hundred pounds, or thereabouts, due unto me upon two obligations from the Right Honble William, Earl of Denbigh deceased, with the use that shall grow due for the same, and if any part of the said sum of twelve hundred pounds be paid and satisfied unto my said daughter in my life time, or after my decease, out of the overplus of moneys which shall or may remain due or payable unto me or my assigns upon the sale of my manor of Wicke and capital messuage called Wicke Farm and other lands thereunto belonging which are now in mortgage to Henry Winer Esq., and John Chappell gent., redeemable upon payment of the sum of eleven hundred forty four pounds at a time now past &c. &c.

And my will and meaning is that, my other debts, which are not many nor great, being satisfied and paid in the next place, then all the residue of the money which shall remain and all my Edition: current; Page: [367] goods, chattles and personal estate whatsoever shall be equally divided amongst all my children that shall be living, and I make and ordain my said daughter Elizabeth sole executrix.

Wit: Rob: Woodford, John Pardo, Thomas Woodford, John Washington.

The will was proved by the oath of Elizabeth Washington als Legge, daughter of the deceased and executrix named in the will.

Fairfax 29 (P. C. C.).1

  • 58. Sir John Washington (Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), of Thrapston, co. Northampton, Knight. Married (1) Mary, daughter of Philip Curtis, of Islip, co. Northampton, gent., and Katherine Curtis, his wife.2 Mary died 1 January, 1624-25, and was buried at Islip.

Here lieth the body of Dame Mary: wife unto Sr John Wash ingtõ Knight, daughter of Phillipe Curtis Gent: who had issue by hur sayd husbande 3 sonns Mordaunt John and Phillippe deceased the 1 of Janu: 1624.3

Edition: current; Page: [368]


    • 85. Mordaunt.
    • 86. John.
    • 87. Philip.

Sir John married, for a second wife, Dorothy, daughter of William Pargiter of Gretworth, Esq., by Abigail, daughter of Sir Francis Willoughby, of Wollaton, co. Nottingham. She was the widow of — Kirkby, by whom she had two children Thomas Kirkby and Penelope Kirkby (married — Thornton1). By Sir John she had no issue, and died 1678.

Dorothy Wassington, relict of Sir John Wassington, Knight deceased, 6 October, 1678, proved 24 December, 1678. My body I leave to my executor’s discretion to be laid decently in the grave in the chancel of the church of Fordham, near the place where the body of my dear grand child Mrs. Penelope Audley lies buried. And for that small estate which the Lord hath continued to me I bequeath and bestow as followeth. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Mr. Thomas Kirkbey the sum of five pounds, and to each of his sons and daughters twenty shillings apiece, to be paid them six months after my decease. Item all the rest of my goods whatsoever, as household stuff, bills, bonds, debts and the like I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mrs. Penelope Thornton, whom I do make my sole executrix, &c.

Wit: Ezech: Pargiter, Hugh Floyde, Sarah Flecher.

Reeve, 148 (P. C. C.).2

In December, 1640, the father, William Pargiter, petitioned the Edition: current; Page: [369] Lords to be relieved against a decree of the Court of the Star Chamber, touching the manor of Gretworth.

  • 61. Lawrence Washington (Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) “was born about the year 1602. He appears to have entered at Brasenose College as early as 1619, but he did not sign the Subscription Book until the 2d of November, 1621, under which date his name also appears in the general matriculation register [“Laurent: Washington, Northamp: Gen. fil. an. nat. 19.”], in connection with thirty-five others—an extraordinary number, and indicating that from some cause this ceremony had hitherto been neglected. He took his B. A. degree in 1623 and became Fellow of Brasenose about 1624. He is recorded as serving the office of lector, then the principal educational office in the college, from 1627 to 1632 inclusive. On the 20th of August, 1631, he became one of the proctors of the university, filling a vacancy that had occurred by the deprivation of his predecessor by royal warrant.1 On the 14th of March, 1632-3, he was presented to the then very valuable living of Purleigh in Essex, and resigned his fellowship.”2 Mr. Waters found in Edition: current; Page: [370] the “Names and Cognomens of all and singular Clerks collected, admitted or instituted to any Benefice, &c., in the Diocese of London, and of the Patrons, &c., from 12 September 1632, to 16 April,” the following entry:

Essex; Dengy, Decimo quarto die mensis Martii Anno pred Laurentius Washington clicus in artibus magr̃ admissus fuit ad Rc̃oriã de Purleigh Com̃ Essexit per pñtaconem Janæ Horzmanden1 patronissæ pro hac vice.

And in the book of compositions for First Fruits this second entry:

xiio die Martii 1632 Anno Regni dñi nr̃i nunc Caroli Regis &c. octavo.

Essex. Purleigh. R Laurentius Washington clic comp̃ pro prmittis Rc̃orie pređ ext. at xxv dec̃ia inde ls. Obligantr dctus Laurentius, Thomas Beale de Yorkhill in Com̃ Hereff geñ et Willũs Smith PpstrokUCochie bte Marie de la Savoy Inholder.

Lawrence married (after March, 1632-3,) Amphillis, daughter of — Roades of Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire.

Mr. Waters, working upon the mention of William Roades in the will of Andrew Knowling, traced that family to Middle Claydon, and connected them with the Verneys. In June, 1639, William Roades held the position of bailiff at Middle Claydon, and William or John Roades was in the service of Sir Edmund Verney—or both were in service.2 Amphillis was believed to Edition: current; Page: [371] have been a daughter of one of these servants. “The same evidence seems to show that it was a match which would not be likely to meet with the approval of the rest of the family, allied as they were to the Villiers, Sandys, Pargiter, Verney and other families then in good social standing; and, in connection with this, it is worth noting that I have thus far seen no mention of Mr. Lawrence Washington in any of the wills of the family or their connections after this marriage, which must have been soon after the resignation of the fellowship (March, 1632-3). This connection with William Roades is, however, more than doubtful.

In November, 1643, he was ejected from the living of Purleigh, by order of Parliament, as a “malignant royalist.” The charges laid against him were given in The First Century of Scandalous, Malignant Priests Made and Admitted into Benefices by the Prelates, in whose Hands the Ordination of Ministers and Government of the Church hath been, published by John White, and printed by George Miller, by order of Parliament, 17 November, 1643. The case of Mr. Washington was ninth in the list.

The Benefice of Lawrence Washington, Rector of Purleigh in the County of Essex is sequestered, for that he is a common frequenter of Ale-houses, not onlly himselfe sitting dayly tippling there, but also incouraging others in that beastly vice, and hath been oft drunk, and hath said, That the Parliament have more Papists belonging to them in their Armies than the King had about him or in his Army, and that the Parliaments Armie did more hurt than the Cavaliers, and that they did none at all; and hath published them to be Traitours, that lend to or assist the Parliament.

So violent a partisan as the compiler of the First Century can hardly be accepted without question even on a statement of fact. The clergy of that day Edition: current; Page: [372] had among their number some who were no ornaments to the order, and drunkenness was by no means the least common of their failings. Mr. Waters found in John Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy the following comment upon the case of Lawrence Washington, A.M.:

Purleigh, R., one of the best Livings in these Parts:

To which he had been Admitted in March, 1632, and was Sequestered from in the Year 1643, which was not thought Punishment enough for him, and therefore he was also put into the Century, to be transmitted to Posterity, as far as that Infamous Pamphlet could contribute to it, for a Scandalous, as well as a Malignant Minister, upon these weighty Considerations, That he had said “the Parliament have more Papists belonging to them in their Armies, than the King had about him, or in his Army, and that the Parliament’s Army did more Hurt than the Cavaliers, and that They did none at all, and had Published them to the Traytors, that lent to, or assisted the Parliament.”

It is not to be supposed, that such a Malignant could be less than a Drunkard, and accordingly he is charged with frequent Commissions of that Sin, and not only so, but with Encouraging others in that Beastly Vice. Altho’ a Gentleman (a Justice of the Peace in this Country) who Personally knew him, assures me, that he took him to be a Worthy, Pious Man, that as often as he was in his Company, he always appeared a very Modest, Sober Person, and that he was Recommended as such, by several Gentlemen, who were acquainted with him before he himself was. Adding withal, that he was a Loyal Person, and had one of the best Benefices in these Parts, and this was the ONLY Cause of his Expulsion, as I verily believe. After which, he subjoyns, that another Ancient Gentleman of his Neighborhood, agrees with him in this Account. Mr. Washington was afterwards permitted to Have, and Continue upon a Living in these Parts, but it was such a Poor and Miserable one, that it was always with Difficulty that anyone was persuaded to Accept of it.

Edition: current; Page: [373]

Upon consulting the copy of the Sufferings in the Bodleian Library, Mr. Waters found the original letter on which Walker based his statement. It was written by Henry Ayloffe (of the same family as is mentioned on p. 358, ante), and was probably written in 1706. In it he said:

I doe not remember that ever I knew or heard of Mr. Washington after he had been sequestered, but there was then one Mr. Roberts a neighbor of mine who was owner and patron of a parish so small that nobody would accept of his church (but with difficulty) and Mr. Roberts entertained Mr. Washington, where he was suffered quietly to preach. I have heard him and tooke him to be a very worthy pious man. I have been in his company there, and he appeared a very modest sober person, and I heard him recommended as such by several gentlemen who knew him before I did. He was a loyal person, and had one of the best benefices in these parts, and this was the only cause of his expulsion as I verily believe.

A reference to the last (nearly illegible) paragraph by Walker enabled Mr. Waters to decipher the word Braxted, and Braxted Parva was such a living as Walker says Washington retired to. It was held by Thomas Roberts, and was presented by him in 1650 to Mr. White, in 165? to Lawrence Washington, and after Washington’s death, to Nehemiah Rogers, father of John Rogers who had succeeded Lawrence at Purleigh. It was in 1649 that John Rogers was ordered to pay to Amphillis Washington the fifth part of the tithes and profits of that rectory.1

In the registry of All Saints parish, Malden, Essex, was found an entry “Mr. Lawrence Washington Edition: current; Page: [374] buried January, 1652”1 presumably the rector of Purleigh. His wife Amphillis was buried 19 January, 1654-55.


    • 88. John.
    • 89. Lawrence.

“Crisames senc our Ladie day Anno Dom̃ 1635 Layarance sonn of Layarance Washington June the xxiiid.”—Tring Register.

    • 90. Elizabeth, married — Rumball or Rumbold.

“Baptized senc our Ladye daye anno dom̃ 1636 Elizabeth da of Mr. Larranc Washington Aug. xvii.”—Tring Register.

    • 91. William.

“Baptized senc Mickellmas daye Anno Dom̃ i64i William sonn of Mr. Larrance Washenton baptized the xiiijth. daij.”—Tring Register.

    • 92. Margaret, married — Talbott.
    • 93. Martha, emigrated to America, and married Nicholas (?) Hayward of Stafford County, Virginia. She died in 1697.

In the name of God Amen I Martha Hayward of the County of Stafford being sick & weak of body but of pfect sence & memory thanks be given to God therefor Doe make & ordaine this my last Will & Testament

Imprs I give and bequeath my Soul to God and my body to the Earth to be buryed in Christianlike and Decent manner att the disposition of my Execrs hereafter named and as for what worldly Estate it hath pleased God to bless me wth all I give devise and dispose of in the following manner & forme

Edition: current; Page: [375]

Item I give and bequeath unto my two cousins John & Augustine the sons of my cozn Lawrence Washington of Westmoreland County one negroe woman named Anne and her future increase and in case of their deaths before they come of age then I give the sd negroe to the aforesd Lawrence Washington & his heirs forever.

Item I give unto my cozen Lawrence Washington son of Mr John Washington of Westmoreland County one mallatto girle named Suka to him and his heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my cozen John Washington son of the said John Washington of Westmoreland county one mallatto Girle named Kate to him and his heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath my cozn Nathaniel Washington, son of the said John Washington one Negroe boy named John to him & his heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my Cozn Hen: Washington son of the said John Washington one negroe boy named George William to him & his heirs for ever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my kinsman Mr John Washington of Stafford County one negroe woman named Betty and her future increase to him & his heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my kinsman Mr Richd Ffoot two thousands pnds Tobbacco to him & his heirs for ever.

Item it is my will & desire that my Extrs wth all convent speed after my decease doe procure and purchase for each of my two sisters in Law vizt Mary King and Sarah Todd a servant man or woman as they or either [of] them shall both like haveing att least four or five years to serve wch I doe give to them and their heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath to my aforesd Six cozins the sons of my two cozns Lawrence and John Washington of Westmoreland County to Each of them a feather bedd and furniture to them and their heirs forever.

Item it is my will and desire that my Exectrs with all Convent speed send to England to my Eldest sister Mrs Elizabeth Rumbold a Tunne of good weight of Tobacco, & the same I give to her and her heirs forever.

Edition: current; Page: [376]

Item it is my desire that my said Executors Doe likewise take freight send for England to my other sister Mrs Margt Talbut a Tonne of good weight of Tobbacco which I give to her and her and her [sic] heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto Mr Wm Buckner of the County of York my gold signett.

Item I give and bequeath unto Capt Law: Washington and his wife, Mr John Washington of Stafford County and his wife, Mr John Washington of Westmoreland County and his wife, Mary King, Sarah Todd and Mary Wheatley, each of them a gold of twenty shillings piece To be procured with all Convent speed after my decease.

Item I give and bequeath unto Samuel Todd son of Wm. Todd a heiffer about three years old.

Lastly after all my just Debts are pd all the rest of my estate whatsoever and wheresoever I doe give and bequeath unto Capt Lawrence Washington, Mr John Washington of Westmoreland County, & Mr John Washington of Stafford County to be Equall[y] Divided between them and I doe hereby [make?] Constitute and ordaine the aforesd Lawrence Washington & John Washington of Westmoreland County Executs of this my last will & Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand & ffixed my Seale this 6th day of May annoqe Domi 1697.

Martha Hayward.

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of us: Geo. Weedon, Sarah Kelly, Sarah X Powell, her marke, John Pike.

Proved and Recorded the 8th of December, 1697.

Vera copia Teste. J. Perry

D. C. Cur. Com. Stafford.1

  • 74.

    John Washington (Walter36, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Radway, co. Warr. Married Mary, daughter of George Danvers of Blisworth, co. Northampton, Esq.

    Edition: current; Page: [377]


    • 94. George.
    • 95. Elizabeth.
    • 96. Ann.
    • 97. Thomas.
    • 98. Katherine.
  • 79. Sir Lawrence Washington (Sir Lawrence49, Lawrence20, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Garsden, co. Wilts. Baptized at St. Dunstan’s in the West, London, 30 September, 1622, matriculated at Oxford (æ. 15), 4 May, 1638; sheriff of Wilts Co., by appointment of the House of Commons, 7 November, 1650, died 17 January, 1661-2. In September, 1648, Richard Price, of High Holborn, deposed that Lawrence Washington, son of Sir L. Washington, late Registrar of Chancery, “went to Oxford, when a garrison for the King, and paid £200 to his kinsman George Washington, who waits on the Duke of Richmond, to be sworn of the Privy Chamber to the King. Also that at the siege of Gloucester, he quartered with the Duke of Richmond’s gentlemen, within 2 miles of the leaguer.” In the Calendar of the Committee for Advance of Money, I find an item referring to the same matter, though entered as “— Washington, Gersey, near Malmesbury, co. Wilts.” A request was then made for prosecution of Washington, and benefit of the discovery, on the ground that he had “set forth four men and horses in the late King’s service, Edition: current; Page: [378] had his horse shot under him at Newbury fight, and has an estate of £1200 a year.” His property was affected, and in 1656, his appeal for release was referred to the Major General and Commissioners of the county, who ordered that on his paying £50 to the treasurers for the decimation tax, as a testimony of his good affection to the State, the Commissioners should discharge his estate.

Here Lyeth ye Body of Lavrence | Washington Esqr. the only Son | of Sr Lavrence Washington who | Departed this life Jan 17 was | Bvried Feb 11 Ano Dni 1661 and | Inclosed By Elinor his Wife | April 18 Ano. Dni. 1663 | Ætat Suæ 39

  • En mercede virum Pensatum muner[a d]igna
  • Prospicit ille suis diua supersta sibi
  • Behold how duty well perform’d is paide
  • His Sire he him here his durst hath laide.1

Lawrence Washington of Garsdon in the Co. of Wilts, Esq., 14 January, 1661, proved 15 May, 1662. My body to be buried in the chancel of the Parish church of Garsden. To the poor of Garsden ten pounds, to be distributed to householders by five shillings to a house, and to the poor of Westamsbury and Bulford, Wilts, ten pounds &c.

Alsoe I doe giue and devise unto my Cozen John Washington of Thrapston in the Countie of Northampton Knt one Annuitie or yearely Rent of ffortie pounds of currant English money ffor and dureinge the terme of his naturall life. To be issueing and goeing forth out of all my messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments and ffarme in Westamsbury als Littleamsbury in the Countie of Wiltes aforesaid. To be paid unto him at the ffeasts of Thanunciation of the blessed Virgin St Mary and St Michaell Tharchangell by euen and equall portions the ffirst payment thereof to beginne and to be made at the ffirst of the said ffeasts which shall happen come and be next after my decease Edition: current; Page: [379] and if and as often as it shall happen the said yearly Rent of ffortie pounds to be behinde and unpaid by the space of Tenne dayes next after any of the said ffeasts in the which as aforesaid the same ought to be paid that then and soe often it shall be lawfull to and for the said John Washington into the said Messuages Lands Tenements and hereditaments to enter and distreyne and the said distresse and distresses then and there had found and taken to lead driue take and carry away and the same to impound deteyne and keepe untill the said Annuity or yearely rent of fforty pounds and all the arreares there of (if any be) shall be unto my said Cozen John Washington fully satisfied and paid.

To Charles Tyrell, youngest son of Dame Martha Tyrrell of Heron House in the Co. of Essex, one annuity of twenty pounds &c. To my cousin Symon Horsepoole of London, gent., one annuity of thirty pounds &c. To my beloved sister Dame Martha Tyrrell twenty pounds to buy her a ring, and to my nephews John, Thomas and Charles Tyrrell ten pounds apiece and to my niece Martha Tyrrell twenty pounds, to buy each of them a ring. . . . The residue unto Elianor, my wife, whom I make sole executrix &c.

Laud, 73 (P. C. C.).1

Lawrence married Eleanor, second daughter of William Gyse (Guise)2 of Elmore, co. Gloucester, Esq. She was born about 1626. She bore him one daughter—:

    • 99. Elizabeth, married Sir Robert Shirley, created 3 September, 1711, Viscount Tamworth and Earl Ferrers. She died 2 October, 1693. Children—:
      • i. Robert, married Anne, daughter of Sir Humphrey Ferrers of Tamworth Castle.
      • ii. Washington, married Mary, daughter of Sir Richard Levinge. Edition: current; Page: [380]
      • iii. Henry, died, unmarried, in 1745.
      • iv. Lawrence, married Anne, daughter of Sir Walter Clarges.

Eleanor survived her husband Lawrence, and married 27 November, 1663, Sir William Pargiter, of Gretworth, Kt. Mr. Conway found a volume in the British Museum, printed in 1664, and being The second Part of Youth’s Behaviour, or Decency in Conversation amongst Women. It contains a letter of dedication, signed by Robert Codrington,1 and addressed to “The Mirrour of her Sex Mrs. Ellinor Pargiter, and the most accomplished with all reall Perfections Mrs. Elizabeth Washington, her only Daughter, and Heiress to the truly Honorable Lawrence Washington Esquier, lately deceased.” Mrs. Pargiter died 19 July, 1685, and was buried at Garsden.

Here lyes ye body of Dame | Elinor Pargiter 2nd Daughter | of Wm. Guise of Elmore in ye | County of Gloucester Esqr | First married to Lawrence | Washington Esq. afterwards | to Sr Wm Pargiter of Gritt | with in ye County of North | Hampton Kt. Who departing | this life the 19th Day of July in | the Year of Our Lord 1685 | ordered her remains to be | deposited here in hopes of | a blessed Resurrection.1

2 Dame Elianor Pargiter, the relict of Sir William Pargiter late of Gretworth, Knight, deceased 17 July, 1685, proved 2 June, 1687. My body I desire may be carried in a decent and private way to Garsden in Wiltshire and interred there by my former husband Lawrence Washington Esqr. I will and bequeath to my dearly beloved daughter Ferrars my necklace of pearl, being two strings of pearl, which her father gave to me, one saphire ring, which he likewise gave to me, and her father’s picture set in Edition: current; Page: [381] gold. To the parish of Garsden thirty pounds, to be bestowed in decent plate for the Communion table there, to be kept by the Minister of the place for the time being. To the poor of that parish ten pounds. The residue to my daughter Elianor Pargiter, whom I make, constitute and ordain sole executrix.

Proved by the oath of Elianor Dering als Pargiter.

Foot, 82 (P. C. C.).1

Eighth Generation.

  • 80. Henry Washington (Sir William57, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born about 1615. Entered the army of the king and was Governor of Worcester during its first siege in 1646, in the absence of Lord Astley, who had fallen into the hands of the Parliamentary army. He also led the storming party at Bristol.

Colonel Washington seems to have engaged in plots along with Col. Legge, and resorted much to an inn at Gravesend, where disaffected persons met, and whence many young men where sent to Holland to the exiled Prince. The Council looked into this report of plottings, and must have discovered something to Washington’s prejudice, as the Governor of Tilbury Fort was ordered (19 August, 1649) to apprehend him. He agreed with the Council to “appear within four days after warning left at Gravesend, and to practise good behavior.”

He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Pakington of Westwood, co. Worc., and Frances, daughter of Sir John Ferrers of Tamworth. Colonel Edition: current; Page: [382] Washington was buried at Richmond, Surrey, 9 March, 1663-64.

“6 March, 1693-4. Report of Mr. Aaron Smith to the Lords of the Treasury, on the petition of Mrs. Elizabeth Gellott, the daughter of Col. Washington, lately deceased, who, he was informed, hazarded his life and exhausted his fortune in the service of King Charles I., as to the fine of 200 marks set upon Francis West, of which the petitioner prayed the grant; he had made a report when West had petitioned for a remission of the fine owing to his extreme poverty, which had reduced him to the common side of the prison, and the petitioner, Mrs. Gellott, then much insisted on his extreme poverty, which he could not reconcile with her present petition.”1

“28 July 1699. Report of S. Travers, Esq., Surveyor General to the Lords of the Treasury, on the petition of Henry Jenkins, gent., praying for a renewal of a lease of waifs, strays, &c. in the honour of Peverel, which had been granted by King Charles II in his 25th year, to Sir John Pakington and others, in trust for Col. Washington’s children; informing their Lordships that King Charles II. in his 16th year granted to Charles Earl of Norwich all the said waifs, strays, &c. for 31 years at 50l per ann., and in 1673 granted the same to Sir John Pakington, Bart., and others, in trust for the daughters of the said Col. Washington; to be held for 31 years from that date (concurrent with the Earl of Norwich’s lease then in being). The value, according to Sir Charles Harbord, would be 350l. Advising that in any new grant the lessee should account for at least a 10th part of the profits of working the mines and quarries.”—Calendar Treasury Papers, 1697-1701-2.

    • Issue:
    • 100. Mary, died 1680-81, unmarried.

Mary Washington, spinster, of the parish of St. Martin in the fields in the Co. of Middlesex, 13 January, 1680, being in her Edition: current; Page: [383] last sickness whereof she died, with an intent and purpose to make and declare her last will and testament nuncupative and to settle and dispose of her estate, did utter and spake these words following, or the like in effect vizt.: I desire that Hannah (meaning her maid-servant Hannah Lewis) may have one hundred pounds out of the money of the king’s gift, and the rest I leave to my dear mother (meaning Elizabeth Sandyes), which words, or the like in effect she uttered and declared as and for her last will and testament nuncupative in the presence and hearing of the said Mrs. Elizabeth Sandys her mother, whom she desired to remember what she said to her, and of Katharine Hodges, Katharine Forster and Mary Hall and that she was at the premises of and in her perfect senses and understanding, the same being so done in the house of Mrs. Forster, her place of abode.

Letters issued 5 May 1681 to Catherine Forster, sister of the deceased, to administer the goods &c., for the reason that she had named no executor in the will, Elizabeth Sandys the mother, with the consent of her husband Samuel Sandys, Esq., expressly renouncing.

North, 83 (P. C. C.).1

    • 101. Penelope, died unmarried, and was buried at Wickhamford, co. Worcester, 2 March, 1697.

Penelope Washington of Wickhamford, co. Worcester, spinster, 6 December, 1697. To my niece Catherine Foster, spinster, two hundred and fifty pounds, but to my mother and executrix, Madam Elizabeth Sandys of Wickhamford, to receive the interest of this money during her life. The said Catherine not to intermarry with any person without the consent of my executrix, being her grandmother. To my other niece Elizabeth Jollett (Gellott) the same sum on similar conditions. To my faithful servant Sarah Torey one hundred pounds. The residue to my said executrix.

By the codicil all the lands &c. in Bayton and elsewhere in Worc., conveyed unto me by Mr. William Swift deceased and Edition: current; Page: [384] his trustees, to “my dear mother Elizabeth Sandys” her heirs and assigns forever.1

    • 102. Katherine, married (1) Martin Forster or Foster, by whom she bore one child Katherine, and (2) Barnabas Tonstall or Tunstall, of the Middle Temple, Esq.

The first marriage is entered in Westminster Abbey, 1677, May 1. Martin Foster and Katherin Washington. A note by Col. Chester says: “He held, in 1673, the place of Comptroller of the Customs at Newcastle-on-Tyne, when he petitioned the Government for the reversion of the same in behalf of his brother George. He was buried as ‘Captain Foster,’ at St. Martin in the Fields, 25 Mch. 1678, and in the record of administration on his estate, 8 Apl. following, he is called of that parish and ‘Esqr.’ The name is sometimes written Forster. She was one of the four daughters of coheirs of Col. Henry Washington (eldest son of Sir William Washington, Kt., by Anne Villiers, half-sister of George first Duke of Buckingham), by Elizabeth dau. of Sir John Pakington, first Bart. There was one dau., Catherine, of this marriage. Mrs. Foster remarried (Mar. Lic. Fac. 9 Mch. 1686-7), being then about 27 years of age, Barnabas Tonstall, of the Middle Temple, Esq., son and heir of the Rev. Frederick Tonstall, of Edgcombe, co. Surrey, and was living 24 Dec. 1698.”2

    • 103. Elizabeth, married — Gellett or Gellott.

The widow of Colonel Henry Washington married Samuel Sandys, the Royalist colonel. He was born in 1615, died 15 April, 1585, and was buried at Ombersley. Upon the breaking out of the civil war, he left Parliament, sided with the King, and was in Edition: current; Page: [385] the march to Brentford under the Earl of Bristol. In 1642 he received a commission from the King to command the horse of the county, and was governor of Evesham and Hartlebury Castle, lieutenant-governor of Worcester under Prince Maurice, 1644, and was in the battle of Edge Hill. He spent the greater part of his fortune on the King’s cause, and was rewarded on the restoration with only £6000. In 1661 and 1678 he represented Worcestershire in Parliament.1

His wife survived him, and dying in 1698-99 was buried at Wickhamford.2

Elizabeth Sandys of Wickamford in the Co. of Worcester widow, 21 December, 1698, with codicil bearing date 24 December 1698, proved 20 February, 1699. I nominate and appoint my cousin John Sandys, now or late of Loveline, executor and give him all my messuages, lands, tenements, etc., at Bayton or elsewhere in the Co. of Worcester purchased of Mr. Swift or his trustees in the name of my late daughter Penelope W—n, but in trust to sell and dispose thereof to the best value and to raise money for a portion for my granddaughter Elizabeth Jarlett, now with me, and to educate her in such manner as to my said executor shall seem meet and convenient and at her age of one and twenty years or marriage, to pay to her her said portion. And I appoint him guardian desiring him to breed her up in the Protestant Religion. And if he depart this life before her said age or marriage then I appoint Mr. Francis Bromley trustee and guardian to her. I give to my executor fifty pounds as a legacy. To my daughter Tunstall ten pounds. To my daughter Jarlatt ten pounds. To my granddaughter Katherine Forster two hundred and fifty pounds, besides the two hundred and fifty pounds her aunt Washington gave her if she should please me. Edition: current; Page: [386] To Mr. Francis Bromley my great silver cup and cover. To my faithful and kind servant Mrs. Mary Hall one hundred pounds (and other personal property). Twenty pounds for a communion carpet and pulpit cloth for the church of Wickamford. Remainder of personal estate to my said granddaughter Jarlatt. If she refuse to be educated or become a Papist I give her only a fourth part of what I hereby before have given or intended for her &c.

In the codicil is a bequest to her son in law Capt Sandys, of a sealed ring which my dear brother Packington constantly wore. To my daughter in law Mrs. Sandys a large table diamond ring. To Mr. Martin Sandys, their son, a gold watch and gold case to it. To my god-daughter Mrs Deverax her grandmother, my Lady Sandys’ picture set in gold. To my niece Mrs. Bradshaw her grandfather, Sir John Packington’s picture set in gold. To Mrs. Tomkins her grandmother’s picture set in an enamel ring. To my goddaughter Mrs. Tomkins a pair of gold sleeve buttons. To my granddaughter Mrs. Forster a pair of diamond earrings and a fine gold watch that was her aunts, &c. To my grand daughter Mrs. Jollott all my plate which I have not disposed of.

Pett, 32.1

  • 88. John Washington (Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born 1633-34. Emigrated to America, and is supposed to have gone first to Barbadoes. The reasons for this belief are summarized in the following paragraph:

“Now let me say why I think that the first Emigrant might have visited Barbados. The reference to ‘cosen John’ in Theodore Pargiter’s will suggests the former’s being at Barbados. A reference to page 11 of the ‘Ancestry of Washington,’ by Mr. Waters, shows that, whereas Mrs. Washington, the mother of the first Emigrant, was buried on the 19th of January, 1654, it was not till the 8th of February, 1655, that letters of administration Edition: current; Page: [387] were issued to her son John. If that son was not absent from England, and in foreign parts, why was there so long an interval as did elapse? The Pargiters were connected with Barbados. On the 21st of May, 1653, the Council of State granted a license to Thomas Pargiter to export to Barbados fifty dozen of shoes and twelve nags. (See Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, 1574-1660, p. 402.) In 1666, Thomas Pargiter was a member of the Assembly of Barbados. (See Calendar, Colonial, 1661 to 1668, p. 352.) The fact that Tom Verney was longer in Barbados than in Virginia may be alleged with equal reason for a kinsman’s going to Barbados, just as it has been urged as a link drawing the first Emigrant to the Old Dominion, that the ne’er-do-weel Tom had been an early settler in the latter country. Again, in 1655, old style, among the settlers in Barbados was Captain Gerard Hawtayne of Calthorpe, in the County of Oxford, who was a son, or grandson, of Margaret Washington, who is noted in the pedigree attached to the pamphlet of Mr. Waters as having married Gerard Hawtayne of Esington, Oxon. It is clear from Theodore Pargiter’s words that John Washington was beyond seas about 1655, and equally clear that he was thought to be in Barbados. Then there were the Pargiter, Verney, and Hawtayne connections with Barbados. And why so long in obtaining letters of administration to his mother’s will unless he were far over sea—in fact, as Dryden has it, in

“ ‘Far Barbados on the Western Main’?”1

It is not only possible but probable that the first Washington emigrant went to Barbadoes, as the prospects of improving his condition were favorable. In the early years of that island, the settlement was a slow process, prejudiced by the claims of the then Lord Chamberlain, Philip Earl of Pembroke, and the Earl of Carlisle. This matter being determined, and great encouragement being had from the Dutch, Edition: current; Page: [388] the colony increased in importance. “In 1643 (after it had been planted 17 years) there were 18,000 effective men, English inhabitants, of which 8,300 were proprietors; its value was then not one-seventeenth so considerable as in 1666, but the real strength treble what it is now; the negroes not being in 1643 above 6400, were in 1666 above 50,000; the buildings in 1643 were mean, with things only for necessity, but in 1666 plate, jewels, and household stuff were estimated at £500,000, their buildings very fair and beautiful, and their houses like castles, their sugar houses and negroes huts show themselves from the sea like so many small towns, each defended by its castle.” In spite of this apparent prosperity, the colony was being depopulated, due to the monopoly of the land in a few hands, and the factions among the planters and slave labor. Between 1643 and 1647, 1200 had gone to New England and 600 to Trinidad and Tobago; between 1646 and 1658, 2400 to Virginia and Surinam, while nearly 10,000 had been sent on military expeditions and either settled in other parts or perished.

The tradition was, as stated by Washington, that John emigrated in 1657. That he was crossing the ocean about 1658 is known from a curious incident.

The Provincial records of Maryland for 1659 contain the proceedings taken upon a complaint made by John Washington of Westmoreland County against Edward Prescott, merchant: “Accusing ye s’d Prescott of ffelony unto ye Gouvernor of this Province, alleging how that hee ye s’d Prescott hanged a witch, Edition: current; Page: [389] on his ship, as hee was outward bound from England within the last yeare,1 upon wich complaynt of ye s’d Washington the Govr. caused ye s’d Edward Prescott to bee arrested. Taking bond for his appearance att this Provincial Court of 40,000 lbs. Tobacco. Gyving moreover notice to ye s’d Washington, by letter of his proceedings therein, a copie of wich l’tre, with the said Washington’s answere thereto are as followeth:

Josias Fendall
Fendall, Josias
29th September [1659]
George Washington
Washington, George
Mr. Washington,

“Upon yo’r complaynt to mee y’t Mr. Prescott did in his voyage from England hither cause a woman to be executed for a witch, I have caused him [to] be apprehended uppon suspition of ffelony and I’ve intend to bind him over to ye Provincial Court to answer it, where I doe allso expect you to bee to make good ye charge. Hee will be called uppon his Tryal ye 4th or 5th of October next, at ye Court, to be held there at Patux’t neare Mr. Fenwick’s house, where I suppose you will not fayle to be. Witnesses examined in Virginia will be of no value here in this case, for they must be face to face, with ye party accused, or they stand for nothing. I thought good to acquaynt you with this, that you may not come unprovided.

“This at present Sr. is all from
“Yo’r ffriend
“Josias Fendall.
John Washington
Washington, John
30 Sept. 1659.”
George Washington
Washington, George
Hon’ble Sr,

“Yors of this 29th instant, this day I received. I am sorry y’t my extraordinary occasions, will not permit me to bee at ye next provincial Court to bee held at Mary Land ye 4th of this next month. Because then, God willing, I intend to gett my young sonne baptized. All ye company and Gossips being already invited. Besides in this short time witnesses cannot bee gott to come over. But if Mr. Prescott bee bound to answer at ye next Provinciall Court after this, I shall doe what lyeth in my power, to get them over. Sr, I shall desire you for to acquaynt me, whether Mr. Prescott be bound over to ye next Court, and Edition: current; Page: [390] when ye Court is, that I may have sometime for to provide evidence.

“Yo’r ffriend & Serv’t
John Washington.

In 1675 a settler was murdered in Stafford County, Virginia, which led to reprisals, and finally to a war conducted by Virginia and Maryland against the Susquehannocks. John Washington was made the commander of the Virginian forces, and was active in the treacherous slaughter of the Indian chiefs—an act condemned by Governor Berkeley. Returning to Virginia Col. John Washington took his seat in the Assembly 5 June, 1676.1 He married for his second wife Ann, widow of Walter Broadhurst, and daughter of Nathaniel Pope, of Gloucestershire. The name of his first wife is not known, but it is known that she crossed the ocean and was buried, with her two children, in Virginia. Nathaniel Pope of “Appomattocks, gent.,” was in Virginia as early as 1654, and in 1657 was termed lieutenant-governor. Walter Broadhurst was the eldest son of William Broadhurst of Lilleshall, Shropshire, and was among the first settlers of Maryland, mention being found in the records as early as 1639. He removed to Virginia at some time after 1647, and was a burgess from Northumberland in 1653. He died in 1656, Edition: current; Page: [391] and his will was proved in England in 1658. Colonel John Washington died about 1677.

    • Issue:
    • 104. John.
    • 105. Lawrence.
    • 106. Anne, married Francis Wright.

In the name [of] god amen. I John washington of washington parish in ye. Countie of westmerland in Virginie gent, being of good & perfect memory, thankes be unto Almighty god (for it) & Calleing to remembrance the uncertaine estate of this trans[itory] life, & that all flesh must yield unto death, when it shall plea[se] god for to Call, doe make Constitute ordaine & declare this my last will & testament in maner & forme following, reuoking & annulling by thes presents all & euery testament & testa[ments], will & wills heirtofore by me made & Declared [either by word] or by writeing & [these?] be taken only for my last will & testament & noe other, & first being hartily sorry from the bottome of my hart for my siñs past, most humbly desireing forgiueness of the same from the Almighty god (my sauiour) & redeimer, in whome & by the meritts of Jesus Christ, I trust & belieue assuredly to be saued, & to haue full remission & forgiueness of all my sins & yt. my soule wth. my body at the generall day of ressurrection shall arise againe wth. joy & through the merrits of Christ death & passion posses & inherit the Kingdom of heauen, prepared for his ellect & Chossen & my body to be buried in ye. plantation wheire I now liue, by the side of my wife yt. is already buried & two Children of mine & now for the setling of my temporall estate & such goods Chatles & debts as it hath pleased god far aboue my Deserts, to bestow upon me I doe order giue & dispose the same in maner & forme following—

first I will yt. all those debts & duties yt. I owe in right or Conscience to any mañer of person or persons wt soever shall be well & truly contented & payd or ordained to be payed by my executors * * *1

Edition: current; Page: [392]

Imprimis I giue & bequeath unto my eldest sonne [] ington yt. seat of land wheiron Henery flagg [] watts & Robert Hedges, being by patten seven hundred acres & being by my father [] pope made ouer to me & my heirs lawfully begotten of my body—

Item I give unto my soñ Lawrence washington my watter Mill wth. all appertinances & Land belonging to it a[t] the head of Rosiers Creik to him & his heirs foreuer, reserueing to my wife her thirds durring her Life.

Item I giue unto my soñ Lawrence washington yt. seate of Land wch. I bought of Mr. Lewis Maruim, being about two hundred & fifty acres, at the mouth of rosiers Crieck on ye north west side, wth. all the houseing theirunto belonging to him & his heirs for euer reserueing to my wife her thirds durring her Life—

Item I giue unto my soñ Lawrence washington yt. seat of Land at upper Machotock wch. I bought of Mr. Anthony Bridge & Mr. John Rosier being about nine hundred acres to him & his heirs foreuer, reserueing to my wife her thirds durring her life.

Item I giue unto my soñ Lawrence washington my halfe & share of fiue thousand acres of land in Stafford County wch. is betwixt Coll Nicolas spencer & myselfe wch. we are engaged yt. there shall be no benifit taken by suruiuour ship, to him & his heirs foreuer.1

Edition: current; Page: [393]

Item I doe giue unto my soñ Johne washington yt. plantation whereon I now liue wch. I bought of Dauid Anderson & yt. plantation next to Mr. John [Foxall?] yt. I bought (wch. was Ric. Hills) to him & his heirs for euer & yt. seate of Land of about four hundred acres wch. Lyeth uppon ye. Head of Rappahanecke Creike & adjoyning uppon David norways orphants Land the Land being formerly John Whittsons & sold to me, to him & his heirs for euer, reserueing to my wife her thirds of the afoure sayd Land during her Life.

Item I giue unto my soñ John washington yt. seate of Land wch. Robert foster now liueth on being about three hundred acres1 to him & his heirs foreuer, Likewise I give unto my sayd son John washington yt. seat of Land wch. Robert Richards liueth on wch. I had of my bro: Lawrence washington being about three hundred & fifty acres to him & his heirs for euer reserueing to my wife her thirds of the two sayd tracts of Land during her Life—2

Item I giue & bequeath unto my daughter Añ washington yt. seate of Land yt. tract of Land yt. Tho: Jordan now liueth on being about twelve hundred acres3 to her & her heirs for euer, likewise I giue & bequeath unto my sayd Daughter that tract of Edition: current; Page: [394] Land whereon John fries1 now liueth being about fourteen hundred acres after Mr. fricke hath his quantitie out of it to her & her heirs for euer reserueing to my wife her thirds of the two above seates durring her Life.

Item I giue unto my sayd Daughter, wch. was her mother’s desire & my promise ye. Cash in ye. new parlour & the Diamond ring & her mother’s rings & the white quilt & the white Curtains & vallians—

And as for the rest of my personall estate after my debts & dues are sattisfied justly whch. I desire should be sattisfied out of my [] Cropps, which I doe not question but will be far more than I doe owe (thankes be unto god for it) theirfore it is my desire yt. my estate should not Come to any appraisement, but I order & bequeath a[s] followeth yt. is to say that their shall be a just Inuentory & List taken of my personall estate yt. I am possessed of & for to be deuided in quantitie & quallitie, by three men of Judgement wch. I request the Court to nominate, into foure [parts] to be equall & proportionable deuided in quantitie & qualitie the [one] fourth part I giue to my Loueing wife in kind in lew of her dower or [claime], & one fourth part to my soñ Lawrence washington in kind, and one fourth part to my soñ John washington in kind, & one fourth part to my daughter Añ washington in kind to them & either of them seuerally and their heirs for euer & it is my will yt. if either my aboue sayd children should happen to dy, before they obtaine the age of one & twenty yeares or day of mariadge, then the Land of yt. child yt. Dieth to be the eldest soñ then Liueing, & if both my soñs should dy then the Land to be my daughter Añ, & as for the personall estate if any of my three Children should happen to dy, before they Come of age or day of mariadge, then it is my will that the two suruiueing children should equally deuide the personall estate of ye. child yt. is dead betwixt them and theirs for euer.

Item I giue and bequeath after all my legacies payd out wt. mony I shall haue in England to my soñ Lawrence washington.

Edition: current; Page: [395]

Item my desire is yt. their may be a funerall sermon preached at ye church & that their be no other funerall kept yt. will exceed four thousand pounds of tobacco.

Item I giue unto the Lower Church of washington parish [] ten Commandments and the Kings armes wch. is my desire should be sent for out of wt. mony I haue in England.

Item it is my desire yt. wt. estate I shall dy possessed should be kept intire wth.out deuideing untill all debts & dues be payd & sattisfied.

Item I giue unto my bro: Lawrence washington four thousand pounds of tobbco. & Caske.

Item I giue unto my nephew John washington my godson eldest soñ to my bro: Lawrence washington one young mare of two years old.

Item it is my desire yt. when my estate is deuided in quantitie & qualitie into foure equall parts & yt. my wife hath taken her fourth part, yt. then euery Childs part should be put put1 uppon their towne2 plant [] or plantations theire for to be managed to the best aduantage for the bringing up & [educating of each child] according to the proffit of each Children’s share.

Item it is my desire yt. my wife should haue the bringing up of my daughter Añ washington untill my soñ Lawrence comes to age or her day of mariadge & my wife for to haue the manadgement of her part to my daughter’s best aduantadge.

Item I doe giue to my bro: Thomas Pope teñ pounds out of ye. mony I haue in England.

Item I doe giue unto my sister Marthaw Washington teñ pounds out of ye. mony I haue in England & wt. soeuer else she shall be oweing to me for transporteing herselfe into this Country—& a year’s accomodation after her Comeing in & four thousand pounds of tobbco. & Caske.

Item it is my desire yt. my bro: Mr. Thomas Pope haue the bringing up of my soñ John Washington & for to haue the manadgement of his estate to my soñs best aduantadge untill [he] be of age of one & twenty yeares or day of mariadge—

Edition: current; Page: [396]

finally I doe ordaine & appoint my bro: Mr. Lawrence washington & my sõn Lawrence washington & my Loueing wife Mrs. Añ washington my whole & soale executors of this my Last will & testament as witness my hand & seale this 21st. of 7ber 1675.

John Washington.

Signed & sealed in ye. presence of us

John Lord.

John Appleton.

Ye 1th Jana: 1677

Then this will was proved by ye. oath of Capa. Jno. Lord, Capa. Jno. Appleton being decsd. recorded in ye. County Court records of WestmorLd.


Know all men by these presents that I Mrs. Ann Washington Widow & Relict of Capt John Washington of Westmoreland County decd, do hereby constitute, appoint and ordain my trusty and well beloved friend Mr. Caleb Butler of the said County my true and Lawfull Attorney for me and in my name, and to my use, to ask, sue, receive and recover of all person or Persons whatsoever living, residing & abiding within this Colony of Virginia or province of Maryland, all such sum or sums of money, or Tobacco which shall be made appear to be due to me whether by bill, bond or Book account or otherways & upon non-payment of any part of the above Tobacco or money by any person or persons whatsoever I do empower him the said Caleb Butler to arrest & implead and into prison cast all such person or persons as he sees fitt, and out of Prison to release & sett free at his pleasure and acquittance or other discharges to give for me & in my name and for my use, and likewise I give my said attorney full power to employ any one attorney or more if he sees fit and to discharge them at his pleasure & to act and do in all my affairs belonging to me in Virginia or Maryland as if I myself were personally Edition: current; Page: [397] present, ratifying and allowing & confirming all and whatsoever my said attorney shall act and do in the premises. As Witness my hand and seale this 28th day of March 1698.

Ann Washington. [seal.]

Sealed Signed & Delivered in presence of,

Thomas Howes,

Henry Wickeff.

Westmoreland Sct:

At a Court held for the Said County the 30th day of March 1698.

The above Letter of attorney was proved by the oaths of the Witnesses thereto subscribed and ordered to be recorded.


James Westcomb C. W. C.1

  • 89. Lawrence Washington (Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), baptized at Tring, co. Herts., 23 June, 1635. He married, 26 January, 1660, at Luton, co. Beds., Mary, daughter of Edmund Jones of Luton, gent., and by her had one child.
    • 107. Mary, baptized 22 December, 1663, married Edward Gibson, vicar of Hawnes. “She probably died before her husband, if I draw the right inference from his will, proved 17 June, 1732, which does not mention a wife.”—Waters.

There is no evidence of Lawrence being in Virginia before 1667, when he obtained a grant of land in Stafford County, jointly with Robert Richards. He married in Virginia a widow with three daughters, about whose name there is some doubt. She is Edition: current; Page: [398] supposed to have been Jane or Joyce Fleming, widow of Captain Alexander Fleming.1

By her he had issue:

— a daughter, died in infancy.

    • 108. John.
    • 109. Ann.

Lawrence died in 1677. His wife survived him and married again, a man who wasted her property.2

In the name of God, Amen.

I, Lawrence Washington, of the county of Rappac., being sick and weak in body, but of sound and perfect memory, do make and ordain this, my last will and testament, hereby revoking, annulling, and making void all former wills and Codicells, heretofore by me made, either by word or writing, and this only to be taken for my last will and testament.

Imprs. I give and bequeath my Soule into the hands of Almighty God, hoping and trusting through the mercy of Jesus Christ, my one Savior and redeemer, to receive full pardon and forgiveness of all my sinns, and my body to the earth, to be buried in comely and decent manner, by my Executrix hereafter named, and for my worldly goods, I thus dispose them. Item, I give and bequeath unto my loving daughter, Mary Washington, my whole estate in England, both reall and personall, to her and the heirs of her body, lawfully begotten, forever, to be delivered into her possession immediately after my decease, by my Executrix hereafter named. I give and bequeath unto my aforesaid daughter, Mary Washington, my smallest stone ring and one silver cup, now in my possession, to her and her heirs, forever, to be delivered to her immediately after my decease. I give and bequeath unto my loving son, John Washington, all my bookes, to him and his heirs, forever, to be delivered to him when he shall come to the age of Twenty-one yeares. I give and bequeath unto my Edition: current; Page: [399] son, John, and daughter, Ann Washington, all the rest of my plate, but what is before exprest to be equally divided between them, and delivered into their possession when they come of age. Item, my will is, that all my debts which of right and justice I owe to any man be justly and truly paid, as allso my funerall expenses, after which my will is, that all my whole estate, both reall and personall, be equally divided between my loving wife, Jane Washington, and the two children God hath given me by her Vizt. John and Ann Washington. I give and bequeath it all to them, and the heires of their bodies, lawfully begotten, forever, my sonn’s part to be delivered to him when he come of age, and my daughter’s part when she comes of age or day of marriage, which shall first happen. Item, my will is, that that land which became due to me in right of my wife, lying on the South Side of the river, formerly belonging to Capt. Alexander Fleming, and commonly known by the name of West Falco, be sold by my Executrix hereafter named, for the payment of my debts, immediately after my decease. Item, my will is, that the land I have formerly entred with Capt. Wm. Mosely, be forthwith after my decease, surveyed and pattented by my Execx. hereafter named, and if it shall amount to the quantity of one thousand acres, then I give and bequeath unto Alexander Barrow, two hundred acres of the sd. land, to him and his heires, forever, the remainder I give and bequeath unto my loving wife afores’d and two children, to them and their heires, forever, to be equally divided between them. Item, my will is, that if it shall please God to take my daughter Mary out of the world before she comes of age, or have heirs lawfully begotten of her body, then I give and bequeath my land in England, which by my will I have given to her, unto my son, John Washington and his heirs, and the personall estate which I have given to her, I give and bequeath the same unto my daughter, Ann Washington and her heires, forever. Item, I do hereby make and ordain my loving wife, Jane Washington, Executrix of this my last will and testament, to see it performed, and I do hereby make and appoint my dear and loveing Brother Coll John Washington, and my loveing friend Thomas Hawkins (in case of the death or neglect of my executrix), to be the overseers and gardians of my Children untill they come of age to the truth Edition: current; Page: [400] whereof I have hereunto Sett my hand and Seale, this 27th of September, 1675.

Lawrence Washington. [seal.]

Signed Sealed and declared to be his last will and testament, in the presence of us.

Cornelius Wood.

John B. Barrow.

Henry Sandy, Junr.

A codicil of the last will and testament of Lawrence Washington, annexed to his will, and made September 27th, 1675,

Item, my will is, that my part of the land I now live upon, which became due to me by marriage of my wife, I leave it wholly and solely to her disposable after my decease, as witness my hand, the day and year above written.

Lawrence Washington. [seal.]

Signed Sealed and declared to be a Codicil of my last will and testament, in the presence of us.

Cornelius Wood.

Henry Sandy, Junr.

The above named Henry Sandy, Junr. aged 17 yeares, or thereab’ts, sworn and examined, saith, that he did see the above named Lawrence Washington, Sign, Seale, and publish the above mentioned, to be his last will and testament and that he was in perfect sence and memory at the Signing, Sealing and publishing thereof, to the best of your deponents Judgment.

Henry Sandy.

Juratus est Henricus Sandy, in Cur. Com. Rappkac. Sexto die, Jany, Ano 1677. Jr Saca end pr and probat.

Sc st

Edmd Crask, Cl Cy.

A Copy, Teste

James Roy Micou, Clerk,

Essex County Court,

State of Virginia.1

Edition: current; Page: [401]

Ninth Generation.

  • 104.

    Lawrence Washington (John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born at Bridges’ Creek, married Mildred, daughter of Colonel Augustine Warner, of Gloucester County, Virginia, settled in Gloucester County, on the Piankatank River, and he died in 1697-98.


    • 110. John.
    • 111. Augustine.
    • 112. Mildred. Married(1) Roger Gregory, by whom she had three daughters:
      • i. Frances, married Francis Thornton.
      • ii. Mildred, married John Thornton.
      • iii. Elizabeth, married Reuben Thornton.

(2) Colonel Henry Willis, by whom she had a son, iv. Col. Lewis Willis, of Fredericksburgh.1

On the death of Lawrence Washington, his widow Mildred went to England, with her children, and in November, 1700, applied for probate at London on Lawrence’s will, alleging that her husband had died a year before (“ad annum elapsum mortem obiisse”). In the meantime she had married George Gale, of Whitehaven, Cumberland. He was probably the son of George Gale, who came to Maryland in 1690, Edition: current; Page: [402] and married Elizabeth, daughter of Levin Denwood, of Somerset county, Maryland.1

“Mildred Gale lived only a few weeks after the grant of probate was issued to her. Her own will was made January 24, 1700-1, and it was proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Richmond (Copeland Deanery) March 18 following; she is therein described as wife of George Gale of Whitehaven, Cumberland, ‘being doubtful of the recovery of my present sickness;’ she mentions that ‘by an Indenture of Marriage made and executed by and between John Washington one of the Executors of my late husband’s will of the one part, and my present husband George Gale with my own consent and approbation thereof of the other part bearing date 16 May in the present year 1700 I am empowered to devise by will or other instrument the estate and legacys of my late husband to the uses and purposes therein mentioned’—and she proceeded to bequeath £1000 to her said husband, and the residue of her property equally between her said husband and her children. When George Gale took probate of her will, he had to give bond for the tuition of the children, and their names appear as John, Augustine (father of the President), and Mildred Washington.

“Mildred Gale was buried at St. Nicholas’, Whitehaven, January 30, 1700-1, but there is not any extant memorial to her in either the church or churchyard. The ‘sickness’ to which she alludes in her will, is sufficiently explained by an entry of the same Parish Register, thus: Baptism, Jan. 25, 1700-1, Mildred daughter of George Gale; and later on appears the burial of Mildred, dau. of George Gale, March 26, 1701.”1

In the Name of God amen I Lawrence Washington of Washton Parish in the County of Westmoreland in Virginia, Gentleman, being of Good and perfect memory, thanks be unto Almighty God for it & calling to mind the uncertain Estate of this Transitory life & that all Flesh must yield unto death when it shall please God to call me doe make constitute, ordain & Declare this Edition: current; Page: [403] my last will, and Testament in manner and form following, revoking and annulling by these presents all and every Testament and Testaments, will or wills heretofore by me made and declared either by word or writing & this to be taken only for my last will and Testament and none other, and first being heartily sorry from the bottom of my heart for my sins, most humbly desireing forgiveness of the same from the Almighty God my saviour & Redeemer, in whome by the merits of Jesus Christ, I Trust and believe assuredly to be saved and to have full remission & forgiveness of all my sins and that my soal with my body at the General day of Resurrection shall rise again with Joy, and through the Merits of Christs Death and passion, possess & Inherit the Kingdom of Heaven prepared for his Elect & chosen and my body to be buried if please God I depart in this County of Westmoreland, by the side of my Father and Mother & neare my Brothers & Sisters & my children, and now for the setling of my Temporal Estate and such goods, Chattles and debts as it hath pleased God far above my desarts to bestow upon me I doe ordain give and bequeath the same in manner and form following: Imprimis I [will] that all those Debts and dues that I owe in right or Conscience to any manner of Person or Persons whatsoever shall be well contented & paid or ordained or demanded to be paid by my Executors or Extx: hereafter named. Item I give and bequeath to my well beloved friends Mr. William Thompson clk & Mr. Samuel Thompson each of them a mourning Ring of Thirty shillings value each ring: Item I give and bequeath to my Godson Lawrence Butler one young mare & two cows: Item I give and bequeath to my sister Anne Writts children one man servant a piece of four or five years to serve or Three Thousand pounds of Tobacco to purchase the same, to be delivered or paid to them when they arrive to the age of Twenty years old: Item I give and bequeath to my sister Lewis1 a morning Wring of forty shillings price: Item I give to my Cuz: John Washington Sen: of Stafford County all my wearing apparel: Item I give unto my Cozen John Washington’s Eldest son Lawrence Washington my Godson one man servant of four or five Edition: current; Page: [404] years to serve or Three Thousand pounds of Tobacco to purchase the same: to be paid him when he comes to the age of Twenty one yeare old: Item I give to my godsons Lawrence Butler & Lewis Nicholas that Tract of Land joining upon Meridah Edwards and Daniel White, being Two hundred and seventy five acres of Land to be equally divided between them and their heirs forever: Item I give to the upper and Lower Churches of Washington parish each of them a Pulpett cloth & cushion: Item it is my will to have a Funeral sermon at the church, and to have none other Funeral to exceed Three Thousand pounds of Tobacco. Item it is my will after my Debts & Legacies are paid, that my personal Estate be equally divided into four parts: my loving Wife Mildred Washington to have one part, my son John Washington to have another part, my son Augustin Washington to have another Part, and my Daughter Mildred Washington to have the other part: to be delivered to them in specie when they shall come to the age of Twenty one years old. Item I give to my son [John] Washington this seat of Land where I now live, and that whole tract of Land Lying from the mouth of Machodack extending to a place called the round hills, with the addition I have thereunto made of William Webb and William Rush to him and heirs forever. Item I give and bequeath unto my Son Augustine Washington all the dividend of Land that I bought of Mr. Robert Liston’s Children in England Lying in Mattox, between my Brother & Mr. Balridges Land, where Mr. Daniel Liston formerly lived, by Estimation 400 acres to him and his heirs forever,1 as Likewise that Land that was Richard Hills: Item I give and bequeath unto my said Son Augustine Washington, all that Tract of Land where Mr. Lewis Markham now lives after the said Markhams and his now wife’s deceased, by estimation 700 acres more or less to him and his heirs forever: Item I give and bequeath my daugher Mildred Washington all my Land in Stafford County, Lying upon hunting Creek where Mrs. Elizabeth Minton & Mrs. Williams now lives by Estimation 2500 acres to Edition: current; Page: [405] her and her heirs forever.1 Item I give my water mill to my son John Washington to him and his heirs forever: Item it is my will and desire if either of my children should die before they come to age or day of marriage, his or her personal estate be equally divided between the two survivors and their Mother: Item it is my will and desire if all my Children should die before they come of age or day of Marriage, that my Brother’s children shall enjoy all their Estate real, Except that Land that I bought of Mr. Robert Liston’s children, which I give to my loving wife and her heirs forever, and the rest as aforesaid to them and their heirs for ever: Item I give my personall Estate in case of all my children’s death as abovesaid, to be equally divided between my Wife and Brother’s children, my wife to have the onehalf. Item I give that Land which I bought of my Brother Francis Wright, being 200 acres lying near Storkes Quarter, to my son John Washington and his heirs for ever: Item it is my desire that my [estate] should not be appraised but kept intire and delivered them as above given according to time & my Children to continue under the care & Tuition of their Mother, till they come of age or day of marriage, and she to have the profits of their Estates towards the bringing of them up and Keep-them at school: Item I doe ordain and appoint my Cozen John Washington of Stafford and my friend Mr. Samuel Thompson my Executors, and my loving wife Mildred Washington my Executrix of this my last Will & Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seale this 11th day of March Anno Dom 169⅞.

Lawrence Washington. [Seal.]

Signed Seald declared & pronounced in presence of us,

Robt Redman,

George Weedon,

Thomas Howes,

John Rosier.

Edition: current; Page: [406]

Westmoreland Sct:

At a Court held for the said County the 30th day of March 1698.

The last will and Testament of Lawrence Washington Gent deced within written was proved by the oaths of George Weedon Thomas Howes & John Rosier. Three of the witnesses thereof subscribed, and a probate thereof Granted to Samuel Thompson one of the Executors therein named, and the Will ordered to be recorded.


James Westcomb, C. W. C.

  • 105. John Washington (John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born at Bridges’ Creek, and was settled in Westmoreland. The name of the wife is unknown. Issue:
    • 113 Lawrence.
    • 114 John.
    • 115 Nathaniel.
    • 116 Henry.
  • 108. John Washington (Lawrence89, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), married Mary, daughter of Colonel Robert and Mary (Langhorne) Townshend.1 He was sheriff of Stafford County in 1717-18. Issue:
    • 117 Lawrence, born about 1692-93, and probably died before 1699.Edition: current; Page: [407]
    • 118 A daughter, who died before 1699.
    • 119 Townsend.
    • 120 John, said to have married — Massy, and had a son, Lawrence.
John Washington
Washington, John
June ye 22d, 1699
Dear & Loving Sister,

I had the happiness to see a Letter which you sent to my Aunt Howard,1 who died about a year and a half ago; I had heard of you by her before, but could not tell whether you were alive or not. It was truly great joy to hear that I had such a relation alive as yourself; not having any such a one by my Father’s side as yourself. My Father had one Daughter by my Mother, who died when she was very young, before my remembrance. My Mother had three daughters when my Father married her, one died last winter, and left four or five children, the other two are alive & married and have had several children. My Mother married another man after my Father, who spent all, so that I had not the value of twenty shillings of my Father’s estate, I being the youngest & therefore the weakest, which generally comes off short. But I thank God my Fortune has been pretty good since, as I have got a kind and loving wife, by whom I have had three sons and a daughter, of which I have buried my daughter and one son. I am afraid I shall never have the happiness of seeing you, since it has pleased God to set us at such a distance, but hoping to hear from you by all opportunities, which you shall assuredly do from him that is

Your ever loving Brother till death
Jno. Washington.

If you write to me direct yours to me in Stafford county, on Potomack River in Virginia. Vale.

To Mrs. Mary Gibson, living at Hawne’s in Bedf’s. These sent with care.

Edition: current; Page: [408]

Tenth Generation.

  • 110. John Washington (Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) settled in Gloucester County, where he married Catherine, daughter of Colonel Henry Whiting, of Gloucester County. He was a vestryman of Petsworth Parish. His wife died in 1743, and he died 1 September, 1746.

“Underneath this stone lyeth interred the body of Mrs. Katharine Washington, wife of Major John Washington, and daughter of Col. Henry Whiting by Elizabeth his wife, born May 22, 1694. She was in her several stations a loving and obedient wife, a tender and indulgent mother, a kind and considerate mistress, and above all an exemplary Christian. She departed this life February 7, 1743, aged 49 years, to the great grief of all that had the happiness of her acquaintance.”1

    • Issue:
    • 121. Warner.
    • 122. Mildred, twice married.
    • 123. Elizabeth, born about 1716, died unmarried.

“In a well grounded certainty of an immortal resurrection, here lie the remains of Elizabeth, the daughter of John and Katharine Washington. She was a maiden virtuous without reservedness, wise without affectation, beautiful without knowing it. She left this life on the 3rd day of February 1736, in the twentieth year of her age.”

    • 124. Catherine, married Fielding Lewis, and had children i. John; ii. Frances, died without issue.
    • 125. Henry.
    Edition: current; Page: [409]
  • 111. Augustine Washington (Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born in Westmoreland, Virginia, in 1694; was taken to England by his mother, and returning married, 20 April, 1715, Jane, daughter of Caleb Butler, a prominent lawyer of Westmoreland, She died in 1728, leaving issue:
    • 126. Butler, died in infancy.
    • 127. Jane, died young, in 1735.
    • 128. Lawrence.
    • 129. Augustine.

He married, 6 March, 1730-31 (2) Mary, daughter of Colonel Joseph Ball of Epping Forest, and his second wife, Mrs. Mary Johnson (believed to have been a Miss Montague.1 About 1734-35 Augustine removed to an estate on the upper Potomac, and later to a plantation which he had purchased in 1726 for £180 from his sister Mildred Gregory, and which he conveyed in 1740 to his son Lawrence, who called it Mount Vernon. In 1735 he was sworn as a vestryman of Truro Parish, and went to England in 1736, returning in July, 1737. He probably removed, about 1740, to King George County, where his will was recorded. He died 12 April, 1743. Issue by his second marriage:

    • 130. George, married Martha, daughter of John Dandridge, and widow of John Parke Custis.
    • 131.

      Elizabeth, born 20 June, 1733, married Fielding Lewis, and had children (Lewis):

      Edition: current; Page: [410]
      • i. Fielding.
      • ii. George.
      • iii. Elizabeth.
      • iv. Lawrence.
      • v. Robert.
      • vi. Howell.

      She died 31 March, 1797.

    • 132. Samuel.
    • 133. John Augustin.
    • 134. Charles.
    • 135. Mildred, died 23 October, 1740, aged one year and four months.

In the Name of God Amen. I Augustine Washington of the County of King George Gent, being sick and weak but of perfect and disposing sence and memory do make my last Will and Testament in manner following hereby Revoking all former Will or Wills whatsoever by me heretofore made

Imprimis I give unto my son Lawrence Washington & his heirs forever, all that Plantation and Tract of Land at Hunting Creek in the County of Prince William Containing by Estimation Two Thousand five hundred acres with the water mill adjoyning thereto or lying near the same. And all the slaves, Cattle & Stocke of all kinds whatsoever and all the household Furniture whatsoever now in & upon or which have been Commonly possessed by my said son Together with the said Plantation Tract of Land and Mill.

Item I Give unto my son Augustine Washington and his heirs for ever all my Lands in the County of Westmoreland except such only as are hereinafter otherwise disposed of. Together with Twenty five head of Neat Cattle forty hogs Twenty sheep and a Negro Man named Frank besides those negroes formerly given him by his Mother.

Item I Give unto my said son Augustine three young working slaves to be purchased for him out of the first profits of the Iron works after my Decease.

Item I give unto my son George Washington and his heirs the Edition: current; Page: [411] Land I now Live on which I purchased of the Executrix of Mr. Wm. Strother dec’d1 and one Moiety of my Land lying on Deep Run and Ten Negro Slaves.

Item I give unto my son Samuel Washington and his heirs my Land at Chotank in the County of Stafford Containing about six hundred acres2 and also the other moiety of my Land lying on Deep Run.

Item I give unto my son John Washington and his heirs my Land at the head of Maddox in the County of Westmoreland Containing about seven hundred acres.

Item I give unto my son Charles Washington and his heirs the Land I purchased of my son Lawrence Washington (whereon Thomas Lewis now Lives) adjoyning to my said son Lawrence’s Land above devised I also Give unto my said son Charles & his heirs the Land I purchased of Gabriel Adams in the County of Prince William Containing about seven hundred acres.

Item It is my will & desire that all the Rest of my Negroes not herein particularly Devised may be equally Divided between my wife and my three sons, Samuel, John and Charles & that, Ned, Jack, Bob, Sue & Lucy may be Included in my wifes part, which part of my said wife after her decease I desire may be equally divided between my sons George, Samuel, John & Charles Edition: current; Page: [412] and the part of my said Negro’s so devised to my wife I mean & Intend to be in full satisfaction & Lieu of her Dower in my Negro’s. But if she should insist notwithstanding on her Right of Dower in my Negro’s I will & desire that so many as may be wanting to make up her share may be taken out of the Negro’s given hereby to my sons George, Sam1. John and Charles.

Item I Give and Bequeath unto my said wife and my four sons, George, Samuel, John and Charles all the rest of my personal Estate to be equally Divided between them which is not particularly devised by this my will. And it is my Will and desire that my said four son’s Estates may be kept in my wife’s hand untill they respectively attain the Age of Twenty one years in Case my wife Continues so long unmarried, but in Case she should happen to marry before that time, I Desire it may be in the power of my Executors to oblige her husband from time to time as they shall think proper to give Security for the performance of this my Last Will in paying and Delivering my four sons their Estates respectively as they Come of age, or on failure to give such Security to take my said Sons & their Estates out of the Custody & Tuition of my said wife and her Husband.

Item I Give and bequeath unto my said wife the Crops made at Bridge Creek, Chotank and Rappahannock Quarters at the time of my Decease for the support of herself and her Children and I desire my wife may have the Liberty of working my Land at Bridge Creek Quarter for the term of Five Years next after my Decease during which time she may fix a Quarter on Deep Run.

Item I give to my son Lawrence Washington and the heirs of his Body Lawfully begotten that Tract of Land I purchased of Mr. James Nore adjoining to the said Law. Washington’s Land on Mattox in the County of Westmoreland which I Gave him in Lieu of the Land my said son bought for me in prince William County of Spencer & Harrison and for want of such heirs I give and devise the same to my son Augustine and his heirs forever.1

Edition: current; Page: [413]

Item I give to my said son Lawrence all the right Title and Interest I have to in or out of the Iron works in which I am concerned in Virginia & Maryland provided that he do and shall out of the profits raised thereby purchase for my said Augustine three Young Working Slaves as I have hereinbefore directed, and also paying my Daughter Betty when she arrives to the age of eighteen years the sum of four hundred pounds, which Right Title & Interest on the Condition aforesaid I give to my said son Lawrence and his heirs forever.1

Edition: current; Page: [414]

Item I give unto my said daughter Betty a Negro Child named Mary Daughter of Sue, & another named Betty Daughter of Judy.

Item it is my will & desire that my sons Lawrence and Augustine do pay out of the respective Estates devised to them one half or moiety of the Debts I Justly owe and for that purpose I give and Bequeath unto my said Two sons one half of the Debts due & owing to me.

Item Forasmuch as my several Children in this my will mentioned being by several Ventures cannot inherit from one another in order to make a proper Provision agt. their dying without Issue, It is my will and desire that in Case my son Lawrence should dye without heirs of his body Lawfully begotten that then the Land and Mill given him by this my Will lying in the County of Prince William shall go & remain to my son George & his heirs, but in Case my son Augustine should Choose to have the said Lands Rather than the Lands he holds in Maddox either by this will or any settlement Then I give & devise the said Lands in Prince William to my said son Augustine and his heirs, on his Conveying the said Lands in Maddox to my said son George and his heirs And in Case my said son Augustine shall happen to die without issue of his Body Lawfully begotten Then I give and bequeath all the said Lands by him held in Maddox to my said son George and his heirs. And if both my sons Lawrence and Augustine should happen to die without Issue of their several Body’s begotten Then my will & desire is that my son George and his heirs may have his and their Choice either to have the Lands of my son Lawrence or the Lands of my son Augustine to hold to him and his heirs and the Land of such of my said sons Lawrence or Augustine as shall not be so Chosen by my son George or his heirs shall go to and be equally Divided among my sons Samuel John & Charles and their heirs share and share alike and in Case my son George by the death of both or either of my sons Lawrence & Augustine should according to this my Intention come to be possessed of either of the Lands then my will & desire is that ye. Land hereby devised to my said son George and his heirs should Go over and be equally divided between my sons Samuel & John and their heirs share and share Edition: current; Page: [415] alike. And in Case all my children by my present wife should happen to die without Issue of their Body’s Then my will and desire is that all the Lands by this my will devised to any of my said Children should go to my sons Augustine & Lawrence if Living & to their heirs or if one of them should be dead without Issue then to the Survivor & his heirs. but my true Intent and meaning is that each of my Children by my present wife may have their Lands in fee simple upon the Contingency, of their arriving at full age or Leaving heirs of their Body’s Lawfully begotten or on their dying under age and without Lawfull Issue their several parts to descend from one to another according to their Course of descents, and the Remainder over of their or any of their Land in the Clause mentioned to my sons Lawrence & Augustine or the survivor of them is only upon the Contingency of all my said Children by my present wife dying under age or without Issue Living my sons Lawrence and Augustine or either of them.

Lastly I Constitute and appoint my son Lawrence Washington and my good friends Daniel McCarty and Nathaniel Chapman, Gent. Executors of this my cast Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal the Eleventh day of April 1743.

Augus. Washington. [seal.]

Signed sealed and Published

In the presence of us

Rob: Jackson,

Anthony Strother,

Jas. Thomson.

Provided further that if my Lands at Chotank devised to my son Samuel should by Course of Law be taken away then I give to the said Samuel in lieu thereof a Tract of Land in Westmoreland County where Benja. Weeks and Thomas Finch now lives by estimation seven hundred acres. Item I bequeath to my son George One Lot of Land in the Town of Fredericksburgh which I purchased of Colo. John Waller also two other Lots in the said Town which I purchased of the Executors of Colo. Henry Willis with all the houses and Appurtenances thereunto belonging. And whereas some proposals have been made by Mr. Edition: current; Page: [416] Anthony Strother for purchasing a piece of Land where Mathew Tiffy Lately liv’d now if my Executors shall think it for the Benefit of my son George then I hereby empower them to make a Conveyance of the said Land and Premises to the said Strother. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seale the eleventh day of April 1743.

Augus. Washington. [seal.]

Signed sealed and Published

In the presence of us

Rob: Jackson,

Anthony Strother,

Jas. Thomson.

At a Court held for King George County the 6o day of May 1743.

The Last Will and Testament of Augustine Washington Gent was presented into Court by Lawrence Washington one of his Executors who made Oath thereto and the same was proved by the Oath of Anthony Strother and James Thompson and admitted to Record.

Copa. Test

Harry Turner,

Cl. Cur.

Mary (Ball) Washington survived her husband, and lived till September, 1789.

In the Name of God! amen—I Mary Washington of Fredericksg. in the County of Spotsylvania, being in good health, but calling to mind the uncertainty of this Life and willing to dispose of what remains of my worldly Estate, do make & publish this my last will, recommending my Soul into the Hands of my Creator, hoping for a remission of all my sins through the merits & mediation of Jesus Christ, the Saveour of Mankind; I dispose of all my worldly Estate as follows—

Imprimis I give to my son General George Washington all my lands on Accokeek Run in the County of Stafford & also my Negroe Boy George to him and his Heirs for ever, & also my best bed, beadstead of Virginia Cloth Curtains (the same that Edition: current; Page: [417] stands in my best Room) my quilted blue & white Quilt & my best dressing Glass—

Item I give and devise to my son Charles Washington my negroe Man Tom to him & his assigns for ever.

Item I give and devise to my Daughter Betty Lewis my Phæton & my bay Horse

Item I give & devise to my Daughter in Law Hannah Washington my purple Cloath cloak lined with Shag.

Item I give & devise to my grandson Corbin Washington my Negroe wench Old Bet my riding Chair & two blk Horses, to him and his assigns for ever.

Item I give and devise to my grandson Fielding Lewis my Negroe man Frederick to him & his assigns for ever, also eight silver tablespoons, half my crokery ware, of the blue & white Tea china, book case, oval table, my Bed bedstead, one pr. sheets, one pr. blankets & white cotton counterpaine, two table cloaths, six red leather chairs, half my pewter & one half of my Iron kitchen Furniture—

Item I give and devise to my grandson Lawrence Lewis my negro wench Lydia to him and his assigns for ever.

Item I give and devise to my grand daughter Betty Carter my negro woman little Bet & her future increase to her and her assigns for ever—also my largest looking glass my walnut writing Desk with Drawers, a square dining table, one Bed, Bedstead, bolster, one pillow, one blanket & pr. sheets, white Virginia cloth Counterpane & purple Curtains, my red and white tea China, spoons & the other half of my pewter, crockery ware, & the remainder of my Iron kitchen Furniture.

Item I give to my grand Son George Washington my next best dressing Glass one Bead, Bedstead bolsters, 1 pillow, 1 pr. sheet, Blanket & counterpane.

Item I devise all my wearing apparel to be equally divided between my grand Daughters, Betty Carter, Fanny Ball, & Milly Washington—but shou’d my Daughter Betty Lewis fancy any one two or three articles, she is to have them before a division thereof—

Lastly I nominate & appoint my said son General George Washington Executor of this my will, and as I owe few or no Edition: current; Page: [418] debts, I direct my Executor to give no security, nor to appraise my Estate, but desire the same may be allotted to my Devisees with as little trouble & delay as may be—desiring their acceptance thereof as a little Token I now have to give them of my love for them. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and seal this 20th day of May 1788.

Mary Washington.

Signed sealed and published in our presence & signed by us in the presence of the sd Mary Washington & at her desire.

Js Mercer

Joseph Walker

At a Court of Hustings held for the town & Corporation of Fredericksburg the 23d. day of October 1789.

The last Will and Testament of Mary Washington Decd. was proved by the Oath of James Mercer, Esq. one of the Witnesses thereto and Ordered to be certified.


Jno. Chew, C. C. H.

At a Court of Hustings held for the Town & Corporation of Fredericksburg the 22d. day of October 1804

The last will & testament of Mary Washington, decd. was further proved by the Oath of Joseph Walker, another Witness thereto and ordered to be Recorded.


Jno. Chew, C. C. H.

  • 116. Henry Washington (John105, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Stafford County, Justice in 1731 and 1745. The name of his wife is not known, but it is conjectured to have been Butler or Baily. He died in October, 1747, having issue:
    • 136. Lawrence, died before 1747.
    • 137. John.
    • 138. Baily.
Edition: current; Page: [419]

In the name of God Amen—I Henry Washington of Stafford County being sick and weak in body, but of perfect and sound memory thanks to Almighty God for the same, and considering the shortness of human life do make and ordain, this my last will and testament in manner & form as follows. I give & bequeath my soul unto the Almighty God that gave it hoping for the remission of my sins through the merits of Jesus Christ, my blessed redeemer, and my body to the earth to be decently buried, at the discretion of my Excrs—hereafter mentioned. And as for what estate it has been pleased God to bestow upon me, I give & bequeath in the following manner. Item—I give and bequeath to my Grandson Lawrence Washington all my land in Mattox—together with the following negroes namely [names omitted] but if the said Lawrence Washington should die without heirs lawfully begotten of his body or before he arrives at the age of twenty one years, then the said slaves to be equally divided between my sons John Washington & Baily Washington, & their heirs, and my land before given unto Law— Washington part of that I purchased of John Elliott, the other part escheated to my son Baily Washington and his heirs. I give unto my son John Washington my plantation whereon I now live together with what other land I have purchased adjoining to it with moiety of the negroes not already given away to him & the said John Washington and his heirs. I give and bequeath unto my son Baily Washington all my land at Aquia with the other moiety of the negroes not already given away, and in consideration of the work of two slaves left the said Baily by his Grand mother, since her death, I give unto him Fifty pounds to be paid out of my estate not already given away, and if the said Baily, shall not think the above fifty pounds sufficient for the work of the said slaves, but shall issue suit against my son John & Grandson Lawrence, then it is my desire that two negroes of the moiety allotted to him the said Baily between the age of twelve & forty years together with the said fifty pounds shall be divided between my son John & Grandson Lawrence. It is my will and desire that my Excrs—or my son John Washington when he comes to the age of twenty one years shall buy two slaves, a boy & a girl between the age of twelve & Eighteen years out of the estate of the aforesaid John & Baily for the Edition: current; Page: [420] use of my Daughter in law Eliza Washington during her natural life and afterwards that the said negro Boy and girl, with her increase revert unto my Grandson Lawrence Washington and likewise that the said Eliza Washington shall have two full shares of the crop made at Mattox annually paid her until the said slaves be purchased, the clothing working tools, levys and provision be deducted, and if the said Lawrence should die before he arrives at twenty one years of age, or without heirs lawfully begotten of his body then the said negroes with their increase to be equally divided between my sons John & Baily & their heirs. It is my will & desire, that my Excrs shall settle a quarter on the Aquia land soon as they can, the expense of which to be paid out of the money left to my sons John & Baily, that my son John when he arrives at the age of twenty one years shall build or cause to be built on the land at Aquia a dwelling house and Kitchen with other convenient out houses equal to the buildings on the plantation where I now live the expense to be equally paid out of the estate left to them, the said John & Baily & that the benefit of the carpenter work I have left to go in with the expense of the building, or if my son Baily shall think it more for his advantage to desist building the said dwelling house & Kitchen on Aquia creek, I hereby do desire my son John to assist him in building a suitable quarter, two forty foot tobacco houses & pay to the said Baily one hundred pounds in lieu of the dwelling house, out houses & Kitchen, out of his own particular share, of the estate allotted, if the aforesaid Baily should prefer it to the buildings before mentioned, I give & bequeath to my sons John & Baily all my household stuff & stock on the plantation whereon I now live to be equally divided between them & hereby empower my Excrs to sell any part of the perishable effects belonging to my son Baily for his the said Baily’s use. It is likewise my desire that if my Grandson Lawrence Washington or his heirs shall ever issue suit against my son John or his heirs for the recovery of the land on which I now live, then the said Law— Washington & his heirs shall forfeit their right to the land given him at Mattox with all the slaves & their future increase. As to what money & tobacco I have by me or is due by amount together with the crop now on the plantation, after all necessary goods are procured Edition: current; Page: [421] & my Just debts paid, I desire the remainder of the tobacco be sold for cash to be equally divided between my sons John and Baily likewise I desire the remainder of the tobacco at Mattox after goods for the child and the negroes with working tools are procured to be sold for cash to be put out to interest for the use of my Grandson Lawrence. It is my further desire that the negroes may not be divided, till my son John arrives at the age of twenty one years, or at the discretion of my Excrs—& that my estate be not appraised, but divided by my Excrs or other persons as they shall believe as equally as may be, hereby empowering them to value the said estate when they take an inventory of the same. Lastly I constitute & appoint my trusty friends Augustine Washington, Cadwallader Dade, John Washington, Senr & my sons John & Baily Washington as they come of age to be the Excrs of this my last will & testament. Witness my hand & seal this 2d day of Feb 1747-8.

Henry Washington. [Seal.]

Admitted to probate Nov. 8th, 1748. H. Tyler, Cl. Clur.

A copy. Teste C. A. Bryan, Clerk of the County Court of Stafford County.1

  • 119. Townsend Washington (John208, Lawrence89, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of Green Hill, born 16 September, 1705. Married Elizabeth Lund. Issue:
    • 139. Robert.
    • 140. Lawrence, died without issue November, 1799.
    • 141. Lund, married Elizabeth Foote. No surviving issue.
    • 142. Catherine, married John Washington (137).
    • 143. John.2
Edition: current; Page: [422]

Eleventh Generation.

  • 121. Warner Washington (John110, Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrenge34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), of Gloucester County; removed to Frederick County, and died there 1791. Married (1) Elizabeth, daughter of William Macon of Kent County, and by her had:
    • 144.

      Warner, who married (1) Mary Whiting and (2) Sarah Rootes.

      (2) Hannah, youngest daughter of William Fairfax. Issue:

    • 145. Fairfax, married Sarah Armistead.
    • 146. Whiting, married Rebecca Smith.
    • 147. Mildred, married Alban Throckmorton.
    • 148. Hannah, married Peter Beverley Whiting.
    • 149. Catherine, married John Nelson.
    • 150. Elizabeth, married George Booth.
    • 151. Louisa, married Thomas Fairfax.
  • 125. Henry Washington (John108, Lawrence89, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), of Machotock, married Anne, a daughter of Colonel Edwin Thacker and his wife Frances. Anne was born 3 August, 1728. Issue:
    • 152.

      Thacker, married 12 October, 1776, Harriet, daughter of Sir John Peyton.

      — Two or three daughters.

  • 128.

    Lawrence Washington (Augustine111, Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) Edition: current; Page: [423] was sent to school at Appleby, near Whitehaven, England. He served as a captain in the Virginia regiment at Cartagena, 1741-42. Married, 19 July, 1743, Anne Fairfax, daughter of William Fairfax.


    • 153. Jane, born 27 September, 1744; died January, 1745.
    • 154. Fairfax, born 22 August, 1747; died, October, 1747.
    • 155. Mildred, born 28 September, 1748; died, 1749.
    • 156. Sarah, born 7 November, 1750.

His wife survived him and married Colonel George Lee.

In the name of God Amen, I Lawrence Washington of Truro parish, in Fairfax County, and Colony of Virginia, Gent.—knowing the uncertainty of this transitory life, and being in sound and disposing mind and memory do make this my last Wills and Testament, hereby revoking and disannulling all other Wills and Testaments by me at any time heretofore made. Imprimis, my will and desire is, that a proper vault, for interment, may be made on my home plantation, Wherein my remains together with my three children may be decently placed; and to serve for my wife, and such other of the family as may desire it.

Item, my Will and desire is that my Funeral charges and respective debts be first paid and discharged, out of such of my personal estate as my Executors hereafter to be named shall think best and most adviseable to be disposed of for that purpose. Item, my will and desire is that my loving Wife, have the use benefits and profits of all my Lands on Little Hunting and Doegs Creeks, in the County of Truro and County of Fairfax Edition: current; Page: [424] with all the Houses and Edifices thereon, during her natural life, likewise the use, labour, and profits arising from the one half of all my Negroes, as my said wife and Executors may agree in dividing them. Negro Moll and her issue, to be included in my wife’s part of the said Negroes. I also divise that my said wife may have the use of the Lands surveyed on the south fork of Bullskin, in the County of Frederick; during her natural Life, but in case of my daughter Sarah dying without issue before her said Mother, then I give and devize my said Bullskin Tract, to my said Wife; to her and her Heirs forever. Item, it is my Will and desire that all my Household Goods and furniture with the liquors to be appraised and valued by three persons to be chosen by my wife and Executors, and that my wife have the liberty of choosing any part of the said Household goods and furniture to the amount of a full moiety of the whole sum, which they shall be appraised to, which part I give and bequeath to her and her Heirs forever; the other moiety to be sold, and the money arising applied towards the payment of my Debts.

Item, What I have herein devised and left to my Wife I intend to be in Lieu, and in stead, of her right of Dower, provided my Wife, according to her promise, sells her several Tracts of Land near Salisbury plains, and apply the said money to the discharge of my Debts due at the time of my Death, but in case of her refusal then my will is that all my Household furniture be sold, and the whole amount to be applied towards the discharge of my Debts. Item I give and bequeath to my Daughter Sarah and the Heirs of her body, lawfully begotten forever, after my Just debts are discharged, all my real and personal Estate in Virginia, and the province of Maryland not otherwise disposed of. But in case it should please God my said Daughter, should die without issue, it is then my will and desire my Estate both real and personal be disposed of in the following manner;

First, I give and bequeath to my loveing Brother Augustine Washington and his Heirs forever, all my Stock, Interest and Estate in the Principio, Accokeek, Kingsbury, Lancashire, and No East Iron Works in Virginia and Maryland, reserving onethird of the profits of said works, to be paid to my Wife, as hereafter Edition: current; Page: [425] mentioned, and Two tracts of Land, lying and being in Frederick County which I purchased of Colo. Cresap and Gerrard Pendergrass. Second, I give and bequeath unto my loving brother George Washington, and his Heirs forever, after the decease of my wife, all my lands in Fairfax County, with the improvements thereon and further it is my will and desire that during the natural life of my wife, that my said Brother George shall have the use of an equal Share, and proportion of all the Lands hereafter given and devised unto my brothers Samuel, John and Charles. Third, I give and bequeath all those several Tracts of Lands which I am possessed of and claim in the County of Frederick (except the Tract on the south fork of Bull skin, bequeathed to my Wife, and the two Tracts purchased of Colo. Cresap and Gerrard Pendergrass, devised unto my Brother Augustine) unto my Brothers Samuel, John and Charles, reserving as obove an equal proportion for my Brother George, provided they, Samuel, John or Charles pay or cause to be paid unto my and their sister Betty Lewis, the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds. Fourth, my Will also is that upon the death of any, or all of my said Brothers, George, Samuel, John and Charles, dying without lawful issue, such Lands as was given them or any of them, in case of my said Daughters demise as aforesaid, to become the property and Right of my Brother Augustine and his Heirs. Fifth, my further will and desire is, that after the demise of my said wife the Negro Woman, Moll and her increase be given unto my said Brother Augustine, his Heirs, adm’ors &c and likewise give him an equal proportion with his other Brothers, of the other part of the Negroes, and personal Estate, upon their paying my said Wife One hundred pounds Sterling my intent and meaning is that the said one hundred pounds sterling be paid by my said Brothers to my said wife immediately, or soon after, it may please God to remove by death my said Daughter.

Item, I further give and bequeath unto my loveing wife, during her natural life one full third part of the profits from the share I hold in all the several Iron Works, both in the Colony of Virginia and Maryland, to be paid unto my said Wife from time to time Edition: current; Page: [426] by my Executors, immediately upon notice given them by the partners, residing in England, of the annual amount of the profits, to be paid either in Bills or Cash, at the current Exchange as she shall choose.

Item, I give unto my brother John Washington, Fifty pounds in lieu of the Land taken from him by a suit at Law by Capt. Maxinr. Robinson, after my debts are paid. Item, my will and desire is that my two Tracts of Land, one Joining my wife’s Tract, near Salisbury plain, the other on a branch of Goose Creek, being three Hundred and three Acres, my Two Lots in the Town of Alexandria with the edifices thereon, and my share and Interest in the Ohio Company, all be sold by my Executors, and the money applied towards discharging my debts, also my arrears of half pay, which Colo. Wilson, the agent, or Mr. Stuart, his Kinsman and Clerk, be addressed for and the money applied to the same use. Item, whereas the purchasing Negroes and Land may greatly tend to the advantage of my Daughter, I therefore fully empower my Executors to lay out the profit of my Estate, or any part thereof in Lands, and Negroes at their discretion, i. e. I mean such part of the Estate as I have devised to my Daughter Sarah, which said several purchases, in case of her decease without Issue, shall be deemed and counted personal Estate, and be accordingly equally divided among my Brothers as above provided.

Item I also desire that my Just suit of complaint at Law, depending against Gersham Keys, of Frederick County for breach of Trust, be effectually prosecuted by my Executors.

Item, it is furthermore my will and desire that all my Estate be kept together till the debts are discharged.

Item I give to my wife, my Mother in Law, and each of my Executors, a mourning ring;

Lastly, I constitute and appoint the Honbl. William Fairfax and George Fairfax, Esqr., my said Brothers, Augustine and George Washington, and my esteemed Friends, Mr. Nathaniel Chapman and Majr. John Carlyle, Executors of this my last will and Testament. Whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seale, this twentieth day of June, one Thousand Seven Hundred Edition: current; Page: [427] and fifty two, in the 26th. year of his Majesty King George the second’s Reign.

Law.E. Washington


Signed, sealed & published

in the presence of us

WM. Waite,

Andrew lf1450-14_eq001.jpg W. Warren,

Jno. North,

Joseph Gound.

At a Court held for Fairfax County September the 26th. 1752, This Last Will and Testament of Lawrence Washington Gent. deced. was presented in Court by the Honbl. William Fairfax, and George William Fairfax, Esqr. John Carlyle and George Washington, Gentn. four of the Executors therein named who made oath thereto according to Law, and being proved by the oaths of William Waite, John North and Andrew Warren, three of the Witnesses, is admitted to Record, and the said Executors, performing what is usual in such cases, certificate is granted them, for obtaining a probate in due form.


John Graham,


  • 129. Augustine Washington (Augustine111, Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), was educated at Appleby, England, and intended to study law; returned to Virginia in 1742, and assumed charge of the iron works. Married Anne Aylett; died at Wakefield, 12 April, 1743. Issue:
    • 157. William, married, 1780, Jane Washington, daughter of John Augustine Washington, and died about 1792.Edition: current; Page: [428]
    • 158. Anne, married Burdet Ashton, of Westmoreland.
    • 159.

      Elizabeth, married Alexander Spotswood, of Spotsylvania.

      — other children, who died young.

  • 132. Samuel Washington (Augustine111, Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born 16 November, 1734, and married five times, By his first wife, Jane Champe, he had no children. By his second, Mildred Thornton, daughter of Colonel John Thornton, he had:
    • 160.

      Thornton, who was twice married, and left three sons.

      His third wife was Lucy, daughter of Nathaniel Chapman, who bore him no children. By a fourth wife, Anne, daughter of Colonel William Steptoe and widow of Willoughby Allerton, he had;

    • 161. Ferdinand, married, and died without issue.
    • 162. George Steptoe.
    • 163. Lawrence.
    • 164. Harriet, married Andrew Parks.

His fifth wife was Susannah, the widow of — Perrin. He died, in 1781, at Harewood, Berkeley County.

  • 133.

    John Augustine Washington (Augustine111, Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born 13 January, 1736. Married Hannah, Edition: current; Page: [429] daughter of Colonel John Bushrod, of Westmoreland County.


    • 165. Jane, married William Washington (157). She died in 1791, leaving four children.
    • 166. Bushrod, married in 1783 Anne, daughter of Colonel Thomas Blackburn, of Prince William County. Died without issue.
    • 167. Corbin, married Hannah, daughter of Richard Henry Lee.
    • 168. Mildred, married Thomas Lee.

John Augustine Washington died at Nomony, Westmoreland County, in February, 1787.

  • 134. Charles Washington (Augustine111, Lawrence104, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born 2 May, 1738. Married Mildred, daughter of Colonel Francis Thornton of Spotsylvania, by whom he had issue:
    • 169. George Augustine, married Frances, daughter of Col. Burwell Bassett, of New Kent, by whom he had three surviving children:
      • i. George Fayette.
      • ii. Charles Augustin.
      • iii. Anna Maria.
    • 170. Samuel, married Dorothea —.
    • 171. Frances, married Col. Burges Ball.
    • 172. Mildred, married — Hammond.
  • 137. John Washington (Henry116, John105, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) married Catherine Edition: current; Page: [430] Washington (142); member of the King George Committee of Safety, 1774-5, and of the House of Delegates in 1780. Issue:
    • 173. Betty.
    • 174. Ann.
    • 175. Henry.
    • 176. Nathaniel.
    • 177. Mary.
    • 178. John.
    • 179. Baily.
    • 180. Lawrence.
    • 181. Butler.
    • 182. Mildred.
    • 183. William.1
  • 138. Baily Washington (Henry116, John105, John88, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1) of “Stafford County, gent.”; married Catherine Storke.
    • 184. William, born 28 February, 1752; married, 1782, Jane Riley Elliott; died in South Carolina, 6 March, 1810.
    • 185. Baily, born 12 December, 1754; married Euphan Wallace.
    • 186. John, born 25 May, 1756.
    • 187. Elizabeth, born 16 March, 1758.
    • 188. Mary Butler, married Valentine Peyton.1
  • 139. Robert Washington (Townsend119, John108, Lawrence89, Lawrence61, Lawrence34, Robert19, Lawrence12, John4, Robert3, John1), born at Edition: current; Page: [431] Green Hill, 25 June, 1729; married Alice Strother. Issue:
    • 189. Lund, married Susanna Monroe Grayson.
    • 190. Ann, married William Thompson, of Col chester.
    • 191. — married Hayward Foote.1
Edition: current; Page: [432]


So much loose statement exists concerning the military family of Washington, that I insert this list of his aids. No person can be accounted an aid unless his position was recognized in General Orders or in a definite statement on the part of the General. I give my authority for each appointment, and believe the list to be complete.

1 Special appointments.
2 I have been unable to obtain a copy of the General Orders from November, 1776, to January 12, 1777. Fitzgerald must have been appointed during that period, for he was signing as aid in January, 1777.
THOMAS MIFFLIN, General Orders, 4 July, 1775.
JOSEPH REED, Secretary, General Orders, 4 July, 1775.
JOHN TRUMBULL, General Orders, 27 July, 1775.
EDMUND RANDOLPH, General Orders, 15 August, 1775.
GEORGE BAYLOR, General Orders, 15 August, 1775.
ROBERT HANSON HARRISON, Secretary, General Orders, 6 Nov., 1775.
STEPHEN MOYLAN, General Orders, 6 March, 1776.
WILLIAM PALFREY, General Orders, 6 March, 1776.
CALEB GIBBS,1 General Orders, 16 May, 1776.
GEORGE LEWIS,1 General Orders, 16 May, 1776.
RICHARD CARY, General Orders, 21 June, 1776.
SAMUEL BLACHLEY WEBB, General Orders, 21 June, 1776.
ALEXANDER CONTEE HANSON, Assistant Secretary, General Orders, 21 June, 1776.
WILLIAM GRAYSON, General Orders, 24 August, 1776.
P. PENET, by brevet. See Vol. IV., 483. Journals of Congress, 14 October, 1776.
JOHN FITZGERALD,2 General Orders,
GEORGE JOHNSTON, General Orders, 1 March, 1777.
JOHN WALKER, General Orders, 19 February, 1777.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON, General Orders, 20 January, 1777.
RICHARD KIDDER MEADE, General Orders, 12 January, 1777.
PETER PRESLY THORNTON, General Orders, 6 September, 1777.
JOHN LAURENS, General Orders, { 6 September, 1777.
{ 6 October, 1777.
JAMES McHENRY, Assistant Secretary, General Orders, 15 May, 1778.
TENCH TILGHMAN, General Orders, 21 June, 1780.
DAVID HUMPHREYS, General Orders, 23 June, 1780.
RICHARD VARICK, Secretary at Headquarters. Washington to Varick, 25 May, 1781.
JONATHAN TRUMBULL, Jr., Secretary, General Orders, 8 June, 1781.
DAVID COBB, General Orders, 15 June, 1781.
PEREGRINE FITZHUGH, General Orders, 2 July, 1781.
WILLIAM STEPHENS SMITH, General Orders, 6 July, 1781.
BENJAMIN WALKER, General Orders, 25 January, 1782.
HODIJAH BAYLIES, General Orders, 14 May, 1782.
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Edition: current; Page: [436] Edition: current; Page: [437]


Vol. Page.
15 April, 1776, IV. 20
8 January, 1794, XII. 402
15 November, 489
20 August, 1795, XIII. 91
17 June, 1798, XIV. 13
4 July, 15
13 37
25 September, 92
3 March, 1799, 156
12 September, 1796, XIII. 269
20 March, 1777, V. 293
26 June, 1792, XII. 136
15 February, 1796, XIII. 167
18 August, 1796, XIII. 257
22 May, 1798, XIV. 1
25 July, 52