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Washington, George (1732-1799) to James Mercer

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06335 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Mount Vernon, Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 26 December 1774 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 37 x 23.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by Washington a month after the adjournment of the first Continental Congress to Mercer as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Informs Mercer of the cost of purchases made for him in Frederick, Maryland including £29 for a slave named Kate. Says the whole of Mercer's purchase was for £2385.14.2. Has heard nothing from Colonel Payton on the Loudoun County land for which Mercer was charged. Washington is involved in a disputed land deal through Mercer for Gray & Adams land, and he writes that it appears that the land in question is 56 acres short of the 1224 he was going to buy. Says he will not be pleased if that is the case and will not be bound by it. Says Mercer's wording of the land warrant is not sufficiently strong and straight-forward. Says he has written to Mercer's brother and has sent along a copy (not present). Makes reference to the wheat crop. Mentions cattle sales in Frederick and says Mercer is too optimistic about the worth of his herd. Says he is not in great need of cattle for Mount Vernon, but might be willing to make a deal with Mercer for some. Says he is most interested in cows and heifers. References Mercer's brother's "affairs" at the end of the letter. A long docket discusses power of attorney to sell G. Mercer's estate in Frederick and Loudoun, and discusses John Mercer's settlement of a debt to Custis. Settlement estimated at £2300. Two small areas of text loss on page three.

Background Information: Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

James Mercer served as a captain in the French and Indian War and was commander of Fort Loudoun, Winchester, Virginia in 1756. He was active ...in pre-Revolutionary affairs, was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses 1762-1775, a member of the Virginia conventions of 1774, 1775, and 1776, a member of the committee of public safety in 1775 and 1776, and a member of the State constitutional convention in May 1776. He served as a Member of the Continental Congress in 1779, as a judge of the General Court of Virginia 1779-1789, was a trustee and president of the Fredericksburg Academy 1786-1790 and judge of the first Virginia Court of Appeals from 1789 until his death in Richmond, Virginia in 1793.


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Full Transcript: Mount Vernon Decr. 26th. 1774.
Dear Sir,
I do not recollect whether, in my last, I informed you that it was £29 you gave for the negro Kat & that the whole of ...your purchases on Frederick amounted to £2385.14.2; If I did not then do it, there will be found right & agreeable to the original Entries - I have heard nothing yet from Colo. Peyton, respecting those Lands which you appear charged with all the Loudoun Sale - there is no doubt, I presume of Combs or others taking them of your hands - if there be, the sums bid for them, will require to be added to your acct. -
I cannot say but that I should have liked to have had 1224 acres of land warranted to me, instead of your granting 1200 acres more or less; for, as it was upon the presumption that the tracts of Gray & Adams containd this quantity clear of disputed bounds, that I agreed to give the price I did; so, if it falls short (I mean more than is generally allowed for variation of Instruments) I shall not much like, or indeed think myself bound by it, and am inclined to think (as Mr. Carlyle also does) that Hough must have made some mistake in his Measurement as the original Patents to Adams and Gray together, contain no more than 1168 acres, whilst it appears that Adamss. Patent runs into Grays, and one half, or near it of Grays is taken away by Strutfields; notwithstanding all which, though you say (for I have no Plat, or Report of his) makes 56 Acres more than is granted by both Patents; at the same time he differs but little (I perceive by your Plat) from the Original Courses & distances. -
I do not pretend either, to be well acquainted with the phrazes which constitute a general warranty, but the words made use of by you, for this purpose, are not so strong and emphatical as I have generally observed upon these occasions; which usually run in some such manner as this - "from the claim, or claims of any "Person or persons whatsoever the said his heirs &ca. "doth warrant, and will forever defend" your Covenant may, for ought I know be Tantamount, although no such expressions are used, and therefore, I shall say nothing further on this head. - It was my Intention [2] to have run round the Lines of these Tracts, and tried the Contents of them myself; but I have never been a day well since my return from Federick, nor a day without Company. - If you have Adams conveyance, I should be glad to be furnished with it when you send the Copy of the power of Attorney, to McCoul & Blair, as I have no paper relative to this Land, except an unattested Copy of the Proprietors Deed to him. -
I have wrote to your Brother since I came home - I intended a short Letter, just to advise him of the amount of the Sales, but insensibly run into a long one, - Inclosed is a Copy of it, as also of the two queries, which he seems anxious for your answering - the reason of my repeating them to you, now, being that they are again urged to me in a Letter from Mr. Motagu - if you choose to answer them, it may be by way of Letter to me, which I can Inclose to your Brother - It was for this reason, I have furnished you with my preparatory Letter -
As yr. quantity of Wheat threshed at Marlborough, agreeably to your Letter of the 13th. Inst. is too much for a Load; and as the Hollidays are at hand, & bad weather probably approaching, it will be out of my power to send for it very soon; indeed this will always be the case (which makes no material difference to me) if it cannot be got ready for delivery before Christmas it being difficult, afterwards, to procure Craft till the Frosts are thought to be over in the Spring
I have heard no person speak of the Sale of Cattle in Frederick but what thought it a great one - I have mentioned the average price to no one since, but what thinks I might buy for much less, & although I do not dispute, as I have never seen, the goodness of your Cattle at Marlborough, yet give me leave my friend, to tell you, that you are too sanguine in your expectations in matters of this sort - It is not my intention to buy at high prices, as I am I no immediate want - My design, as I raise a great deal of Provender, was to stock my Plantations more plentifully than they are, if I could purchase upon such terms as I liked; & hearing you talk of selling Cattle from Marlborough, I thought it might answer both our purposes; but you are to observe that, if your Bond delivery of the Cattle, is to have a credit for the amount of yr Sale, it is, to all intents and [3] purposes, a ready money Sale to both us; although no Cash is deposited - T his, in fact, is the case in respect to the Land, which makes the £446 allowed for your moiety equal to £468.6.0. a year hence, to say nothing of the disadvantage attending ready money Sales; and is a circumstance I did not advert to - The kind of Cattle I should prefer, would be Cows & Heifers, as they would put me into a full stock the soonest; but when I wrote to you, on this Subject, my intention, if we could agree upon terms, was to take of all you could spare of every kind; if the person I should send liked the Cattle at the price they should be offered, & found they were not the worse for having a parcel pickd out for your Plantation use, for I would not be concernd with Refuse Cattle at any rate. -
I find, in order to lay your Brothers affair fully before him in my next, that it will be necessary for me to have Copies of both the Report made by the Commissioners, neither of which I have - As I think you spoke something of a Plan, when we were in Fredk. together, of your Committee being branched out to ans[text lost] different purposes. I shall be obliged to you for procuring me a Copy of your Resolution respecting the matter - a plan of this kind I am sure is necessary ry for us, & we may be benifitted by a Precedent. - with very great esteem - & with the Compliments of the season I remain Dr Sir
Yr. Most Obed. Servt.
Go: Washington

[docket]
General Washington
Dec. 26th. 1774
The Genl. then corresponded with Mr. Montagu the friend of Mr. Gravatt and brother of Miss Wroughton, thro' whom the power of Attorney originally came to George Mason, John Taylor and the Genl., to sell G. Mercer's estates in Frederic and Loudon
Moiety of four mile run land estimated at 446£ conveyed to the Genl. By Go. Mercer, in discharge of John Mercer's debt to Custis one of the old debts estimated in the settlement between the Father and sons at 2300£

[address]
Alexa. 2.16.
To
James Mercer Esqr. -
In
Fredericksburg
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People: Washington, George, 1732-1799
Mercer, James, 1736-1793

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: African American HistoryWomen's HistorySlaverySlave SaleFinanceLand TransactionBoundary or Property DisputeAgriculture and Animal HusbandryWheatMount VernonDebtEstatePresident

Sub Era: Road to Revolution

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