George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 16 September 1784]

16th. Continued at Simpsons all day—in order to finish the business which was begun yesterday. Gave leases to some of my Ten[an]ts on the Land whereon I now am.1

1GW’s tract at Washington’s Bottom contained, besides Simpson’s 600–acre plantation and the mill tract, five small farms leased to tenants whose names and length of tenure are not fully clear (Thomas Freeman to GW, 18 Dec. 1786, DLC:GW). Some of the tenants were much behind in their rent, and as there was evidently some confusion, real or feigned, about the terms under which they were leasing, GW today took the opportunity to explain his terms in person and to make new and apparently more stringent leases with them. Nevertheless, when GW’s agent attempted to collect rents a few months later, the tenants denied that any were then due, claiming that they had agreed to take the new leases only on the “footing that all arrears whatever was done away” (Thomas Freeman to GW, 9 June 1785, DLC:GW). GW vigorously refuted that argument and demanded payment; legal action was threatened and may have eventually been taken (GW to Thomas Freeman, 16 Oct. 1785, and Freeman to GW, 27 July 1785, DLC:GW).

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