George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 8 May 1786]

Monday 8th. Thermometer at 60 in the Morning—70 at Noon and 65 at Night.

Clear, calm, & warm.

Rid to Muddy hole & Dogue run. Began at the first to cross the lists in order to Plant Corn. The early Corn, & Indian Pease at this place were coming up.

Sent a Carpenter to put a new Axle & do some other repairs to the Barrel plow at Dogue run.

Sowed 3 rows of the Borden grass Seeds in the inclosure behind the Stables, adjoining to, and just below the Cape Wheat, & next the fence. Next to these was near a row of Yellow clover. The first was given to me by Colo. Fitzhugh of Maryland & the other by Colo. Chas. Carter of Ludlow. These rows were two feet apart, and the Seeds sown very thin in the rows, that the more Seeds might be saved from them for the next seasn.

On Saturday last the dead Cedars in my shrubberies were replaced by live ones just taken up.

Doctr. Craik, Wife & family went away after breakfast.

In the Evening a Captn. Whaley from Yohiogany came in on some business respecting the Affairs of the deceased Val. Crawford and Hugh Stephenson; to whom I gave, under cover to Thos. Smith Esqr. (my Lawyer in that Country) a Bill of Sale and the letter wch. inclosed it which the said Vale. Crawford had sent me, in the Mo[nth] of May 1774 as Security for what he owed me, and to indemnify me for my engagements in his behalf—to see if they were valid, & would cover the debt he owed me, as they never had been recorded. I also gave him the Statement of my Acct. with Colo. John, and the deceased Hugh Stephenson, which, in behalf of the latter, he promised to pay, and to obtain the other moiety from the first. He also promised to send in my Negros which had been hired to Gilbert Simpson or bring them in himself. In consequence of this assurance I gave him an order on Majr. Freeman to deliver them.

Valentine Crawford had sent GW a letter dated 6 May 1774 enclosing the bill of sale of his land as security for a £100 debt he owed GW (DLC:GW). Benjamin Whaley, of Fayette County, Pa., delivered this document to Thomas Smith who was to ascertain its validity (GW to Thomas Smith, 8 May 1786, NhD). GW also gave Whaley a statement of his account with John and Hugh Stephenson which indicated that the two brothers owed GW £70 10s. Virginia currency (GW to Thomas Smith, 23 Sept. 1789, DLC:GW).

Thomas Freeman, GW’s western agent, had been requested 16 Oct. 1785 to hire “a careful person” to bring the slaves at Washington’s Bottom to Mount Vernon, “if the measure can be reconciled to them” (DLC:GW). Of the nine Negroes now there, three apparently were young children, and two, Simon and Nancy, had been among the four slaves sent by GW in 1773 to help start Simpson’s plantation (LEDGER B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 87). Despite an absence of nearly 13 years, these last two slaves had some reasons to return to Mount Vernon. “Simon’s countrymen, and Nancy’s relations,” GW had explained to Freeman, “are all here, and would be glad to see them. I would make a Carpenter of Simon, to work with his shipmate Jambo” (16 Oct. 1785, DLC:GW). Nevertheless, none of the slaves, according to Freeman, could be persuaded to go to Mount Vernon “from any Argument I could use” (Freeman to GW, 18 Dec. 1786, DLC:GW). All were sold to various purchasers 5 Oct. 1786, Simon bringing £100 and Nancy together with a young child bringing £80 15s. Total receipts amounted to £418 15s. (DLC:GW).

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