George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Fowler, April 1774

From George Fowler

Cameron⟨mutilated⟩ April 1774


I am doubtful you blame the Conduct of the Sheriff1 and myself for taking Mr Crawford in your house you may be assured very cincerely that I had been informd he intended out on Monday morning and having been well informd that he once had escaped did not know but he might attempt it again and certain it is I suspended the Action untill the last hour. when I left home I heard he was at Johnsons Ferry2 where I expected he woud be servd with the Process and had no thought of going as far as we did when we Set out, but as I had been so repeatedly disappointed and deceived both by Letters and promises and a ⟨mutilated⟩uch blamed for Extending a Credit of that dignity to that Gentleman, that I thought it was my duty & the Sheriffs to Act as we did, and more particularly a Company of Merchants failing in London we were immediately call on for a larger Sum than we coud possibly raise on a sudden, especially when frequently meeting Such disappointments ourselves which reasons I hope will convince you that it was more through necessity that I was induced to act as I did than out of any pleasure I coud take in such an Action and of our necessity I first made Mr Crawford privately Acquainted hoping it might bring him more seriously to consider—I really had been informd and I think even from some of his Friends that he woud escape if in his power a Sufficient reason for the Sheriff to Act with Caution,3 I did intend to pay the Cost myself as I then told the Sheriff in case it was Settled I am really extremely sorry that I had in any case disobliged and humbly hope these reasons will render us something more excusable & am yor mot Obedt Hble Servt

Geo: Fowler


George Fowler operated a mercantile business under the name John & George Fowler in Alexandria as well as at other locations in Virginia. In 1775 the two Fowlers were adjudged guilty of a breach of the Association (Virginia Gazette [Purdie; Williamsburg], 17 Feb. 1775, supplement).

1The sheriff at this time was Henry Gunnell.

2Johnston’s ferry (Clifton’s ferry) was just above GW’s River farm.

3Since the Fairfax County Order Book for most of 1774 is missing, the details of Valentine Crawford’s case have not been determined. However, Crawford had appeared before the Fairfax court several times earlier. See especially Fairfax County Order Book, 1770–71, 71–72, 178, 237, 277, and Fairfax County Order Book, 1772–74, 54, 133, ViFfCh. Valentine Crawford came to Mount Vernon on 23 Mar. and left for the Ohio on 31 Mar. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:240–41). For Crawford’s reference to his brush with the law, see Crawford to GW, 6 May 1774.

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