George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Harrison, 13 November 1784

From Benjamin Harrison

Rich[mon]d [Va.] Novr 13th 1784

My Dear Sir,

I was in great hopes of seeing you here before this that I might have acknowledged the rect of your favor of the 10th of last month in person, and have told you how much I approve your plan for opening the navigation of the western waters. The letter was so much more explicit than I could be that I took the liberty to lay it before the assembly, who appear so impress’d with the utility of the measure that I dare say they will order the survey you propose immediately and will at their next sitting proceed to carry the plan into execution.1

My time of service is so near expiring that I must remove my family and effects next week or my successor will elbow me out perhaps which would not be quite so comfortable, indeed there is a vacancy for an assembly man in Chs city and I shall endeavour to fill it and it seems there is such opposition to me that unless I go down a few days before the election there is a probability of my being disappointed.2 Mrs Harrison joins me in compliments to your good lady, who she had hopes of seeing here when last down to have renew’d an acquaintance of very long standing but which has been so much interruped of late years.3 I am with every sentiment of esteem and regard Dr Sir your affect. and obedt servt

Benj. Harrison


1Governor Harrison wrote the Virginia house of assembly early in the session, on both 1 and 2 Nov., enclosing “sundry letters and papers.” There is no indication in the assembly’s journal that GW’s proposals for opening up the Potomac were discussed on the floor of the house before his arrival in Richmond on 14 November. For GW’s role in the enactment of the Potowmack Company bill in both the Virginia and Maryland legislatures, see editorial note: GW and the Potowmack Company, in GW to Harrison, 10 October.

2Henry Southall, not Harrison, became in 1785 a delegate from Charles City County in place of William Green Munford who seems not to have attended either the spring or the fall session of the legislature in 1784. Edmund Pendleton reported to Richard Henry Lee on 18 April 1785 that Governor Harrison had “lost his election in Charles City, which he imputes I hear, to the intrigues of his old friend the speaker and is, as usual, very angry, that he should meet with this reward from the people, for thirty-six years faithful service” (Mays, Pendleton Letters, description begins David John Mays, ed. The Letters and Papers of Edmund Pendleton, 1734–1803. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1967. description ends 2 1479–80). Harrison went to the house of delegates from Surry County in the fall of 1785 and shortly replaced as speaker the other delegate from Charles City County, John Tyler.

3Harrison’s wife Elizabeth was the sister of Martha Washington’s brother-in-law, Burwell Bassett. Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Harrison saw one another frequently in the prewar years when both their husbands regularly attended the meetings of the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg.

Index Entries