George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Beverley Randolph, 15 December 1784

From Beverley Randolph

In Council Decr 15th 1784.


I have the Honour to Inclose you Several Resolutions of the General Assembly, relative to the Opening the Navigation of the River Potomack; by which you are Appointed One of the Commissioners on the part of this State to meet those who may be Appointed on the Part of Maryland to Concert Such regulations as may be best Adapted to Attain this important Object:1 the Letter Addressed to the Governor of Maryland is inclosed Open to you with a Blank which the Executive request you will fill up with the time at which it will be Convenient for yourself and the Other Commissioners to meet at Annapolis.2 It may be requisite to Observe that the Day shou’d be as early a One as Possible, the Assembly being Anxious to receive your report so that they may Adopt the Necessary Measures During their Present Session. you will be Pleased after filling up the Blank, to forward the Letter to Mr Paca by the Express who will Deliver you this.3 with the Greatest respect I am Sir Yr Very Obt Servt

B. Randolph

ALS, ICU; LB, Vi: Executive Letter Book.

Although Patrick Henry’s new term as governor of Virginia began on 30 Nov., he did not appear in the council to assume office until 21 December. Until then, Beverley Randolph (1734–1797) as lieutenant governor acted in his stead.

1These particular copies of the resolutions implementing GW’s suggestions to Madison of 3 Dec. regarding cooperation between Virginia and Maryland to form a Potomac River company and to build a road in Pennsylvania from the Potomac to the waters of the Ohio have not been found. The texts of the resolutions, however, are printed in the journal of the Virginia house of delegates for 13 Dec.: “Whereas, the opening and extending the inland navigation of this Commonwealth, will greatly contribute to the interest of individuals, and to the prosperity of the whole State; and a memorial has been presented to the present General Assembly, by sundry inhabitants of this State and of the State of Maryland, representing the particular advantages which would flow from the establishment of a company under the authority of two States, for the purpose of opening and improving the navigation of the river Potomac, from tide water, up the said river, as far as the same can be carried; and praying that an act may be passed by the present General Assembly, for establishing such a company: And whereas, the prayer of the said memorial is deemed reasonable; but it appearing to this House, that acts passed without previous communication between the two States, may be dissimilar and productive of much delay;

Resolved, That George Washington, Horatio Gates and Thomas Blackburne, Esquires, or any two of them be, and they are hereby appointed, forthwith to meet such persons as may be appointed by the State of Maryland, and to concert with them the regulations under which a company ought to be established for the purpose aforesaid; and that they immediately report the result of such conference to the General Assembly.

“And whereas, one material advantage to be derived to the two States, from the opening and improving the navigation of the river Potomac as aforesaid, will consist in the progress and facility it will afford towards a commercial intercourse with the western country;

Resolved, That the said commissioners, or any two of them be, and they are hereby authorised and instructed to concert with the persons who may be appointed on the part of Maryland, a plan, for opening a proper road between the waters of the Potomac and the most convenient western waters, together with the just proportions of money which ought to be supplied by the two States for that purpose; and that the said commissioners also report the result of their proceedings herein, to the General Assembly.

Resolved, That these resolutions be transmitted by express to the State of Maryland, by the Executive, with propositions for the time and place of meeting the persons who may be deputed on the part of Maryland” (House of Delegates Journal, 1781–1785). description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico, on Monday, the Seventh Day of May, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-One. Richmond, 1828. description ends

2GW forwarded Lieutenant Governor Randolph’s letter to Gov. William Paca under cover of a letter dated 19 December. For the text of Randolph’s letter to Paca, see note 1 in GW to Paca, 19 December. GW set the date for the meeting with the Marylanders at Annapolis on 22 Dec. (see GW to Randolph, 20 Dec., and Enclosure I in George Washington and Horatio Gates to the Virginia Legislature, 28 Dec.). Thomas Blackburn did not go to Annapolis and General Gates became ill during the meeting, leaving GW to act alone for Virginia (see Blackburn to GW, 20 Dec., Gates to GW, 24 Dec., and GW to James Madison, 28 Dec.).

3The “express,” or messenger, was named Daniel Thompson. See GW to Randolph, 20 Dec., n.1.

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