To Lund Washington
Mount Vernon 20th Novr 1785.
I know as little of G:W.s plans or wishes as you do, never having exchanged a word with him upon the subject in my life. By his Advertisemt—& from what has frequently dropped from Fanny, he is desireous of getting a place in this Country to live at.1 Before their marriage he & Fanny were both told that it would be very agreeable to Mrs W. & myself, that they should make this House their home ’till the squalling & trouble of Children might become disagreeable. I have not repeated the matter since, because it was unnecessary—an offer once made is sufficient. It is hardly to be expected that two people as young as they are, with their nearest connexions at extreme points, would like confinement: & without it, he could not answer my purposes as a Manager or Superintendant, unless I had more leisure to attend to my own business, which by the by I shall aim at, let the consequences, in other respects, be as they may.2
These however are no reasons for detaining you a moment longer in my employ than suits your interest, or is agreeable to your inclination, & family concerns. But as the proposition is new, & hath never been revolved in my mind, it will take some time to digest my own thoughts upon the occasion before it is hinted to another. In the mean while if I can do with the aids you offer, & for which I sincerely thank you, I will ask your constant attention no longer than this year—at any rate not longer than the next. The inexplicitness of this answer cannot, I presume, put you to much if any inconvenience as yet; because retirement from, & not a change of business, is professedly your object.
However unlucky I may have been in Crops &c. of late years, I shall always retain a grateful sense of your endeavours to serve me; for as I have repeatedly intimated to you in my Letters from Camp, nothing but that entire confidence which I reposed, could have made me easy under an absence of almost nine years from my family & Estate; or could have enabled me, consequently, to have given not only my time, but my whole attention to the public concerns of this Country for that space.3 I am your sincere friend &ca
1. The following advertisement, dated 9 Nov., appeared in the Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser, on 10 Nov. 1785: “THE Subscriber has for sale in the town of Fredericksburg, THREE LOTS (lately enclosed) on which there are a good house with four rooms on a floor, a kitchen, meat-house, and large stable.—They are agreeably situated for a private family: For business none more so, as they have a great command of the back trade.—They are so situated as to admit of divisions, and will be disposed of as it may be most convenient.—He has also a small TRACT of LAND, about three miles from the said town, containing between 160 and 200 acres, which he will dispose of likewise.—Its situation renders it valuable to a resident in the town, being well watered and wooded, and adapted for farming.—Twelve months credit will be allowed without interest, if the money is punctually paid when it becomes due, if not, it is to bear interest from the date.—A mortgage of the premises, with bond and approved security, will be required.—The price will be made known by the Subscriber at Mount-Vernon.—An exchange for land in the County of Fairfax will be prefered. GEORGE WASHINGTON.”
George Augustine Washington and his bride left Mount Vernon on 14 Dec. to visit her parents at Eltham (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:250), and on 3 Feb. 1786 he wrote GW: “I had no propositions made for my Lot’s on my way through Fredericksburg—one of the Letters You forwarded was asking information and proposing a mode of payment.” Charles Washington wrote his son George Augustine on 23 Nov.: “I observed in the papers your Property at Fredericksg Advertised in the name of the General, by which I thought you and him had been making an Exchange for Other property” (ViMtvL).
2. George Augustine Washington’s family lived in Berkeley County at the upper end of the colony and his bride’s family, the Bassetts, lived in New Kent County in Tidewater. Within a month GW asked George Augustine Washington about his intentions and learned that he and his wife wished to remain at Mount Vernon. With this assurance and himself newly determined “to attend to the business of my plantations,” GW on 20 Dec. gave Lund Washington his release as manager of Mount Vernon.
3. Most of what were undoubtedly hundreds of letters passing between GW and Lund Washington between June 1776 and December 1783 have been lost, but from those that have survived one is left with the impression that Lund Washington bore with remarkable patience a fairly steady flow of criticism about his handling of one thing or another.