George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Smith, 8 May 1786

To Thomas Smith

Mount Vernon 8th May 1786.


Vale Crawford died indebted to me—say One hundred pounds Virginia Curry—more or less. Previously thereto, he wrote me the letter dated Jacobs Creek, May 8th 17741 and accompanied it with the Bill of Sale herewith transmitted dated May 8th 1774.

Quære, Is this Bill now valid?

Will it secure my debt? This is all I want.

And can it be recovered without hazarding a defeat which may add cost without benefit.

If these points should be determined in the affirmative, I would wish you to prosecute my claim so far as to secure my debt, but not otherwise. In haste, but with much esteem—I am—Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, NhD; ADfS, owned (1975) by Dr. Calderon Home, New Orleans, La.; LB, DLC:GW.

1Valentine Crawford wrote to GW on 6 and 7 May 1774. In the draft GW correctly identifies the letter as one of 6 May 1774. In his letter of 6 May Crawford wrote: “as you are Largeley Engaged for Me and So Kindley wase My Securety to the Sheriff I have Sent you a Bill of Sa⟨le⟩.” In his diary entry for 8 May 1786, GW wrote: “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” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:326). Smith was unable to act for GW in this matter, and so GW secured Charles Simms’s services (see GW to Simms and to Smith, both 22 Sept. 1786, and John Minter to GW, 2 Mar. 1787). According to GW’s account with Valentine Crawford in Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 27, Crawford on 13 Feb. 1775 owed only £35.10, which GW’s clerk credits to Valentine Crawford “By settlement” at an unspecified date.

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