George Washington Papers

From George Washington to David Stuart, 5 November 1787

To David Stuart

Mount Vernon Novr 5th 1787.

Dear Sir,

I thank you for the communications in your letters of the 16th and 26th ulto both of which came safe.1 It gives me pleasure to hear that the Assembly has sent the Constitution to a Convention by an unanimous vote, unstamped with marks of disapprobation. If Mr Charles Lee however, has been able to form a just opinion of the sentiments of the Country with respect to it; it is, that the major voice is opposed to it—particularly in the Southern & Western parts of the State. Is this your opinion, from what you have seen—heard—and understood?

Maryland, tho’ the Assembly has not yet met (from which source any thing can have been drawn) is, we are told, exceedingly well disposed to the adoption of it. Nay further, that Mr Chase is become a convert to it. The accts from the States Northward & Eastward speak the same language, though the papers team with declamation against it, by a few—A paper in favor of it, written as I am informed by, or under the auspices of Mr Wilson, in numbers, I here with send you.2

With respect to the payment of British debts, I would fain hope (lett the eloquence or abilities of any man, or set of men in opposition be they what they may) that the good sense of this Country will never suffer a violation of a public treaty, nor pass Acts of injustice to Individuals. Honesty in States, as well as in Individuals, will ever be found the soundest policy.

We have nothing new in this quarter. The Constitution which is submitted seems to have absorbed all lesser matters. Mrs Stuart (who had got very well) and your two little girls went from this on tuesday last, for Chotank, under the escort of your brother; and the wind being high, kept the Potomack on their left to ensure their journey.3

I must engage, absolutely, Six hundred barrels of Corn. Less, I am sure will not carry me through the year. Had I the money, or was I certain of getting it in time (but this is not to be depended upon) I might, as I am informed through different channels, engage my quantity on very moderate terms on the Eastern shore of Maryland. But as I dare leave nothing to chance I must take it from Mr Henly. The price, as it is ready money to me, will, I expect, be proportioned thereto. It will not be safe to remove the Corn till after January, as it does not get sufficiently dry to lye in bulk sooner. The last I had from York river got damaged in spite of every exertion in my power to save it. And I must entreat as I shall give Mr Henly timely notice of my sending, that it may be beat out on plank floors, and in a dry house; otherwise it will contract dampness which will render its preservation precarious, even at that Season. I beg also that he may be clear and ⟨decide⟩ with respect to his furnishing me with ⟨the⟩ quantity I want—viz. Six hundred Barrels, for I must meet with no disappointment ⟨of⟩ what is engaged.4

Herewith is a letter jointly to ⟨Colo.⟩ Mason & yourself, on the business of the ⟨Po⟩tk Company.5 With great esteem & sincere r⟨eg⟩d I am—Dear Sir Yr Most Obedt & Affecte Servt

Go: Washington


1Neither of these letters has been found, but GW quotes both at length:the one dated 16 Oct. in his letter to Madison of 22 Oct., the one dated 26 Oct. in his letter to Madison of 5 November.

2GW on 17 Oct. had already sent to Stuart James Wilson’s speech of 6 Oct. defending the Constitution. What he now was sending probably was “An American Citizen,” written by Tench Coxe at the behest of James Wilson and others, originally published as a broadside and, beginning on 24 Oct., reprinted in the Philadelphia newspapers and eventually throughout the country. For the text of the piece, see Kaminski and Saladino, Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, description begins John P. Kaminski et al., eds. The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. 26 vols. to date. Madison, Wis., 1976—. description ends 13:431–37

3Mrs. Stuart left Mount Vernon with her two youngest children on the morning of 30 Oct. accompanied by her brother-in-law William Stuart (b. 1761). David Stuart’s father, the Rev. William Stuart (1723–1798), lived at Cedar Grove in the Chotank area of King George County. The Stuarts were pursuing their journey all the way through Virginia instead of taking the easier route across the Potomac to Maryland and crossing the Potomac again at Hooe’s ferry to King George County, Virginia.

4David Henley, the manager of the Custis plantations on the York River, did not disappoint GW, for on 4 June 1788 GW recorded in Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 272, receiving 600 barrels of corn at 15 shillings a barrel. See also GW to William Thompson, 12 Jan. 1788, and notes 1 and 3 of that document. The material in mutilated parts of the manuscript is taken from the letter-book copy and inserted in angle brackets.

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