George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Fitzgerald, 9 January 1788

To John Fitzgerald

Mount Vernon January 9th 1788

Dear Sir,

In a card I sent you the other day, at the sametime that I enquired if your express brought any answer from Govr Johnson and Lee I requested to be informed at what precise spot the meeting of the directors was appointed to be held, I should be glad now to know.

I had made my arrangements for setting of on Saturday to proceed on this side of the River; and will do so if I am able but having taken a very severe cold this day Senight in a night ride from Alexandria I have been confined almost ever since getting little rest from a continual cough (which has greatly disordered my breast) and by slow fevers which has constantly attended it.

As I am very desirous that this should be a full meeting, I will make it a point to attend, if the State of my health on Saturday will in any degree enable me to encounter the ride—cold houses and Bad Beds; If it should not I will thank you for assigning the reason (when you get up) for my non attendance—Every paper which we may have occasion for, I hope will be carried. Colo. Humphreys proposed to accompany me. Colo. Gilpin (with Mr Smith) I am informed propose doing some work in their way on the other side of the river. How far it will be convenient to you, to Join our party (If I should be able to go[)], you are best able to decide—of the pleasure we should have in your Company you can have no doubt.1 I am &c.

G. Washington


1On Saturday, 12 Jan., when “the afternoon became clear, mild & pleasant,” GW accompanied by David Humphreys “set off for the meeting of the Directors of the Potomack Co., to be held at the Falls of Shanandoah—but meeting a letter from Colo. Fitzgerald enclosing one from Governer Johnson requesting that the meeting might be postponed till Tuesday,” they turned back and the ensuing snowstorm led GW on Monday “to relinquish the journey altogether” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:264, 265). Neither Fitzgerald’s nor Thomas Johnson’s letter has been found. Mrs. Washington reported to Fanny Bassett Washington, who was at Eltham, on 25 Feb.: “The General did not goe up the river as he intended he got a bad cold and the dismal weather togather prevented—tho he set out satterday with an intention to reach Mr Fairfaxes that night but some disapointment in fixing the day caused him to turn back and the Colo [Humphreys] seemed to bear his disapointment with tolearable patience—and often said he thought himself quite as well by the fire side at Mt Vernon as he should be at the Shenandoah” (Fields, Papers of Martha Washington, description begins Joseph E. Fields, ed. “Worthy Partner”: The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn., and London, 1994. description ends 205–7). “Mr Smith” is James Smith.

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