George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Smith, 5 February 1788

From Thomas Smith

Carlisle [Pa.] 5th February 1788


On my return from the Western Courts, two weeks ago I was honored with your letter of the 3d of December last inclosing a duplicate of another letter dated the 16th Septr. Since my return I have had no opportunity of writing to Philadelphia till now. I did not receive the letter of the 16th Septr till the middle of november & having by my letter of the 26th October anticipated an answer to it excepting as to one point,1 I did not think it proper to take the liberty of writing again to you at a time when affairs of such infinite importance to your county must greatly engage your attention. My business requiring me to go to Philadelphia in November I did not think myself at liberty to express myself on the excepted point untill I should take the opinion of some of my law friends there nor untill I should see Mr Ross I mean on your proposition respecting the trial fees in the ejectments in Washington County—According spending an afternoon with Mr Wilson I asked his opinion informing him that it was not my wish; & I was satisfyed that it ⟨was⟩ not Mr Ross’s to receive any extraordinary fee, but that as you had put the matter on so delicate a point as leaving the quantum to me, I wished to be guided by My friends advice—Mr Wilson replied he was not at liberty to give his opinion intimating as I concieved you had spoke to him on the same subject & that he had declined forming an opinion I then requested Mr Yeates to favor me with his opinion—he replied that he thought £100 to each would be a reasonable & liberal fee—Permit me to assure you that I shall be perfectly satisfyd with less & so will Mr Ross I am convinced, although he would not name any sum when I asked him at the last circuit, but he leaves the whole to me. However in order that you may guess with what sum I will be satisfyed, I have retained only £50 for myself, & paid Mr Ross the like sum including a sum which he was to recive from one Jackson on your account by my order2—Besides these sums I have received £200 in part of the bonds which Mr Freeman put into my hands payable to you. These debtors were all ready to pay & others offered to pay the money into the Prothonotary’s office at the day it became due; therefore no suits were brought against them nor could I charg them Interest which was but a trifle ’till the time I recd the money—I have brought actions against those that did not pay & expect the greatest part if not the whole of the money which I will send down according to your direction together with the account by the first safe conveyance after I shall receive the money I will send the £200 to Mr Biddle by the first good conveyance3—I would send it by the bearer but he is only a lad & going without company, I think it is too great a risque—The executions for the Court charges in the ejectments have been put into the hands of Mr Scott the Prothonotary of Washington County.4 I have the honor to be with profound respect, Sir your most obt & Hbl. St

Thomas Smith

ALS, copy, in Smith’s hand, PWacD. The letter, labeled “copy,” is written on the reverse of the letter cover of GW’s letter to Smith of 3 Dec. 1787.

1Letter not found. On 3 Dec. 1787 GW acknowledged its receipt.

2GW agreed that the fee for Smith and James Ross would be £50 each (GW to Smith, 5 Mar. 1788). Jasper Yeates was a leading member of the Pennsylvania bar. “One Jackson” is Samuel Jackson of Red Stone Fort.

3Clement Biddle wrote GW on 5 Mar. that he had received from Smith the day before a payment of £200 (actually £192.13.4 specie) and that he was now forwarding to GW “Bank Notes for four Hundred Dollars.” GW may have consulted James Wilson while attending the Constitutional Convention.

4Thomas Scott had been prothonotary and clerk of the court for Washington County since its formation in 1781.

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