George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Lewis, 25 June 1790

To Thomas Lewis

New York, June 25th 1790.


When I returned to your hands the instructions and papers respecting my lands in your neighbourhood, I thought I had sufficiently obviated the reasons which first induced you to decline any agency in that business, by putting it on a footing which might render it perfectly compatible with your own interest and convenience, and I was in a measure confirmed in the opinion that you had accepted the trust, and would comply with my wishes by your not having again returned the papers to me.1 But near two years have elapsed since that time, and I have not received a line from you, nor heard a syllable respecting the matter. This leads me to believe that it is not convenient for you to serve me in this business—and, as it is necessary for my interest that some person in that country should superintend my lands there, and promote the settlement of them in some way or another I have requested Colonel George Clandenen of Kanawa-county to undertake it, and, if he inclines to do it, he will call upon you for the instructions and papers, which are in your hands, respecting this business, and which I request may be delivered to him or to his order.2 I am Sir, your most obedient Servant

G. Washington


1GW had asked Lewis to serve as his agent for procuring tenants for his Ohio and Kanawha lands on 25 Dec. 1787 (for a description of the extent of these lands, see GW to Nicholas Dubey, 27 Sept. 1788, n.4). Lewis replied on 27 Aug. 1788 that he was reluctant to act as GW’s agent because he was having difficulty obtaining tenants for his own land and returned the papers GW had sent to him. GW responded on 1 Dec. 1788 that he understood Lewis’s reservations but that they would “operate, with equal force, upon any other person” he might entrust with the task, and that he did not expect Lewis to “procure tenants for my land in preference to your own.” In this letter GW enclosed “my former terms and the plats of the land.” Since Lewis did not return the papers a second time, GW apparently believed he had accepted the agency.

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