George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Lux, 11 August 1790

From George Lux

Chatsworth 11 August 1790


Mr James Simpson1 of this Town has just applied to me for a letter to your Excellency, recommending him as a Surveyor of the Back Lands, and I have told him, though the business is taken up in Congress, yet I hardly expect, it will be compleated this Session;2 that as he was appointed by the old Congress Surveyor of the Back Lands for the State of Maryland, it is highly improbable you will not displace him, if no just complaints can be made against him, or unless a competition should take place between him & a Man of superior merit.

Mr Simpson is first Cousin to the late worthy Dr Boyd of this Town, and I have known him for several years to be worthy, honest, honourable, prudent, & industrious—How calculated he is for the Surveyorship, I cannot pretend to judge, but Mr Ellicott gave it from under his hand, that he is—His whole family were firm & inflexible Whigs during the war—As it cannot be supposed, your Excellency can know every man, who is appointed to subordinate Offices throughout the different States, & therefore must rely on the information of others for their characters, every one, recommending them, should consider himself as pointedly responsible, and therefore be cautious in asserting no more than what he knows to be true—The peculiar attentions & civilities I have met with from you, from my earliest youth, have made a grateful impression on me, and being generally known, induce many to apply to me for recommendatory letters, supposing my recommendations will have more weight, than I have a right to expect, and I take too much pride in boasting of the politeness, with which you have treated me, and of the friendship you bore to my late Hond Father & Father in Law, to admit the impropriety of occasionally trespassing on your attention, but I never recommend any, with whom I suppose your Excellency to be personally acquainted.

I am very happy in hearing of your perfect restoration to the inestimable blessing of health,3 and sincerely pray for the continuance of it, as an American & as a Man, and that Mrs Washington (to whom I beg leave to make my most respectful Compliments) enjoys a good state of health—The loss of my invaluable Partner has left me a desolate & forlorn being on the earth—Our Friend Dr McHenry4 has removed into the Country, within half a mile of me, since his Brothers death, where he is busily engaged in winding up his partnership affairs, & has, in a manner, secluded himself from the world, confining himself, to a small circle of particular friends—I have the honor to be respectfully Sir Yr Obedt Hume Servt

Geo. Lux


George Lux (1753–1797) was the son of William Lux (c.1730–1778), an important Whig merchant, shipowner, and politician of Baltimore who served as a Continental marine agent from 1776 until his death. George traveled to GW’s army headquarters at Cambridge, Mass., in the summer of 1775, apparently in search of a military appointment, and carried letters of introduction from John Adams and Samuel Adams. He later married Catherine Biddle, daughter of Edward Biddle of Reading, Pa., pre-Revolutionary speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly and member of the Continental Congress, who died in September 1779 (GW to Nicholas Cooke, 6 Sept. 1775, source note; Butterfield, Adams Diary and Autobiography, description begins L. H. Butterfield, ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. 4 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1961. description ends 2:258; Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, description begins Edward C. Papenfuse et al., eds. A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789. 2 vols. Baltimore, 1979–85. description ends 2:556–57).

1In June 1785 James Simpson of Baltimore was appointed Maryland’s surveyor under “An Ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of Lands in the Western Territory,” passed by the Confederation Congress on 20 May 1785. Simpson and his colleagues soon found that their actual expenditures in the field were much higher than the legal allowance of “two dollars for every mile in length . . . run, including the wages of chain carriers, markers, and every other expense,” and they petitioned congress for reimbursement (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 28:375–76; Surveyors of the Western Territory to Congress, 22 Sept. 1787, DNA:PCC, item 41).

3For GW’s near-fatal illness of May 1790 and his recovery, see William Jackson to Clement Biddle, 12 May 1790, editorial note.

4For the death of John McHenry and his brother’s subsequent retirement, see James McHenry to GW, 30 Aug. 1790.

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