George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Innes, 28 September 1790

To James Innes

Mount Vernon September 28. 1790.

Dear Sir,

Your letter dated the 17 of August did not come to my hands until Sunday last, or it should have received an earlier acknowledgement.1 For an answer to it I beg leave to refer you to Colonel Warner Lewis (of Gloucester) who, having taken much trouble to ascertain the properties and value of the land, (you wish to know the price of) and asking on what terms it would be disposed of, was sometime ago fully acquainted with my sentiments thereon.2 Not having the copy of my letter to him, by me at this place to refer to for these terms, nor the circumstances much in recollection3—and being unwilling to propose others to you, which may differ from them, is the reason why I put you to the trouble of making this further enquiry.4 I am dear Sir, Your most obedient and very humble servant

G. Washington


James Innes (1754–1798) entered the College of William and Mary with the class of 1771 and raised a company against Lord Dunmore at the outbreak of the American Revolution in Virginia. He later served under Washington in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and at Yorktown. Innes represented Williamsburg and James City County in the state legislature from 1780 to 1787 and succeeded Edmund Randolph as attorney general of Virginia in 1786. He supported the federal Constitution in Virginia’s ratifying convention in 1788, and GW supposedly offered him the position of U.S. attorney general in 1789, which he is said to have declined for personal reasons. He and his brother Harry owed money to John Dandridge, from whom GW obtained the Gloucester County land about which Innes inquired (see David Stuart to GW, 14 July 1789 and note 6, Dandridge to GW, 21 Sept. 1790 and source note, and 6 Sept. 1791, DLC:GW).

1Innes’s 17 Aug. 1790 letter from Richmond, requesting information on GW’s Gloucester lands and his asking price and terms of payment for the same, was addressed to the president at New York and probably arrived there after GW had already left the city on 30 Aug.

2For GW’s correspondence with Lewis concerning the Gloucester County tract, see GW to Lewis, 19 Dec. 1788 and 24 May 1789, and Lewis to GW, 1, 11 Mar., and 9 May 1789.

3GW’s letter books remained in New York to be transferred to Philadelphia by Tobias Lear with the rest of the president’s official and personal belongings and furnishings.

4No further correspondence with Innes concerning the purchase of GW’s Gloucester land has been found, and GW sold the tract in 1797 to George Ball, but his estate did not collect the outstanding balance due on the purchase until 1805 (see Prussing, Estate of George Washington, description begins Eugene E. Prussing. The Estate of George Washington, Deceased. Boston, 1927. description ends 76, 121–22).

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