George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Carroll (of Carrollton), 31 July 1791

To Charles Carroll (of Carrollton)

Philadelphia, July 31. 1791.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 16 only got to my hands on friday last1—Not having my private papers at this place, to refer to, I can say nothing with precision as to the sum, or sums which is due from me on account of my purchase of Clifton’s land—It is highly probable, however, that the information given to you by your Attorney is right—Be the amount, however, what it may, I shall be ready at any moment, to pay the same in cash at this place, or in post notes at Baltimore, or Alexandria, as you shall direct.

But you will please to recollect, my dear Sir, that there is a prerequisite to this payment, which was the original cause, why the money was not paid at the time of the sale—I mean a release of the mortgage, or some conveyance by which the Purchaser should be assured of the legal, or a secure title to the land.

The particulars relative to this transaction are a little out of my recollection at present—but in substance I believe they stand thus—That the land belonging to Clifton, now held by me, was mortgaged as security to—among others—Mr Ignatius Digges who, in this case, acted under, or would take no step without applying to, Mr Carroll, your father; and was the only one of several Mortgagees who refused to quit claim of the land—by which means my legal title to it is yet incomplete.

By to-morrow’s post I will write home for these papers; and, as I have observed before, as soon as the impediment is removed, or I am in any manner made secure, the money shall be paid in either of the ways before mentioned; for it cannot be more your wish than it is my desire to bring the matter to a close.2 With much esteem and regard, I am dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

G. Washington


U.S. Senator Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737–1832) was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. Considered one of the richest men in America, he had invested in the Potowmack Company and the Baltimore Ironworks Company, as well as in government securities. For an introduction to the long and tangled legal dispute over William Clifton’s land on Clifton’s Neck, on which GW’s River farm was located, see GW to Benjamin Waller, 2 April 1760, n.1.

1Carroll’s letter of 16 July from Doughoregan Manor, Anne Arundel County, Md., reads: “The long chancery Suit commenced by my Father against his partners in iron works, is at length determined, and I am now at liberty to make use of the money, which was decreed to my father by the courts in Virginia, and deposited in your hands, subject to his order. My attorney acquaints me this money amounts to £243.13.1 Sterling, & £67.4.7 Virga currency; I Suppose him to be correct in this assertion, because the late decree of our chancery Court, copy of which I have by me, States that those two Sums were decreed my father, and not received by him; I therefore presume they remain in your hands. You would oblige me very much by paying those Sums to Messrs Richard Lawson & Co. of Baltimore town in two months from this time; Should it be inconvenient to you to pay the money to those gentlemen, you will be pleased to direct it to be paid to Messrs Josiah Watson & Co. of Alexandria. I request the favor of an answer informing me to which of those companies you will direct payment to be made, and at what time . . .” (PHi: Gratz Collection).

2Carroll replied to GW on 11 August. No letter of August 1791 from GW to George Augustine Washington at Mount Vernon dealing with Clifton’s land has been found, but GW wrote Carroll on 28 Aug. that he had received the papers for which he had written to Mount Vernon.

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