From Robert Lewis
The Exchange Fauquier County [Va.]
January 4th 1793.
Your letter of the 23d ultimo with one inclosed of the same date, came duly to hand this day. The contents I have noted well, and shall sett off the day after tomorrow for the purpose of carrying into effect your instructions with respect to the purchasing of Major Harrisons tract of Land in Fairfax County adjoining your Mill tract. Should we bargain (as I expect we shall) no time shall be lost ere I inform you of it, and the particulars of our agreement.
I know nothing of your land individually, but was I to judge of its quality from the lands in that vincinity (which I am tolerably well acquainted with) I should not suppose that Major Harrison would have the conscience to ask more than 20/ or twenty six Shillings per acre at most. If he does, there must be improvments to enhance its value. I shall endeavor to get it upon the lowest terms I can without higgling.1
The Horse which you have been so good as to give me, (I am convinced), will be very valuable in this part of the Country, and, I trust, no small addition to my little income.2 I have therefore to thank you for your kindness, and to assure you that I am gratefull. Mrs Lewis joins me in love to you and my Aunt. I remain your Affectionate Nephew
1. On 9 Jan., Lewis wrote GW again from “The Exchange” in Fauquier County, Va.: “Since writing to you the 4th inst. I have been to See Major [William B.] Harrison of Loudon respecting the business you desired. He seems not at all anxious to sell his land at this time, as the purpose, for which the money arising from the sale of his land was intended, is now entirely done-away. Major Harrison appears to be an honest, candid kind of a man, and, I believe, wishes to do justice to you and himself too either by selling his land, or removing the tenants. The latter will certainly be done the next fall, as it is now too late; for the law requires six months notice for the tenants, before they can be displaced. The title I do not like, and he is unwilling to give a general warrantee. He thinks you know more of this matter than he does himself, as you were a purchaser of half the same tract of land many years ago, he therefore, suspends doing any thing farther in this business until the Spring of the year, when Congress it is probable may adjourn and you come to Virginia. Forty shillings is the least he will take per acre. I am obliged to write in great haste as a waggon going to Falmouth is now waiting, and very anxious for me to conclude” (ViMtvL).
For Lewis’s continuing, although ultimately unsuccessful, efforts to purchase Harrison’s tract adjoining GW’s Dogue Run farm, on which GW’s gristmill stood, see GW to Lewis, 7 Mar., 29 April, 26 July, Lewis to GW, 26 Mar., 17 July, 12 Aug. 1793. For GW’s later attempt to rent Harrison’s land, see GW to Harrison, 4 Nov. 1798, and note 1.
2. During an earlier visit to Mount Vernon, Lewis had “expressed a wish to be possessed of the stud horse that was there,” and GW in his letter to Lewis of 23 Dec. offered to make him “a present” of Sampson, if the horse had not been sold as originally intended. One week later, on 30 Dec., GW wrote his farm manager Anthony Whitting directing that the horse “be delivered to Mr Robt Lewis’s Order.” Whitting informed GW on 9 Jan. that he had sent the horse to Lewis on that date.