George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Smith, 3 July 1793

From Alexander Smith

Alexandria [Va.] July 3d 1793


this Spring when I was Saving fish at your landing known by the name of Dasays ferry,1 I had Some Conversation with Mr Whitting About takeing All the fish that might be Caught at that Landing for a term of years the time to Comence nex[t] fishing Season he told me that he would Comunicate my proposal to you it is Likeley that Mr Whitting being unwell that this business was not attended two As he had So much to Do of Greater importance2 I Mention now to you & Make You the following proposal I will ingage to take All the herrings that may be Caught at 4s/ pr thousand and All the Shad at 10s/ pr hundred for 5 or 7 years with the privalage of the fish housas to Cure in & Secure my barles & Salt my Reason for mentioning this business at this time is I think that I Can make Considderable improvement in the Curing of fish and the Experiment wi⟨ll⟩ be Attended with Considdrable Expence I wish to have time to prapare be So obligeing as to let me know by the bearer whether you will Except my offer you will Se Sir that I have Allways Bot my herrings at 4s/ and Last year my Shad at 9s/, this year at 10s/ 3 inclosd is a ⟨S⟩maul Acctt for inspecting of flour the one was in Majer Washings time the other Since Mr Whitting & me S[et]tled4 I Remain your obednt Hule Set

Alexandr Smith


1Thomas Dansie’s ferry operated between King William and New Kent counties on the north and south sides of the Pamunkey River, respectively (Va. Statutes [Hening] description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 6:425–27). The ferry was near the estate of Claiborne in King William County, to which Martha Washington received dower rights upon the death of her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis.

2On the recent death of GW’s farm manager Anthony Whitting, see Tobias Lear to GW, 24 June 1793.

3On some of GW’s subsequent fishing contracts with this Alexandria merchant and flour inspector, see GW to William Pearce, 23 Mar. 1794 (ALS, ViMtvL; ALS [letterpress copy], DLC:GW), and 15 Mar. 1795 (ALS, ViMtvL; ALS [letterpress copy], DLC:GW).

4George Augustine Washington served as GW’s farm manager from April 1789 until his death in February 1793. Smith’s bill to GW of c.25 June 1793 charged £2.10.5¾ for inspecting 190 barrels on 19 Mar. 1792, 45 barrels on 8 and 18 June 1793, and 224 barrels on 25 June 1793 (DLC:GW).

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