George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Burgess Ball, 11 July 1793

From Burgess Ball

Fredericksbg [Va.]—11th of July 1793.

Dear sir,

Being sensible that the sooner your communications were made known to Mr Fitzhugh, and the result to you, so much the sooner wou’d your mind be reliev’d, I waited on him today and fully inform’d him of everything respecting the Conversation the Gentleman had with you at the Dinner in Alexandria on the 4th of July, and of your Sentiments on that Subject—Mr Fitzhugh had hear’d nothing, and says, “had he hear’d anything which cou’d have had an appearance of a deviation from your private or publick Conduct, he shou’d have given no Credit to it—As to Mr Guin having any thought of quiting his bussiness, he is sure he has not, and, as to Mr Stith, he never had an Idea of; but believes the Gentleman, with whom you fell in Conversation, has a great desire that Mr Stith shou’d get Mr Guins place, they ⟨“⟩being connected.”1 I enquired of Mr Fitzhugh, & also of Mr Carter (of Sherly)2 who was there, if they knew any person whom they thought wou’d suit you but neither of those Gentlemen can recollect, except (they say) Colo. William Nelson of Caroline or Mr Nathl Burwell of King William will undertake such Bussiness, which a few Years ago they talk’d of—Either of those Gentlemen they think are fully capable, but, they have large families, which might be an Obsticle.3 Mr Laurence Lewis says (and requested me to mention it, if I shou’d be writing to you) that, if you think proper he will go to Mount Vernon, and stay there ’till you may get furnish’d—He is a very discreet man, and I think you had best take him, at once, if you are not already provided, as no doubt you will be daily losing for want for a Superintendent.4

In a few Weeks I propose taking my Family to Berkley, and shall take my New Purchase in the way, in the Neighbourhood of which I expect I may be able to engage any quantity of Buck wheat, and shall be very happy in getting for you what you think you may want. Wishing you & Mrs Washington every felicity, in which Fanny5 joins, I am Dr sir, Your Affect. friend &c.

B: Ball


1For GW’s attendance at the 4th of July celebration in Alexandria, Va., see GW to Citizens of Alexandria, 1 July, and note 1, and Citizens of Alexandria to GW, 4 July 1793, and note 3. The gentlemen who dined with GW have not been identified. The conversation apparently touched upon GW’s need for a new estate manager and GW’s apprehension that his search for one might be interpreted as an attempt to solicit a manager from another person’s employ. For GW’s written expression of this concern, see his letter to William Tilghman of 21 July 1793. Richard Fitzhugh mentioned Mr. Gwinn as a possible manager in his letter to GW of 6 July 1793.

2The Shirley plantation of Charles Carter (1732–1806) overlooked the confluence of the James and Appomattox rivers in present-day Charles City County, Virginia. GW visited Shirley in 1773, and Carter stayed at Mount Vernon in 1797 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:215, 6:259).

3GW did not hire any of the four gentlemen who were mentioned above as possible farm managers (GW to William Pearce, 26 Aug., Pearce to GW, 30 Aug. 1793).

4By the time GW received this letter, he had already engaged his nephew Howell Lewis, a younger brother of Lawrence Lewis, to serve temporarily as manager (GW to William Stuart, Hiland Crow, and Henry McCoy, 14 July, to Ball, 21 July 1793).

5The new purchase was probably Springwood, a farm in Loudoun County, Va., where Ball eventually moved his family and where he died in 1800 (Ball to GW, 31 Aug. 1793). Burgess Ball’s second wife was Frances Washington (1763–1815), whom he married in 1781. She was the eldest daughter of GW’s brother Charles Washington, who lived at Charles Town, in Berkeley County, Virginia.

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