George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Spotswood, 14 October 1794

From Alexander Spotswood

Virginia Nottingham1 October 14th 1794

Dear Sir

Knowing that your mind, is always Employed in weighty matters of State; Makes it painful to me to trouble you on my private affairs; But as I am certain your advice, will be Servicable to a numerous family; and that you take a pleasure in doing good—Flatter myself, that you will excuse this application; and Take the earliest leisure hour; to return me an answer.

A Fortune much curtailed by a mercinary, Guardian2—and partly by my own neglect; has determined me, as the best and Surest way to provide for a numerous family of children and grand children, to remove immediately to the State of Kentucky.

The remnant of my Fortune; at a moderate Calculation; will bring me 20,000£ £12,000 of which I mean to embarque with my family; the remainder to lodge in the funds; from whence I mean to draw it; so soon as an opportunity may offer of Takeing up lands, on the Northwest Side of the ohio; if Sir you approve my plann Say so—if not, will thank you to Strike out one for me; when I will forego my own & Take up yours; The Estate I have here on Rappahannock is 2000 Acrces, & of immense Vallue—had I not better advertise it in philadelphia, perhaps some monied foreigner may buy it3—would you Advise, carrying many negroes—I think in that Country they must be of much Vallue; and will increase fast. with sincere respect & Esteem—& regard I remn dr sr yr Most Hble st

A. Spotswood

20,000£ here will be but little among my numerous family—but in Kentucky prudently managed may get Much Wealth for them.4


1Spotswood’s seat at Nottingham in Spotsylvania County was located “on the main road leading to Richmond, five miles below the town of Fredericksburg, on Rappahanock River” (Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 31 Oct. 1795).

2Spotswood being a minor when his father died, his father’s executor, Bernard Moore (c.1720–1775), a King William County burgess, was appointed as his guardian (see Va. Statutes 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 [Hening], 7:445–52).

3Spotswood eventually sent an advertisement offering Nottingham for sale, dated 20 Sept. 1795, to newspapers in Philadelphia and Baltimore (Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 16 Oct. 1795; Federal Intelligencer and Baltimore Daily Gazette, 19 Oct. 1795, supplement).

4For discussion of Spotswood’s Kentucky land purchases (which overlapped with GW’s), see Spotswood to GW, 22 March 1797, n.1 (Papers, Retirement Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series. 4 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1998–99. description ends , 1:43–44).

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