George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Ross, 2 October 1797

From James Ross

[Pittsburgh, 2 October 1797]

The fever which continues to rage in Philadelph[ia] has made it impossible to get bills of Exchangfe] on that place negotiated here, & a great portion of your money hav[i]ng been paid to me in silve[r] I cannot transmit it immediately but you may be assured that no opportunity will be lost of sendg it forwa[r]d to the Bank of Pennsa. and informing you of its arrival. I hope Col Shreve will in future save you the trouble and delay which his tardy conduct has hitherto occasioned. He is now explicitly warned that the failure of a day will probably be followed by a suit without any notice.1

In the course of the summer several people have inquired for your Ohio lands, but none of them were of such ability that I could encourage a hope of their offers being accepted.2 It would appear to me most advisable to cut your large tracts into 200 farms with a front upon the river, in that shape they would sell 25 pt higher than in their present shape, and they would also be with[i]n the reach of a different description of purchasers.

Our lands in the western parts of Pennsylvania command a good price, but during the last year they have risen very little, owing to the prodigious failures in our Capital which has obstructed the circulation of money. I brought large tracts of land to market.—We also feel the end of an expensive war which, tho it drained the National Treasury, was a source of great wealth to the cultivated part of the western country.3

With the highest respect I have the honor to be, Dear Sir, Your most obedient, Humble servant,

James Ross.

L (incomplete), printed in unidentified newspaper, DLC:GW. The item is headed “The Financial Condition Then,” and the letter is introduced: “Of the notes addressed to Washington in the hands of others, one of the most curious is that bearing the signature of James Ross. It is dated Pittsburg, October 2, 1797. After a few sentences about business matters, Mr. Ross says.”

1The dashes between this and the following paragraph indicate the omission of material. For GW’s recent dealing with Ross, see GW to Ross, 2 July, GW to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 3 July, Wolcott to GW, 12 July, Israel Shreve to GW, 30 July, and GW to Shreve, 1 September. On 17 Oct. GW wrote in his Day Book: “Credit Colo. Israel Shreve by a payment made to the Honble James Ross of Pittsbg viz. $1961.30”; “Charge the same to Mr Ross—1961.30”; and “The said Shreves Bond to the Bank of Pennsylvania for paymt of the further Installments.” Then he wrote: “See a statement of this business in a settlemt made by Mr Ross with Shreve & enclosed in his letter to me dated the 2d of Octr 1797” (Cash Memoranda, 1794-97 description begins Cash + Entries & Memorandums, 29 Sept. 1794–31 Aug. 1797. Manuscript in John Carter Brown Library, Providence. description ends ). See also Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 40. The enclosed statement has not been found, but see GW to Ross, 6 November.

2For a brief survey of the history of GW’s attempts to sell his western lands, see Joseph Fay to GW, 30 Mar. 1797. The newspaper had “summon” for “summer.”

3Ross is referring to the Whiskey Rebellion.

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