George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Mason, 4 December 1799

From John Mason

Annapolis 4th Decr 1799


Knowing the great Interest you have always taken in the promotion of the Navigation of the Potomak—I lose not a moment to inform you that I have at length suceeded to get this great Object aided by a grant of the Legislature of this State to the full amount contemplated by the Company—and it is with extreme Pleasure I have it in my Power to enclose a Resolution to that Effect which has this day passed both Houses—you will remark Sir that this Investment is to a much larger amount than was contemplated at the last meeting but I trust I shall not be blamed in having thus exceeded my powers saved the Difficulty & Inconvenience attending individual Subscriptions—the Clause respecting Security tho’ against my wish, could not be dispensed with and it ⟨was⟩ the only Terms on which it could be had.1

The Legislature has also this day granted a Loan of thirty thousand Dollars to the Susquehanah Company and passed an Act to incorporate a Company for cutting a Canal from the waters of the Chesepeake to the Waters of the Delaware—the three measures were carried by assisting each other and the whole was made a matter of Conciliation2—With great Respect I have the honor to be Sir your very Obet Sert

J. Mason

P.S. As the Shares are rated at £130 Stg the loss by the Sale of the Stock will not be greater than to reduce them to the original Sum of £100 Stg which was the best that could be done.3


1To raise the $40,000 deemed necessary, the stockholders of the Potowmack Company voted at its meeting of 5 Aug. 1799 that each shareholder should pay an additional one hundred dollars for each share held once the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia had passed laws to enforce such payments. See GW to Charles Carroll, 21 July 1799, n.2. The enclosed printed copy of the resolutions of the Maryland legislature of 4 Dec. reads: “RESOLVED, That the treasurer of the western shore be and he is hereby authorised and empowered to subscribe, on behalf of this state, for one hundred and thirty shares in the augmented capital of the Patowmack company, viz. the sum of one hundred and thirty pounds sterling for each share, to be paid in six per cent. stock of the United States, at par. RESOLVED, That the trustee of this state transfer the said amount of six per cent. stock to the president and directors of the Patowmack company, or their order, on the governor and council’s certifying to him that bond, with sufficient security, has been lodged with them to complete the locks and navigation of said river at the Great falls, and not before.”

2The Maryland legislature on 4 Dec. also passed “An Act to Incorporate a Company for the Purpose of Cutting and Making a Canal between the River Delaware and the Chesapeake Bay” and “A Further Supplement to the Act, entitled, An Act for Making the River Susquehanna Navigable from the Line of this State to Tide Water” (Md. Laws, 1798 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the City of Annapolis on Monday the fifth of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight. Annapolis, [1799]. description ends chaps. 16, 17).

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