New Kent March 20th 1782
I wrote you from Mount Vernon informg you of my having taken the Administration of Mr Custis’s Estate. I had the Estate in Fairfax appraised and endeavored to inform myself as well as I could of the situation of Mr Custis’s Affairs, but of these I could get but a very imperfect account either from his Papers or any other means, he seems to have kept no regular account of his Transactions, from what I am able to judge Mr Posey knows more of them than any other Person, and since I came down Mr Posey has been so engaged that he has not had leisure to render me any Account of the Estate or to assist me in having it appraised. I wrote you an account of the Conversation I had with Mr Robt Alexander respecting the Debt due to him since which I have heard nothing from him, I propose to consult Mr Randolph in that Matter as soon as he returns and to take such Method as shall be found best for bringing it to a Conclusion You have no doubt heard that the Assembly of this State have put a total stop to the Circulation of Paper Currency and that it is to be redeemed at a thousand for one, according to the Scale of Depreciation fixed by them Mr Alexander will receive in Specie one fifth part of the nominal sum his Debt amounts to. I find there are several Debts to a considerable amount besides this due from the Estate, and altho Mr Custis has received many large Debts in Paper Money in a very depreciated State, yet there are Bonds that still appear to be due to a considerable amount and these with the Loan Office Certificates seem to be more than sufficient to discharge all Mr Custis’s Debts. yet in the present situation of our Country it seems as if they could not be made to answer that end. I believe the Persons indebted would find it very difficult to raise the sums they owe in Specie, and our Assembly neither pay their own Debts or furnish the means of compelling others to pay theirs. In this situation I am really at a loss to know what is best to be done, Mr Custis’s Creditors must either wait til these Debts can be collected or his Estate must be sold to pay them. The Profits of the Estate I am afraid are very small for Mr Posey has informed me that he has no Money in his hands, nor a prospect of geting any but from the Sale of some Corn which is a very dull Article, The Furniture Mrs Custis could not live without. and the Stocks are absolutely necessary on the Plantation, I propose to sell the Horses & mares that can be spared to satisfie the most pressing Demands on the Estate, and have made one attempt in which I was disappointed, and am afraid the Price of them are falling, even on Credit 50 lb. of James River Tobacco has not been offered for Leonidas, and I was in hopes he would have sold nearly for double that sum.
As it was not immediately necessary the Children should have Guardians none were appointed. I am still in hopes the situation of our Affairs at the end of the ensuing Campaign will admit of your taking that trust upon you and that will be in full time, in the mean time I am satisfied they are under the Care of a very affectionate and prudent Mother.
I observe you kept Col. Custis’s Books for his Son and should be glad to know whether you or my Sister chuse that Mr Custis’s Books should be kept.
I do not find amongst Mr Custis’s Papers any Settlement or Account between him & yourself, or any Contract for the Estate you gave up to him, nor can I learn what the Contract is, or that any Settlement was made. I shall always esteem as a favor any Advice or directions you may think proper to give me respecting the management of Mr Custis’s Estate.
I have the pleasure to acquaint you that I found my Family in good health on my return from Fairfax and that they continue so, I think the Ride was of Service to me, yet I cannot yet say I am perfectly restored to that health that I have usually enjoyed. My Mother & all the Family join me in a tender of their sincere Respect Esteem & Affection to you & my Sister. I am Dear Sir Your very affectionate & obedient Servant
DLC: Papers of George Washington.