George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Christopher Colles, 17 January 1783

Morristown 17 January 1783.


As the subject of this Letter is a matter which may turn out of considerable utility to the United States in general, & the state of Virginia in particular, I hope you will pardon the liberty I take of addressing myself to your Excellency.

I have lately seen Capn Hutchins’s map of Virginia, & observe that the River Ohio is navigable for large vessels from Fort Pitt to its confluence with the Mississipi, & from thence to the Ocean, except a small distance of 2 or 3 miles where it is obstructed with rapids; and as I have made Inland Navigation & other branches of Civil Engineering my study, & executed some works in Ireland with success, I do conceive it a matter of the utmost consequence to remove these obstructions; & am of opinion I am capable of effecting it at a small expence; And do propose taking a journey into Virginia to communicate my designs to the Legislature thereof for their concurrence & encouragement; & tho these designs cannot be put in execution during the war, It may perhaps be judged expedient to make a law & establish a Company who may forward them as soon as peace is settled; I therefore request your Excellency will favour me with the names of such Gentlemen in Virginia as you may judge proper I should apply to on this affair.

As I have not the Honor of a personal acquaintance with your Excellency I must request the favour of you to enquire my Character of General Knox Colonel Lamb & Colonel Hamilton.

I have communicated the outline of my plan for executing this design to Mr Henry [Remsen] of Morristown, who so far approved of it that he thought it advisable I should address myself to your Excellency & request your patronage.

Your Excellency’s Answer directed to his care in Morristown will be gratefully received by Your Excellencys most Obedt and most humble Servt

Christopher Colles

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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