George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Harrison, Sr., 31 March 1783

Virginia March 31st 1783

Give me leave my Dear Sir to congratulate you on the establishment of our independence and the glorious conclusion of the war, the great share you have had in bringing us to this happy period, calls forth the grateful returns of your Countrymen in particular, and of every honest American. Providence hath also its share in the work, having done more for us on many occasions than we had a right to expect, for which I hope we shall be thankful, that we may procure a continuance of its favors, without which we shall crumble again into insignificance we have happiness within our reach if we have but virtue enough to embrace her but that is to be doubted, our [jaring] interests will probably disunite us if they are not settled by the hands of wisdom and justice, but where shall we find a set of men who will devest themselves of local attachments and party prejudices, and with unshaken constancy pursue measures calculated for the general and universal good, such may certainly be found but that they will not be sought after is to be feared, however I will never anticipate evils, tho’ my forebodings ring a constant alarm.

You ask me in your favor of the 6th Instant what induced our Assembly to repeal the duty law, which is as difficult a question to answer as you could well have put to me, no one reason of force having ever occured tho’ I have a thousand on the other side of the question, indeed the bill was a work of my own when I was in the house of Delegates. I have been told it was done by R.H. & A. Lee and that their arguments were such as you have seen from Rode Island, the act was certainly brought in by them in the latter part of the Session when the house was very thin and hurried thro’ without due consideration they were so very quick that the mischief was done before I knew they had the subject under consideration or they would probably have missed their aim, for from a conversation I had with many of the members on the subject afterwards I am fully of opinion they would have reenacted the Law if they had time, but whether they will do it now a peace is concluded admits of a doubt.

I observe by a clause in the articles we are to have our negros again, I have thirty missing, many of which I understand are dead, but there are still some that are very valuable, if it is not too much to ask I shall ever be under the greatest obligation if you will fall on some method to secure them there will no doubt be vessels coming immediately from New York to this Country that will probably take them in, their passage I will pay with thanks. You have a list of a few of them that I know are in Town, and may easily be come at your friendship for me will excuse the application, even if it is improper, when I assure you my well being depends on their being recovered. I am Dear Sir with sentiments of the highest esteem and friendship Your most obedient and most Humble Servant

Benja. Harrison

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


31 March 1783

A list of Negros in N. York belonging to Benj. Harrison

Emanuel my body servant a mulatto, [grim] look low of stature, a good Barber
Tabb, his wife a likely young woman, dark mulatto and a good cook. he had 2 children
John a tall mulatto, hard featured, bushey head, and a large mouth. a house carpinter.
Gloucester Will a tall copper colourd mulatto, some of his fore teeth out or broke rather slender a good Ship Carpenter and caulker
[Carp.] Brother to Emanuel a white mulatto boy comely, and about 16 years old, a house servant
Tom highgrass a likely dark boy about 16 years old
Bobb a brown boy about 15 years old a postilion Stammers a little in his speach
Jacob a brown boy about 14 some of his fore teeth out when he went away
Stephen a black boy about 14 years old
Jenny a dark copper pitted with the small pox about 18 years old
Charles a tall fellow dark copper colour, a house carpenter and Saw miller
Betty his wife same colour very likely and cleanly
Dennis a Squat well made negro very artful. Brush maker
Nedd a tall fellow dark complexion an exceeding fine sailor but a great Rogue

Benja. Harrison

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