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From George Washington to Richard Clough Anderson, 30 July 1798

To Richard Clough Anderson

Mount Vernon, July 30, 1798


In the course of last Wint⟨er⟩ A Mr Massay passed through Alexandria on his way to Philadelphia, & reported a⟨t⟩ the former place, that I should lose my la⟨nd⟩ in the Northwestern Territory—on the little Miami.1

Not perceiving how this coul⟨d⟩ happen, fairly—and not supposing th⟨at⟩ it would be taken from me otherwise, ⟨&⟩ without allowing me a hearing; I paid but little attention to the Report until Mr George Graham called upon me the other day, and in conversing on this subject gave it as his opinion that, the land was in real jeopardy by re-entry under some error in the former proceedings, and advised me to write to you relatively thereto.2

This I now do, under full conviction however, that as the former Surveys were made under your Auspices; examined & recorded in your Office; and Patents granted thereupon in the year 1790 with the following recital “In consideration of a Military warrant of 3000 Acres granted to John Roots by Lord Dunmore the 7th December 1770 and assigned by the said Rootes unto George Washington Esqr. the 14⟨th⟩ February 1774 and exchanged by a Resolution of General Assembly passed 30th Dec⟨r⟩ 1784 for a Warrant of 3000 Acres No. 3753 an⟨d⟩ dated the 14th Feby 1785”—I say, under full conviction that you would not suffer the lan⟨d⟩ to be wrested from me by any Subsequent transaction in your Office, without givin⟨g⟩ me notice thereof in time to assert my pri⟨or⟩ claim, I now give you the trouble of this A⟨d⟩dress; adding at the sametime, that if an⟨y⟩ thing is necessary on my part to give more validity or greater legality to former proceedings, I am willing to encounter the expence, rather than enter into a tedeous & expensive Chancery suit, which I assuredly will do before my property shall be taken from me.3

I would thank you Sir, for full information, and your advice relative to th⟨is⟩ matter, as soon as it is convenient. Be⟨ing⟩ Your Most Obedt Humble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The letters in angle brackets are torn from the letterpress copy and supplied from the letter-book copy.

Richard Clough Anderson (1750–1826) reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Virginia forces during the Revolution. In 1783 he was made surveyor general to divide the western land reserved by Virginia for its veterans of the Continental army. Anderson settled in Kentucky, near Louisville.

1For earlier correspondence relating to the report of the surveyor Joseph Massey that GW’s claims to his land on the Little Miami were put in doubt, see James Welch to GW, 24 Jan. 1798, and the references in note 2 of that document.

2George Graham (c.1772–1830), a graduate of Columbia College who practiced law in Dumfries, grew up at Gunston Hall under the care of his aunt Sarah Brent Mason, second wife of George Mason. He was at Mount Vernon on 24 July (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:310).

3For GW’s purchase of Rootes’ land allotment under the Proclamation of 1763, see John Page to GW, 14 Feb. 1774, and note 1 of that document. Anderson responded on 5 Sept. from “Jefferson County near Louisville,” Kentucky: “Yours of the 30th of July I have the honor to receive, and cannot conceive from what circumstance Mr Massee, or Mr Graham could found an oppinion that your military claim, was in the least danger, no other entry as yet to my knowledge ever having been made on the same ground. It is probable however that the oppinion was founded on a resolution of Congress which was intended to prevent those, who from the time of service were not entitled to lands; but from the liberality of the State of Virginia obtained warrants by resolution of the Assembly; but, as this in my mind was not your case, yours being exchanged by a resolution of Assembly I did not trouble your Excellency with the conjecture of a few on that head; and you may rest assured should any attempt be made in this office by entry or otherwise that I shall take the liberty of giving you immediate notice thereof. And as it is a matter of consequence as I am informed yours are valuable lands provided you think there can be the least danger from the lands being laid in consequence of a resolution warrant, that you make you⟨r⟩self acquainted with that particular circumstance, and if you think it in danger to send out other warrants to cover its place” (DLC:GW).

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