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From George Washington to John Blair, 17 May 1768

To John Blair

May 17th 1768

Honble Sir

At present the Road from Fort Cumberland to Pittsburg is very thickly Inhabited—so much so at least—as to render the communication easy & convenient for Travellers, & for the transportation of Provisions &ca from the Frontiers of this Colony to the last mentioned Garrison, and to the Settlers that now are, or may hereafter be fixed on the Ohio; but if the People on the other side of the Alligany shoud be totally removed, the difficulties of that communication of consequence becomes augmented, and Our Frontier Inhabitants (by odds the most contiguous, and best adapted for the purpose of furnishing the King’s Troops with Provisions & such like things) subjected to Inconveniencies the Contrary of which the People of Pensylvania enjoy in the greatest degree by having Garrisons established all along their Road: So sensible are our Frontier People of this, that several of them in talking to me upon the subject, did request, that I woud lay the matter before your Honour; hoping that, by means of your representation, Stages might be permitted (I mean some of the Inhabitants suffer’d to remain only) at three or four different places along the Road (that Our Assembly levied money towards the opening of)1 to the end that Travellers, drivers of Cattle, Hogs, Pack Horses, &ca might be accomodated with halting Places and Provision, to sustain themselves and Cattle in a March so tedious, & often incommoded by the swelling of many large Waters which they are compeld to cross—To this request I promised a compliance, in full assurance, that if the matter appeard in the same light to your honr, it does to me, you woud readily lay the Circumstances of it before his Excellency Genl Gage, whose powers, I apprehend, can regulate these matters;2 & who, I am perswaded, in consideration of the benefits which his Majesty’s Troops will derive from ready Supplies to his Garrisons, woud chearfully come into a measure of this kind; which, from its nature can give no offence to the Indians, nor any one else; unless there be People in the world, so selfish, as to aim at a Monopoly of those advantages which may follow a Trade to Pittsburg & the Country round it.3 I hope I shall stand excused for the liberty I have taken in laying this affair before your Honr. With great respect I remain Yr Honrs Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, MiU-C: Gage Papers. See note 2.

On the death of Gov. Francis Fauquier, 4 Mar. 1768, John Blair (1687–1771), president of the Virginia council, once again became acting governor of Virginia.

1On 27 Mar. 1767 the House of Burgesses heard: “Several Petitions, from sundry Inhabitants of the Counties of Frederick and Hampshire, setting forth, That they are deprived of an Advantage that might accrue to them, that of supplying in some Measure the King’s Troops on the Western Department, by the extreme Badness of the Road from this Government to Fort Pitt, that they conceive the opening and repairing Braddock’s Road will not only be an Advantage to the frontier Parts of this Colony, but benefit the Public in general” (JHB, 1766–1769 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 100). The petitions were referred to the standing Committee of Propositions and Grievances, of which GW was a member. The bill that the committee reported became “An act for opening a road through the frontiers of this colony to Fort Pitt on the Ohio” (8 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 252–53); it named four commissioners to supervise the improvement of Braddock’s road at a cost not to exceed £200.

2Blair enclosed GW’s letter in his own letter of 17 June 1768 to Thomas Gage, commander in chief of the British forces in America.

3During the summer of 1758 in the initial stages of Gen. John Forbes’s campaign against the French at Fort Duquesne, GW argued passionately that Braddock’s road from the upper Potomac to the Forks of the Ohio was of crucial importance to the future prosperity of Virginia, particularly in view of what he perceived to be the fixed purpose of Pennsylvanians to monopolize trade in the Ohio country.

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