George Washington Papers
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[Diary entry: 7 August 1797]

7. Appearances of Rain until 10 Oclock & a sprinkle at Night. Mer. 76. Dr. Stuart & daughter returned home. I went to the annual Meeting of the Potk. Co. at George town. Dined at the Union tavern & lodged at Mr. Thos. Peter’s.

potk. co.: Work on building locks and clearing the Potomac River and its tributaries for navigation had been under way for more than a decade. When money was plentiful, the work progressed rapidly, with the employment of many Irish and German indentured servants and hired laborers; but from 1788 until the present year, funds for the work on the river gradually became harder to procure. Efforts were largely bent on obtaining enough money to complete the locks at Great Falls, the only part of the Potomac River at which a portage was still necessary. There were repeated calls on shareholders for additional contributions; the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia were petitioned at various times for the sale of more shares to be added to the capital stock; attempts were made to force delinquent subscribers to pay their quotas. Despite all efforts to raise money, funds were at this time entirely exhausted. At the 1797 annual meeting in Georgetown the shareholders of the Potowmack Company found it necessary to agree to sell the indentures of the servants and discharge the company’s laborers. Among the attempts to raise more money was an order to the directors to sell or mortgage all shares belonging to the company; to open the books for 30 additional shares at £130 each; to petition the Virginia and Maryland legislatures for permission to collect tolls at Great Falls; and “to mortgage the tolls for the amount of $16,000, all monies to be applied to the works at Great Falls” (BACON-FOSTER description begins Corra Bacon-Foster. Early Chapters in the Development of the Patomac Route to the West. Washington, D.C., 1912. description ends , 95). For further information on the activities of the Potowmack Company during the period 1788 to 1797, see BACON-FOSTER description begins Corra Bacon-Foster. Early Chapters in the Development of the Patomac Route to the West. Washington, D.C., 1912. description ends , 82–100 and 169–71.

The Union Tavern, built in 1796 by the subscription of a number of Georgetown citizens, was a three-story brick structure located at the corner of Washington (30th) and Bridge (M) streets. It boasted an elegant assembly, or ball, room which was a favorite accommodation for birthday balls and other social assemblies (BRYAN description begins Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan. A History of the National Capital: From Its Foundation through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act. 2 vols. New York, 1914–16. description ends , 1:280; EBERLEIN & HUBBARD description begins Harold Donaldson Eberlein and Cortlandt Van Dyke Hubbard. Historic Houses of George-Town & Washington City. Richmond, Va., 1958. description ends , 10–12).

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