George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 30 July 1770]

30. After an Early Dinner (which Mr. Peake took with us), we set of for Fredericksburg that is Mrs. Washington, P. Custis & myself. Reachd Mr. Lawson’s.

GW had asked the original officers of the Virginia Regiment to meet him at Fredericksburg 1 Aug. to discuss matters relating to bounty lands in the Ohio Valley that Gov. Robert Dinwiddie had promised members of the regiment in 1754 in order to encourage enlistment during the French and Indian War (Va. Gaz., P&D, 21 June 1770; Proclamation, 19 Feb. 1754, P.R.O., C.O.5/1348, 334–36). Surveying and distribution of the lands had been delayed first by war and then by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. However, much of the territory was opened by treaties signed with the Indians at Hard Labour and Fort Stanwix in 1768. In Dec. 1769 GW brought the Virginia soldiers’ claims to the attention of the current Virginia governor, Lord Botetourt (8 Dec. 1769, DLC:GW), and in the same month presented the governor and the council a petition “in behalf of himself and the Officers and Soldiers who first imbarked in the service of this Colony . . . praying that the Two Hundred Thousand Acres of land which was given to them by Governor Dinwiddie’s Proclamation . . . may be allotted to them, in one or more Surveys, on the Monongahela and its waters from the long narrows to or above a place commonly called the great Canhawa [Kanawha]” (va. exec. jls. description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:337).

The council agreed to the petition, specifying that the grant should be limited to veterans who had entered the service before the battle at Great Meadows in July 1754 and that the 200,000 acres should be “taken up in one or more Surveys, not exceeding twenty, on the great Canhawa and the other places particularized in their Petition so as not to interfere with prior Settlements or surveys actually and legally made.” It was also suggested that GW should arrange for a surveyor and insert a notice in the Virginia Gazette requiring eligible officers and soldiers to present their claims to him (va. exec. jls. description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:338). GW advertised for the claims in Purdie and Dixon’s newspaper 21 Dec. 1769 and in Rind’s newspaper every week from 28 Dec. 1769 to 26 Apr. 1770 (ledger a description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 322). However, he decided that before beginning the expensive and troublesome business of surveying, he must assemble the officers “to consert measures how we shall proceed” (Andrew Lewis to GW, 1 Mar. 1770, ViU). The meeting at Fredericksburg was the result of that decision.

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