George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 12 July 1771]

12. I set of for Williamsburg & crossing at Laidlers lodgd at Mr. Lawe. Washingtons.

GW was going to attend the House of Burgesses, which had convened 11 July to deal with problems resulting from a great flood that had come down the James, Rappahannock, and Roanoke rivers in late May, causing about 150 deaths and much property damage. The calamity had not affected Mount Vernon or the Custis lands, but many Virginia planters had lost both their recently planted tobacco crop and the harvested tobacco they had stored in public warehouses for shipment to England. Prompt financial relief was needed to save those men from bankruptcy. GW delayed his departure from home, because he apparently knew that the first few days of the session would be devoted to ceremonial and organizational matters and he preferred to use that time to continue supervising his wheat harvest (FREEMAN description begins Douglas Southall Freeman. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York, 1948–57. description ends , 3:273–74). Only 55 of the 118 burgesses were recorded as present at this session (JHB 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 , 1770–72, 113–14).

John Laidler’s ferry on the Potomac ran from a site near Lower Cedar Point, Maryland.

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