George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 18 August 1786]

Friday 18th. Mercury at 70 in the Morning—74 at Noon and 72 at Night.

Misty morning, with light showers of rain through the day—wind at No. East.

Rid to the plantations at the Ferry, Dogue run, & Muddy hole, and to the Mill—The hands at each place working on the Public roads. At Dogue Run the Plows & Hoes began to put in wheat on Wednesday last.

The ditcher at the Meadow wd. by noon have compleated about 6 rod of the 6 feet ditch which would be about 1 rod and half pr. day.

A Mr. Jno. Dance, recommended by Genl. Mifflin, & Willing Morris & Swanwick came here to offer his services to me as a Manager but not wanting such a person he returned after Dinner.

working on the public roads: The public roads in Virginia were maintained by a system which had originated in England in the sixteenth century, and had changed little for over 200 years. Basically, the plan required that all tithables (males 16 years of age or over) were to be required to work on the public roads for a certain number of days each year, or to provide someone to work in their place. In Virginia the system was first administered at the parish level as it was in England, but soon came under the jurisdiction of the county courts. The greater use of roads into the back country after the Revolution had increased the difficulty of keeping up the roads, and in 1785 the Virginia legislature had passed new legislation designed to help solve the problems of the bad road conditions (see 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 , 12:75–80, 174–80).

jno. dance: possibly the John Dance listed in the Pennsylvania census of 1800 from Bucks County. Thomas Mifflin was at this time speaker of the Pennsylvania legislature and Thomas Willing was president of the Bank of North America. Willing and Robert Morris, mercantile partners since 1757, added John Swanwick (1740–1798), of Philadelphia, to their firm in 1783. Swanwick had been a clerk in that countinghouse and a cashier in the office of finance under Morris during the Revolution.

Index Entries