George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Joseph Thompson, 2 July 1766

To Joseph Thompson

Mount Vernon July 2d 1766.


With this Letter comes a Negro (Tom) which I beg the favour of you to sell,1 in any of the Islands you may go to, for whatever he will fetch, & bring me in return for him

  • One Hhd of best Molasses
  • One Ditto of best Rum
  • One Barrl of Lymes—if good & Cheap
  • One Pot of Tamarinds—contg about 10 lbs.
  • Two small Do of mixed Sweetmeats—abt 5 lb. each
  • And the residue, much or little, in good old Spirits

That this Fellow is both a Rogue & Runaway (tho. he was by no means remarkable for the former, and never practised the latter till of late) I shall not pretend to deny—But that he is exceeding healthy, strong, and good at the Hoe, the whole neighbourhood can testifie & particularly Mr Johnson and his Son, who have both had him under them as foreman of the gang;2 which gives me reason to hope he may, with your good management, sell well, if kept clean & trim’d up a little when offerd to Sale.

I shall very chearfully allow you the customary Commissions on this affair, and must beg the favour of you (least he shoud attempt his escape) to keep him handcuffd till you get to Sea—or in the Bay—after which I doubt not but you may make him very useful to you.

I wish you a pleasant and prosperous Passage, and a safe & speedy return, being Sir, Yr Very Hble Servt

Go: Washington


GW gives his letter this heading in his letter book, “To—Captn Joh Thompson—of the Schooner Swift.” The Swift cleared outwards from the South Potomac district naval office on 7 July, bound for St. Christopher’s. The schooner, built in Alexandria in 1765, was owned by Joseph Thompson & Company.

1This is probably the Tom who was on River farm in the early 1760s but whose name does not appear in GW’s list of tithables after 1765. See Cash Accounts, June 1766, n.4.

2Samuel Johnston, Sr., rented a farm from GW on Clifton’s Neck, and Samuel Johnston, Jr., served as GW’s overseer on the River farm in 1762–63. See General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 132, 134, 200.

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