George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Hanson Marshall, 18 June 1769

From Thomas Hanson Marshall

Mary Land the 18th of June 1769


Having sum Company, and the Wind Blowing fresh, Prevented my Attending on you this day, as Intended; However immagen this may satisfy you, in Answar to your’s, by Mr Land Washington, Relative to my Lands in Virginia—I would Readily make an Exchange, for Mr Alexanders Land on this side, Provided I could be made safe in Regard to the Conveyance, As his Wife is not of Suffiteant Age to Co[n]vey the same, And the Land Under a Strong Intale However that would be Easilly wiped of (heare) was Mrs Alexander of Suffiteant age, On youre Giveing me a suffiteant Indemnification in Regard to Mr Alexanders Land ⟨bein made⟩ over to me &ca when his Wife is Quallified ⟨so to⟩ do, And we can Agree On the Part of Land you will Take in Exchange, Shall be Ready to Comply;1 And as to the Ballance of my Land in Virginia, (when An oppertunity shall offer, that I can make a Conveneant Purchase heare,) Will Let you have the Remainder at 40/. Virginia Cury Pr Acer, Paid in English Gu[i]n[ea]s Pistoles—Silver Dolrs or Ither of them, at their Current Value, These Are the Terms, and no Other that will Induce me to Part with my Virginia Land, And as I Am not well Acquanted with the Situation thereof Should be Greatly oblige to you, for the Platt you Sent over to me sum time ago, by Mr Land Washington which will Take Care of And Returne safe.1 I am Sr Youre Most Hble servt

Tho. Han. Marshall

ALS, DLC:GW. The words in angle brackets are taken from Hamilton, Letters to Washington description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. 5 vols. Boston and New York, 1898–1902. description ends , 3:356–57.

1GW’s letter to Marshall has not been found. Shortly after he came into possession of Mount Vernon in 1754 GW began acquiring other tracts on the neck between Dogue and Little Hunting creeks and kept at it until in 1786 with the acquisition of the French parcels he owned the entire neck and several contiguous tracts as well. See The Growth of Mount Vernon, 1754–1786, in Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:240–42. Thomas Hanson Marshall, who lived across the Potomac in Charles County, Md., owned nearly five hundred acres bordering, to the west, the Mount Vernon tract. As early as 1760, GW began angling for Marshall’s Virginia land (see Marshall to GW, 21 June 1760). It was not until 1779, however, that the Marshall tract of 480½ acres became a part of GW’s Mount Vernon (see GW to Lund Washington, 15 Aug., 17 and 18 Dec. 1778, DLC:GW, and Lund Washington to GW, 2 Sept. 1778, ViMtvL). As this letter of 18 June indicates, GW in 1769 began negotiating with Marshall to make an exchange of Marshall’s land at Mount Vernon for a tract of land neighboring Marshall’s plantation in Maryland, which GW proposed to acquire from his neighbor Robert Alexander. Alexander agreed on 22 June to sell to GW a portion of this Maryland land inherited by his young wife, Mariamne Stoddert Alexander.

The agreement between GW and Alexander reads: “We the Subscribers have put our hands to the following Memm of an Agreement till such time as proper Bonds can be drawn to ratifie and confirm the same. Vizt

“On the part and behalf of the Subscriber Robert Alexander it is agreed and provided

“First—That he shall sell unto George Washington upon the Conditions hereafter mentioned a certain Tract of Land lying in Prince George County in the Provence of Maryland containing by estimation Three hundred Acres (be the same more or less) adjoining to the Lands of Captn Hanson Marshall and others and being a Tract held by the said Robert Alexander in right of his Wife Mariamne under the Will of John Stoddard Gentn her deceasd Father.

“Secondly—That he obliges himself to convey the said Land to the said George Washington so soon as Mrs Alexander his said Wife attains to the age of Twenty one years and will make him a good Right thereto provided the said Mrs Alexander Survives that age and can by any fair and reasonable means be induced to consent to the same and if not that then, and in that case only to refund to the said George Washington all and every Sum and Sums of money which he the said Alexander may have receivd in payment for the Land.

“Thirdly—The said Alexander doth further agree that if he cannot prevail on his said Wife to Convey the Land as above that he will not attempt to sell it to any other person or persons whatsoever without the consent of the said George Washington—And this Clause is expressly provided as a means to induce her Compliance because it is highly presumable that if she is once satisfied that it is for her Husbands Interest to part with the Land and finds that he can do it but to one person only she will not be so unreasonable as to withhold her consent.

“Lastly—If Mr Hanson Marshall of Maryland (with whom this Land is intended to be exchangd) shoud agree to give up possession of his Land in Fairfax County to the said George Washington for the prospect of obtaining the other That Mr Alexander obliges himself in that case to surrender Possession thereof to the said Hanson Marshall (under colour of Renting it, till the Title can be transferred)—But, if on the other hand Mr Marshall shoud not Incline to quit a certainty for an uncertainty nor make an absolute exchange till Mrs Alexander is actually of age and qualified to dispose of it And in consequence thereof Mr Alexander continues to receive the profits of the Land as the Money which is hereby advanced for it then and in that case Mr Alexander doth agree to pay the said George Washington Interest on all such Sums or Sums as may be advanced in consequence of this Bargain from the dates thereof till he gives up the use of the aforesaid 300 Acres of Land and conveys the same.

“In consideration of Mr Robt Alexanders agreeing to the foregoing Articles the Subscriber George Washington doth on his part Covenant and Promise.

“First—That he will allow Mr Robert Alexander the Sum of Forty Shillings Maryland Currency for every Acre, which the aforesaid Tract in Maryland shall actually measure and that he will pay for the same in Gold, Silver, or Paper, according to the several Rates which they respectively pass at in that Provence.

“Secondly That he will pass his Bond to the said Robt Alexander for the payment of any Sum, not exceeding Five hundred pounds Maryland Cury at or before the next Octr General Court As also for the payment of the residue of the money which shall be found due on acct of the Land at the first Genl Court which shall follow the Conveyance thereof (to him the said George Washington or his Assigns). and this Last with Interest thereon.

“In Testimony of our Mutual agreement to all and Singular the Articles beforementioned, and of our full Intent and purpose of abiding litterally thereby we have hereunto set our hands and affixd our Seals this 22d day of June Anno Dome One thousand seven hundred and Sixty nine” (ADS, in GW’s hand, NNGL).

On 13 Oct. 1769 Marshall came to Mount Vernon and consented to exchange his land there for equal acreage of Alexander’s land “Sutable to my Plantation in Maryland” (Marshall to GW, 8 Mar. 1770). During the sale of John Posey’s property on 23–25 Oct. 1769, Alexander and Marshall went together to look at Alexander’s land in order to reach a decision about what part of it GW should buy for his exchange with Marshall. GW advanced Alexander £157.15.10 in Maryland currency on 25 Oct. 1769 “towards the purchase of Land in Chas County Maryland,” £260.18.2 on 8 Nov., and £81.6.0 on 22 Nov. (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 352). For a slightly different account of the dates on which the payments were made and how they were made, see General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 96. Alexander’s wife seems never to have given her permission for the sale of the Maryland land, and so GW did not acquire the Marshall land for Mount Vernon until Lund Washington bought all of the tract for GW in 1779. GW was unable to collect from Alexander the £500 he had advanced him, plus interest, until 1789 (General Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 41). See Marshall to GW, 8, 12 Mar. 1770; GW to Marshall, 9, 16 Mar. 1770; and the editors’ notes for GW’s entries of 13 Oct. 1769 and 25 July 1770 in Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:188, 255–56.

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