George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Burwell Bassett, 15 February 1773

To Burwell Bassett

Mount Vernon Feby 15th 1773

Dear Sir,

Your favour of the 5th came to my hands in course of Post, last Thursday, and fill’d us with no small concern at the Indisposition of yourself and Family1—equally concernd am I to hear of the unhappy state of our Paper Currency, and that the Interposition of the Assembly is thought necessary—should this measure be resolvd on, be so good as to advise Me, whether it be intended that the Country business, generally, shall be proceeded on, or this alarming affair of the money only, taken into Consideration—In the former case I shall come down—in the latter, as the Session will be short, and my business obliges me to the Genl Court I believe I shall decline it.2

Could there have been anything fav⟨or⟩able said on the Subject of Corn, I should not have neglected advising you of it till this time. I have scarce heard the name of Corn mentiond since I left Williamsburg; & nothing can contribute more towards keeping down the price than the Mildness of the Winter hitherto; having had no Snow to Cover the ground here yet, & but little hard Weather—I have a few hundred Barrels of my own to sell but have met wit⟨h⟩ no offers for it as yet.

Our celebrated Fortune, Mr [Miss] French, whom half the world was in pursuit of, bestowd her hand on Wednesday last, being her birthday; (you perceive I think myself under a necessity of accounting for the choice) upon Mr Ben: Dulany who is to take her to Maryland in a Month from this time—mentioning of one wedding puts me in Mind of another, thô of less dignity, this is the Marriage of Mr Henderson (of Colchester) to a Miss More (of the same place) remarkable for a very frizzled Head & good Singing; the latter of which I shall presume it was that captivated our Merchant.3

Mrs Washington, Patcy Custis, & Jack, who is now here, are much as usual; & the Family in general not sicklier than common; hoping this will find you perfectly restord, & the rest of the good Folks of Eltham in better health than when you wrote last,4 I am, with best wishes to Mrs Bassett, yourself, & the Children; in which all here join Dr Sir Yr Affecte Friend, & Obedt H. Servt

Go: Washington


1Letter not found.

2As it happened, the session of the assembly was devoted to dealing with the problems arising out of large-scale counterfeiting of Virginia currency and was short. GW did attend, however, arriving in Williamsburg on the day the session opened, 4 Mar., and leaving after the assembly was prorogued on 12 March. On 28 Jan. Robert Carter Nicholas, treasurer of the colony, put a notice in the Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg) of the counterfeiting of Virginia currency. Dunmore on 6 Feb. called the assembly into session on 4 Mar. to take what steps it thought necessary. Before the arrival of the burgesses, the counterfeiting operation had been discovered in Pittsylvania County, and Dunmore had obtained the arrests of a number of men and had them brought to Williamsburg. Dunmore wrote the earl of Dartmouth on 31 Mar. 1773 that there were various emissions of bogus money, including paper money and coined pistoles, half pistoles, and dollars, and the counterfeits were so good that it was extremely difficult for even experts to tell good from bad. There were fifteen or sixteen persons involved, some of them prominent citizens (P.R.O., C.O. 5/1351, 26–30). The men were tried before the April General Court and “notwithstanding they were taken at work in their shop, with all manner of engraving tools, a large quantity of paper of the peculiar sort on which the Virginia paper money was printed, dies for guineas, half johannesses, doubloons, dollars, and a large number of 5l. bills; yet, from some defect in the act of Assembly on which they were tried, they were acquitted” (Virginia Gazette [Rind; Williamsburg], 24 June 1773). For more on the counterfeiting ring, see Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg), 28 Jan., 4, 11, 18, and 25 Feb., 4, 11, and 18 Mar., and 8, 15, 22 April 1773, and Virginia Gazette (Rind; Williamsburg), 4, 25 Feb., 4, 18 Mar., and 8 April. After expressing their disapproval of the governor’s action in removing the accused from the scene of the crime to Williamsburg, the burgesses passed a bill to suppress counterfeiting and restore the public credit. At adjournment they formed a committee to correspond with other colonies. For an account of the counterfeiting incident, see Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York, 1948–57. description ends , 3:309–11, 312–14.

3Benjamin Tasker Dulany (c.1752–1816), younger son of Daniel Dulany the younger, married Elizabeth French, only child of Daniel French (1723–1771) of Rose Hill, near Alexandria. Young Dulany had been Jacky Custis’s schoolmate at Boucher’s school in Annapolis and was a frequent visitor to Mount Vernon during his courtship of Elizabeth French. The marriage was announced in Rind’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) on 11 Mar.: “BENJAMIN DULANY, Esquire, of Maryland, to Miss FRENCH, of Fairfax county, with a fortune of twenty thousand pounds.”

The Colchester merchant Alexander Henderson signed a marriage contract on 7 Jan. 1773 with Sarah Moore (c.1752–1816), daughter of Henry Moore of Colchester (Fairfax County Deed Book K—1 [1772–73], 272–88, ViFfCh; Sprouse, Colchester description begins Edith Moore Sprouse. Colchester: Colonial Port on the Potomac. Fairfax, Va., 1975. description ends , 53, 95).

4GW wrote Bassett on 20 April a letter of condolence on the death of his daughter Elizabeth.

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