George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Wood, 20 February 1774

To James Wood

Mount Vernon Feby 20th 1774

Dear Sir

I have to thank you for your obliging acct of your trip down the Mississipi, containd in a Letter of the 18th of Octobr from Winchester—the other Letter therein referd to, I have never yet received, nor did this come to hand till sometime in November, as I was returning from Williamsburg.1

The contradictory Accts given of the Lands upon the Mississipi, are really astonishing—some speak of the Country as a terrestrial Paradise, whilst others represent it as scarce fit for any thing but Slaves & Brutes—I am well satisfied howe⟨ver⟩ from your description of it that I have no cause to regret my disappo⟨int⟩ment. The Acct of Lord Hilsboroughs Sentiments of the Proclamation of 1763, I can view in no other light than as one, among many other proofs, of his Lordships malignant disposition towards us poor Americans; founded equally in Malice, absurdity, & error; as it would have puzzled this noble Peer, I am perswaded, to have assignd any plausible reason in support of this opinion.2

As I do not know but I may shortly see you in Frederick & assuredly shall ⟨at⟩ the Assembly, I shall add no more than that, it will always give me pleasure to see you at this place whenever it is convenient to you,3 & that with Complimts to your good Mother I remain Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt and Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (photocopy), DLC:GW. The letter was addressed to Wood “By favour of Capt. Crawford.”

1Neither of Woods’s letters has been found. See GW to Wood, 13, 30 Mar. 1773. See also GW to Peter Chester, 25 Mar. 1773. For a somewhat suspect account of what may have been this trip down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers of Wood with Charles Lewis of Augusta County, see Smyth, Tour in the United States description begins J. F. D. Smyth. A Tour in the United States of America: containing An Account of the Present Situation of that Country; The Population, Agriculture, Commerce, Customs, and Manners of the Inhabitants; Anecdotes of several Members of the Congress, and General Officers in the American Army; and Many other very singular and interesting Occurrences . . .. 2 vols. London, 1784. description ends , 1:353–83.

2This was a reference to Lord Hillsborough’s opinion that land to be granted under the king’s Proclamation of 1763 should be only to British regulars and not to provincial troops. See GW to William Preston, 28 Feb., and GW to Thomas Lewis, 17 February.

3GW did not go to Frederick County until the fall of 1774, but he may have seen Wood in Williamsburg when he went there in May. Wood seems not to have visited Mount Vernon until 4 Mar. 1775 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:312).

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