George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Valentine Crawford, 30 March 1774

To Valentine Crawford

[Mount Vernon] March 30th 1774


You are to proceed without loss of time to your own Settlement on Youghiogany, and there if it is not already done provide such, and so much Provision, as you shall think necessary to take down with you to my Lands on the Ohio. You are also to provide Canoes for transporting of these Provisions—The Tools—& the Workmen.1

You are to engage Three good hands as labourers to be employd in this business; you are to get them upon the best terms you can; and have them bound in articles to serve till the first of December, duely & truely; at the expiration of which term they shall receive their Wages. Provisions & Tools will be found them, but nothing else.2

You are also to engage a good Hunter upon the best terms you can, for the purpose of supplying you with provision’s—Let him have the Skins, as I suppose he will engage the cheaper for it. Engage him either altogether for Hunting, or to hunt & Work as occasion requires, that there may be no dispute about it afterwards; so in like manner let every Man else know what it is he has to trust to, that no disputes may arise thereafter—and the best way to prevent this, is to let all your hirelings know that they are not to consider this, or that thing as their particular business; but to turn their hands to every thing, as the nature of the business shall require.

As Much depends upon your getting to the Land early, in order that as much ground may be clear’d, and put into Corn as possible before the Season is too far advanced, I do most earnestly request you to delay no time in prosecuting your Trip down—And, that as much Ground as possible may be got in order for Corn, & planted therewith, I would have you delay building & Fencing till the Season is too late for Planting, & employ your whole force in clearing.3

Begin this operation at, & on the upper Tract; & clear five acre fields in handsome squares upon every other Lott along the River Bank (leaving the Trees next the River standing, as a safeguard against Freshes and Ice)—these Fields may be so near together, as to answer small Tenements of about 100 acres in a Lot in case you cannot get them Surveyd: in short allow each Lott a breadth of about One hundred Rod upon the River, running back for quantity agreeably to the Plots given you.

The same sized Lots—that is Lots of the same breadth upon the River, may be laid off upon all the other Tracts, & five Acre fields cleard upon every other one as above. but after the Season has got too late for Planting Corn, then, at each of these Fields, Build a House Sixteen feet by 18, with an outside Chimney the lower part to be of Logs (with diamond Corners) & to be coverd with three feet Shingles; Also Inclose and fence your Corn at this time, or before, if necessary.

You may then, that is after building Houses to the Fields already Cleared, and fencing them in, carry your clearing, building, & fencing, regularly on together, in the manner above describd.

After the time for Planting Corn is Over; in any of the Bottoms you may be at work in, if there should be any grassy Ponds, or places easily improvd, & draind for Meadow. It may be done, & Inclosed, instead of preparing Land for Corn.4

Endeavour to get some rare-ripe Corn to carry with you for your last Planting, & replanting. The Corn which you do Plant must be Cultivated; in any manner which may appear most advisable to you for my Interest.5

If you can get, or I should send out, Peach Stones, have them cracked, & the Kernals Planted, as soon as you get to the first Land, & properly Inclose them.

It will be essentially necessary to have all the work done upon any one Tract, appraisd before you move to the next Tract if it be possible to have it done such work I mean, as can be injured by Fire or other accidents; otherwise I may labour in vain, as I shall have no allowance made for any thing that is not valued. In these appraisements you must let nothing go unnoticed, as it is necessary that every thing should be brought into Acct that will enhance the price of ⟨it⟩.

You should take care to have a Pair of hand Mill-stones with you, as also a Grindstone, for the benefit of your Tools with proper Pecks.

Keep a regular Acct of your Tools, & call them over frequently, to see that none are missing. Make every Man answerable for such as is put into his care. Keep a regular Acct also, of the days lost by sickness—for I expect none will be lost by any other means; that an allowance may be made for it at Settlement. And keep a regular, and clear Acct of all expences, with proper Vouchers, that matters may be settled without any difficulty at the end of the Service.

As I could wish to have my Lands Rented, if it be possible to do it, you may, if Tenants should offer, engage them upon the Following Terms—to wit—upon a Rent of Three Pounds Sterling (to be discharged in the Currency of the Country at the Exchange prevailing at the time of payment) for each ⟨Lot⟩ which is to be laid of as describd on the Platt. Leases to be given for three Lives—four years Rent free where no Improvement is made—and two only where there is a House built, & five acres of Land cleard on the Lott. Or, if it will be a greater inducement to Tenants, I will grant Leases for 21 Years upon the above Rent, payable in the above manner; which Leases shall be Renewable for ever, upon paying at the end of the first 21 Years, Twenty shillings pr ann: additional Rent for the next Seven years; and in like manner the Increasd Rent of 20/ Sterlg pr Ann. for every Seven year’s afterwards. But it is to be noted that I will not give leases for Lives, & Leases for the above Term (renewable) in the same Tract of Land; as it might not be so convenient to have Leases of different Tenures mixd.6

As I have pointed out the distance along the water for the breadth of each Lott (in measuring of which go strait), and as the course & distance from the River of each Lott is also particularly set down, you cannot be at a loss if you have a compass and Chain to lay them off & mark them exactly—the back lines of the Lotts may be markd, or not, just as it suits; the dividing Lines must be Markd at all events & an Acct taken of the Corner Trees in order to insert them in the Leases if any should be given. At the Corner of each Lott, upon the River, blaze a Tree; and with a knife or Chissel, number them in the following manner—viz.—at the upper Corner of the first Lott make the figure 1—at the Corner which divides Lotts No. one and two, make these figures 1/2 at the Corner which divides Lotts No. Two and three make the figures 2/3 and so on with every Lott, by which means the Lotts can always be distinguishd the moment they are lookd at, & no mistake can happen.

Build a House, & clear and fence five Acres of Land upon every other Lott, in the manner describd upon the Plot, by which means should any one Person Incline to take two Lotts they may be added together conveniently, & the Improvements will be convenient to both.

I have now mention’d every thing by way of Instruction to you, that I can at present recollect; let me conclude then with observing, that this business must even under the greatest good management and Industry be attended with great expence, as it will be with equal Injustice, if it is neglected; to this I am to add, that, as you are now receiving my Money, your time is not your own; and that every day or hour misapplied, is a loss to me; do not therefore under a belief that, as a friendship has long subsisted between us, many things may be overlookd in you, that would not in another, devote any part of your time to other business; or to amusements; for be assurd, that, in respect to our agreement, I shall consider you in no other light than as a Man who has engagd his time and Service to conduct and manage my Interest on the Ohio to the best advantage, and shall seek redress if you do not, just as soon from you as an entire stranger. I wish you your health and success, and am Yr Friend &ca

Go: Washington

Note[:] As these Instructions were begun sometime ago, and at a time when I had little doubt of havg my People movd over the Mountains before the first of April; as also at a time when I had a scheme under contemplation of Importing Palatines, in order to settle on these Lands, which scheme I have now Laid aside; those clauses which relate to the turning your whole force towards preparing Land for Corn, may be entirely, or in part, laid aside as Circumstances may direct, and, if there should be any inconsistentcy between the first and latter clauses pursue the directions of the last mentioned.

If you should not receive an Order of Court (from Botetourt) for valuing the work done on my first Tract, before you move to the Second, have the work done thereon, appraisd in the best manner you can by Steven’s &ca and an acct thereof Sign’d by them, in such a manner as they would swear to, if calld upon.

If it should happen, that you are obligd to wait in your own Neighbourhood for Vessels, Provisions, or on any other Acct let all the People wch you carry out be employd towards forwarding my Mill work at Gilbt Simpson’s.7

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW. GW has dated this draft “March 30th 1774” at the bottom of the letter, on the left-hand side, just before the signature and before the “Note.” However the writing in the date seems to be more like that in the note, and it is clear that most of the letter was written much earlier and the note at the end probably added on 30 March. See note 2. There are a number of revisions in the manuscript, most probably made by GW some weeks after he originally wrote the draft, and the original words are largely illegible.

1Valentine Crawford arrived at Mount Vernon on 24 January. When he left on 12 Feb. for Williamsburg with William Crawford and their half brother Hugh Stephenson, he had failed to win the hand of the lady of his choice and had “conditionally agreed” to lead an expedition of workers to GW’s Great Kanawha lands (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:227, 232; GW to Jonathan Boucher, 15 Feb.). Valentine Crawford was back at Mount Vernon on 24 Feb., and in early March GW sent him to Baltimore to buy workers to take out to GW’s western lands. It must have been after his return from Baltimore on 24 Mar. with nine men and one woman whom he had bought from William McGachen that he signed the following agreement, dated 20 Mar.: “Articles of Agreement made and concluded upon this 20th day of March in the year One thousand Seven hundred and Seventy four, between Valentine Crawford of the County of Westmoreland & Provence of Pensylvania of the one part and George Washington of Fairfax County and Colony of Virginia of the other part, Witnesseth, that the said Valentine Crawford for the Considerations hereafter mentioned, doth hereby Covenant and agree to and with the said George Washington, his heirs, Exrs & Admrs, that he will, well & truely Serve the said George Washington in the Capacity of an Overlooker & manager of his business on the Ohio; & will, to the utmost of his power & ability, obey & follow, all such reasonable Orders & Instruction’s as he shall, from time to time Receive from the said Washington, his Heirs, Exrs or Admrs from the day of the date of these presents to the first of December following; And, during that time, to the best of his judgment, order & conduct the labour of such hands as shall be committed to his care, to the best advantage; seeing that they are always imployed, and usefully; He also obliges himself to use every precaution in his power to supply them with Provision’s, and Tools (at the Expence of the said George Washington) the first, by purchasing of Corn upon the best terms he can, and hiring a skilful Hunter to kill provision’s; the Second, by transporting such Tools as shall be sent out to him, down the River to the Lands on which the Improvements are to be made, & in case of difficiency, to purchase as aforesaid, at the said Washington’s expence; The said Valentine Crawford doth also engage to and with the said George Washington, that as this is likely, at any rate, to be an expensive undertaking, to use every Œconomy, & frugality in his power, to render it as little so as possible; And, as much depends upon close application, & constant attendance of the Manager, in order to forward and expidite this work to advantage, the said Valentine Crawford doth hereby firmly engage, by these presents, to consider this business as his only concern, from the time of his Imbarking upon it, which shall be at furthest by the first of April, till the aforesaid first day of December following; and will not, under any pretence whatsoever quit it till the term aforementioned is fully compleated and ended; but stick constantly to it, and abide with the People during that period. In consideration of these Serves, well and truely performed, according to the express words and meaning thereof, the said George Washington doth hereby oblige himself, his Heirs, Exrs & Admrs by these presents, to allow the said Valentine Crawford, his heirs, Exrs or Admrs when the Service shall be fully compleated & ended, in manner aforesaid, the Sum of Eight pounds Virginia Curry pr Month, from the sd 20th day of March, to the first day of December following. & will moreover furnish the said Valentine Crawford from time to time with such reasonable sum, or Sums of money, as shall be necessary to conduct the undertaking; it being hereby declared, to be the Intention of the Parties, that the expence of Victualling, & Tools, is to be born by the said George Washington, his heirs &ca; as is also the cost of transporting them. In testimony of this Agreement, and for the true and faithful performance of all and Singular the Covenants therein containd, as well on the part of the said Valentine Crawford, as on that of said George Washington, the Parties to these presents have Interchangeably set their hands and Seals, and each to the other doth bind himself his Heirs &ca in the just & full sum of One hundred pounds Currt Money of Virginia, the day and year first written” (DLC:GW). The document in GW’s hand is signed by him and Crawford and witnessed by Lund Washington and George Young.

2As GW indicates in his note at the end of this letter, he began writing it “sometime ago,” before 30 March. See source note. William Stevens, Bennet Jenkins, and Jason Jenkins were hired for the expedition on 21 Feb. (see note 12 in Cash Accounts for March).

3See GW’s note at the end of the letter countermanding his instructions regarding planting because of the lateness of Crawford’s start. The outbreak of violence between whites and Indians kept Crawford at Jacobs Creek in Pennsylvania with his party throughout the summer, making it necessary for GW to mount a second expedition the following spring.

4A paragraph immediately following this has been marked through but reads: “If you should happen to set of from your own Settlement (at Redstone) before the People from hence get there, leave directions how they are to proceed with the Tools and necessary’s which they may bring with them after you.”

5GW wrote here and then marked out: “but dont engage any of these places to Tenants, as I do not know but I shall stand in need of all of them, and the Corn that is made, if I should import People as I have thoughts of ⟨doing⟩ against another Year.” GW has marked a large figure “1” at the end of this passage.

6This advertisement appeared in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis) on 19 May: “Fairfax county, Virginia, May 10, 1774.

“IN the month of March last the subscriber sent out a number of carpenters, and labourers, to build houses, and clear and enclose fields on his patented lands on the Ohio, intending to divide the several tracts which he there holds, into convenient sized tenements, and give leases thereof for lives, or a term of years, renewable for ever, under certain conditions which may be known either of him, or Mr. Valentine Crawford, who is now on the land.

“The situation and quality of these lands having been thoroughly described in a former advertisement, it is unnecessary to enlarge upon them here, suffice it generally to observe, that there are no better in that country, and that the whole of them lay upon the banks either of the Ohio or Great Kanhawa, and capable of receiving the highest improvement. George Washington.”

7On 31 Mar. Crawford signed a receipt acknowledging GW’s payment of £30 Virginia currency “tow’d defraying the Expences attend’g the seating his lands on the Ohio” (Sotheby, Parke-Bernet catalog no. 4267, part 3, Sang Collection, item no. 846).

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