George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George William Fairfax, 10–15 June 1774

To George William Fairfax

Wmsburg June 10[–15]th 1774

Dear Sir,

In my way to this place I met with your Letter of the 10th of Jany at Dumfries—In consequence of which, I immediately wrote to Mr Willis (having an oppertunity so to do) desiring him to go to Belvoir, & after examining & considering every thing maturely, to give me his opinion of the Rent which ought to be set upon your Interest there (collectively or seperately) that I might, by knowing the opinion of others, be enabled, as I intended to advertise the Renting of it as soon as I came to this place, to give answers to any application’s which should be made; what follows is his answer as I wrote both to Berkeley & Belvr as he was expected at the latter place.1

Whether Mr Willis is under, or over the Notch, time only can determine—I wish he may not have exceeded it, although I apprehend you will be disappointed at his estimate for you will please to consider, that, there are very few People who are of ability to pay a Rent equivalent to the Interest of the Money which such buildings may have cost, who are not either already provided with a Seat, or would choose to buy one, in order to Improve it; chance indeed, may throw a Person peculiarly circumstanc’d in the way, by which means a good Rent may be had, but this is to be viewd in the light of a lucky hit not as a matter of expectation; for the generalty of Renters would ⟨not give⟩, I conceive, any more ⟨rent for the⟩ mansion House than if the Land was totally divested of It; & as to your Fishery at the Racoon Branch, I think you will be disappointed there likewise as there is no Landing on this side the River that Rents for more than one half of what you expect for that and those on the other side opposite to you (equally good they say) to be had at £15 Maryld Curry however Sir every notice that can, shall be given of their disposal, & nothing in my power, wanting to put them of to the best advantage in the manner desird. I have already advertizd the Publick of this matter, also of the Sale of your Furniture, as you may see, by the Inclosd Gazette, which I send, as it contains some acct of our American transactions respecting the oppressive and arbitrary Act of Parliament2 for stopping up the Port & commerce of Boston; The Advertisements are in Mrs Rinds Gazette also—& the one relative to Renting shall be put into the Papers of Maryland & Pensylvania whilst the other is already printed in hand Bills, & shall be distributed in the several Counties & Parts round about us, that notice thereof may be as general as possible.3 the other parts of your Letter relative to the removal of your Negro’s Stock &ca shall be complied with & you may rely upon it that your Intention of not returning to Virginia shall never transpire from me though give me leave to add by way of caution to you that a belief of this sort generally prevails, & hath done so for sometime whether from People, conjectures, or any thing you may have dropt I know not. I have never heard the most distant Insinuation of Lord Dunmore’s wanting Belvoir nor am I inclind to think he ⟨does⟩ as he talks much of a Place he has purchasd near the war⟨m⟩ Springs, In short I do not know of any Person at present that is Inclind that way. I shall look for your Bonds when I return, and do with them as directed—your Boo⟨ks⟩ of Accts I found in your Escruitore, & never heard of a Ballances drawn or Settlement thereof made by Messrs Adam & Campbell but will now endeavour to do this myself.4

Our Assembly met at this place the 4th Ulto according to Proragation, and was dissolvd the 26th for entering into a resolve of which the Inclosd is a Copy, and which the Govr thought reflected too much upon his Majesty, & the British Parliamt to pass over unnoticed5—this Dissolution was as sudden as unexpected6 for th[e]re were other resolves of a much more spirited Nature ready to be offerd to the House wch would have been7 adopted respecting the Boston Port Bill as it is call’d8 but were withheld till the Important business of the Country could be gone through. As the case stands the assembly sat the 22 day’s9 for nothing—not a Bill being ⟨passed the Council being adjournd⟩ from the rising of the Court to the day of the Dissolution & came either to advise, or ⟨in opposition to⟩ the measure. The day after this Event the Members convend themselves at the Raleigh Tavern & enterd into the Inclosd Association which being followed two days after by an Express from Boston accompanied by the Sentiments of some Meetings in our Sister Colonies to the Northwd the proceedings mentiond in the Inclos’d Papers were had thereupon & a general meeting requested of all the late Representatives in this City on the first of August when it is hopd, & expected that some vigorous measures will be effectually10 adopted to obtain that justice which is denied to our Petitions & Remonstrances;11 in short the Ministry may rely on it that Americans will never be tax’d without their own consent that the cause of Boston the despotick Measures in respect to it I mean now is and ever will be12 considerd as the cause of America (not that we approve their cond[uc]t in destroyg the Tea)13 & that we shall not suffer ourselves to be sacrificed by piecemeal14 though god only knows what is to become of us, threatned as we are with so many hoverg evils as hang over us at present;15 having a cruel & blood thirsty Enemy upon our Backs, the Indians, between whom & our Frontier Inhabitants many Skirmishes have happend, & with who⟨m⟩ a general war is inevitable16 whilst those from whom we have a right to Seek17 protection are endeavouring by every piece of Art & despotism18 to fix the Shackles of Slavry upon us—This Dissolution which it is said, & believd, will not be followed by an Election till Instructions are receivd from the Ministry has left us without the means of Defence except under the old Militia & Invasion Laws which are by no means adequate to the exigency’s of the Country for from the best accts we have been able to get, there is a confederacy of the Western, & Southern Indian’s formd against us and our Settlemt over the Alligany Mountains indeed in Hampshire Augusta &ca are in the utmost Consternation & distress, in short since the first Settlemt of this Colony the Minds of People in it never were more disturbd or our situation so critical as at present; arising as I have said before from an Invasion of our Rights & Priviledges by the Mother Country19—& our lives and properties by the Savages whilst a Cruel Frost succeeded by as cruel a drought hath contributed not a little to our unhappy Situation, tho. it is now thought the Injury done to Wheat by the frost is not so great as was at first apprehended—the present opinion being that take the Country through half Crops will be made. to these may be added & a matter of no small moment they are that a total stop is now put20 to our Courts of Justice (for want of a Fee Bill, which expird the 12th of April last) & the want of Circulating cash amongst Us; for shameful it is that the meeting of Merchants which ought to have been at this place the 25th of April, never happend till about 10 days21 ago and I beleive will break up in a manner very dissatisfactory to every one if not injurious to their Characters.22

I have lately been applied to by Mr Robt Rutherford to join (as your Attorney) in the Conveyance of the Bloomery Tract & Works; but as I never had any particular Instructions from you on this head, & know nothing of the Situation & Circumstances of the matter I have told him that I must receive direction’s from you on the Subject before I do anyth⟨ing⟩ in it & I desired him therefore to relate the case as it stands which is Inclos’d in his own words. He is urgent to have this business executed & seems to signify that you can not expect any part of the money till you have joind in the Conveyance.23 June 15th24 My Patience is entirely exhausted in waiting till the business as they call it, is done, or in other words till the exchange is fix’d—I have therefore left your Money with Colo. Fieldg Lewis to dispose of for a Bill of £200 Sterg which I suppose will be near the amt of the Currt money in my hands as there are Advertisements, hand Bills, Bonds, & ca to pay for preparatory to the Sale of your Furniture and am now hurrying home, in order, if we have any wheat to Harvest that I may be present at it.25

Mrs Fairfax’s friends in this place & at Hampton are all well (I suppose she has long ago heard of the death of her Brothers Second Son)26 my best wishes attend her and you and I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: W——n27

ADfS, PPRF. The letter is addressed at the top “To the Honble Geo. Wm Fairfax ⟨Esqr.⟩ in York⟨shire⟩ to the care of Saml Athaws Esqr.” Most of the alterations that GW made in his draft of the letter are incorporated without comment, but those which may indicate altered intent are noted.

1GW’s letter to Willis has not been found. Willis’s “answer” is dated 2 June. Between this paragraph and the next, GW wrote: “See his Letter from the Beginning.”

2GW struck out “the Act” and inserted “the oppressive and arbitrary Act of Parliament.”

3For the advertisements offering Belvoir for rent and setting a time for the sale of its contents, see Francis Willis, Jr., to GW, 2 June, nn.2 and 4. Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) on 2 June contains news from Boston and New York as well as from Williamsburg regarding American reaction to the Intolerable Acts.

4GW struck out here a paragraph which he first numbered “2” and then changed to “3.” It reads: “Inclos’d you have a Copy of the Acct I settled before I left home with Mr Craven Peyton—as also of my Acct in the New Church at Pohick which is now conveyed to you by the Vestry & Upon Record. The Ball[enc]e of this acct to wit £[ ] is now Exchangd for Bills & remit viz.—,” at which point GW inserted “4.” All of this suggests that GW originally intended to include this passage before the last paragraph of his letter. See note 22.

Dunmore had acquired a great deal of land in Virginia, especially in the west. Earlier this same year the governor purchased a ninety-nine-year lease on a 1,100–acre plantation located at the confluence of the Potomac River and Warm Spring Run in what was then Berkeley County. The Warm Springs, now Berkeley Springs, W.Va., was nearby. Dunmore borrowed money from Edward Snickers to finance the purchase and development of the land which he called Mount Charlotte. Snickers’s loan was never repaid, but Snickers held and operated the plantation for Dunmore and received the profits from it until his death in 1790. By provisions of Snickers’s will his son William took over and managed the land (Jones, “Snickers,” description begins Ingrid Jewell Jones. Edward Snickers, Yeoman. In Proceedings of the Clarke County Historical Association 17 (1971–75). description ends 54–59).

5The resolutions of the House of Burgesses of 24 May 1774 calling for a day of fasting and prayer to protest the acts of Parliament closing the port of Boston are conveniently printed in Van Schreeven and Scribner, Revolutionary Virginia description begins William J. Van Schreeven et al., eds. Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence. A Documentary Record. 7 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1973–83. description ends , 1:94–95.

6GW substituted “as sudden as unexpected” for “sudden.”

7GW struck out “unanimously” after “been.”

8GW inserted here the phrase “respecting the Boston Port Bill as it is call’d.”

9GW first wrote “for three weeks.”

10GW deleted “& effectual” before “measures” and inserted “effectually” here. The association adopted by the members of the burgesses at the Raleigh Tavern on 27 May, the day after Lord Dunmore dissolved the House, is printed, ibid., 97–98. At a second meeting on 30 May, which GW also attended, the decision was reached “to call together the late Representatives to meet at Williamsburg on the first Day of August” (ibid., 99–100). The original signed document of the 30 May meeting is in the Virginia State Library. The broadside calling for the meeting in August, which GW enclosed, reads: “WILLIAMSBURG, May 31, 1774. Gentlemen, LAST Sunday Morning several Letters were received from Boston, Philadelphia, and Maryland, on the most interesting and important Subject of American Grievances. The Inhabitants of Boston seem to be in a most piteous and melancholy Situation, and are doubtful whether they will be able to sustain the impending Blow without the Assistance and Cooperation of the other Colonies. By the Resolutions of their Town Meeting, it appears to be their Opinion that the most effectual Assistance which can be given them by their Sister Colonies will arise from a general Association against Exports and Imports, of every Kind, to or from Great Britain. Upon Receipt of this important Intelligence, the Moderator judged it most prudent immediately to convene as many of the late Representatives as could be got together, and yesterday, at a Meeting of twenty five of the late Members, we took the Business under our most serious Consideration. Most Gentlemen present seemed to think it absolutely necessary for us to enlarge our late Association, and that we ought to adopt the Scheme of Nonimportation to a very large Extent; but we were divided in our Opinions as to stopping our Exports. We could not, however, being so small a Proportion of the late Associates, presume to make any Alteration in the Terms of the general Association, and therefore resolved to invite all the Members of the late House of Burgesses to a general Meeting in this City on the first Day of August next. We fixed this distant Day in Hopes of accommodating the Meeting to every Gentleman’s private Affairs, and that they might, in the mean Time, have an Opportunity of collecting the Sense of their respective Counties. The Inhabitants of this City were convened yesterday in the Afternoon, and most chearfully acceded to the Measures we had adopted.

“We flatter ourselves it is unnecessary to multiply Words to induce your Compliance with this Invitation, upon an Occasion which is, confessedly, of the most lasting Importance to all America. Things seem to be hurrying to an alarming Crisis, and demand the speedy, united Councils of all those who have a Regard for the common Cause. We are, Gentlemen, your most affectionate Friends, and obedient humble Servants,

“PEYTON RANDOLPH, Moderator; Robert C. Nicholas, Edmund Pendleton, William Harwood, Richard Adams, Thomas Whiting, Henry Lee, Lemuel Riddick, Thomas Jefferson, Mann Page, junior, Charles Carter, Lancaster, James Mercer, Robert Wormeley Carter, George Washington, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Thomas Nelson, junior, Robert Rutherford, John Walker, James Wood, William Langhorne, Thomas Blackburne, Edmund Berkeley, John Donelson, Paul Carrington, Lewis Burwell” (DLC:GW).

11GW inserted “Petitions &” before “Remonstrances” and deleted “and prayers” after it.

12GW inserted the words between “Boston” and “is and ever will be.”

13GW inserted the words in parentheses.

14GW substituted the words “suffer . . . by” for what may be the crossed out words “be sacrificed by.”

15GW added the words “as we are” and “hoverg . . . present” for crossed out words that are illegible.

16GW changed “expected” to “inevitable.”

17GW first wrote “demand” and changed it to “seek.”

18“Piece of Art & despotism” was originally “repressive means they can devise.”

19GW struck out several words and inserted “by the Mother Country.”

20GW substituted “& a matter of no small moment they are that a total stop is now put” for “a total stop.”

21GW inserted “about 10” and mistakenly struck out “days” instead of “eight.” For the “Fee Bill” see GW to Sarah Bomford, 28 Aug., n.2.

22The final paragraph of the letter follows here in GW’s draft, but GW has inserted “2” here after “characters” and written a “2” at the beginning of the paragraph which opens “I have lately been.” The final paragraph, beginning “Mrs Fairfax’s Friends,” is marked “3” written over a “4.” The paragraphs are printed here in the order GW intended and in which presumably they appeared in the final version sent to Fairfax.

23Rutherford’s letter has not been found. See Fairfax to GW, 10 Jan. 1774, n.9.

24GW changed this from “15th” to “25th.” He did not leave Williamsburg until 18 June.

25Against the £277.19.2½ that GW had received from Craven Peyton for Fairfax, GW charged Fairfax £16 on 24 Feb. for Fairfax’s pew in Pohick Church and £260 on 15 June for “a Bill to be bought by Colo. Fieldg Lewis £200” sterling (GW’s account with Fairfax, 15 June 1774, ViMtvL). See note 27. This left a balance of £1.8.4½. At the sale of the furnishings at Belvoir on 15 Aug., GW paid a total of £169.12.6 for various items, including a number of beds, carpets, looking glasses, “1 Mahogy Chest & drawers in Mrs Ffs. Chamber” for £12.10, “1 Mahogy Side board” for £12.5, “12 Chairs & 3 window Curtains from the dining room” for £31, “2 Candlesticks & a bust of the Immortal shakespear” for £1.6, and “a mahogy Card Table” for £4 (D, CSmH; transcript in CD-ROM:GW).

26Miles Cary (1766–1774), younger son of Sally Fairfax’s only brother, Col. Wilson Miles Cary, died in April. See Virginia Gazette (Rind; Williamsburg), 21 April 1774.

27GW drafted the following covering letter on the reverse of the last page of this letter: “Williamsburg 15th of June 1774.

“Dear Sir, As I am just leaving Town, as also your Money in the hands of Colo. Lewis, to buy a Bill of £200 Sterlg with[,] this Letter only serves to cover the first draft, being left open for that purpose. I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt Go: Washington.”

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