George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Simeon DeWitt, 14 June 1779

To Simeon DeWitt

Head Quarters Smiths Clove [N.Y.]
June 14th 1779

Sir,

The inclosed letter and the map which accompanies it came to Head Quarters the day before yesterday—I wish them safe to your hands.1

I could wish you as soon as possible to furnish each of the Genl Officers with a draft of the Country in this neighbourhood, rough ones will answer the purpose fully.

I thank you for the draft sent last—the one for the Engineers, was delivered to them.2 I am Sir Yr Most Obet servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, NjP.

Simeon DeWitt (1756–1834), an important cartographer of the early republic, graduated from Queen’s College, now Rutgers, in New Brunswick, N.J., in 1776 as the sole member of his class. He served in the militia of his native Ulster County, N.Y., during the campaign of 1777 and participated in the Battle of Saratoga. On the recommendation of his uncle Brig. Gen. James Clinton, DeWitt became an assistant to Robert Erskine, geographer and surveyor general of the Continental army (see Beck, Eulogium, 6). Congress named DeWitt to succeed Erskine after the latter’s death in October 1780 (see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 18:1118; see also GW to Samuel Huntington, 26 Nov. 1780 [DNA:PCC, item 152], and DeWitt to George Clinton, 13 Feb. 1781, in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers, description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends 6:641). He served into 1784 and proposed “the publication of Maps from the Surveys we have made during the War” (DeWitt to GW, 12 Jan. 1784, Papers, Confederation Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends 1:34–36). GW favored the idea as “exceedingly reasonable & just,” but the project did not secure congressional funding and never materialized (GW to DeWitt, 3 March 1784, Papers, Confederation Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends 1:167–68; see also GW to Thomas Jefferson, same date, and DeWitt to GW, 9 June 1784, Papers, Confederation Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends 1:169–70, 432–33). DeWitt replaced Philip Schuyler as surveyor general of New York in May 1784 and held that position until his death. DeWitt reluctantly declined GW’s offer in 1796 to become surveyor general of the United States (see Timothy Pickering to GW, 27 June 1796, and its enclosure, DeWitt to Pickering, 25 June [DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters], and GW to James Wood, 12 Sept. 1796 [MA]).

1Neither the letter nor the map that GW enclosed has been identified.

2The “draft” has not been identified.

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