George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Carter Nicholas, 7 November 1780

To Robert Carter Nicholas

Hd Qrs Pasaic Falls Novr 7th 1780.

Dear Sir,

As I am perswaded that the letters, of which the inclosed are copies, never reached your hands, I take the liberty of forwarding a duplicate of the last, & triplicate of the first—with the Inclosures it refers to.1

Since mine of March to you, I have been favoured with a third letter from our good friend Colo. Fairfax, copy of which I also send; and should be happy in knowing that you had accepted the appointment he mentions—in ordr that I might direct all his Papers to be carefully packed up, & sent to you.2

I hope—I trust—that no act of Legislation in the State of Virginia has affected, or can affect, the property of this Gentn otherwise than in common with that of every good, & well disposed Citizen of America—It is a well known fact that his departure for England was not only antecedent to the present rupture with Great Britain, but before there was the most distant prospect of a serious dispute with that Country3—and if it is necessary to adduce proof of his attachment to the interests of America since his residence there and of the aid he has given to many of our distressed Countrymen in that Kingdm abundant instances may be produd not only by the Gentn alluded to in his letter of Decr 5th 1779 but by others that are known to me. & on whm Justice to Colo. Fairfax will make it necessary to call, if occasion should require the facts to be ascertd.

About the time of my writing you in March last, I communicated the contents of Colo. Fairfax’s Letter of the 3d of Augt 1778 to Colo. Lewis—and received for answer, that the bad state of his health would render it impossible for him to discharge the trust Colo. Fairfax wished to repose in you or him in a manner agreeable to himself & therefore could not think of engaging in it if you (to whom I informed him I had written) should decline it, but he recommended in case of yr refusal Mr Frans Whiting (the former Manager of Colls Henry & William Fitzhughs Estate) as a person most likely, in his opinion, to discharge the trust with punctuality.4

My best respects attend your Lady & family5—& with great esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. See also GW to Edmund Randolph, this date.

1The enclosed duplicates have not been found, but see GW to Nicholas, 2 Nov. 1779, and 10 March 1780, the latter found at GW to Fielding Lewis, 5 May–6 July 1780, n.1.

2This letter from George William Fairfax to GW has not been found. For prior appeals regarding assistance with his property in Virginia, see Fairfax to GW, 25 May and 5 Dec. 1779.

3For Fairfax’s departure for England, see his letter to GW, 1 Jan. 1773, and GW to Fairfax, 19 Jan. 1773, in Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends 9:153, 159–60.

4See GW to Lewis, 2 March 1780, and Lewis to GW, 4 April 1780; see also Fairfax to GW, 3 Aug. 1778.

Henry Fitzhugh (1723–1783), of Bedford, Va., was a relative of William Fitzhugh, who owned Ravensworth in Fairfax County, Virginia.

5Nicholas had died on 8 Sept. 1780, leaving his widow, Ann, who was the sister of Fairfax’s wife, Sally. The Nicholas family included seven children.

GW failed to find a person to replace him as power of attorney for Fairfax (see his letter to Fairfax, 30 June 1786, in 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 4:135–41).

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