George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 1 December 1780

From Edmund Randolph

Richmond, [1 Dec. 1780]. Randolph replies to GW’s “favor of the 12th of April” later than anticipated because of “an expectation of hearing from you soon after” regarding the settlement of disputes among those holding mortgages on George Mercer’s lands in Virginia. Randolph explains that the confused state of public records “rendered it difficult to lay our hands upon all the documents in Colo. Mercers case.” More problematically, “the Sequestering Act” restricting legal actions involving British subjects impeded movement toward settlement.1 Randolph indicates that he will seek a court opinion “at the next Session in April” to determine if GW’s situation was excepted “from the restrictions of this Law.”

AL (photocopy), DLC:GW, ser. 9. For the full surviving text of this letter, which is among papers related to extended wrangling over Mercer’s land sales, see GW to Francis Lightfoot Lee and Ralph Wormeley, Jr., 20 June 1784, 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 1:458–65, especially 462; see also Robert Hanson Harrison to GW, 6 April 1780; GW to Lund Washington, 11 April 1780; and GW to Randolph, 12 April 1780.

1See “An act for Sequestering British Property, enabling those indebted to British subjects to pay off such debts, and directing the proceedings in suits where such subjects are parties,” which the Virginia General Assembly passed during its October 1777 session (Va. Statues [Hening], 9:377–80).

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