George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Mercer, 25 August 1784

To James Mercer

Mount Vernon Augt 25th 1784.

Dear Sir,

My Sister handed me your favor of the 18th.11 thank you for the advice respecting the mode of conveying a title for the Lands I purchased at your Brother’s Sale, & will pursue it; but necessity will oblige me to postpone the matter until I return from my Western jaunt; as, from Company & other circumstances, no leizure is left me to rummage for Papers before.

My letter to your Brother John Mercer,2 would have informed you, that I apprehended there were omissions in the account I transmitted, to my prejudice, as I had not been able to make any statemt of my Books, or to assort my Papers (wch by frequent removals to get them out of the enemy’s way, were in sad disorder) since my return. I am much obliged to you for the Memm taken from your journal, especially as I am in a way to be a considerable sufferer from my advances to obtain, & Survey the Grant of 200,000 Acres of Land under Dinwiddies proclamation. Many of the Grantees never having paid me a Shilling.

The enclosed letter will give you every information in my power respecting Vanbraam—when you have read it please to return it to me, as it has received no acknowledgement yet.3 With very great esteem & regard I am—Dr Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (photocopy), DLC:GW.

1Letter not found.

3The enclosed letter undoubtedly was the letter of Jacob Van Braam (1725–1784) to GW, written “Au Chateau de Rouville, near Mallesherbes, France, Decbr 20th 1783.” Van Braam was born in Holland and came to live in Fredericksburg, Va., in 1753. At GW’s surrender at Fort Necessity, 3 July 1754, Captain Van Braam and Capt. Robert Stobo were taken hostages by the French. Van Braam remained a prisoner in Canada until his release in 1760. He then obtained a captain’s commission in the Royal American Regiment and at the war’s end retired on half-pay to Wales. Most of his letter to GW is taken up with an account of what had happened to him since his leaving America. Recalled to his regiment in 1775 over his protest, Van Braam had been sent to East Florida in 1776 and, as he wrote, had served unwillingly in the Georgia campaign before securing permission to sell his commission and return to England. His letter continues: “My sentiments in regard to the proceedings of the Ministry were too well known for me to remain in thier Army, and even in Devonshir where I retired for some time after; which determined me to leave England, and look for an retreat in this Country, and have luckly found in the nighbourhood of one of The most worthy caracters in Europe.

“No doubt but Monsieur de La Luserne has given Your Excellency an Account of his aimible and learned relation Monsieur de Mallesherbes. Amongst the many civilities I recieve from that Gentleman he was pleased to acquaint me that in a letter he had recieved from Monsieur De la Luzerne You had condesended to send Your complements to me” (DLC:GW).

Van Braam died in 1784, and there is no indication that GW responded to his letter. For GW’s contact with Malesherbes, see François Barbé de Marbois to GW, 8 June 1784.

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