George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Rumsey, 2 July 1785

To James Rumsey

Mt Vernon, 2d July 1785.


Early in last month I wrote you an answer to your letter of March 10th—and sent it under cover to my brother in Berkely, who happened at that time to be from home: the presumption is however, that you have received it ’ere this, and I shall not trouble you with a repetition of the sentiments therein contained.1

In that letter I enclosed you a hand Bill of the proceedings of the Board of Directors, containing an Advertisement of their want of a Manager, two Assistants, some Overseers, and a number of Labourers; requesting that it might be exposed at some public place in the County where you live:2 those of the two first descriptions were required to meet the Directors at Alexandria on Yesterday; but whether the notice was too short, or that characters who are competent to the business are difficult to be met with, I shall not take upon me to determine; but none appearing with such testimonials of their abilities, industry & integrity, as the board conceived indispensably necessary for their justification—no agreement was made, but the 14th inst: appointed for them & others, to produce such, of their qualification for this business.

As I have imbibed a very favorable opinion of your mechanical abilities, and have had no reason to distrust your fitness in other respects; I took the liberty of mentioning your name to the Directors, & I dare say if you are disposed to offer your services, they would be attended to under favourable circumstances: but as this is a business of great magnitude, and good or ill impressions in the commencement of it will have a powerful effect on the minds of the Adventurers, & on the public opinion; and as the Directors are no more than Trustees of the Company, & of consequence must proceed circumspectly; Candour obliges me to observe to you, as I believe some of those who will meet for the purpose of appointing a Manager & Assistants have only a superficial acquaintance with you, that it might be well, if you incline to offer your services, to bring some letters or other credential of your industry &c.—& if these were to come from members of the Company they would have the greater weight.

Colo. Gilpin (one of the Directors, & who is the bearer of this letter) is on his way to the Falls of Seneca & Shenandoah; & it would be fortunate if he shou’d meet with you in this trip.3 I am &c.

G: Washington


1GW wrote Rumsey on 5 June. Charles Washington lived in Berkeley County.

3The minutes of the meeting on 1 July of the president and directors of the Potowmack Company, GW in attendance as president and George Gilpin and John Fitzgerald as directors, read: “A number of persons having applied to act as Directors Assistants &c: in the Potowmack Navigation, but this Board being of Opinion that none of the Applicants are equal to the Superintendance of the Business, and that none of them have brought sufficient Credentials of their Abilities and Integrity to be employed in the Subordinate Departments adjourned the Meeting to Thursday the 14th Inst: when the Board is again to sit at this place; and in the meantime Colo. Gilpin at the request of the Board undertakes to meet the Workmen at Seneca and Shanadoah agreeable to Advertisement in order to agree with them, & fix a Time when they shall come prepared to begin the Work” (DNA: RG 79, Records of the Potomac Co. and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co., item 159). See also George Gilpin to GW, 10 July.

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