George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Johnson, 13 July 1785

From Thomas Johnson

Fredk [Md.] 13 July 1785


Mr Richardson Stewart, who waited on you at the last Meeting, intends to present himself again at the next. I believe I mentioned him at the former Meeting as a very ingenious Man, of a strong mechanical Turn, sober and active, and as I had heard used to conduct those under him well—he has not been practiced in clearing Rivers one who had and earned a Character would undoubtedly justly claim a preference of any other—whether a chief Conductor of the Work answerable to the Ideas we entertained of such a One can be got or not Mr Stewart will too probably stand on a Footing with those who may offer for either End. If he is favoured with Time and a private Conversa[tion] he will explain himself on the Subject of breakg the Rocks and removing the Fragments, the most material immediate Objects, so as to enable you to form your own Idea of him in that Part; indeed he has mentioned to me a way of drilling them that I have neither seen practiced or before heard of—One of my Brothers, and they all have the Success of the Undertaking much at Heart, has more Acquaintance with Mr Stewart than I have, he has several Times mentioned him to me as a Man of whom we may entertain good Expectations in every View, and unless he is excluded by others who have been practiced in the very kind of work and are unexceptionable on other Accounts I should gladly see him employed either above the Great or Shannadoah Falls.1

My present State of Health will not permit me to attend now with Convenience, else as our preperation is not so forward as we hoped and expected I would have waited on you, though I still flatter myself that we may be ready by the Time Men can be worked to Advantage for the Water keeps up unusually high. I am Gent. Your most obedt Servt

Th. Johnson

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection. The letter is directed to the “President & Directors of the Potomack Company.”

1The minutes of the meeting held in Alexandria on 14 July when James Rumsey was named superintendent of the works and Richardson Stewart the assistant manager were as follows:

“At a Meeting of the president and Directors of the Potowmack Company held on this Day and at this place pursuant to Adjournment from the 1st Inst:

were present

Genl George Washington } pt
George Gilpin Directors
John Fitzgerald

who after examining the following Accounts produced against the said Company allowed the same to be just and directed payment of them to be made by the Treasurer to this Company.

George Richards £ 9.12
Philip Marsteller 2.14
Josiah Watson & Co. 30.  
Wm Hartshorne & Co. 6.14
John Hartshorne 1. 5
Wm Abbot 66. 5

“appointed Mr James Rumsey principal Superintendant of the work for effecting which this Company was instituted under an Allowance or Salary of two hundred pounds Virginia Currency ⅌ Ann: inclusive of all Expences he may incur, and Mr Richardson Stewart one of the Assistant Managers under an Allowance or Salary of One hundred and twenty five pounds Virga Currency inclusive of all his Expences—No other person appearing who produced sufficient Testimonials of Capacity and Integrity to fill the place of the other Assistant Manager the Board did not proceed to the Appointment but directed it to be made by Mr Rumsey the principal Conductor.

“It was also ordered by the Board that the Men when employed in the work should recieve their wages once in every two weeks and that a Ration should be as follows

“1 lb. Salt pork or 1¼ lb. Salt Beef or 1½ lb. fresh Beef or Mutton—1½ lbs. Flour or Bread and 3 Jills Rum ⅌ day” (DNA: RG 79, Records of the Potomac Co. and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co., item 159).

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