George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Chase, 3 December 1785

To Samuel Chase

Mt Vernon 3d Decr 1785.

Dr Sir,

Enclosed you have a petition from the Directors of the potomac Company, which we pray you to lay before the Maryland Assembly, & to use your exertions & influence to carry it into effect.

The measure prayed for is so reasonable, that we do not conceive there can be any other opposition given to it, than what may proceed from delay; for the enemies to this undertaking (if there are any) ought to support the present Bill upon the principle of public œconomy.

Mr Johnson is the drawer of the Bill which accompanies the Petition; exact copies of both are sent to the Assembly of this State. We took the liberty of furnishing the draft, that they may be exactly similar in both States without the trouble of an intercourse between the Assemblies on so trifleing a business.1 I have the honor to be &c.

Go: Washington


1For the petition and bill to allow the Potowmack Company to reduce from four to two feet the depth of the canals it was to build, see Thomas Johnson to GW, 4 Nov., n.1. On the same day that he wrote Chase, GW wrote in similar vein to Nathaniel Ramsay (Ramsey; 1741–1817), a member of Maryland’s lower house for Cecil County, and to two members of the Maryland senate, Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Thomas Stone (1743–1787) of Charles County. The text of his letter to Ramsay is: “Dr Sir, The Directors of the Potomac Company find it necessary to apply to the Assemblies of the States of Maryland & Virginia to be relieved from an unnecessary depth of Canal at the Great & Little Falls of the river; which, upon a strict investigation of the ground at the former & the ideas they entertain of the latter, they find would be attended with a heavy additional expence, without the smallest equivalent in return. The enemies therefore to this navigation (if there be any) must be friends to the petition we now offer, on the principle of public œconomy.

“The Petition is sent to Mr Chase (as a member of the Company) to present to your Honorable House. To save trouble, & an intercourse between the two Assemblies on this trifling business, we have accompanied the petition by a Bill; exact copies of which now go to the Assembly of this State, not doubting its passing into a Law.

“We apprehend no other opposition in either Assembly, than what may proceed from delay; to obviate this, is the reason of my giving you the trouble of this letter, praying your good offices to carry the petition into effect in your Assembly” (LB, DLC:GW).

The text of his letter to Carroll and Stone is: “Dr Sir, The Directors of the potomac Corny upon a strict examination of the ground at the Great Falls of the river, & their ideas of that at the little Falls, find it necessary to apply to the Assemblies of the two States, to be relieved from that depth of canal which the late Acts for improving & extending the navigation of the river require.

“The reasons are set forth at large in the petition which, as president of the Board of Directors I now have the honor to transmit to Mr Chase as a delegate, & member of the company; a similar one having gone to the Assembly of Virginia. But in a word, from our view of the matter, it is sufficient to inform you that to dig four feet at these places will add greatly to the expence, without deriving the smallest advantage: we have therefore prayed for two feet depth, instead of four; & apprehending no other opposition but what may proceed from delay, for friends & foes (if there are any of the latter) to the Undertaking, ought to support the Bill upon the principle of œconomy, is the reason of my giving you the trouble of this Letter, praying your assistance in facilitating the passage of the Bill” (LB, DLC:GW). See also his similar letter of this date to the two members of the house of delegates from Fairfax County, Charles Simms and David Stuart.

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