George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Stuart, 18 December 1785

From David Stuart

18th Decemr—[17]85—Rich[mon]d

Dear Sir,

I yesterday made the contract you desired me, for oats, with Mr Savage, at two and six-pence the bushel, as you will see by the inclosed, which I send you. This Gentleman was employed by Mr Dandridge, to rescue Mr Custis’s estate on the Eastern shore, from Posey’s hands; and having befriended it in a particular manner without recompence; I early in the Summer sollicited a continuance of his kindness—As the estate there is all rented out, and the money arising from the rents will be due the first of January, I have desired him to detain the amount of the contract—This was indeed a great inducement to him, to make the contract, and I considered it as agreeable to all parties—Mr Henley falls greatly short of his expectations, both in corn and tobacco—he has not yet informed me how much he will have for sale—I shall know by Christmas, and shall instruct him to reserve for you the quantity you request.1

An act has just passed for paying in hard money, the interest due on money put into the Continental loan office—I send you the act, lest you might not attend to it in the papers—If you have any business of this sort to be transacted, I shall be happy to serve you in it—But you will observe the time will be soon elapsed—It did not occur to me before, that you might have money in the Office, or I should have given you earlier notice of it.2

You will have seen from the journals, that nothing is yet done on the subject of trade. I doubt much if any thing effectual will be done—If there is, it may be ascribed to a letter from the legislature of Maryland, requesting an appointment of Commissioners by each State to fix on a similarity of restrictions.3

The consideration of British debts is now before us, and from the opposition made by Mr Smith to leave, to bring in a bill on that subject, I have my fears about the success of it.4 I expect to get the bill you transmitted, passed the ensuing week; as it is reported reasonable by the Committee, to whom it was referred5—The situation of the roads in our part of the Country, has induced my Colleague and myself, to sollicit leave, to bring in a bill for putting and keeping them in better order, in future—As one expedient, we have fixed on a moderate toll on all carriages, at the two great entrances to the town—It is in other respects, similar to the bill passed in the ⟨yr⟩ seventy two 6—I am Dear sir very respectfully and sincerely Your Obnt Servant

David Stuart

ALS, DLC:GW.

1See GW to David Stuart, 10 December. George Savage was a planter in Northampton County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The enclosure was a memorandum of agreement between Savage and Stuart, dated 16 Dec., in which Savage agreed to deliver 800 bushels of oats at GW’s wharf at Mount Vernon, which was done in early February (GW to Stuart, 5 Feb., and GW to George Savage, 8 Feb. 1786). Bartholomew Dandridge, Martha Washington’s brother, had been in charge of the late John Parke Custis’s estate until his own death in April 1785, when Stuart, who had married Custis’s widow, Eleanor Calvert Custis, took over. John Price Posey, the son of GW’s old friend and neighbor, John Posey, and manager of Custis’s plantations, seems to have had control of Custis’s business affairs as things went from bad to worse before Custis’s death in late 1781. Leonard Henley, the husband of Martha Washington’s sister Elizabeth, managed the Custis plantations in King William and neighboring counties. He was able to provide GW with 200 barrels of corn from “the lower Plantation in King-William county belonging to the Esta. of the late Mr Custis” (Henley to GW, 27 Feb. 1786). See also Henley to GW, 14 April.

2For the provision regarding the payment of interest due on Continental loan office certificates in specie, see Article 2 of “An act to amend the act, intituled An act to amend and reduce the several acts for appropriating the public revenue, into one act” (12 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 55–60). GW sent his certificates to Stuart on 24 December. In his Cash Accounts he records receiving £171.6.10 on 12 Jan. from “the Treasury of Virginia, by the hands of Doctr Stwart, in Excha. for Int. on Certificates whc. had been Recd for Loans, to this State” (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 207).

3After considerable controversy in this session of the Virginia legislature over the proposal to cede to Congress the power to regulate commerce, the house of delegates at the end of the session, on 21 Jan. 1786, chose eight delegates as commissioners to meet with commissioners from other states “to take into Consideration the Trade of the United States to examine the relative situations and trade of the said States, to consider how far an uniform System in their Commercial regulations may be necessary to their common Interest and their permanent Harmony” (“Resolution Authorizing a Commission to Examine Trade Regulations” in Rutland and Rachal, Madison Papers, description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends 8:470–71). Commissioners from the convening states set their meeting at Annapolis on the first Monday in September.

4Meriwether Smith of Essex County opposed the trade bill (see note 3) as well as the bill regarding the payment of just British debts. Madison reported to Jefferson on 22 Jan.: “A Bill was brought in for paying British debts but was rendered so inadequate to its object by alterations inserted by a Committee of the whole that the patrons of it thought it best to let it sleep” (ibid., 472–82).

5This is the bill dealing with the depth of the canals to be built by the Potowmack Company. See GW to Charles Simms and David Stuart, 3 December.

6Provisions for keeping in repair roads leading to Alexandria was enacted in 1772. See Article 7 of “An Act for clearing a road from the Warm Springs in Augusta, and for other purposes therein mentioned” (8 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 546–51). Stuart in this session secured the passage of “An act for regulating the streets in and adjoining to the town of Alexandria” (12 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 205–6).

Index Entries