George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Francis Mercer, 20 December 1785

To John Francis Mercer

Mount Vernon 20th Decr 1785.

Dr Sir,

From the assurances you gave me I had flattered myself that I should ’ere this have received a payment from you; & I had no doubt of it after Colo. Fitzgerald informed me, five months ago that £200 had passed thro’ his hands from Mr White to you; which was the fund, if I understood you rightly, which you had appropriated for this purpose.1

I beg you to be assured that the disclosure I made to you of my circumstances was candid; & that it cannot be more disagreeable to you to hear, than it is to me to repeat that my wants are pressing—some debts which I am really ashamed to owe, are unpaid; & I have been, for want of money, unable to do more with my manufacturing Mill, (which is expensive to me without) than to grind up my own Crops; for wheat is not to be bought on credit, & I have not cash to pay for it. But this is not the worst—I have not made half grain enough to support my people & stock this year—the deficiency must be bought at a high price, and (for there is no question of the Articles bearing it) for ready money. I must therefore get it at an advanced price, if to be had at all, on credit; or I must sell something at a low price to enable me to pay ready money. This is truly my situation. I am &c.

G: Washington


1GW wrote John Francis Mercer on 27 Mar. pressing him for payment on the indebtedness of the John Mercer estate. No “assurances” from Mercer have been found, but Mercer did spend the night of 13 June at Mount Vernon. See also GW to Mercer, 8 July 1784, n.1, and 30 Jan., 12 Aug. 1786. Mercer made a payment on 23 Mar. 1786 of £200 (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 221).

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