George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Johnson, 12 November 1786

To Thomas Johnson

Mount Vernon 12th Novr 1786.

Dr Sir,

On a supposition that you are now at Annapolis, the Petition of the Directors of the Potomac Company, is enclosed to your care. A Duplicate has been forwarded to the Assembly of this State. The fate of it I have not heard, but entertain no doubt of its favorable reception, as there are many auspicious proofs of liberality & justice already exhibited in the proceedings of it this Session.1

I hope the same spirit will mark the proceedings of yours.2 The want of energy in the fœderal government; the pulling of one State, & parts of States against another; and the commotions among the Eastern People, have sunk our national character much below par; & have brought our politics and credit to the brink of a precipice. A step or two more must plunge us into inextricable ruin. Liberality, justice & unanimity in these States, wch do not appear to have drank so deep of the cup of folly, may yet retrieve our affairs; but no time is to be lost in essaying the reparation of them.

I have written to no gentlemen in your Assembly respecting the Potomac business but yourself—the justice of the case & your management of it, will ensure success. With great regard & respect, I am Dr Sir &c.

G: Washington

LB, DLC:GW. Bacon-Foster, Development of Patomac Route, description begins Corra Bacon-Foster. Early Chapters in the Development of the Patomac Route to the West. Washington, D.C., 1912. description ends 44.

2The printed letter is misdated 15 Oct. 1784, and while much of the text is identical to the letter-book copy, there are sufficient differences in the remainder of this paragraph to quote the printed version taken from the ALS: “The want of energy in the Federal government—the pulling of one State & party of States against another & the commotion amongst the Eastern people have sunk our national character much below par; and has brought our politics and credit to the brink of a precipice; a step or two further must plunge us into a Sea of Troubles, perhaps anarchy and confusion. I trust that a proper sense of justice & unanimity in those States which have not drunk so deep of the cup of folly may yet retrieve our affairs. But no time is to be lost in essaying them.”

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