George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Francis Willis, Jr., 1 November 1789

From Francis Willis, Jr.

gloster [Va.]

May it please your ExcellencyNovr 1st 1789

At the request of Colo. Henry I again trouble you on the subject of the Negroes he bought1—he apprehends I did not state the situation of the Idiot he bought, as he could wish therefore inclosed you will please to receive his letter to me,2 & if you will please to honour me with your opinion on the matter I will instantanously proceed agreeable to it I am Sr yr Most Obedt hbl.Sert

Francis Willis Jr.


2Willis enclosed a copy of a letter written to him by Col. James Henry on 16 April 1789: “I observe by Mr Whiting’s Letter of the 27th of October last, that he had applied to General Washington on the Subject of the doubtful Title of those negroes I purchased from you & Mr Perrin, and that the General was of Opinion my Claim to a deduction, under the Circumstances of the Sale, was unjust; but he Suggests that if I still think the bargain a hard one, the negroes may be returned.

“I am very desirous this matter may be finally settled in my day and while you & Mr Perrin are both alive, because I assure my Self that so far as it rests with you, we can discuss the subject in the easiest way.

“If you will ⟨please—⟩ to have recourse to my letter to you in May 1787. Soon after the last Payment made to Mr Dobson, I made three propositions; to return the wench with as many Children in number and Value as I received, and to admit interest to be counted on the purchase money, up to the times of Payment—or, to return the Boy in question, upon your deducting out of the whole purchase money, what I was by our bargain to give for him, notwithstanding I have paid 4 years taxes on him, or lastly, if neither of these propositions should be agreeable, that the Boy should be valued by persons mutually chosen for the purpose, & their Valuation to finish the business.

“But as it seems now to turn out that the Title to these Negroes is vested in General Washington, and his Concurrence, & approbation thereby become necessary, I can only again assure you I am still willing to have it settled in any of these ways which may be preferred.

“If therefore you, Sir, will take the trouble to write again to the General; inform him of the proposals I have made, or inclose him my letter, I cannot but suppose, he will authorize you to put it in a way of final adjustment, by one or other of the methods proper and the sooner this is done, the more agreeable it will be to Sir, Your very humble servt” (DLC:GW).

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