George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Wood, 8 August 1790

To James Wood

New York, August 8th 1790.

Dear Sir,

The letter with which you was pleased to favor me, dated July the 8.1 came duly to hand; but business with Congress and the Senate (in their executive capacity) multiplying as the adjournment approached2—and with the Creek-Indians;3 placed it out of my power to acknowledge the receipt of it until this time.

I perceive by your letter that Thomas Mullen or his representatives, is allowed, by an act of Assembly, until the first of December next, to support his or their claim to the land in Hampshire—Although I am persuaded no equitable claim under him can ever be exhibited, it being many years since he run off, and my caveat (although it is not to be found among the papers of the late Proprietor of the Northern-neck) was entered in consequence therof: yet as I do not want to hazard a dispute, I am most inclined to wait until the first of December before I enter or take any steps to secure the land—If at that time matters respecting it should remain in statu quo, and so unimportant a thing should occur to your recollection, I would thank you for pursuing the necessary measures to secure the land for me,4 and immediately upon notice therof, I will defray the expence.

The resignation of Major Parker5 will call for the appointment of another Major to fill his place, without occasioning a change among the other officers of the battalion. With great esteem and regard, I am dear Sir, Your most obedient humble servant

G. Washington

P.S. I am this instant informed by the Secretary of War, that Ensign Archer has resigned his commission,6 and that both the Lieutenants7 from Virginia, in the new battalion, were Seniors to Mr Heth—if, under these circumstances, Mr Heth inclines to supply the place of Mr Archer, I should be glad to be informed of it without delay, and the commission will issue accordingly.8

LB, DLC:GW.

2The second session of the First Congress adjourned on 12 Aug. 1790 (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 1:491,3:568).

3For GW’s involvement with the Creek treaty negotiations, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 4 Aug. 1790, source note, and 7 Aug. 1790 (second letter) and Knox to GW, 7 Aug. 1790, source note.

4For GW’s desire to patent Thomas Mullin’s Timber Ridge tract in Hampshire County, Va. (now W.Va.), see Wood to GW, 8 July 1790, source note and note 1. On 20 Aug. 1790 Wood replied to GW from Richmond, acknowledging receipt of his 8 Aug. 1790 letter and noting, “I shall be here the 8th of December, and will act According to Circumstances with respect to the Lands in Hampshire” (DLC:GW). Wood next wrote to GW concerning the matter on 6 Nov. 1790 (see GW to Wood, 18 Nov. 1790, n.1).

5Alexander Parker declined his 2 June 1790 appointment as major of the additional infantry battalion of the U.S. Army (see Wood to GW, 8 July 1790 and note 3).

6Richard Archer also declined his 2 June 1790 appointment as ensign in the additional infantry battalion of the U.S. Army (see Wood to GW, 8 July 1790 and note 3).

7Actually only one lieutenant in the additional battalion, John Steele, was from Virginia. The other three were from Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Other Virginia officers appointed to the new battalion on 2 June 1790 were Capt. Ballard Smith and Ens. Thomas Seayres (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:73).

8Wood’s 20 Aug. 1790 reply to GW noted: “I have Seen Mr John Heth, and Acquainted him with your Intentions in his favor. he desires Me to Tender his respects and to inform you, that he will Accept the Appointment. he thinks, and I am inclinable to believe he is right, that he had Rank of both Mr Seyers and Mr Archer in the late Army” (DLC:GW).

GW wrote to Henry Knox from Mount Vernon the next month, extracting the above paragraph concerning Heth from Wood’s 20 Aug. 1790 letter “as a piece of information” for the secretary of war. GW added that Heth accepted the ensigncy, and a commission should be made out for him (GW to Knox, 27 Sept. 1790, LB, DLC:GW). GW presented Heth’s name to the Senate on the first day of the third session of the First Congress (GW to the U.S. Senate, 17 Dec. 1790; DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:99, 100).

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