George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clendinen, 21 March 1791

To George Clendinen

Philadelphia March [2]1st 1791.1


Since writing to you on the 21st of February by Mr Moore, (in which letter I have some instructions respecting my lands in your neighbourhood) I have disposed of all my lands on the Ohio and great Kanawa to Mr de Barth a french Gentleman. I have therefore to request that you will stop all measures, which you may have taken, or may be about to take relative to the settling or otherwise disposing of my lands agreeably to any instructions which I may have given for that purpose. As I have engaged to deliver them to Mr de Barth free from all incumbrances—And, should any steps have been taken in the business, I must beg you to withdraw them so as to leave the lands entirely free—You will likewise be so good as to return me the draughts &ca of the land, which you received from Colonel Lewis.2

I must in the meantime beg you to be assured, Sir, that I have a proper sense of your attention and goodness in the readiness with which you have given me your assistance towards my arranging this property, and my best thanks are offered therefor. with very great esteem and regard, I am Sir, Your most obedient Servant

G. Washington


1The secretary who copied this letter into GW’s letter book misdated it 31 Mar. 1791. GW was no longer in Philadelphia on that date. The letter was clearly written on 21 Mar. 1791. In his letter to GW of 23 Mar. 1791, Lear discusses entrusting a letter for Clendinen to Arthur St. Clair. In his reply, dated 25 June 1791, Clendinen wrote to GW from Philadelphia: “On the Eleventh day of May last I Receiv’d your Excellencies favour, directed to me from this City, dated, The twenty first of March.”

2On 21 Mar. 1791 GW completed an agreement with John Joseph de Barth for the sale of his lands along the Ohio and Kanawha. The instruments, two bonds completed on partially printed forms, describe Barth as “late of the Kingdom of France now Residing in America one of the Proprietors of the French Land Company at Scioto in the Western Territories of the United States.” By the terms of their agreement, Barth acknowleged indebtedness “in the Sum of Twelve thousand French Crowns of their present fineness according to their now known Circulation in the said City of Philadelphia or in Gold or Silver Money which may be Current in the United States & of equal Value with French Crowns to be paid to the said George Washington his certain Attorney, Executors, Administrators, or Assigns.” This indebtedness was to be paid in two equal installments of 6,000 French crowns, the first due on 31 Dec. 1792 and the second on 31 Dec. 1797. In the event of nonpayment, the entire indebtedness was to accrue interest at a rate of 6 percent per year. A bond was completed for each installment. The bonds, signed by Barth, were witnessed by Peter Miller and Tobias Lear. The bond for the first installment is at CSmH and the bond for the second at ViMtvL. For the background to this transaction, which was connected to the activities of the Scioto Company, see Duportail to GW, 10 Feb. 1790 and notes, and John Joseph de Barth and Mr. Thiebaud to GW, 19 May 1790. Tobias Lear wrote to GW on 23 Mar. 1791 transmitting a letter received from Tench Coxe, which apparently cast doubts on Barth’s credibility. Lear wrote to GW again on 5 June 1791, reporting that Barth had purchased an expensive home on the outskirts of Philadelphia and expressing doubts about his reliablity. Lear’s doubts were well-founded. Barth failed to make the first installment payment on 31 Dec. 1792, and both bonds were subsequently canceled by mutual consent (see GW to Barth, 30 April 1793, NNPM).

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