George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Francis Mercer, 30 June 1792

To John Francis Mercer

Philadelphia June 30th 1792.


I little expected that I should have had occasion, at this time (after the pointed assurances you gave me more than three years ago, of discharging what was due to me, fully) to remind you that I have received only Three hundred and eighty pds of the balance; and to ask what I am to expect from you in future.1

I delayed from day to day while you were in this City (until it was too late) to apply to you on this Subject, in hope, and expectation that you would not have left town without mentioning it yourself.

Before I apply to the Executors of Colonels Tayloe & Thornton who were Securities for the money loaned to your deceased father, John Mercer Esqr., I will await the Receipt of your answer to this letter2 which I hope will be given as soon [as]3 you can make it convenient.

It has been of little avail hitherto, to inform you of the causes of my want of this money; although, in more instances than one, I have done it with the utmost truth and candour: nor should I say any thing further to you on this head now, were I not in a manner compelled to declare, that from an occurrence which did not exist before I have a call upon me for a considerable Sum, in a few months; against which it is indispensably necessary that I should be provided.4 I am—Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers; LB, DLC:GW.

1For the background to this letter, see GW to James Mercer, 18 Mar. 1789, and note 1, 4 April 1789, and to John Francis Mercer, 5 April 1789. In May 1791 the estate of James and John Francis’s father, John Mercer, still owed GW £908.15.11½ (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 221). The account was finally settled in April 1793 when GW accepted a tract of 519 acres in Montgomery County, Md., from John Francis Mercer (Ledger C description begins General Ledger C, 1790–1799. Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 4).

2Mercer’s reply to GW of 10 July has not been found. For GW’s displeasure at the information contained in Mercer’s response, see GW to Mercer, 23 July 1792. GW apparently had been considering applying to the executors for the estates of John Tayloe and John Thornton (d. 1777) for some time. On 9 May, Edmund Randolph had written to GW, apparently in response to an inquiry by the president: “After revolving the affair of Mercer’s debt, I can see no reason for distrusting my opinion of this morning. The original securities cannot be absolved. You have done no act, expressly directed to this object; and the receipt of partial sums from John or James Mercer cannot possibly affect your primary title. I take the liberty of recommending, that the notice, which you purpose to give, should be addressed not only to Colo. Tayloe’s executors, but also to Colo. Thornton’s. Altho’ a recovery must probably be had in the first instance against the former, yet they will have a right of contribution against the latter; and therefore the latter ought to [be] apprized of the danger” (DLC:GW).

3This word is supplied from the letter-book copy.

4For this prospective call upon GW for money, see GW to Mercer, 23 July 1792, n.3.

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