George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 2 March 1793

From Henry Knox

War department March 2d 1793.


I have the honor to submit to your consideration the appraisement of the Maps in the Care of Colonel Burr1—the valuation is far below the idea contemplated by him, and he therefore absolutely rejects it—after a considerable conversation he has consented to take one hundred and fifty Guineas.

My own opinion is that they are exceedingly valuable to the United States in their further views upon the Country, to which they relate, and that the opportunity ought not to be omitted, but I am unwilling to give the sum demanded unless sanctioned by your authority.

I therefore beg leave to request the honor of your directions or advice, as Colonel Burr says he is going out of Town in the Morning.2 I have the honor to be Sir Your obedient servant

H. Knox
secy of war


1On 27 Feb., Aaron Burr had offered to Knox “13 maps of the lakes & western Country,” but before making a decision to purchase the maps, Knox sought knowledgeable persons to determine their value (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 72). These maps were likely the result of Burr’s land speculations in New York and Pennsylvania. Burr’s letter to Knox has not been identified.

2Tobias Lear wrote Knox later on this date “that the President is at this time so pressed with business that he cannot look at the Maps offered by Colo. Burr; but requests that if the matter must be decided before Colo. Burr leaves this City, the Secretary will use his judgment in the case; & if he thinks they will really be worth to the public the sum of One hundred & fifty guineas, which is stated as the lowest Colo. Burr will take, the Secy will arrange the matter with Colo. Burr. If not, the President will return them immediately to the Secy” (DLC:GW).

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