George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Herbert, 9 May 1793

To William Herbert

Philadelphia 9th May 1793.

Dear Sir,

I have duly recd your letter of the 3d of this month with the Bill enclosed. In wch I do not perceive my name is inserted. If it had, the enclosed would have been my answer. But before It is exhibited or any use made thereof I pray that the Records of the Trustees of Alexandria may be thoroughly examined to see if any Act of mine shall appear thereon for my memory is too treacherous to place depend[enc]e on it in cases where accuracy is necessa[r]y.1 I am, with esteem & regard Dr Sir Yr Obedt Servt

G. W——n

P.S. Upon considering my answr (unless I am mistaken in point of fact) I hope my name will not appear in the Bill, returned.

ADfS, owned (1982) by Three Lions, Inc., New York, N.Y.; LB, DLC:GW.

1GW sought legal advice from Edmund Randolph, who wrote GW on 8 May: “I do not find, that you are named in the bill as a defendant. A blank indeed is left for the names of the trustees, and it is probable, that yours is meant to be inserted. But when it is known, that you never acted, I presume, that the plaintiff will think it useless to add you, as a defendant.

“However, I have sent the rough draught of an answer. Before it is used, it would be well to have it thoroughly examined by some person on the spot, whether you may not possibly have acted, without being able now to call it to mind? It would be also well to have the answer shewn to the plaintiff, who will be satisfied with it, so far as respects yourself, and go on against the real trustees” (DLC:GW).

Following Randolph’s advice, GW enclosed “The separate answer of George Washington, one of the Defendants to the Bill of complaint, exhibited against him & others by George Wm West, Complainant,” dated at Philadelphia on 9 May, in which he wrote: “This defendant not confessing any matter or thing in the said Bill contained, for answer thereto, as far as he is advised, saith—That he doth not recollect that he was ever named or appointed a Trustee or Director, as in the said bill is charged; and if he was ever so named, or appointed, he doth not recollect or believe, that he hath at any time qualified or acted as such. This Defendant therefore can not answer any of the particulars referred to in the said bill, but disclaims and disavows any concern therein; and prays to be hence dismissed” (LB, DLC:GW). For GW’s election in 1766 as a trustee for Alexandria, Va., see Herbert to GW, 3 May 1793, n.1.

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