George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Fitzgerald, 14 April 1794

From John Fitzgerald

Alexandria [Va.] Aprill 14th 1794

Dear Sir

When I last had the honor of dining with you in this town, I mention’d the information given by some people in Maryland to the executive of that state respecting the Estate of Thomas Digges, & wishing to bring it under the confiscation Law[.]1 This Business is now drawing to a Crisis, & it may possibly be brought to trial next Month in the General Court[.] I am possess’d of a great variety of Proofs in support of Mr Digges’s Agency & Activity during the American War, which I believe were exerted at the utmost peril, as he was strongly suspect’d & narrowly watched in England at that time[.] Upon mentioning the observations you were pleased to make respecting Mr Digges’s conduct my Lawyers think it highly essential that your testimony on this matter should be obtained, as that will immediately silence the Gentry who wish to enrich themselves in this summary way[.] Your love of Justice I well know, would induce you to set matters right on any common occasion, where circumstances happen’d within your knowledge but in this I feel a flattering confidence, that you will with pleasure step forward, & testify what you know of Mr Digges during & since the War, as you will thereby not only do justice to his patriotic Character, but perhaps save an Estate to the Descendants, of an old friend & Neighbour, & to a family which from a strong habit of intimacy with yours, I have every reason to believe you honor with your friendship[.] I take the liberty of giving you this previous information that you may at any leisure moment make a memorandum of what has come to your Knowledge on this subject, & have no farther trouble than delivering it to the Commissioners appointed.2

I think you will be so good as to believe me when I declare that it is with the most painful reluctance I give you this trouble, well knowing the weight of Business with which your mind must be oppressed at this particular time but the greatness of the Object & the iniquity of the claim will I hope plead my excuse[.] that you may long enjoy health & happiness is the most sincere & ardent Wish of Dear Sir your mo. Obedient Hble Servant

John Fitzgerald

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover has “private” written on it.

1GW was at Mount Vernon between mid-September and 28 Oct. 1793, and he probably dined at Alexandria with Fitzgerald during this time period (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 239–41). For the complicated and precarious economic history of Thomas Attwood Digges and the family disputes over ownership of Warburton Manor, the family estate located across the Potomac River and within sight of Mount Vernon, see the “Introduction” in Elias and Finch, Digges Letters description begins Robert H. Elias and Eugene D. Finch, eds. Letters of Thomas Attwood Digges (1742–1821). Columbia, S.C., 1982. description ends . Digges had been in England when the Revolutionary War broke out, and during this time, he assisted American prisoners of war in England. He did not return to the United States until late 1798, when he settled at Warburton Manor. He visited Mount Vernon several times before GW’s death in December 1799 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:333, 346, 351, 361).

2For GW’s favorable comments about Digges, see his letter to Fitzgerald of 27 April.

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