George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Welch, 29 November 1797

From James Welch

November 29th [17]97


I will lease Your Land on the Great Kanawa (viz.) 23,000 Acres in the Manner following (to Wit) I will give You Annually $9583.34 C. The lease to Commence in the Year 1800 And I will pay you in the following Manner[:]

in the Year 1801 $19,166.68.

the next payment to be made 1807 [$] 47,916.70.

In the Year 1810 [$]28,750.[0]2.

And after that time I will pay Annually [$]9583.34 for 30 Years & from that time forever Yearly [$]19,166.68 With the previled[g]e of purchasing the Land at Eight Dollars per Acre any time in 10 Years from the commencement of the lease on my paying You Yearly agreeable to the above proposition for the Term of 10 Years. Security to be given for the firs[t] payment to be paid in Alexandria the lease and Contract to be null and void on the Money not being punctually paid—Your Excellency will please to View the proposals and give me an answer by the Bearer Mr James Cooper1 I am with respect sir Your Hbl. St

James Welch


1Welch first visited Mount Vernon on 24 Nov. to initiate negotiations for the lease of GW’s lands on the Great Kanawha. See Welch to GW, 24 Nov., n.1. After receiving this letter of 29 Nov. from Welch, GW wrote his friend James Craik in a letter that has not been found to ask him to see what he could find out about the man. Craik responded on 1 Dec. that he had been unable to get much information on Welch and urged GW to proceed with caution. Before receiving Craik’s letter, GW wrote to Welch on 1 Dec. spelling out some of his reservations about Welch’s offer and some of the conditions that would have to be met before he would agree to turn over his Kanawha lands to Welch. At GW’s suggestion the two again met on 6 December. Following their meeting GW wrote Welch on 7 Dec. outlining the precise terms on which the transfer of the land could be made. Later on the same day Welch wrote: “Sir I Receiv’d Your favor by the Boy, Viewd the contents and shall answer it Tomorrow or Visit You in Person myself” (DLC:GW). The next day, 8 Dec., Welch wrote: “As I wish some longer time to consider on the Business between you & me with respect to Your last Letter as it is a matter of Importance to me, Tomorrow I shall attend You in person & Deliver You my last proposition” (DLC:GW).

Welch came to Mount Vernon for dinner on 9 Dec. and delivered his letter of that date agreeing to GW’s terms (see Welch’s letter and Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:272). On 10 Dec. GW wrote his attorney James Keith telling him of the agreement that he and Welch had reached and instructing the lawyer to draw up the contract or lease which would bind the two parties to its terms. For the indenture drawn up by Keith dated 16 Dec., see GW to Keith, 10 Dec., n.2. GW wrote his first letter demanding payment to Welch on 15 Feb. 1799. Welch made no payments before GW’s death, and the Kanawha lands reverted to GW’s estate.

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