George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Archibald McClean, 6 August 1798

To Archibald McClean

Mount Vernon 6th Augt 1798


The annual meeting of the Potomack Company requires my attendance in Alexandria to day. It will be held, I presume, at Gadsbys; If so, I shall be there from ten O’clock until three and shall be ready to see you at any hour between: the earlier the better.

Enclosed is the Patent for the 587 acre tract (with a plat thereof on the back); and a memorandum of my understanding of our agreement; by which the writings are to be drawn.1

Mr Keith has usually done this kind of business for me, and I presume would draw the writings between us as accurately as any other. but it is indifferent to me who the draughtsman is, if professional, and can be correct.

If a Lease is prefered to an absolute Sale, the usual covenants to enforce buildings—Planting Orchards—Making Meadow—Reentry in case of Non-performance &ca &ca must be inserted—for although the priviledge of becoming the purchaser in fee in seven years is granted, it is not less incumbent on me to attend to the Property while the right remains unalienated. To render it unnecessary hereafter, to see that these covenants are complied with, and to avoid difficulty in securing the Rents, were my inducements for suggesting the alternative of a final bargain, on the terms proposed in the Memm but I repeat, that I am equally ready to execute the other. I am—Sir Yr Very Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (photocopy), ViMtvL.

1For the negotiations between GW and McClean for McClean’s purchase of GW’s Round Bottom tract in the Ohio country, see McClean to GW, 2 July 1798, and the correspondence between the two men printed in note 1 to that document. The enclosed papers and plat have not been found, but the memorandum, dated 6 Aug. at Mount Vernon, which GW enclosed, reads: “A Tract of Five hundred and eighty seven acres, as by Patent, bearing date the 30th day of Octr 1784, lying on the Ohio River in the County of [ ] formerly Augusta is valued at five thousand eight hundred and Seventy dollars—be the quantity more, or less. It may be taken now at that quantity—or now be determined to abide by the quantity that shall be found therein if resu⟨rveyed⟩.

“This tract George Washington agrees to lease to Archibald McClean for the term of [ ] years.

“The Rent is to be equivalent to the interest of the abovementioned sum of $5870 at 6 pr Cent pr Annum—the first of which is to become due & payable on the first day of Jany 1800.

“It is optional in the Said Archibald McClean to become the proprietor in fee of the said tract of 587 acres, within Seven years from the time of granting the lease; he the said Archibald paying therefor the above sum of $5870 in Instalments of not less than $2 or 3000 dollrs at a payment.

“The year Succeeding the payment of each Instalment the Rent is to be reduced in proportion to the interest of the said Instalment, so paid.

“If the said Archibald McClean shd incline to let the improved lot, on which he lives in the Town of Alexandria go in part payment the said George Washington agrees to allow him for the same whatever three disinterested Men shall value it at⟨, each of the parties to choose one⟩ of the Valuers, & the two so chosen to make choice of the third.

“The Rents, until the Fee simple departs from the said George Washington, or his heirs; to the said Archibald McClean, or his heirs, are to be satisfactorily secured by the latter to the former.

“If Mr McClean is disposed to make an absolute purchase of the land, in preference to obtaining it on lease, in the manner aforesaid, and will let his improved property in Alexandria go in payment—valued as above—a Deed may be drawn accordingly, to convey the Estate in Fee. ⟨and⟩ for securing the balance at a period to be fixed, or by Instalments as can be agreed upon, with annual Interest until paid, of Six pr Ct pr ann. a Mortgage will be taken of the Land so conveyed in Fee.

“This would be the easiest, and simplest mode of completing the business,

⟨requiring no other security⟩ than what is mentioned above; whereas securing the Rents may be attended with more difficulty while the Fee simple is with held. But I am equally ready to execute writings to either effect. I am willing to allow the full value for your property, in the judgment of disinterested men, although I have set too low a price on my land in the opinion of a very judicious Gentleman (well acquainted with the land) whom I have seen since I concluded the Bargain with you. Go: Washington” (ADS, WvClHCh).

McClean decided to lease Round Bottom, and on 9 Aug. formally transferred to GW the authority to rent out the “Lott of Ground and a house of which I am seized in the said Town of Alexandria” and to receive the rental payments. The legal instrument for the lease was drawn up by James Keith and witnessed by him, John Gadsby, and John Mackintosh (MiU-C: Haskell Collection, included in CD-ROM:GW).

Index Entries