George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Ross, 26 June 1799

To James Ross

Mount Vernon 26th June 1799

Dear Sir

Early in January last, in answer to a letter from Colo. Shreve in the old style of unprovidedness, and craving further indulgence, I wrote him, and transmitted the letter open under a Cover to you, that I would stay proceedings on his judgment Bond until the first of April last, and no longer; and that I should, without fail, expect to have the next Instalment paid at the appointed time (the first of the present mo.) since which I have not heard a tittle from him.1

Waiting ’till this Month had come in, I wrote to the President of the Bank of Pennsylvania to know if Shreve, or the Executors of Colo. Ritchie had made any deposits there on my a/c, and if not, whether any intimations had been given of such intention, and am answered No—except, that $250 had been placed there to your credit supposed to be for my use.2

No man can, with more reluctance than myself seek justice in a Court of Law. nor no one with more unwillingness distress another: but my situation (with respect to pecuniary matters) is really such as to require these payments, being obliged to obtain money from the Banks on discount, as substitutes therefor; which, by the difference of interest would, in time, intirely sink the Instalments I am to receive from Shreve, & the heirs of Ritchie.

I am really sorry & ashamed, to give you so much trouble in my concerns; but between being pressed myself, and an unwillingness to proceed to extremities with others, I feel the want of some person who can give me such information as I can rely on; and who, possibly, may stimulate exertions which may supersede the necessity of the latter, before the measure is adopted; which it must be, if a well grounded assurance cannot be given of my receiving my dues in time. At your leisure I would beg to hear from you, and with great & sincere esteem & regard, I am—Dear Sir Your most Obedt & Obliged Ser⟨vt⟩

Go: Washington

ALS (photocopy), NN: U.S. Presidents. Ross docketed the letter, “Ansd 25 July,” but his answer, in fact, is dated 24 July.

1Israel Shreve’s letter to GW is dated 21 Dec. 1798, and GW’s reply is dated 10 Jan. 1799. For a summary of GW’s dealings with Shreve regarding his payments for GW’s tract of land in Fayette County, Pa., called Washington’s Bottom, see GW to Samuel M. Fox, 10 June 1799, n.1. See also Ross to GW, 24 July 1799. Ross had acted as GW’s agent in the sale of Washington’s Bottom to Shreve in 1795 and also in the sale of his Millers Run tract to Matthew Ritchie in 1796.

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