George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Berkeley, 29 July 1799

To William Berkeley

Mount Vernon 29th July 1799


On monday the fifth of August the annual, General Meeting of the Potomac ⟨Compy is⟩ to be held in George Town ⟨illegible⟩.

Recollecting that at ⟨illegible⟩ meeting ⟨illegible⟩ last year, Colo. Fitzgerald ⟨mutilated em⟩powered to represent the interests of this Commonwealth therein, had doubt of the validity of that as your late worthy Predecessor in office was then no more; I take the liberty, without expressing any opinion with respect to the propriety of this doubt, to make you acquainted with the fact. For I shall feel much regret if the ⟨State⟩ is unrepresented at a meeting which will have important matters to consider, and when it has become so essential to do ⟨some illegible⟩.1

It is indeed to be lamented that an Undertaking of such immense advantage to ⟨the Commonwealth⟩ if completed—and of such profit ⟨to the Stockhol⟩ders, should go limpingly on, as ⟨it⟩ has done for some years back. Excuse this liberty & believe me to be—Sir Your ⟨illegible

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

1William Berkeley (Barclay), treasurer of the state, replied from Richmond on 1 August: “Your favor of the 29th ultimo arrived too late to be answered by the return post, without omitting the power of Attorney which I now enclose you. I find by reference to my rough cash book, that I paid postage on a letter to Col. Fitzgerald, on the 19th of last October enclosing a power of Attorney, which I am apprehensive miscarried. You will oblige me by communicating with him on the subject, and informing me whether he ever received it—should it have arrived safe, I will thank him to destroy whichever he may think most advisable” (DLC:GW). GW wrote Berkeley on 11 Aug.: “Sir, I thank you for your prompt answer of the 1st instant, to my letter of a preceeding date; and for the Power of Attorney enclos’d therein for Colo. Fitzgerald, as Proxy to represent the State at the General Meeting of the Potomack Company, lately held at George Town—the 5th past.

“It appearing at the meeting, that Colo. Fitzgerald was duly authorised by you, to act in behalf of the State, I return the Power you were so obliging as to send him, under cover to me. And my anxiety that the State should be duly represented on that occasion, is the best apology I can make for the trouble I have given you.

“I have only to add, as an earnest wish, that the Commonwealth of Virginia would afford its aid to the mode which was then adopted to raise money; and lend its influence to carry a Work of such utility into complete effect. I have no hesitation in giving it as my decided opinion, that in a pecuniary point of view alone—putting the policy of the measure entirely out of sight, there is no way in which it can employ its money more advantageously. To dilate on the benefits which would result from improving the great high way which nature has marked out as the easiest, and most direct communication with the Western World (maugre all the the endeavours of Pennsylvania & New York to divert it into other Channels) would be a mere waste of time; because every one who is disposed to investigate the subject must see them at the first glance. But it must be acknowledged at the sametime, that habits & customs are not easily overcome. consequently, if the produce of upper Ohio, & the Lakes should settle in either of the channels abovementioned, it will require time, as well as convenience, to bring it back into the course which nature has ordered, and which ultimately it will effect. Excuse these Sentimts, & believe me to be—Sir Your Most obedt Hble Servant Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers).

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