To Daniel Morgan
Mount Vernon Octr 26th 1799
Your favour of the 8th instt came duly to hand, and I should have given it an earlier acknowledgment, but waited to see Mr Law[renc]e Lewis, whom I expected here every day, before I did so.1
He is now arrived, and informs me that his brother John (as Executor of his father’s Will) is determined not to pay your demand against that Estate unless he is compelled to it; and that he has requested a suit might be brought to try the merits of the case.
Under these circumstances I conceived it would be needless to write to him on the subject, and therefore return his father’s letter to you, under this cover, by the Post, as the most certain means of its getting safe to your hands.2 With great esteem & regard. I am—Dear Sir Your Most Obedient Hbl. Servant
P.S. I was near forgetting to inform you, that if the original Deed of conveyance from me (as Attorney for Colo. George Mercer) to Colo. Fielding Lewis, is produced, that I shall have no objection to certifying before fresh evidence that I did at the time—& in the manner specified in the Instrument, put my signature thereto. But I can do no new act relative to this business; having invariably refused this in similar cases—the business being taken out of my hands by a Decree of the high Court of Chancery in this Commonwealth.3
ALS, NN: Myers Collection; ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.
1. Letter not found.
2. John Lewis was the eldest son of Fielding Lewis and the half brother of GW’s nephew Lawrence Lewis.
3. For references to the sale conducted in November 1774 by GW as trustee of George Mercer’s lands in the Bull Run Mountains in Loudoun County and on the Shenandoah River in Frederick County, see GW to John Tayloe, 30 Nov. 1774, n.2, in Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 10:192. Disputes over titles to land parcels bought at the sale and other such matters had plagued GW for a quarter of a century. See, for instance, Edward Snickers to GW, 17 May 1784, and note 1 to that document, and GW to Francis Lightfoot Lee and Ralph Wormeley, Jr., 20 June 1784, and source note of that document, in Papers, Confederation Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends , 1:392–94, 458–65. Under a decree of the Virginia General Court, dated 9 Nov. 1782, GW transferred to John Francis Mercer, half brother of George, the trusteeship of the George Mercer property sold in 1774 (see GW to John Sedwick, 8 Aug. 1785, n.1, in Papers, Confederation Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends , 3:178).
On the day after this, 27 Oct., GW wrote to Alexander Spotswood and attached this identical postscript to that letter. GW’s letter to Spotswood reads: “Dear Sir, Your letter of the 30th ulto came duly to hand, but as it appeared from the tenor of it, that I might soon expect another from you, with my Deed in the hands of Mr Jno. Brooke (one of the Administrators of Jas Mercer Esqr. deceased) I intended to have postponed the acknowledgment thereof until then; but as Mr Brooke seems to have forgot his promise, I shall no longer delay thanking you for the trouble you have been at, on my Account, in this business. My best wishes in wch Mrs Washington and the family at this place unite, are offered for yourself Mrs Spotswood and all at New Post. With very great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Your Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers). Spotswood’s letter of 30 Sept. 1799 has not been found, but he and GW had earlier exchanged letters about the administrators of James Mercer’s estate. See Spotswood to GW, 25 July, and note 1 of that document.