* WASHINGTON, George (1732-1799). Autograph letter signed ("Go: Washington"), to Samuel M. Fox, President of the Bank of Pennsylvania. Mount Vernon, 10 June 1799.
1 page, 4to, pinholes in upper corners; mats and frames available.
Washington in retirement initiates his final effort to secure payment for remaining debts owed him from the sale of two of his land tracts in Pennsylvania.
After returning home to Mount Vernon to enter his long-awaited retirement from political responsibilities and resume the role of gentleman farmer, the former President became embroiled in an effort to chase down debts owed on two land transactions in Pennsylvania. The larger Miller Run tract in Washington County, comprising 2,183 acres, was sold to Matthew Ritchie for $12,000 in 1796. The other the tract known as Washington's Bottom in Fayette County, comprising 1,644 acres, was sold to Col. Israel Shreve for 4,000 pounds Pennsylvania currency the previous year. Their failed annual payments due in 1798, and again in1799, prompted Washington to take further action and contact the President of the Bank of Pennsylvania, Samuel M. Fox, to intervene on his behalf:
"Sir, Two Bonds due to me, the one from Matthew Richie [sic] Esqr., deceased, the other from Colo. Israel Shreve, have been deposited in the Bank of Pennsylvania for Collection. On each an Instalment was due, and to have been paid into that Bank, on the first day of June 1798; and another on the first day of the present month. From the Executors of Colo. Ritchie I did, in the course of last sum[mer], receive $1700-and this is all I have received on both Bonds. Let me pray you to inform me, if any more has been paid into the Bank? and if not, whether any intimation has been given to it, that it will be done?"
Washington makes clear his preference to resolve the matter outside of court: "I am unwilling to put the Bonds in suit, if the money could be obtained without." But the clearly frustrated Washington concludes, "But my want of it is such, that I must have recourse to this expedient soon, if the end cannot be accomplished without."
On June 13, Fox wrote to Washington reporting no payments had been made upon the bonds of Ritchie or Shreve, nor had any "intimation" been given of an intention to pay the installments due. Washington wrote Fox again on 26 June, asking him to forward a related letter to his agent in both sales, James Ross, and ends the letter: "It would distress me to be obliged to put the judgment Bonds of the above named persons in Suit, but necessity will drive me to it if I cannot obtain payment, & shortly, without" (Papers, Retirement Series, Vol IV, no. 159). By the time of his unexpected death in December 1799, Washington was still awaiting money from Shreve. Final payment from Shreve's heirs would not be received by Washington's executors until 1802.
The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008. Retirement Series, Vol. IV, no. 112.
Estimate $ 8,000-12,000
Property from the Robert L. McKay Collection, North Tustin, California