Manuscript DS, signed “G:o Washington,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 13, September 26, 1785. Payroll document headed, “List of Labourors Employed at the Seneca Falls under Richardson Stewart to the 19th Augst. inclusive 1785.” The document lists over forty people with their salaries, amounting to a total of £28.16.3. Signed on the adjoining page by George Washington, George Gilpin, and John Fitzgerald to approve the payment. In very good condition, with archival tape repairs to complete separations along folds. This is the first known payroll of the The Potowmack Company, according to the University of Virginia.
One of Washington's greatest interests in the period between the end of Revolutionary War and the start of his presidency was the development of the picturesque Potomac River as a navigable inland transportation route. The Potowmack Company, formed to accomplish this task using a series of locks and canals, held its first meeting just one month earlier in May 1785. Washington was named the company’s president and the other two signers, George Gilpin and John Fitzgerald—both veterans of the Revolution—were elected to the board of directors. With an eye toward the greater good of the nation, Washington’s ambitions surpassed those of the ordinary businessman. He believed that improved infrastructure would strengthen the fledgling United States, with the Potomac Canal forming a literal link from east to west and binding together territories in a ‘chain which could never be broken.’ This remarkable document dates to an early point in these noble efforts, representing the civic-mindedness that made Washington a great national leader. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.