Lot #2
George Washington Autograph Letter Signed

Rare handwritten letter from Mount Vernon, as George Washington fends off lawsuits in his final days
This lot has closed

Estimate: $20000+

Description

Rare handwritten letter from Mount Vernon, as George Washington fends off lawsuits in his final days

ALS signed “Go: Washington,” one page, 7.25 x 9, October 27, 1799. Handwritten letter to William Hartshorne, treasurer of the Potomac Company. From his Mount Vernon estate, Washington writes, in full: "Your favor of the 23d inst't was not received until last night. For the information it gives concerning the suit of Mr. T. Herbert, I thank you.—I hope he will acquiesce in the decision, though unfavourable to his wishes; and no longer give trouble to others, and expence to himself, in prosecuting it." In very good to fine condition, with scattered light stains, primarily to the edges from old repairs on the reverse.


One of Washington's greatest interests in the period between the end of the 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, was formed in 1785 and Washington was named the company's president; Hartshorne was elected treasurer. 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.' The project was beset by constant difficulty: insufficient funding and constant legal trouble—as evidenced in the present letter—contributed to the company's ineffectiveness and eventual failure.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts
  • Dates: #616 - Ended September 15, 2021





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