Boldly penned letter by George Washington from Mount Vernon, looking to recover a debt of "One hundred pounds Virg'a Curr'y—more or less"
ALS signed “G. W—n,” one page, 7 x 8.75, May 8, 1786. Boldly penned handwritten letter from Mount Vernon to his lawyer Thomas Smith, regarding the collection of a debt. In full: "Val'e Crawford died indebted to me—say One hundred pounds Virg'a Curr'y—more or less. Previously thereto, he wrote me the letter dated Jacobs Creek, May 6th 1774 and accompanied it with the Bill of Sale herewith transmitted dated May 8th 1774. Quære, Is this Bill now valid? Will it secure my debt?—This is all I want.—And can it be recovered without hazarding a defeat which may add cost without benefit? If these points should be determined in the affirmative, I would wish you to prosecute my claim so far as to secure my debt, but not otherwise." Attractively mounted and framed within a shadowbox alongside an antique hand-painted miniature portrait of Washington to an overall size of 18 x 14.75. In fine condition, with a short split to the lower horizontal fold.
In his diary entry for May 8, 1786, George Washington wrote: 'In the Evening a Captn. Whaley from Yohiogany came in on some business respecting the Affairs of the deceased Val. Crawford and Hugh Stephenson; to whom I gave, under cover to Thos. Smith Esqr. (my Lawyer in that Country) a Bill of Sale and the letter wch. inclosed it which the said Vale. Crawford had sent me, in the Mo[nth] of May 1774 as Security for what he owed me, and to indemnify me for my engagements in his behalf—to see if they were valid, & would cover the debt he owed me, as they never had been recorded.'
Thomas Smith was unable pursue this matter, so Washington secured Charles Simms’s services to look into the debt. According to the account with Valentine Crawford recorded in Washington's ledgers, Crawford owed only £35.10 as of March 1775, which Washington's clerk credits to Valentine Crawford 'By settlement' at an unspecified date. An interesting, neatly penned letter pertaining to Washington's diverse business dealings.
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