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George Mason to George Washington



Gunston-Hall, (Virginia) March 9, 1775.

DEAR SIR: I have at last finished the Potomack River Bill, which I now send you, together with some very long remarks thereon, and a letter to Mr˙ Johnston, which you will be pleased to put a wafer, when you forward the other papers to him. I also return the Acts of Assembly, and Mr˙ Johnston' s notes which you sent me. This affair has taken me five times as long as I expected; and I do assure you I never engaged in any thing which puzzled me more — there were such a number of contingencies to provide for, and drawing up laws, a thing so much out of my way. I shall be well pleased if the pains I have bestowed upon the subject prove of any service to so great an undertaking. But by what I can understand, there will be so strong an opposition from Baltimore and the head of the Bay, as will go near to prevent its passage through the Maryland Assembly in any shape it can be offered.

I suppose you have heard of the late purchase made by some North-Carolina gentlemen from the Cherokee Indians, of all the country between the Great Kanawha and the Tennessee Rivers. I think, considering this Colony has just expended about One Hundred Thousand Pounds


upon the defence of that country, that this is a pretty bold stroke, of the gentlemen. It is suspected some of our Virginia gentlemen are privately concerned in it.

I have always expected that the new-fangled doctrine lately broached, of the Crown having no title beyond the Alleghany Mountains until after the purchase at Fort Stanwix, would produce a thousand other absurdities and squabbles. However, if I am not mistaken, the Crown, at that Treaty, purchased of the Six Nations all the Lands as low as the Tennessee River. So now, I suppose, we must have a formal trial, whether the Six Nations or the Cherokees had the legal right; but whether this is to be done by Ejectment, Writ of Inquiry, Writ of Partition, or What other process, let those who invented this curious distinction determine. The inattention of our Assembly to so grand an object as the right of this Colony to the Western Lands, is inexcusable, and the confusion it will introduce end less.

We make but a poor hand of collecting; very few pay, though every body promises, except Mr˙ Hartshorn, of Alexandria, who flatly refused; his conscience, I suppose, would not suffer him to be concerned in paying for the instruments of death. Your affectionate humble servant,

George Washington, Esquire.