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title:“George Mason to John Mason”
authors:George Mason
date written:1791-4-16

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:56 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 20, 2024, 9:18 p.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to John Mason." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 3. Ed. A Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 1225-27. Print.
Recipient's Copy, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.

George Mason to John Mason (April 16, 1791)

Virginia Gunston-Hall April 16th. 1791.
Enclosed is a Letter (to which I refer) written in January, and intended to have been sent Via Baltemore, or Philadelphia; but hearing of no Ships from either of those places to Bourdeaux, it is now sent Per the Washington. She has been so long detained here, by the Winter's Frost, by having considerable Repairs made to her, and above all, by difficulty of procuring a Load of Tobacco for her, in the unsetled & uncertain State of the Tobacco Trade in France; that I think it probable you may have embarked for America, before her Arrival at Bourdeaux. Nevertheless, as you may perhaps have waited her Arrival, I enclose you some Letters of Introduction to my Friends in Charles Town South Carolina; which you will seal & deliver, if you take that Rout; tho' I think it a bad Season of the Year to come to that warm Country; and you will have a very fatigueing Journey from thence to Virginia, in the latter End of the Summer; which may be injurious to your Health, after your long Indisposition. I therefore really think, if you expect to arrive in America before the Beginning or Middle of Septemr. you had better take your Passage to some of the Northern or Eastern States; & make a Tour to the Southern States, in the Course of next Winter; and if you purpose to establish a House, in the Commission Line, upon Potomack River, your principal American Consignments here will be from the Eastern States; and therefore a Tour thro' their principal Sea Port Towns, on your way Home, in order to settle a Correspondence, may be an Object of Importance. However, with Respect to your embarking for one of the Southern, or Eastern States, the Season of the Year, in which you expect to arrive, will be your best Guide.
I have shiped Per the Washington thirty three Hogsheads of Tobo. In my Letter to Fenwick Mason & Compy. is enclosed a List of them, wherein the respective Qualitys are particularly noted. The six Hhds. marked G. D. M are part of my Crop at Dogues Run; it is the little Frederick Tobo. (as all my own Crops are) consequently the Leaf broad, & the Stem small; it is also neatly handled; Yet I think the Quality but indifferent, the Tobo. being rather weak. The five Hhds. G. H. M. are Part of Green's Crop at Hollowing Point, little Frederick also, neatly handled, strong & of good Substance, much such Tobo. as that of mine which you carryed out with you in the Union, in the Year 1788. The eight Hhds. G. P. M. are my Crop on the Plantation next to Gunston, made by the same Overseer (a very neat Planter) & on the same Land, with the six Hhds. ship'd you, under the same Mark, Per the Washington last Fall, which sold at 40 Livrs. the Quality much the same; tho' not quite so large. These last mentioned thirteen Hhds. marked G. H. M. and G. P. M. I hope may suit the British or Irish Smuglers.
I have received your Letters dated in October & Novemr. last, and rejoyce to hear that your Health is, in a great measure, restored. I rejoyce also to hear, that I have been mistaken in my Opinion respecting the Paper Money; Yet I think it was founded on Reason, as well as Experience; but really the French Revolution, from the Beginning, has been attended with such extraordinary Circumstances, that the Man who judges of it, by Comparison with any thing else, in the Annals of Mankind, will probable find himself mistaken.
No Doubt you have heard, that an Act of Congress has passed for fixing the permanent Seat of Government, of the Union, after ten Years, upon Potomack, at such place as the President should direct, between the Mouth of the Eastern Branch & the Mouth of Conogochieg (about sixty miles from each other) with the Power of laying off ten Miles square for the Jurisdiction of Congress, & fixing the Spot for the publick Buildings &c; confining the publick Buildings, however, to the Eastern Side of the River. The President has had the ten Miles square laid off in the following Manner—Beginning on the upper Side of the Mouth of great Hunting Creek, & running North West ten Miles (which includes the Town of Alexandria) thence North East ten Miles (which crosses Potomack River a little above the little Falls, & includes all my Tract of Land there of about 2000 Acres) thence South East ten Miles (which includes George Town, & the navigable Part of the Eastern Branch) thence South West to the Beginning. He has also directed the City for the Seat of Government, within the said ten Miles square, to be laid off, in the following Manner. Beginning on Potomack River on the lower Side [of] the Mouth of Rock Creek (just below George Town) thence with the Meanders of Potomack River to the Mouth of the Eastern Branch, & up the Meanders of the Eastern Branch, about two miles, to a Point, called (I think) Evans's Ferry; thence a Course to strike the main Road, from George-Town to Bladensburg, about half a Mile from the Ford; thence with the main Road to the Ford of Rock Creek, & with the Meanders of Rock Creek to the Beginning; these last Boundaries contain about 4,000 Acres; and the Proprietors, I understand, have agreed to give up the whole of the Land (reserving the right of selling the wood on it) to defray the Charge of the Public Buildings &c; on Condition of being paid the Value of their Houses, & receiving again, respectively, half the Lotts, after the Town is laid off, & the Streets adjusted. The Spot for the public Buildings (which is the most important Point) is not yet fixed. The Alexandrians, as usual, are very much bouyed up, on the Occasion, and think their Fortunes made for ever; altho' it is evident, to any cool impartial sensible Man, that if the Inland Navigation of Potomack & Shanandoe is effectually compleated, & the Seat of the Federal Government fixed near the Harbour of the Eastern Branch, Alexandria must become a deserted Village.
Adieu my dear Son; this, I expect, will be the last Opportunity I shall have of writing to you, while you are in Europe. God bless you, & send you safe to your native Country and Friends. I hope I shall soon have the Pleasure of seeing you; and assuring you, Personally, how much I am, Your Affect. Father
P. S. Your Friends here are all well; except your Sister Cooke's children; who are under Innoculation for the Small pox; but I believe are in a good way. We shall begin to innoculate here, & at Lexington, about the End of May.

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