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title:“George Mason's thoughts on a proposed boundary by The Ohio Company”
authors:George Mason
date written:1768-2-20

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:02 a.m. UTC
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Mason, George. "George Mason's thoughts on a proposed boundary by The Ohio Company." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 85-88. Print.
File Copy, Mercer Papers, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.

George Mason's thoughts on a proposed boundary by The Ohio Company (February 20, 1768)

Survey our 500,000 Acres in as many different Tracts as we please, the words Grant or Grants plainly bearing that Meaning and being no way inconsistent with the Laws and Customs of Virginia, where the Patentees have never been obliged to make large Surveys for any particular Quantity, but if the words "Grant or Grants" are to be understood in the limitted Sense recommended some time ago by the Board of Trade, and we are obliged to take the Lands in Tracts not less than 20,000 Acres, the breadth to be 1/3 the length, We have been deceived by an unnatural Construction of the Words in the Royal Instructions into a very heavy and useless Expence, as such Grants would not be worth our Acceptance, and what his late Majesty out of his Bounty, intended as a Favour and Encouragement to the Petitioners, would be turned into a real Injury, as we could have taken up the Lands upon better Terms here, without making any Application in England as many others have done in very large Quantities on this side the Allighany Mountains. Our Proposal was to take our Lands on the other side the Allighany Mountains in a Country then unknown, which we have since discovered and opened a Road of Communication to it, at our own private Expence.
The first Adventurers in such an Enterprise as this have certainly a just Right to the Prefference in taking up the Lands they at so great Expence discovered; When the Ice is once Broke, and the Settlement made practicable, those who came after will readily take such Lands as the first Adventurers refused, which in fact will be more valuable than the very best are now and the very additional Expences attending small Surveys will sufficiently restrain the Company from making more Surveys than they find absolutely necessary. As there is not the same necessity for the Company's building a Fort now as formerly, and as a Fort we had begun, and a great many other of our Buildings and Effects were destroyed by the War; We have reason to hope that Article will be remitted; and also that the Company may be indulged with appointing and employing a Surveyor of their own; the legal Fees to Surveyors of the Counties being exceeding high, nor would the Surveyor of Augusta County (at several hundred Miles distance from the place, tho it now falls within his District) be able to execute it, consistent with the duty's of his Office in that part of his Country that is already inhabited— the only Reason why it may be thought to belong to his Office is, that the County of Augusta has no Bounds to the Westward; but as this is to be a new Settlement, and at present disjoined from Virginia he can't be thought to be injured by such Appointment. The Proprietor of the Northern Neck has always exercised the right of appointing his own Surveyor for taking up Lands not withstanding there was a commissioned Surveyor in each County, whom he has employed or not as he thought convenient. If it should be thought proper to grant greater Indulgencies to the Company, and recompence them with a more extensive Grant, then I should think a Grant upon the following, or some such Terms, and by the following Boundaries might answer. To begin on the River Mohongahaly where the Pennsylvania line crosses the said River [and run] with the Pensylvania line a due West Course to the River Ohio, and down and with the River Ohio to the Mouth of the great Canhaway, alias Woods River or New River, and up the said Canhaway River binding with the same to the Mouth of the Green Briar River, and from thence by a streight Line to the Beginning on the River Mohongahaly. In consideration of which the Company to pay a yearly Acknowledgment in Lieu of Quitrents, to purchase the Lands of the Indians at their own Expence, and procure their Countenance and Protection to the Inhabitants, and to Settle 500 Families on the Land within seven years from the date of their Patent. In this Case it might be proper for the Ministry to recommend it to Sir William Johnston to use his Interest and good Offices with the Indians in assisting the Company to make a Purchase of the Lands; which they would propose to do in plain and express Terms, without the least Fraud or Deception, that the Indians may have no Cause to complain hereafter that they had been imposed upon, as has too frequently been the Case, and been attended with very fatal Consequences.
It is to be observed that these Bounds mentioned in our first Petition, and his late Majesty's Instructions without interfering with the Bounds of Mr. Penn's Grant, or without going to the Westward of the River Ohio; which would at present give great Umbrage both to the six Nations and the Western Tribes of Indians.
The Line lately run by the Commissioners between the Proprietors of Maryland and Pensylvania will cross the Mohongahaly, and strike the Ohio many Miles below Pitsburg, consequently include all the Lands the Ohio Company had Settled, and though both the Proprietors of Maryland and Pensylvania promised the late Mr. Hanbury that they would grant to the Company any vacant Lands, convenient to them, which might fall within their respective Provinces; Yet we don't know how far such Promises are now to be relied on; which is the Reason for ascertaining the Boundaries as before mentioned, to avoid a possibility of any Dispute. The Lands are also so convenient to Virginia, that they may well be under the same Government at least for the present. It will be best to obtain a Grant in England instead of referring Us to the Governor and Council for the names of the present Company should lie inserted to prevent Disputes with such as were merely nominal, and have not advanced a single Shilling, nor been at the least Trouble.

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