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title:“James Mercer to George Mason”
authors:James Mercer
date written:1772-1-9

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:29 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 1, 2023, 4:24 p.m. UTC

Mercer, James. "Letter to George Mason." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 136-39. Print.
File Copy, Mercer Papers, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.

James Mercer to George Mason (January 9, 1772)

[9 January 1772]
At the last General Court I reced a Letr. from my Brother addressed to the Ohio Company, left open for my perusal, in which he greatly complains of the Silence & neglect of the Company, ever since he went to England contrary to their Ingagements at parting. The consequence of their Silence he says has left him in an State of uneasy suspense as he cou'd not say whether they were bound to abide by a Compromise he had made on behalf of the Ohio Company with a Company formed by Mr. Walpole & others, stiled the Grand Company, who having petitioned for a Tract of Country including the Lands desired by the Ohio Compy and being united with such of the Nobility & Ministry as promised Success, left little hopes of the Ohio Company's succeeding in their claim upon so slight an Interest as theirs.—The consequence of this Silence he adds leaves him in this further disagreeable State as to oblige him to advance Moneys agreeable to the Terms of the Grand Company without any certainty of ever being reimbursed by the Ohio Company, as if the Grand Company shou'd fail in obtaining their Grant the Ohio Company might then say they disapproved of the union, & thereby leave him to bear the Loss whereas, shou'd the Grand Compy succeed, whereby the Union wou'd prove very advantageous, the Ohio Company might then claim the benefit of it without ever having ever advanced or even risqued one shilling. Things being thus circumstanced (very unequally as every Body must allow) my Brother adds that at that time (the 15th of Augt.) he had incurred a Forfeiture of the Ohio Compy Share in the Grand Company by failing to pay 450 £ Sterl a Sum that that share was chargeable with; by which, agreeable to the Terms of the Gd. Compy the share was sold, but my Brother writes he prevailed on a Friend to purchase it for his Use, in order to endemnify himself, for the advances he had been at & was likely to be at on that acct., but that he will consider himself as a Trustee holding for the Ohio Company or such Members of it as shall shew they intend to act fairly and who shall, while the Fate of the Grand Company's Grant is in suspence, agree to be bound by his Acts, & shall directly remit him their proportion of the Money he was then actually in advance together with a reasonable Sum for the expences he must necessarily be in advance for expences incurred on the Ohio Company's Business. The Sum then in advance exclusive of these expences he sets at 1350 Sterl besides the 450 £ pd. after the Forfeiture—observing however that more must be furnished at the Completion of the Grand Company's Grant which was finally to be determined on the 25th Day of Oct: then following. This Letr. I delivered to Colos. Lee Tayloe & Carter, they being on the Spot as Members of the Court, the second readily consented to abide by any Measure my Brother had taken or shou'd pursue for the Compy. The others had their scruples, & all agreed a meeting shou'd be called, promising themselves to appoint & advertize it so soon as they shou'd know when it might be, not to interfere with the coming Elections; as they neglected to do so, & as I feared the Resolutions of the 21 th of Oct: on the Subject of the Grand Company, might soon be expected to arrive here, when it wou'd be too late for the Companys agreeing or disagreeing to abide by my Brothers Proceedings, I took upon me to request & advertize a meeting on the 15th of Decr. at the Stafford Court House the usual place of meeting, strengthening my Request with an assurance that it was with the advice of three of the Compy who were members of the Genl. Court, who being well known to be equally Interested with any of the Compy I well hoped a meeting might be had, but to my Surprize not a Soul (Colo. Ths Lee excepted) attended, nor was a single. Letr. of my Brothers forwarded by those who had them, tho they cou'd not know but the rest of the Members wou'd have met & wanted a Sight of them. Under these Circumstances I am obliged to ask the determinations of the Members of the Compy seperately at the expence of an express, the Bearer; each Member can bend himself singly as much to his benefit in this Case as if in Company at a legal Meeting; for, for such as do assent to do Justice, my Brother agrees to hold such a share as that number wou'd have been entitled to had the Ohio Company's Interest in the Grand Company never been fortified as already mentioned. What my Brother defines to be Justice in this Case, is, that while the members of the Compy are ignorant of the Fate of the Grand Company's Grant, they shall say, will they, aye or nay, be bound by his transactions for the Company, and accept of the benefit of his Compromise with the Grand Company in Lieu of their Claim as Members of the Ohio Company besides this he expects that each Member who agrees to his Measures will immediately remit his proportion of the expence of such Meas- ures which he set out 150 L Sterl at the least for each Share. How far the Company are bound in Law & Honor to abide by my Brothers Conduct, and to remit him his advances will appear from the Orders of that Company enter'd on their Journals at a meeting held the 4th July 1763 purposely to form his Rule of Conduct when they parted with him—true Copy's of which are inclosed. It is to observed that Mr. Charleton Palmer never expended a Shilling for the Ohio Compy since my Brothers arrival in England so that my Brother might well advance woo L on the Credit of the Company's order. How far his Powers will authorize the compromise he has made must be the subject of a future Question shou'd it ever grow into a dispute, but at present I think I may observe that If his known integrity will not acquit him of every species of disingenuity on this Occasion, that I may safely appeal to what any Member who suspects the force of the obligation just mentioned (if any such there be) will readily admit, that is, his Interest which is greater than any Member of the Ohio Company being proprietor of one share & a half in that Company. What he has accepted in lieu of his & the other members Claims I can't say—but I understand he has long ago & very fully mentioned the particulars in Letrs. to the Compy which as there has been no meeting I presume are in the knowledge of but few of the members. Therefore for the Information of those who are Stangers to these Letrs It may not be superfluous to add that in his Letrs to me he says it is a 36th part of the Grand Company's Grant which will equall if not exceed the Quantity the Ohio Com- pany expected, that as there is to be a distinct Government the shares in this Grant may reap advantages which they cou'd not have done had the Ohio Company succeeded in their own Grant, in fine, that he esteemed their share to be worth 20,000 £ Sterl.
Having thus fully stated all that I can suggest for your forming a true Judgt. on the Subject proposed for yr. determination, I am to request that you will by the Bearer let me know that determination, if in the affirmative I hope you will send me by the same Hand a Bill for at least 250 Sterl. that I may remit it to my Brother before he leaves London, when I dare say he will stand in great need, if only to pay off Scores made for the use of the Ohio Company. As the Bearer is hired by the Day, dispatch will save money to the Ohio Company or my Brother. I am Sir Yr. humble Servant

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