Mount Vernon 22d Augt 1785.
In my absence with the Directors of the Potomack Navigation, to
examine the river and fix a plan of operations, your favor begun
on the 23d and ended the 31st of July, came to this place. I am
sorry to hear of your late indisposition, but congratulate you on
your recovery; hoping that the reestablishment of your health will
be of long continuance.
The packett which you were so obliging as to send me, came safely;
and I thank you for your care of it. but for want of knowledge
of the language, I can form no opinion of my own of the Dramatic
performance of Monsr Servitieur la Barbier.
The currt of my information from France is, that the dispute
between the Emperor & Holland will be accomodated without
bloodshed: but after the explicit declarations which have been
made on both sides, I do not see how either (especially the first)
can recede from his claims. To save appearances, & to let
the contending parties down handsomely, say some of my
letters, is now the greatest difficulty. but all agree that, a
spark may set the whole in flames. indeed Bavaria it is expected
will yet do that.
It is to be hoped that our Minister at the Court of London will
bring that Government to an explanation respecting the Western
Posts, which it still retains on the American side of the line,
contrary to the spirit, if not to the letter, of the Treaty. My
opinion from the first, and so I declared it, was that these Posts
would be detained from us as long as they could be held under
any pretence whatsoever. I have not changed it, though I wish
for cause to do so, as it may ultimately become a serious matter.
However singular the opinion may be, I cannot divest myself of
it, that the Navigation of the Mississipi, at this time,
ought to be no object with us; on the contrary, till we have a
little time allowed to open & make easy the ways between the
Atlantic States & the Western territory, the obstructions
had better remain.
There is nothing which binds one Country, or one State to another,
but interest. without this cement, the Western inhabitants (which
more than probably will be composed in a great degree of Foreigners)
can have no predeliction for us; and a commercial connection is
the only tie we can have upon themIt is clear to me that
the Trade of the Lakes, and of the river Ohio as low as the Great
Kanhawa, (if not to the Falls) may be brought to the Ports
on the Atlantic easier, and cheaper (taking the whole voyage
together) than it can be carried to New Orleans. but once open
the door to the latter before the obstructions are removed from
the former, let commercial connections (which lead to others)
be formed, and the habit of that trade be well established, and
it will be found no easy matter to divert it. and vice versaWhen
the Settlements are stronger & more extended to the Westward,
the navigation of the river Mississipi will be an object of importance;
and we shall be able then (reserving our claim) to speak a more
efficacious language than policy, I think, should dictate at present.
I never have, and I hope never shall hear, any serious mention
of a paper emission in this Stateyet such a thing may be
in agitationIgnorance & design are productive of much
mischiefthe first, is the Tool of the latter, and are often
set to work as suddenly as unexpectedlythose with whom I
have conversed on this subject, in this part of the state, reprobate
the idea exceedingly.
We have lately had the pleasure of Miss Lees, and Miss Hannahs
Companies at this place. They were both well five days ago. Mrs
Washington prays you to accept her complimts, and with Sentimts
of great respect, esteem & regard, I amDear Sir Yr Most
Obedt and Affecte Hble Servt
P.S. Your name, I well remember, stands amongst those of the
Subscribers for a share in the Potomack Company. G.W.