George Washington to William Crawford
Mount Vernon, September 21, 1767

(Source: J.C, Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, (39 vols., Washington, 1931‑1944), II, 467‑471.)


 From a sudden hint of your Brother I wrote to you a few days ago in a hurry, since which having had more time for reflection, I am now set down in order to write more deliberately, and with grater precision, to you on the Subject of my last Letter; desiring that if any thing in this shoed be found contradictory to that Letter you will wholly be governd by what I am now going to add.

I then desird the favour of you (as I understood Rights might now be had for the Lands, which have fallen within the Pensylvania Line) to look me out a Tract of about 1500, 2000, or more Acres somewhere in your Neighbourhood meaning only by this that it may be as contiguous to your own Settlement. as such a body of good Land coud be found and about Jacobs Cabbins or somewhere on those Waters I am told this might be done. It will be easy for you to conceive  that Ordinary, or even middling Land would never answer  my purpose or expectation so far from Navigation and under such a load of Expence  as those Lands are incumbred with; No: A Tract to please me must be rich (of which no Person can be a better judge than yourself) and if possible to be good and level; Could such a piece of Land as this be found you woud do me a singular favour in falling upon some method to secure it immediately from the attempts of any other as nothing is more certain than that the Lands cannot remain long ungranted when once it is known that Rights are to be had for them. What mode of proceeding is necessary in order to accomplish this design I am utterly at a loss to point out to you but as your own lands are under the same Circumstances self Interest will naturally lead you to an enquiry. I am told the Land, or Surveyors Office is kept at Carlyle, if so I am of Opinion that Col. Armstrong  (an Acquaintance of mine) has something to do in the management of it, and I am persuaded wood readily serve me to him therefore at all events I will write by the first opportunity on that Subject that the way may be prepared for your application if you shoud find it necessary to make one to him. Whatever trouble or expense you may be engaged in on my behalf you may depend upon being thankfully repaid. It is possible (but I do not know that it really is the case) that Pennsylvania Customs will not admit so large a quantity of Land as I require, to be entered together if so this may possibly be evaded by making several Entries to the same amount if the expense of doing which is not too heavy; but this I only drop as a hint leaving the whole to your discretion and good management. If the Land can only be secured from others it is all I want at present, the Surveying I would choose to postpone, at least till the Spring when if you can give me any Satisfactory account of this matter and of what I am next going to propose I expect to pay you a visit about the last of April.

The other matter, just now hinted at and which I proposed in my last to join you in‑attempting to secure some of the most valuable Lands in the King's part which I think may be accomplished after a while notwithstanding  the Proclamation that restrains it at present and prohibits the Settling of them at all for I can never look upon that Proclamation in any other light (but this I say between ourselves) than as a temporary expedient to quiet the Minds of the Indians and must fall of course in a few years especially when those Indians are consenting to our Occupying the Lands. Any person therefore who neglects the present opportunity of hunting out good Lands and in some measure marking and distinguishing them for their own (in order to keep others from settling them) will never regain it, if therefore you will be at the trouble of seeking out the Lands I will take upon me the part of securing them so soon as there is a possibility of doing it and will moreover be at all the Cost and charges of Surveying and Patenting &c. after which you shall have such a reasonable proportion of the whole as we may fix upon at our first meeting as I shall find it absolutely necessary and convenient for the better furthering of the design to let some few of my friends be concernd in the Scheme and who must also partake of the advantages.

By this time it may be easy for you to discover, that my Plan is to secure a good deal of Land. You will consequently come in for a very handsome quantity and as you will obtain it without any Costs or expences I am in hopes you will be encouragd to begin the search in time. I woud choose if it were practicable to get pretty large Tracts together and it might be desirable to have them as near your Settlement  or Fort Pitt, as we coud get them good; but not to neglect others at a greater, distance if fine and bodies of it lye in a place. It  may be a Matter worthy your enquiry to find out how the Maryland back line will run, and what is said about laying of Neale’s (I think it is and Companys) Grant. I will enquire particularly concerning the Ohio Companys that one may know what to apprehend from them. For my own part I shoud have no objection to a Grant of land upon the Ohio a good way below Pittsburg but woud willingly secure some good Tracts nearer hand first.

I woud recommend it to you to keep this whole matter a profound Secret; or trust it only with those in whom you can confide and who can assist you in bringing it to bear by their discoveries of Land and this advice proceeds from several very good Reasons and in the first place because I might be censurd fior the opinion I have given in respect to the King's Proclamation and then if the Scheme I am now proposing to you was known it might give the alarm to others and by putting them upon a Plan of the same nature (before we coud lay a proper foundation for success ourselves) set the different Interests a clashing and probably in the end overturn the whole all which may be avoided by a silent management  and the [operation] snugly carried on by you under the pretence of hunting other Game which you may I presume effectually do at the same time you are in pursuit of land which when fully discovered advise me of it and if there appears but a bear possibility of succeeding any time hence I will have the lands immediately Surveyed to keep others off and leave the rest to time and my own Assiduity to Accomplish.

If this Letter shoud reach your hands before you set out 1 shoud be glad to have your thoughts fully expressd on the Plan I have proposd, or soon afterwards as conveniently may be as I am desirous of knowing in time how you approve of the Scheme.

I am, &c.