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TO WILLIAM CRAWFORD.
From a sudden hint of your brother's, I wrote to you a few days ago in a hurry. Having since had more time for reflection, I now write deliberately, and with greater precision, on the subject of my last letter.
I then desired the favor of you (as I understood rights might now be had for the lands, which have fallen within the Pennsylvania line,) to look me out a tract of about fifteen hundred, two thousand, 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 can be found. It will be easy for you to conceive, that ordinary or even middling lands would never answer my purpose or expectation, so far from navigation, and under such a load of expenses, as these lands are encumbered with. No; a tract to please me must be rich, of which no person can be a better judge than yourself, and, if possible, level. Could such a piece of land be found, you would do me a singular favor in falling upon some method of securing it immediately from the attempts of others, as nothing is more certain, than that the lands cannot remain long ungranted, when once it is known, that rights are to be had.
The mode of proceeding I am 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 inquiry. I am told, that the land or surveyor's office is kept at Carlisle. If so, I am of opinion that Colonel Armstrong, an acquaintance of mine, has something to do in the direction of it, and I am persuaded he would readily serve me. I will write to him by the first opportunity on that subject, that the way may be prepared for your application to him, if you find it necessary. For your trouble and expense you may depend on being repaid. It is possible, but I do not know that it really is the case, that the custom in Pennsylvania will not admit so large a quantity of land, as I require, to be entered together; if so, this may perhaps be arranged by making several entries to the same amount, if the expense of doing it is not too heavy. 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.
I offered 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. It must fall, of course, in a few years, especially when those Indians consent 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 his own, in order to keep others from settling them, will never regain it. If you will be at the trouble of seeking out the lands, I will take upon me the part of securing them, as soon as there is a possibility of doing it, and will moreover be at all the cost and charges of surveying and patenting the same. You shall then have such a reasonable proportion of the whole, as we may fix upon at our first meeting ; as I shall find it necessary, for the better furthering of the design, to let some of my friends be concerned in the scheme, 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 expenses, I hope you will be encouraged to begin the search in time. I would choose, if it were practicable, to get large tracts together ; and it might be desirable to have them as near your settlement, or Fort Pitt, as they can be obtained of good quality, but not to neglect others at a greater distance, if fine bodies of it lie in one place. It may be worthy of your inquiry, to find out how the Maryland back line will run, and what is said about laying off Neale's grant. I will inquire particularly concerning the Ohio Company, that we may know what to apprehend from them. For my own part, I should have no objection to a grant of land upon the Ohio, a good way below Pittsburg, but would first willingly secure some valuable tracts nearer at hand.
I recommend, that you keep this whole matter a secret, or trust it only to those, in whom you can confide, and who can assist you in bringing it to bear by their discoveries of land. This advice proceeds from several very good reasons, and, in the first place, because I might be censured for the opinion I have given in respect to the King's proclamation, and then, if the scheme I am now proposing to you were known, it might give the alarm to others, and, by putting them upon a plan of the same nature, before we could lay a proper foundation for success ourselves, set the different interests clashing, and, probably, in the end, overturn the whole. All this may be avoided by a silent management, and the operation carried on by you under the guise of hunting game, which you may, I presume, effectually do, at the same time you are in pursuit of land. When this is fully discovered, advise me of it, and if there appears but a possibility of succeeding at any time hence, I will have the lands immediately surveyed, to keep others off, and leave the rest to time and my own assiduity.
If this letter should reach your hands before you set out, I should be glad to have your thoughts fully expressed on the plan here proposed, or as soon afterwards as convenient ; for I am desirous of knowing in due time how you approve of the scheme. I am, &c.
- The Writings of George Washington Vol II, Jared Sparks, 1847