WASHINGTON, George (1732-1799), President. Autograph manuscript signed ("Go:Washington," with his name repeated four times in the text and once in the plat), A SURVEY AND PLAT DRAWING FOR PART OF THE MOUNT VERNON ESTATE, a draft of the version Washington submitted to the Virginia Proprietors, with deletions in the text and interlinear additions by Washington, n.p., 25 February 1771.
1 page, 4to (8 7/8 x 7 1/8 in.), professionally inlaid, enclosed in a gilt-ruled mat in a protective brown leather case lined with hand- marbled paper, upper cover gilt-lettered: "Pen and Ink Survey of Property at Mount Vernon, Drawn and Written by George Washington." Bound at the Dumbarton Oaks Bindery, Washington, D.C. (manuscript ticket inside front cover), calligraphic presentation label ("To Lord Halifax from his friends") inside front cover.
THE GROWTH OF THE MOUNT VERNON ESTATE: WASHINGTON SURVEYS AN ADDITION TO HIS ESTATE
A very unusual draft survey by Washington of a portion of the Mount Vernon estate. As a youth, Washington had inherited his father's surveying instruments and learned surveying as practiced on the frontier by assisting a local surveyor who laid out the town of Alexandria. On 20 January 1747, after swearing allegiance to the King, he was granted a commission from William & Mary College as Culpepper County Surveyor. In that capacity, over the next several years, he prepared a number of surveys of land on the western frontiers (one very early example, dated 1749, was sold here 19 December 2002, $42,000). Washington's knowledge of surveying would be enlisted on his own behalf throughout his life and he employed these skills on several occasions--as in the present survey--as part of his 45-year efforts to expand and enlarge his Mount Vernon estate.
When the final version of the survey drafted here was duly filed and approved by Lord Fairfax and Thomas Bryan Martin, it confirmed Washington's claim to a triangular 20-acre tract of wilderness land to the northwest of the original 1754 Mount Vernon tract. His description reads: "The above is a Plat of the waste & ungranted Land entered by George Washington in the Proprietors Office in the year and found to contain by actual survey Twenty and a half Acres and bounded as followeth, viz: Beginning at a large Hickory standing about 4 po[les] from Dogues Run [a creek running north-south] Corner to a Tract of Land which the said Washington bought of George Ashford [in 1762] and extending with a line thereof (corrected) No.86 W till it intersects a South thirty five degrees East Course of Harrison's Patent (now the Property of Messrs. John West and Wm. Triplett) thence with the said Line till it comes to the C[orne]r if hereafter to be found, and if not, then to Dogue Run at a Spanish Oak & small Gum [tree], standing at ye mouth of a drain lately mark'd by ye said Washington West & Tripplett, thence with another Line of the said Harrison's Patent (being the last Course therof) & never mark'd, but from the Spanish Oak & Gum last mentioned is f[oun]d to be 16 W. 135 [poles] to a large Water Oak & two or three small Sweet Gums standing by a Dead lying down Maple Corner of Ball's Patent (now held by the said George Washington) & beginning Free of Harrison's Patent, near Piney Branch; thence S.58 E[as]t Twelve & an half poles to a Willow on Doag Run, at the Mouth of this Piney Branch (& lower side thereof) finally up Doag Run according to the several Meanders to the beginning, containing 20 1/2 Acres as above & all the waste & ungranted Land that is or may be lying between the Lines of the Land now held by the Subscriber, & those of Harrison's Patent."
The original tract of land granted in 1674/75 to Colonel Nicholas Spencer and Lt. Col. John Washington consisted of some 5000 acres; by 1743, when Lawrence Washington gave his portion the name "Mount Vernon," it comprised about 2650 acres. Title passed to George Washington in 1752. "It was only natural for the new master of Mount Vernon to cherish the hope that some day the boundaries of his estate would be rounded out to conform to the original lines of the 5000-acre Spencer-Washington grant....No opportunity whould be overlooked which would serve to enlarge Mount Vernon in other directions" (D.S. Freeman, George Washington, vol.6, Appendix VI-1, "Growth of the Mount Vernon Tract," p.388). Between 1757 and 1786, Washington added a total of 5601 acres to his Mount Vernon estate, mainly by the purchase of adjoining tracts from his neighbors. For a map of these successive purchases, see Washington, Diaries, ed. D. Jackson, D. Twohig, et al, vol.1, p.240).
Provenance: Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, First Earl of Halifax (1881-1959), distinguished English statesmen, who served in Parliament and as under-secretary for the colonies (where he worked with Winston Churchill), and governor-general and viceroy of India. Later leader of the House of Lords, he succeeded Anthony Eden as foreign secretary from 1938 to 1941, then was named ambassador to the U.S. After the fall of the Churchill government and Roosevelt's death, Halifax attended the key meetings at Dumbarton House and in San Francisco where the foundations for the United Nations were laid. Upon his return to Britain in 1946, a group of American friends including Admiral James Forrestall, Justice Felix Frankfurter and the Bliss family of Dumbarton Oaks, presented the present Washington manuscript to Halifax.
VERY RARE: we know of only one other survey of any portion of Mount Vernon still in private hands.