WASHINGTON, George. Autograph letter signed as President ("Go. Washington") to James Mercer, Mount Vernon, 3 October 1792. 2 pages, folio, autograph address leaf, autograph notation on verso of address leaf by Mercer descendant in 1824, presenting the letter to Caroline Bayard, seal hole on address leaf, silk lamination performed by Library of Congress in 1950s.
WASHINGTON ASKS A FAVOR OF HIS LAWYER
Washington tells his friend and family lawyer James Mercer: "It has long been in mind to ask you, though I have never yet done it, if you could give me any information of a conveyance of the Lotts I purchased at Colo. Mercer's sale of Land in Frederick County in the year 1774. I can find no deeds for these Lotts amongst my land papers; but by recurring to Letters which have passed between you & me (in a settlement of Accts with your Brother Colo. Jno. F. Mercer in August last) it would appear as if this had been done through your Agency. If so, your memory (much better I am sure than mine), may furnish you with the fact, and with the circumstances attending it--or, if it should not, and you would be so obliging when in Richmond to examine the Clerks Office of the General Court to see if any Deeds from you to me, by way of reconveyance (for this I think was the mode suggested) are on record, it would be doing me an acceptable favor. If none is to be found there nor in Frederick Office, I am yet without a legal title to the Land, although the purchase money has been allowed in the Settlement before alluded to, with interest thereon agreeably to the tenor of the Sale." Mercer did find the deeds at the Clerk's office in Richmond, and mailed them to Washington in November 1792. Washington's personal papers were frequently disturbed during the Revolution, when his family threw important documents into trunks and removed them to secure locations whenever the British got too close to Mount Vernon. His presidential transits between Virginia, New York and Philadelphia, didn't make record-keeping any easier. In any event the Mercer's owed Washington a favor. The President's purchase of land from Jonathan Mercer (alluded to in the opening sentences) was only one of many services he performed for the brothers over the years.
Published in Papers, Presidential Series, 11:188-89.