WASHINGTON, George. Autograph letter signed ("G:o Washington") to John Rumney, Mount Vernon, 6 April 1787. 2¼ pages, 4to, recipient's docket ("General Washington to Mr. Rumney") on page 4. Fine.
A DILIGENT FUTURE PRESIDENT WRESTLES WITH A TROUBLESOME ESTATE AND DECLINES A SERVANT RECOMMENDED FOR EMPLOYMENT AT MOUNT VERNON
A letter which clearly reveals the care and diligence shown by Washington when appointed executor or administrator of an estate, a dubious honor which happened with distressing frequency after his retirement from the army. First, Washington reports that Martha Washington does not feel that a certain Mrs. Wilson, recommended by Rumney as a servant for Mount Vernon, can be hired: "However well inclined you may be to accommodate the wishes of so deserving a lady as you represent Mrs, Wilson to be -- yet, Mrs. Washington concurs in sentiment with me, that our family already is, and soon will be, too large to admit of an increase." He then reports at length, rather testily, on the settlement of a particularly difficult estate, that of Col. Thomas Colville, for which he is executor: "I can say little at this time representing the estate...than what is contained in my acct. to Major Swan except that I have used every means in my power lately, to collect materials (and very defective they are) for a final settlement of the Administration of it. What the surplus of the Estate will be when the debts & legacies are all paid, is more than I can inform you. The testator himself, as will appear by his Will, had a doubt of there being any. And what will be done with it if there should, must be a matter for future determination." Then, Washington rather sternly explains that he will take legal advice for his own protection before settling the estate and dealing with any surplus: "When the Administration is closed, which is my sincere wish to do as soon as the nature of the case will admit; I shall, for my own Justification & security, take counsel with respect to the application of the Surplus, if any, under the existing Laws of this Country."
"The author of the Letters of Instruction to you, is mistaken, I conceive, when he says the claim of one Clawson was admitted; only, by admission he means that it was received. If this was not his idea, it will give him no pleasure to be informed that near Twenty others, I believe, have been admitted in the same manner, under the indefinite, and I might add, undigested clause of the Will which has stirred up so many pretenders, as to render it a matter of difficult investigation to determine rightly in the case."
Published in Writings, ed J.C. Fitzpatrick, 29:195-196.