WASHINGTON, Bushrod (1762-1829), Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Autograph letter signed ("B. Washington") to his mother, "Mrs.Washington of Bushfield," [Westmoreland County, Virginia], ("Honoured Madam"), Fredericksburg [Virginia], 1l May 1778. 1 page, folio, address panel on verso, two small areas lightly browned.
"THEY DECLARE US INDEPENDENT STATES": BUSHROD WASHINGTON, AGE 16, REPORTS ON THE FRENCH ALLIANCE. The future justice of the Supreme Court, executor of George Washington's estate and owner of Mount Vernon, was enrolled in the College of William and Mary from 1775, and graduated in the same year as this letter. He writes in haste, hoping to send his letter by the next ferry: "I must measure my letter by my time & write only for those things which I am most in want of...There is a handbill in which there is a treaty of alliance between France & America that they declare us Independent States & are to assist us... that we are to aid one another in any dispute whatsoever. I leave you to judge...the many advantages that will flow to us from such an alliance. There is also a French fleet on its way here with supplies for the American army." He asks his mother to send him gloves and a new hat "as this I have is tore almost to pieces & unfit for use." "We act the Lying Varlet a comedy...I hope to see you, Mr. Washington & family...I have a pound of peppermint which cost 4 Dollars...I am now done only hoping to be remembered to all acquaintances"
A very unusual, extremely early letter of Bushrod, who later served in the Virginia legislature, and in the state convention for the ratification of the Constitution; appointed to the Supreme Court in 1798 by John Adams, he served a 31-year term until his death. The news of the Treaty of Alliance and Commerce with France, which he passes on, had reached the U.S. a few days before this letter.