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    [George Washington] Lawrence Washington Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages, two-sided with integral address leaf, Jamaica, May 30, 1741. Lawrence Washington was a soldier and prominent landowner in colonial Virginia. Washington was also the older and beloved half-brother of future United States President George Washington. Here, Lawrence writes to his and his half-brother's father, Augustine Washington, from Jamaica, where Lawrence was serving as an officer in Gooch's Marines under British Admiral Edward Vernon's command, in the War of Jenkins' Ear, a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1742.

    In March 1741, the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias endured a large-scale attack by British and American colonial troops led by Admiral Edward Vernon, who arrived at Cartagena with a massive fleet of 186 ships and 23,600 men against only six Spanish ships and 3,600 men, in an action known as the Battle of Cartagena de Indias. After weeks of intense fighting, the siege was repelled by the Spanish and native forces led by Commander General Blas de Lezo, who inflicted heavy casualties on the British troops. This victory prolonged Spain's control of the Caribbean waters which helped secure its large Empire until the 19th century. Had the British plan succeeded the entire Spanish empire in the Americas would have been imperiled.

    In this letter, Lawrence tells of his experiences in the Colombian Battle of Cartagena de India, stating that he and his troops "destroy'd eight Forts, six Men of War, six Gallioons [sic] & some Merchant ships. What number of men they lost we know not. The Enemy killed of ours about six hundred & some wounded & the Climate killed us in greater numbers. . . . We are all tired of the heat & wish for a cold Season to refresh our blood."

    Lawrence also writes to say that "I hope my Lotts are secured; which if I return shall make use of as my dwelling." The property he mentions would ultimately become Mount Vernon, so named by Lawrence after his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon, whom Lawrence greatly admired.

    Upon his father's death, Lawrence inherited much of his father's property, and upon Lawrence's death in 1752, that property was willed to his wife and then to his daughter. As stipulated in Lawrence's will, if his daughter had no children the estate would go to his half-brother George; however, Lawrence's sole surviving daughter died just a few months after Lawrence did and Lawrence's wife Anne held the property until her death in 1761, when the Mount Vernon estate passed in its entirety to Lawrence's half-brother George Washington.

    This wonderful letter is moderately age toned and suffers a few areas of fold separation; other small areas of paper loss have been professionally silked. An outstanding item with historic content! Very good condition.


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    Auction Dates
    March, 2009
    6th-7th Friday-Saturday
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