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    George Washington Seeks Bounty Land for His Aide under the Proclamation of 1754

    George Washington Autograph Document Signed "Go: Washington." One page, 7.25" x 7" (sight), [Virginia], January 25, 1774. Headed "Col. George Mercer. on Acct. of the Land under the Proclamation of 1754. Dr." This hand written receipt shows money owed to a surveyor on a tract of land due Col. George Mercer. Written in three columns, this itemized list provides the dates of service (spanning the years August 1770 through January 1774), the action requiring payment, and the amount of money owed, coming to £63:13:11. Below this is found a credit for £23:2:0 for payments made in August 1770 and March 1771, bringing the sum total of money owed to £40:11:11. Two small chips to the edges, else fine. Matted and framed to an overall size of 16" x 25".

    With the outbreak of hostilities between the French and the British in the colonies of North America in 1754, known as the French and Indian War (1754-1760), which itself was an extension of the larger Seven Years' War that ravaged Europe, Robert Dinwiddie, the lieutenant governor of Virginia, declared that 200,000 acres of land along the Ohio River would be set aside and given to all officers and men who would volunteer for an expedition to construct a fort at the point where the Monongahela River met the Ohio River. Forty men agreed to go under the command of William Trent.

    George Washington, then a twenty-one-year-old major in the Virginia Regiment, was sent with a force of men to assist Trent. Accompanying him was Lt. George Mercer, who served Washington as his aide-de-camp. Before the men of the Virginia Regiment reached that point, however, they learned that Trent was forced to retreat when a group of 500 French soldiers under the command of Claude-Pierre Pecaudy de Contrecœur had arrived before them. The French bought the tools from Trent and finished the fort, which was renamed Fort Duquesne.

    After the war, a royal proclamation was issued (1763) closing all land west of the Appalachian Mountains to settlement, leaving those men who were promised land in the 1754 proclamation with nothing to show for their efforts. In 1769, Washington petitioned the governor and the Virginia council seeking the promised land. Ultimately, the council approved the survey of the 200,000 acres to be dispersed in no more than twenty tracts along the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers.

    After the land was surveyed, Washington began to buy some of the promised tracts from the men who had served under them. Many of the men were furious when they actually saw the land that they lost. Washington, for his part, was sensitive about the subject of his treatment of his men.

    George Mercer (1733-1784) served with Washington in the First Virginia Regiment, receiving a wound and a captain's commission at the Battle of Fort Necessity [Pennsylvania, July 3, 1754], until 1758, when he was given command of the newly formed Second Virginia Regiment as a lieutenant colonel. After the war, Mercer became assistant deputy quartermaster for Virginia and Maryland. In 1761, he represented Frederick County in the Virginia House of Burgesses (until 1765) and served as a land speculator for the Ohio Company of Virginia (a company to which George Washington also belonged). He was appointed a stamp collector for Virginia and Maryland in 1765, to enforce the new Stamp Act, and was burned in effigy. He soon resigned and fled to Europe, where he remained until his death.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,219

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