Lot 9: George Washington DS
12th July 2017
Extraordinary Revolutionary War–dated manuscript DS, signed "Go: Washingto[n]," one page, 7.25 x 8.25, April 20, 1775. Draft for an ad to be published in the Virginia Gazette. In part (missing letters in brackets are from the published ad): "Forty Dollars [Reward] Ran away from the Subscriber...Thomas Spears...He is 5 feet 6½ inches high, Slender made with light [co]loured hair, short, light grey or blue eyes-a little pock m[arked] and freckled. He was born in Bristol...rather slow in his manner of talking-he had on...a Coat Waistcoat & Breeches a light Coloured Waistcoat & Old leath[er] Breeches-check and Oznabrig shirts with Stockings...ribbed Ditto a hat almost & Oznabrig Trousers quite new-William Webster a Scotchman, 30 odd years of age & talks pretty broad. He is about five feet 6 inches high...light brown hair short a round face. He had a...coloured coat pretty much worn with black horn [b]uttons a Duffield Waistcoat Breeches like Spears Oznabrig Trousers & Oznabrig shirts. Whoever apprehends the said Servants & delivers them to me at my dwelling House in Fairfax County shal receive the above reward of Forty Dollars or Twenty Dollars for each." Attractively matted and framed with an image of Washington crossing the Delaware. In good condition, with professional repairs to significant paper loss (affecting some words and last letter of signature), final letter of the signature in-painted with iron gall ink, and some toning and soiling. Oversized. The day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Washington was busy handling the affairs of Mount Vernon, namely locating two recent runaway servants. Somewhat uneasy about keeping slaves (although he did own several), Washington kept a large number of indentured servants on his plantation to fulfill his need for skilled workmen-in this case Thomas Spears, a joiner, and William Webster, a brick-maker. Subjected to stringent regulations and compelled to complete their terms of service, they were pursued and brought back by force if they ran away, and the papers of the day were full of advertisements for such absconders. This ad written by Washington was printed in the May 4, 1775, edition of the Virginia Gazette, and again on the 12th, and the two men were returned to his plantation within the year. An interesting document, written just two months before he would find himself in command of the Continental Army.
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