Item #GW003 Potomac Company Document Signed by George Washington. George Washington.

Potomac Company Document Signed by George Washington

Price: $30,000.00

[Alexandria, Virginia]. November 1, 1787. Near Fine.

8 ¾" x 6 ¾" document in a 25" x 17" frame. Signed by president of the Potomac Company, George Washington ("G. ? Washington,") and co-directors, George Gilpin and John Fitzgerald. Document penned on October 26, 1787, docketed on October 27, 1787, and "Pass'd November 1, 1787" by Washington, Gilpin, and Fitzgerald, penned in brown ink, matted in red with a b/w portrait of Washington, in an ornate gilt frame. About fine document, with some light fold-lines, very light spotting, and signatures a tad light. Overall, a remarkable piece of Americana. George Washington (1732 - 1799) was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783), and the first president of the United States (1789 - 1797). As president, Washington "set a model for restraint, prestige in office, and public service… he also oversaw the establishment of the financial system, the restoration of the nation's credit, the expansion of US territory (often at the expense of Native Americans), the negotiation of economic treaties with European empires, and the defense of executive authority over diplomatic and domestic affairs" (Miller Center). He spent the last few years of his life in retirement at his Virginian home, Mount Vernon. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington and various Virginia and Maryland-based politicians believed that making the Potomac River navigable would facilitate trade between the East and West and strengthen the Union. With this aim in mind, Washington and others founded the Potomac Company in 1785, and Washington was named president of the Company. The Company's progress was slow, as it suffered from labor shortages and financial difficulties. In 1789, Washington was elected president of the United States and stepped away from the Potomac Company, with future Supreme Court Justice Thomas Johnson taking his place. The company ceased operations in 1828 after it gave its charter rights to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. The Potomac Company stands as one of the first major early infrastructure projects in the U.S, and an important predecessor to canal systems, wagon road turnpikes, railroad systems, and other ambitious inland transportation ventures. In order to make the Potomac navigable, The Potomac Company sought cheap labor to clear rocks and debris and construct locks. One source writes, "During the life of the [Potomac Company], workers included a mixture of hired hands, indentured servants, and enslaved people. The work was dangerous and many of the men were inexperienced in the use of explosives; several were injured and some died. Often workers' rations and their acquisition of basic equipment were delayed because contracts were not fulfilled" (Mount Vernon). In April 1787, Washington, Gilpin, and Fitzgerald approved a payment, docketed for "expenses after runaways" (i.e. enslaved people), which included "The bringing of Corn McCarthy & Hugh Taylor from the town of Alexandria to the Great Falls." This framed document, which concerns the same Hugh Taylor, is transcribed as follows: "October 26, 1787. / the Portomok Companay. / To Jacob Moore. / to taken Hugh Taler £3.0.0. / to fining of him five weks porvisens} 2 0 0 / to his passgis from Norfolk to Alexandra} 1 8 0 / £6 - 8 0." In another hand: "Alexandria October 27th 1787. Received Six pounds Eight Shillings for amt of the above acct." signed "Jacob Moore." Perpendicular to this bill and receipt is docketed in unknown hand "Jacob Moore / for taking up H. Taylor / £6.8 pd Octr. 27th 1787." And "Pass'd Novemr. 1st 1787" below which Washington, Gilpin, and Fitzgerald signed. Potomac Company co-directors John Fitzgerald (1740 - 1799) and George Gilpin (1740 - 1813) were both wartime aids for Washington during the Revolutionary War. Fitzgerald was elected president of the Potomac Company in 1793 and held the position for three years. Gilpin was one of George Washington's pallbearers. Item #GW003