George Washington Approves Purchase of Leather and Sugar for Potomac Company. Fantastic DS
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed, Invoice of Gurden Chapin to Potomack Company, June 13, 1786, Alexandria, Virginia; payment approved August 7, 1786; paid August 12, 1786. Also signed by John Fitzgerald and George Gilpin. 1 p., 7.5ʺ x 5.75ʺ. Expected folds; some tape repairs to edges; very good. Also includes Washington centennial ribbon, ca. 1832, published by R. Morgan, 1.625ʺ x 8.75ʺ.
On August 7, 1786, Potomac Company President George Washington and two of the company’s four directors, George Gilpin and John Fitzgerald, approved the expenditure of more than £9 for leather and sugar purchased from Gurden Chapin of Alexandria in June. Company treasurer William Hartshorne paid Chapin on August 12.
Alexandria June 13th 1786
By Wm Hartshorne & Co
Bought of Gurden Chapin & Co
6 Sides Neats Leather 16/p £4..16..0
1 Bundle Soal Leather 56 lb 1/6p 4..4..0
1 Loaf Sugar 11lb 1/3 pr Present to R ..13..9
Stewart from Patowmack Compy
August 12th 1786 £9..13..9
Recd Payment from W Hartshorne & Co
Gurden Chapin & Co
No. 9 / Gurden Chapin & Co
June 17th 1780 £19.13.9
For Potomack Compy
Allowed 7th August 1786
Potomac Company (1785-1822) was created to make improvements in the Potomac River and improve its navigability for commerce. It was designed to link the East Coast with the Northwest territory of Ohio. The company built five canals around the major falls of the Potomac River, including the Patowmack Canal around the Great Falls, fourteen miles upstream from Washington, D.C. In 1784, George Washington urged the governments of Maryland and Virginia to cooperate to develop the Potomac River as a transportation route to the trans-Appalachian West. The Virginia General Assembly appointed Washington, Horatio Gates, and Thomas Blackburn as commissioners to seek Maryland’s agreement. The company was incorporated in Maryland in 1784 and in Virginia in 1785. It was the first project that connected different regions and required the cooperation of multiple state governments. Washington served as president of the company until 1789. In 1822, the company became part of the newly formed Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company.
William Hartshorne (1742-1816) was born in New Jersey into a Quaker family and became a merchant. He began a business in Antigua in 1761. In Alexandria, Virginia, Hartshorne formed a partnership with local merchant John Harper, and in the 1780s, Hartshorne started his own general store. He served as a member of the Alexandria town council in the 1780s and early 1790s. He was also active in the Quaker movement against slavery. Hartshorne served as treasurer of the Potomac Company from 1785 to 1800.
Gurden Chapin (1765-1811) was born in Connecticut and became a merchant in Alexandria, Virginia, and served as cashier of the Bank of Alexandria from 1792 to at least 1802.
John Fitzgerald (d. 1799) was born in Ireland and settled in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1769. He formed a mercantile partnership with Valentine Peers and became a business acquaintance, neighbor, and friend of George Washington. During the Revolutionary War, he served as a major in the 3rd Virginia Regiment and an aide and courier for General George Washington. Wounded during the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778, Fitzgerald resigned his commission and returned to Alexandria, where he continued in the mercantile business. He served as mayor of Alexandria in 1783 and as a director of the Potomac Company. He served as president of the company in the 1790s.
George Gilpin (1740-1813) was born in Maryland and moved to Alexandria, Virginia, before the Revolutionary War and became a wheat merchant. During the Revolutionary War, Gilpin became a colonel in a regiment of Fairfax County militia in July 1775. After the war, he returned to Alexandria, where he was a director of the Potomac Company, judge of the orphans’ court (1800), and postmaster (1809). He and Washington frequently visited each other at their homes.
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