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Collection George Washington Papers

Series 8, Miscellaneous Papers

The items in Series 8 are not different in substance from items elsewhere in Washington's papers. They were filed separately only because they arrived at the Library separately from the bulk of Washington's papers. They include correspondence and miscellaneous notes, 1757-1799; military commissions, honorary degrees, and other certificates, 1775-1798; survey warrants, 1750-1752; and notes Washington made on his reading, ca. 1760-1799.

The items in Series 8 are not different in substance from manuscripts elsewhere in Washington's papers. They were filed separately only because they arrived at the library separately from the bulk of Washington's papers. They are divided into the following four subgroups:

8A. Correspondence and Miscellaneous Notes, 1757-1799

A miscellaneous group of recipients' copies of letters sent by George Washington, with a few associated notes and other documents. These document Revolutionary War business, personal matters, and Washington's landholdings. Some were written by Washington's secretaries and aides-de-camp, including Alexander Hamilton, David Humphreys, and Tench Tilghman.

8B. Military Commissions, Honorary Degrees, Memberships, and Certificates of Appreciation, 1775-1798

Military commissions, including Washington's 1775 and 1798 commissions as commander of the army, and certificates awarded to Washington by colleges, societies, and public officials.

8C. Survey Warrants, 1750-1752

Survey warrants issued to George Washington by George William Fairfax on behalf of Lord Fairfax, during Washington's career as a surveyor. For Washington's survey notes, see Series 1C. To learn more about Washington as a surveyor, and about the  surviving documentation of his surveying career, 1749-1752, see "George Washington's Professional Surveys" on Founders Online, National Archives: and Edward Redmond, "George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker".

8D. Extracts, Abstracts, and Notes, ca. 1760-1799

Manuscript notes that George Washington made on his reading, mostly of agricultural works. In one instance (#1, John Mercer, Sundry Precedents) the published book itself, with Washington's notes on the blank pages, is included. Since it is generally not possible to tell for certain which edition Washington read, the editions cited here are the most likely ones available at the Library of Congress. Full-text editions of some of these books are available on External.  Titles in quotation marks are the ones Washington made himself.

  1. John Mercer. Sundry Precedents Adapted to the Laws and Constitution of Virginia.
    From a larger work by Mercer titled: An Exact Abridgment of all the Public Acts of Assembly, or Virginia, in Force and Use. Together with Sundry Precedents, adapted Thereto. And Proper Tables (Williamsburg: William Parks, 1737). Washington made his notes on the blank pages of this published book.
  2. "The Farmers Compleat Guide."
    Washington's notes on John Ball, The Farmer's Compleat Guide, Through all the Articles of his Profession (London: G. Kearsley, 1760).
  3. "Experiments and observations made with the view of improving the art of composing & applying Calcareous Cements and of preparing quick lime; theory of these arts; &c. Bry Higgins."
    Washington's notes, dated January, 1784, on Bry Higgins, Experiments and Observations Made with the View of Improving the Art of Composing and Applying Calcareous Cements and of Preparing Quick-lime: Theory of These Arts; and Specification of the Author's Cheap and Durable Cement, for Building, in Crustation or Stuccoing, and Artificial Stone (London: T. Cadell, 1780).
  4. "Duhamels Husbandry"
    Washington's notes on Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, A Practical Treatise of Husbandry (London: J. Whiston and B. White, 1759).  Online at: External
  5. "Extracts from Youngs Annals of Agriculture"
    Washington's extracts from Annals of Agriculture and Other Useful Arts, a journal published by English agricultural reformer Arthur Young (1741-1820) between 1784 and 1815.
  6. James Madison, "Ancient and Modern Confederacies."
    George Washington's notes made on reading James Madison's essay, "Ancient and Modern Confederacies." Madison's essay was composed in 1786 or 1787, before he and Washington began attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, May, 1787. Madison's manuscript of this text is in the James Madison Papers at:
  7. Richard Butler. Indian Vocabularies, November 30, 1787.
    In 1786 Catherine the Great of Russia gave the Marquis de Lafayette a printed list of words and asked him to have them translated into the languages of the Indians of the Ohio Valley for inclusion in her "universal dictionary" (Lafayette to Washington, February 10, [1786]). Lafayette passed this request to George Washington, and Washington delegated it to Richard Butler (1743-1791), Indian superintendent of the northern district (Washington to Butler, November 27, 1786). With the help of Delaware leader John Killbuck, Butler assembled a vocabulary of Shawnee ("Shawano") and Delaware ("Lenoppea or Delaware") words. With it is included Butler's November 30, 1787 cover letter to Washington; his speculations on the history of the Shawnee, Iroquois, and ancient peoples of the Ohio Valley; and a brief Cherokee and Choctaw vocabulary supplied by Congressman and Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins (1754-1816). Washington sent Catherine the Great's printed vocabulary back to Lafayette (Washington to Lafayette, January 10, 1788) and kept this manuscript copy, bound informally at an unknown time in wallpaper. Notes about this volume by early Washington biographer Jared Sparks are included in front. To learn more about this exchange see the editorial notes accompanying Richard Butler to George Washington, November 30, 1787, in Founders Online:
  8. "Extracts from Du Pratz History of Louisiana, Vol. 5th"
    Washington's notes on Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz, The History of Louisiana, or of the Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina: Containing a Description of the Countries That Lye on Both Sides of the River Missisipi: with an Account of the Settlements, Inhabitants, Soil, Climate, and Products, translated from the French (London, T. Becket and P.A. De Hondt, 1763). This is an English translation of a book that came out in French as: Histoire de la Louisiane . . . (Paris, 1758).
  9. "Spurrier – Rotation of Crops"
    Washington's notes on John Spurrier, The Practical Farmer, Being a New and Compendious System of Husbandry Adapted to the Different Soils and Climates of America . . . (Wilmington, Del.: Brynberg and Andrews, 1793).
  10. "On hops in Kent, by Mr. Marshall"
    Washington's notes on an agricultural work by William Marshall, probably: the Rural Economy of the Southern Counties; Comprising Kent, Surrey, Sussex; the Isle of Wight; the Chalk Hills of Wiltshire, Hampshire, &C.; and Including the Culture and Management of Hops, in the Districts of Maidstone, Canterbury, and Fornham by Mr. Marshall (London: G. Nicoll, J. Robinson, J. Debrett, 1798).
  11. "Bordley on Husbandry"
    Washington's notes on John Beale Bordley, Essays and Notes on Husbandry and other Rural Affairs (Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1799).
  12. "The Gentleman Farmer, by Henry Home"
    Lord Kames, Henry Home, The Gentleman Farmer: Being an Attempt to Improve Agriculture by Subjecting it to the Test of Rational Principles. Edinburgh, 1776; Dublin, 1779. Washington's notes on The Gentleman Farmer. Lord Kames first published this book in Edinburgh in 1776. In 1786 Washington purchased a copy of the 1779 Dublin edition. Today Washington’s copy of the book is at the Boston Athenaeum. For his purchase of the book see: George Washington to Clement Biddle, February 10, 1786.
  13. "Abbé Raynal Vol. 1"
    Washington's copy, probably from an English translation, of Guillaume-Thomas-Francois Raynal (Abbé Raynal), Histoire Philosophique et Politique, des Établissements et du Commerce des Européens dans les Deux Indes, first published in 1770. An English edition published in London by A. Strahan in 1798, A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies, is online on the World Digital Library: