George Washington: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Douglas Southall Freeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
A MISSION UNCOVERS A PENDING ADVANCE
(November, 1753-January, 1754)

WHEN GEORGE reached Williamsburg at the end of October,1 1753, to tender his services to Governor Dinwiddie, he found the taverns crowded with Burgesses. The General Assembly had been called to meet November 1, in circumstances that had aroused even more than the usual curiosity of colonials notoriously eager for news. On the 21St Of October a sloop of war 2 had brought special dispatches to the Governor, who promptly had sent letters under the King's seal, North and South, to the executives of the other Colonies.3 The proclamation for an early session of the Virginia lawmakers had then been issued.

George soon learned part of the reason for this activity. At the "palace," he was ushered into the presence of the Governor, whom he had met on his return from Barbados.4 Dinwiddie, 60 years of age, bulky and benevolent in appearance, with blue-gray eyes,5 was now concerned and aroused and probably was impressed by the importance of the steps he was about to take. The previous 16th of June he had written the home government concerning the need of building forts to prevent the French from occupying the Ohio country 6 which he claimed as a part of His Majesty's Colony of Virginia.7 Although Dinwiddie was averse to reprisals for individual acts in violation of the treaty existing between Britain and France,8 he was ready to resist

____________________
1
It was approximately October 26. See 5 E. /., 444.
2
The date, etc., are given in Dinwiddie to Gov. Horatio Sharpe, Aug. 23, 1753 ( 1 Sharpe, 9).
3
Journ. H.B., 1752-55, p. 104. For Dinwiddie's instructions to dispatch these letters, see Holderness to Dinwiddie, Aug. 28, 1753; P.R.O., C.O. 5: 1344, p. 141-45.
4
See supra, p. 256.
5
See illustration between p. 281 and p. 282.
6
See the acknowledgment in Holderness to Dinwiddie, Aug. 28, 1753, P.R.O.; C.O. 5: 1344, p. 152, and also Halifax to Bedford [?], Aug. 12, 1753, ibid., 131.
7
For the basic laws, etc., of the controversy over the boundaries of Virginia, see 1 H59-60, 88, 99-100. The view prevailing in 1750 is given in Thomas Lee to the Board of Trade, Sept. 29, 1750 ( 45 Shelburne Papers, 169-185); Joshua Fry, to Lewis Burwell, May 8, 1751 ( P.R.O., C.O. 5: 1327, p. 363-81); Dinwiddie to Lords of Trade, Jan. n.d., 1755 ( Sparks Transcripts, VSL, 27). Cf. 4 Gipson, 234-36, 239.
8
1 Din., 17.

-274-

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