Ardmore Document Dealer to Sell Letter from Cash-Strapped George Washington

Nathan Rabb-owned letter
Image via the Raab Collection at WHYY.
Nathan Rabb's letter penned by George Washington; the Ardmore dealer is offering it for sale for $50,000.

Nathan Raab, an Ardmore document historian, is selling a 1787 letter. Cris Barrish, WHYY, reported the correspondence’s importance, gained from author George Washington.

Washington wrote the two-page letter after Valley Forge (1777–1778) and the end of the Revolutionary War (1872) but before becoming president (1798).

Its recipient was Israel Shreve, a New Jersey colonel at the winter encampment.

The contents involve Washington’s sale of a portion of his Mount Vernon, Virginia, land to Shreve.

“My price is 40/ Pennsylvania money per acre if sold altogether, which is one third less than small tracts of land in the vicinity, of less intrinsic value, have sold for.

“One fourth of the money to be paid down — the other three fourths in three annual payments, with interest,” Washington wrote.

Before it surfaced, the letter was the subject much conjecture. Historians had found written negotiations from Shreve to Washington describing the same sale. Now, the reply was in hand.

The general’s financial position was tenuous then; Mount Vernon’s commercial output had declined during his absences fighting the British.

“Finding something that really sort of changes the historical record or adds to the historical record … [is] always exciting,” Raab said. “You feel like you’ve stumbled across something really new and special.”

More on Nathan Raab’s discovery is at WHYY.


A look at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

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