Introduction

1748
1750-51
1756
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1760
1761
1767
1769
1771
1774
1777
1784
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1788
1791
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1794
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1799

Berkeley Springs

Washington
Heritage
Trail



ARCHIVE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON'S WRITINGS ON BERKELEY SPRINGS & VICINITY: 1787

11/22/87 ... GWP...Washington to Gov. Thomas Johnson... supports Rumsey over Fitch

"It is proper for me herewith to add, that some time after this Mr. Fitch called on me, in his way to Richmond, and explaining his scheme, wanted a letter from me introductory to the Assembly of this (Virginia) state, the giving of which I declined, and went so far as to inform him, that though I was enjoined not to disclose the principles of Mr. Rumsey's discovery, yet I would venture to assure him, that the thought of applying steam was not original, but had been mentioned to me by Mr. Rumsey."

12/17/87....GWP....Rumsey to Washington ...

"Inclosed you have coppies of two Certificates of what the boat performed at sum tryals we have been making. I have a number more but as they are the same in substance I thought it not necessary to coppy them. We were under many disadvantages and should not have come forth publicly untill spring if it had not been for Mr. Fitches stealing a march on me in Virginia. I have sent down a number of certificates to the assembly of the first day's performance. The second was not then made. I also inclose you a contract drew by Captain Bedinger between Mr. Fitch's boat and mine. I met with Governor Johnson here. He toald me of a letter he wrote you respecting sum conversation that him and me had about my applying steam and spoke to him for to cast cylinders for me. He said that from what little he could gather on the subject, he suposed it quite another kind of a machine. I toald him that the modle which I showed to you was. He then said he thought I had used you. I toald him that I believed not, for that I had informed you of my intention to try steam. I can recollect no more that was said upon that subject, but it seems that Governor Johnson has taken up a wrong idea of the matter and supposed that I had informed you of my intention to apply steam at the time I obtained your certificate. Nor did I know untill now that he viewed my information in that light, nor did I ever conceive that I had gave you any information respecting it, only that I had such a thing in idea untill the letter that I wrote you on the 10th of march 1785. Nor did I before near about that time reduce it to any form suficiantly promising to determine me to make the tryal. I was then determined, as I wrote you as follows:

'I have taken the greatest pains to perfect another kind of boat upon the principles I was mentioning to you at Richmond. I have the pleasure to inform you that I have brought it to the greatest perfection. It is true that it will cost sum more than the other way but when done is more manageable and can be worked by as few hands the power is amence (immense) and I am quite convinced that boats of passage may be made to go against the current of the Mesisipia or Ohio River, or in the Gulf Stream from the Leeward to the Windward Islands, from sixty to one hundred miles per day.....'

--- this was certainly an information and was what I aluded to when I toald Governor Johnson that I had informed you of it, a little farther on in the same letter is the following paragraff:

'The plan I intend to persue is to build the boat , with boath the powers on board on a large scale' ---

--- as you did not make any objection to the plann proposed when you wrote me an answer to the letter, I considered myself at liberty to go on upon the steam pan conected with the other nor did I drop the idea of doing so untill long after I had the honor of seeing you last. But not being able to accomplish the building of an other boat and finding by the little experiment I made that one boat would not do alone, I was at a great loss to know how to act and if it had not been on account of your Certificate I would then nearly have quit it, being under so many embarrasments and nearly a new machine to be made before anything could be done as my new constructed boiler made such hot steam as to melt all the soft solder, and news coming frequently that Mr. Fitch would soon come forth. Add to this that the ice carryed away my boat and broke thirty feet out of her middle, a large family to suport, no business going on, in debted, and what little money I could rake together expended. A gentleman has since assisted me to whom I have mortgaged a few family negroes which must soon go if I do not raise the money for him before long. My present plan is so simple, cheap and powerfull that I think it would be wrong to attent the former plan. I would wish to say sumthing to the public about it, on your account but doubt my own abilityes to give that satisfaction I would wish. It has gave me much uneasiness especially as I have by a train of unforseen events so often appeared to you as a person acting inconsistantly and I can say in truth however unfortunate I have been in the attempt that my greatest ambition is and had been to deserve your esteem -- I intend to go to Philadelphia before my return, and in January I will (if in my power) go to South Carolina and Georgia -- Your letter to Governor Johnson prevented Mr. Fitch from getting an act here. You have Sir my sincerest thanks for the many favors you conferred on me ..."