WASHINGTON, George (1732-1799).
The Will of General George Washington: to which is annexed, a schedule of his property, directed to be sold
Alexandria, [Virginia]: Printed from the record of the County Court of Fairfax, 1800. 12mo. (6 1/4 x 4 inches). 32pp.
Contemporary blue paper wrappers
Provenance: Wright Charles (signature on upper wrapper)
Scarce first edition of George Washington's will: the document which emancipated his slaves.
In July 1799, just six months before his death, George Washington prepared his will alone without, as he said any "professional character'' being "consulted.'' Within the month following his death, his executors presented this will for probate to the Fairfax County Court, in whose custody it remains. A few days thereafter the will was printed in Alexandria and circulated throughout the country in pamphlet form. The lucid and powerful prose of the text of the will displays at its best the distinctive style of writing that Washington had developed through the years. Most notable of the wills provisions are the instructions that he gave for freeing his slaves and for the support thereafter of the helpless children and the old and infirm among them. It was not until 1810 that the appraisers filed their report in the office of the clerk of the Fairfax County Court. The executors held public sales of some of the livestock at Mount Vernon before Martha Washington's death in 1802 and continued selling the remainder of the listed property. Final settlement of the estate was not achieved until 21 June 1847. Washington's will was widely republished in many of the states, but the first edition published in Alexandria Virginia is scarce.
Howes W145; Sabin 101752; Evans 39000.