Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Washington, George (1732-1799) to John Francis Mercer

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03705 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Mount Vernon, Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 9 September 1786 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Washington replies to a letter from Mercer, noting that he would have replied sooner, but he had a fever. Expresses his plan to never purchase another slave, and his wish that slavery be abolished by "slow, sure & imperceptible degrees." Discusses financial matters, mentioning a debt he owes Governor George Clinton of New York, which was supposed to have been repaid within twelve months of "the Peace" (1783). For what remains of the loan, Washington is paying seven percent interest. Mentions another, higher debt he owes to an unspecified individual, and that repayment of this loan may be postponed.

People: Washington, George, 1732-1799.
Mercer, John Francis, 1759-1821.
Clinton, George, 1739-1812.

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Keywords/Subjects: President Health and Medical, Slavery, Slave Sale, African American History, Abolition, Mount Vernon, Finance, Debt, Revolutionary War, Treaty, Peace, African American History

Sub Era: Creating a New Government