American History Told by Contemporaries

Author: George Washington  | Date: 1834

Show Summary
U.S. History

"Desire of Importing Palatines" (1774)


MR. Young, hearing me express a desire of importing Palatines to settle on my lands on the Ohio, tells me, that, in discoursing of this matter in your company, you suggested an expedient, which might probably be attended with success; and that if I inclined to adopt it, you wished to be informed before the sailing of your ship.

The desire of seating and improving my lands on the Ohio, is founded on interested as well as political views. But the intention of importing Palatines for the purpose was more the effect of sudden thought, than mature consideration, because I am totally unacquainted with the manner, as well as the expense of doing it; and I was led into the notion principally from a report of either this or some other ship of yours being blamed, for not taking an offered freight of these Germans at forty shillings sterling. I was thus induced to think if this charge was not much accumulated by other expenses, that I could fall on no better expedient to settle my lands with industrious people, than by such an importation.

The terms upon which I have thought of importing Palatines, or people from Ireland, or Scotland, are these; to import them at my expense, where they are unable to transport themselves, into the Potomac River, and from hence to the Ohio; to have them, in the first case, engaged to me under indenture; in the second, by some other contract equally valid, to become tenants upon the terms hereafter mentioned; as without these securities, I would not encounter the expense, trouble, and hazard of such an importation.

But to make matters as easy and agreeable as possible to these emigrants, I will engage, on my part, that the indentures shall be considered in no other light, than as a security for reimbursing to me every expense I am under, with interest, in importing them, removing them to the land, and supporting them there, till they can raise a crop for their own subsistence . . . I must, for my own safety, consider them as jointly bound for this payment, till the expiration of the indented terms, otherwise I must be an inevitable loser by every death or other accident; whilst they cannot, in the worst light, be considered as more than servants at large during the indented term. . . .

Having thus exhibited a general view of my design, I shall now be obliged to you, Sir, to inform me with as much precision as you can, what certainty there is that your ship will go to Holland; what probability there is of her getting Palatines, if she does go; when they may be expected in this country; what would be the freight; and, as near as you can judge, the whole incidental expense attending each person delivered at Alexandria; and, moreover, whether it would be expected, that the whole of these charges, including freight, should be paid down immediately on the arrival of the ship here, as it must appear rather hard to make a certain provision for an uncertain event.

It may not be amiss further to observe, that I see no prospect of these people being restrained in the smallest degree, either in their civil or religious principles; which I take notice of, because these are privileges, which mankind are solicitous to enjoy, and upon which emigrants must be anxious to be informed.

George Washington, Writings (edited by Jared Sparks, Boston, 1834), II, 383–386 passim.


Related Resources

George Washington

Download Options

Title: American History Told by Contemporaries

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: American History Told by Contemporaries

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: George Washington, "Desire of Importing Palatines (1774)," American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Jared Sparks in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902), 310–311. Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2022,

MLA: Washington, George. ""Desire of Importing Palatines" (1774)." American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Jared Sparks, Vol. II, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 3, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1902, pp. 310–311. Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2022.

Harvard: Washington, G, '"Desire of Importing Palatines" (1774)' in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. . cited in 1902, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.310–311. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2022, from