From October 31, 1753 to January 16, 1754, the young George Washington underwent a mission to the Ohio territory in order to deliver a letter to the French Commandant. Washington’s journal provides valuable firsthand insight into the political and physical landscape of the United States at the time.
The Journal of Major George Washington Sent by Robert Dinwiddie to the Commandant of the French Forces in Ohio is a printing of George Washington's own personal journal that he kept on his mission to the Ohio territory.
At that time, circa 1753, the “Ohio Country” or territory was disputed between the British and the French, as both aimed to expand into it. Full of rich resources and river access, Ohio was highly desirable and would be a major factor in the onset of the French and Indian War. Not only was the control of Ohio important for further expansion, but also as protection for existing British colonies. The disputed territory expanded all the way to the borders of what was then Virginia. In 1753, before any conflict erupted, the Governor of Virginia Robert Dinwiddie, was convinced that armed conflict was inevitable. He sought to convince the British and the colonists of the French threat.
Dinwiddie sent the 21-year old George Washington on a two and a half month journey across the Allegheny Mountains from Williamsburg, Virginia, in order to deliver a letter to the French Commandant in Ohio. The letter ordered the French Commandant to remove his troops from the area.
"The French had recently expanded their military operations from the Great Lakes into the Ohio Country, and had spent the summer of 1753 building forts and roads along the Allegheny River, with the design of linking their trade routes and sphere of influence down the Ohio to the Mississippi. Virginia governor Robert Dinwiddie believed them to be in violation of treaties and claims that made those territories part of Virginia and Pennsylvania, as granted by the British Crown, and his letter to the French commander instructed him to cease, desist, and depart from those regions." (Royster, UNL.edu)
Washington set off on the approximately 900-mile round trip mission, traveling by horse, foot, and canoe. He was accompanied by an explorer and surveyor named Christopher Gist, who was employed by the Ohio Company, as well as by a French Interpreter, Native American traders and various Native American delegations and guards.
Washington completed the journey and returned to Dinwiddie with not only the Commandant’s letter of refusal, but also his full report of the mission. Dinwiddie published Washington's report immediately, in order to prove to the colonists and the British leaders that the French armies were aiming to take the desired Ohio territory.
Washington’s journal provides valuable firsthand insight into the diplomatic policies of the time, early indications of the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years’ War), and gives the reader a wonderful example of Washington’s nascent military career. In the published journal, Washington describes the groups he came into contact with, his own fortification recommendations, and a map he surveyed while on the mission. Thanks to the publication of this report, Washington made a name for himself to both the colonists and the prominent British circles.
This book is offered in its limited edition, published in 1865. It is hand-numbered 16 of a total 50 next to Joseph Sabin’s initials. The book has been rebound in quarter red leather and cloth binding and is housed in a custom archival slipcase.
Royster, Paul, The Journal of Major George Washington (1754.) Electronic Texts in American Studies, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Unl.edu. Accessed 23 June 2021.
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