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From Jared Sparks

Dear Sir

In beginning to examine the papers in detail, I find great inconvenience in consulting the letters received by Gen. Washington. They are filed according to their names, but it is quite important, for every purpose of consultation that the whole mass should be arranged in strict chronological order. If you have no objection, therefore, I shall arrange them in this way, & have them bound in volumes. They will thus not only be more easily consulted, but be preserved in a better condition. I have found every where in Europe all original manuscripts of this sort bound after the same manner. Please let me know immediately if you approve this arrangement.

I procured many papers in England throwing light on the military life of Washington, for the two years previous to Braddock's defeat. But I can find little anywhere respecting him before the age of nineteen. If you can send me a full narrative of all you know concerning him during that period, it would be of much service. It did not accord with Judge Marshall's plan to enter into biographical details of his early life, but as an introduction to his writings it will be essential and the more minute of the narrative is the more interesting it will be. I should be glad to have the following topics enlarged upon. 

Washington's early education, what kind of schools he attended, and the studies to which he was chiefly devoted.

A brief sketch of the life of Lawrence Washington, his first settlement at Mt Vernon, connexion with the Fairfax family, his intimacy with this brother George, account of the voyage to Burmuda, the family of Lawrence Washington. 

History of the Fairfax family in this country, cause of their emigration, lands owned by them, how many emigrated, origin of the intimacy between the Washington and Fairfax families, under what circumstances George Washington first became a Surveyor, by whom employed, how long, what tracts of country did he survey, how far he was aided by Lord Fairfax at his first advance in life, habits of life while a Surveyor.

It is not possible to point out all the particulars, which should com into this narrative, but it will occur to you that everything relating to Washington's mode of life, showing the basis of his habits & the influences under which he acted at this time, will contribute much to the interest & value of the work in which I am engaged. You can do it at your leisure, but the sooner it can be done, the more convenient it will be to me. I am, Sir, with great respect and esteem, your most obt servt

Jared Sparks

Source Note

LB, MH: Jared Sparks Personal Papers. Sparks addressed the letter to BW at Mount Vernon.