Mar 24, 2022 - Sale 2598

Sale 2598 - Lot 23

Price Realized: $ 3,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(SLAVERY & ABOLITION.) Deed of an enslaved man to a close associate of George Washington. Document Signed by Valentine Peers, 8 x 8 1/4 inches, with docketing on verso; folds, minor foxing. [Alexandria, VA], 18 May 1781

Additional Details

John Fitzgerald emigrated from Ireland to Alexandria, VA in 1769. He soon established himself as a successful merchant in the partnership of Fitzgerald & Peers, and a friend of George Washington. During the American Revolution, he served as aide-de-camp under Washington from 1776 to 1778, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before leaving the service due to wounds suffered at the Battle of Monmouth. In April 1781, with British forces poised to invade and burn Alexandria, Fitzgerald gathered a small force of local citizens which was able to ward them off.

Fitzgerald was also a slave-owner. This bill of sale is dated during the Revolution, just a month after his victory in Alexandria. His business partner Valentine Peers deeds him "a mulatto man carpenter named Frank and a negro man Charles, as purchased by the partnership of Fitzgerald & Peers" for £120 in Virginia currency.

Fitzgerald later served as a mayor of Alexandria and is considered one of the town's founding fathers. He died in December 1799, the same month as his famous ex-presidential friend. In 2018, a waterfront park in Alexandria was planned to be named in Fitzgerald's honor, but the plan was dropped because of his slave-owning past.