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Shortly before his death in 1799, George Washington made a will that bequeathed his property to various relatives. Historians have been most interested in his disposition of his slaves who were intermixed with slaves of other family members and some of whom he had only a life estate. He decreed freedom for various slaves to take place after his and Martha’s deaths. Legal scholars have been particularly intrigued by a provision for arbitration. It said that “all disputes (if unhappily any should arise) shall be decided by three impartial and intelligent men known for their probity and good understanding” who “shall, unfettered by Law, or legal constructions, declare their sense of the Testators intention; and such decision is, to all intents and purposes to be as binding on the Parties as if it had been given in the Supreme Court of the United States.”

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