Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tobias Lear, 15 December 1799

From Tobias Lear

Mount Vernon Decr. 15th: 1799

Dear Sir,

With the most sincere grief do I communicate to you the information of the Death of our beloved General Washington.1

After a short and severe illness of about twenty hours, he expired last evening, between ten and eleven o’clock. He had taken cold and complained of a sore throat on friday; but considered it only as a slight disorder. On Saturday Morning about 3 o’clock, he became ill. Doctor Craik2 attended him, and found his was severely afflicted with the Quincy (as it is usually called). His situation appeared alarming, and Doctor Dick3 of Alexandria, and Doctor Brown4 of Port Tobacco, were sent for, and came immediately. But all the aid of Medicine had not the desired effect. Bearing his distressed situation with the fortitude of an Hero, he retained his composure and reason to the last moment, and died, as he had lived, a truly great man.

With very great respect,   I am dear Sir   Your most Obedt. Servt.

Tobias Lear.

Major General Hamilton.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For an account of Washington’s death, see Freeman, Washington, VII, 617–28, 637–47.

2James Craik, one of Washington’s oldest friends, obtained his medical degree at Edinburgh, Scotland. He served as the chief medical officer of Virginia forces during the French and Indian War, and in 1781 Congress appointed him chief physician and surgeon of the Army. From July, 1798, to June, 1800, Craik was physician-general of the Army.

3Elisha Cullen Dick, a native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, was a physician in Alexandria, Virginia. During the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794, he commanded a troop of cavalry.

4Gustavus Brown studied medicine at Edinburgh and was a socially prominent and respected physician in both Maryland and Virginia.

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