George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 2 October 1785]

Sunday 2d. Thermometer at 70 in the Morning—76 at Noon and [ ] at Night.

Weather warm. Forenoon clear, Afternoon lowering.

Went with Fanny Bassett, Burwell Bassett, Doctr. Stuart, G. A. Washington, Mr. Shaw & Nelly Custis to Pohick Church; to hear a Mr. Thompson preach, who returned home with us to Dinner, where I found the Revd. Mr. Jones, formerly a Chaplin in one of the Pensylvania Regiments.

After we were in Bed (about Eleven Oclock in the Evening) Mr. Houdon, sent from Paris by Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson to take my Bust, in behalf of the State of Virginia, with three young men assistants, introduced by a Mr. Perin a French Gentleman of Alexandria, arrived here by water from the latter place.

James Thomson (1739–1812), the minister of Leeds Parish, Fauquier County, 1769–1812, was a Scotsman who had emigrated to Virginia as a tutor in 1767. He went to England in 1769 to take holy orders and returned to Fauquier County where he preached at the four churches in Leeds Parish (MEADE [1] description begins [William] Meade. Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1857. description ends , 2:218–19). David Jones (1736–1820), minister of the Great Valley Baptist Church, Chester County, Pa., had been a chaplain in the 3rd and 4th Pennsylvania regiments during the Revolution.

Virginia in 1784 adopted a resolution commissioning a statue of GW; and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, then ministers to the Court of France, agreed to locate and engage an outstanding sculptor for the commission. Jean Antoine Houdon (1741–1828) agreed to make the statue but insisted that he come to America to make a life mask of GW and then return to France to complete the work. Jefferson’s agreement with Houdon provided for a salary of 1,000 guineas plus expenses to America and the purchase of an insurance policy on the sculptor’s life during the journey. Although the fee was much less than Houdon had asked, he was eager to make a statue of GW and agreed to the terms, leaving such clients as Catherine the Great of Russia to await his return to Europe (JEFFERSON [1] description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 7:566–67, 8:282–84, 279–80).

Joseph Marie Perrin, a merchant in Alexandria, had a store on Royal Street next to John Wise’s tavern and opposite the courthouse. By Aug. 1786 the business was operated under the name of Perrin & Brothers (Va. Journal, 21 April 1785 and 17 Aug. 1786). Perrin came to Mount Vernon as an interpreter for Houdon’s party.

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