3. Clear & very warm. Wind Southerly—Mer. at 68. Doctr. Stuart came hear to Dinner. Washington Custis came home.
George Washington Parke Custis was home after an unsuccessful year at the College of New Jersey at Princeton. His academic career was distinctly checkered and caused GW much concern. During the early years of the presidency, GW had sent the boy to a small private school in New York run by Patrick Murdoch (HAMILTON  description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 7:25–26n). When the seat of government was moved to Philadelphia he enrolled young Custis at the “College, Academy and Charitable School” associated with the University of Pennsylvania. Even at this early date there was dissatisfaction with his progress (DECATUR description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends , 102, 169–70, 219–20). In 1796 young Custis matriculated at Princeton and, armed with much good advice from his grandfather, seemed for a time to be doing well. GW’s letters to him during the fall and early winter are full of admonitions to exert himself in his studies and avoid bad habits; Custis’s replies give repeated assurances of his good intentions and progress (see CUSTIS description begins George Washington Parke Custis. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. New York, 1860. description ends , 73–83). Soon after Custis’s return to Princeton from his spring vacation, however, GW received a letter from the president of the college, Samuel Stanhope Smith (1750–1819), which, GW wrote Smith, “filled my mind (as you naturally supposed it would) with extreme disquietude. From his infancy I have discovered an almost unconquerable disposition to indolence in everything that did not tend to his amusements; and have exhorted him in the most parental and friendly manner often, to devote his time to more useful pursuits” (GW to Smith, 24 May 1797, CUSTIS description begins George Washington Parke Custis. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. New York, 1860. description ends , 83–84). Custis himself a few days later wrote GW a letter full of apologies and promises for improved conduct, and GW replied that he would “not only heartily forgive, but will forget also, and bury in oblivion all that has passed” (Custis to GW, 29 May 1797, and GW to Custis, 4 June 1797, CUSTIS description begins George Washington Parke Custis. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. New York, 1860. description ends , 84–87). However, despite much good advice from GW and frequent assurances of good conduct from Custis during the next few months, Washington Custis’s homecoming on 3 Oct. marked the end of his schooling at Princeton. On 9 Oct., GW wrote Smith, acknowledging several recent letters regarding Custis’s deportment. GW expressed regret at “the conduct and behaviour of Young Custis” and made arrangements to pay his grandson’s outstanding accounts at Princeton (DLC:GW).