George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nicholas Rogers, 6 May 1779

From Nicholas Rogers

Baltimore Town [Md.] May 6th 1779

My much Honoured General

Tho conscious of the necessity of my apologizing for being too dilatory in a performance which I have undertaken with so much pleasure, am still sorry to confess, I have no better apology to offer than assuring my General how sensible I am of my inattention, & how sincerely I wish it otherwise.

I would by no means be so unpolite as to disapprove of the present modes; yet my fancy has led me two hundred years back in search of a dress for Mrs Washington, which I think equally becoming, and as it is a perfect novelty to this age, I have given it the preference, and I flatter myself your Excellency will be pleased with it. Queen Elizabeth, and Mary of Scotland as well as I can recollect from their Pictures (for this is done but from a recollection) made a distinguished appearance in the Ruff and Hood.

I am afraid I have not been so happy in the likeness as I was in yours, and indeed the dress being so materially different from what I copied, that the greatest allowances must be made, before you can be reconciled to it; besides my Talents have been rather cramp’d in being obliged to reduce it to a ring Size, which I hope you will not think too large, as I have wore it these few days past in a Ring of my own with a roman setting, which is by no means of an immoderate or improper Size for a Gentleman.1

My politest Compliments to Mrs Washington, and permit me to assure you that I am with the greatest respect & Sincerity Your Excellency’s most Obedient most humble Sert

Nicholas Rogers


1Rogers’s attempt at a miniature portrait of GW, completed in early 1778, had displeased Martha, who thought it presented him as too old and long in the face; but GW approved the image of his wife in Elizabethan attire (see GW to John Parke Custis, 1 Feb. 1778, n.1, and GW to Rogers, 28 May 1779). In 1801 Martha sent a miniature that she said had been prepared in 1793 by Nicholas Rogers to his son, Lloyd Nicholas Rogers. Whether this was the miniature made in 1779 or another has not been determined, but she claimed that it was the only one in her possession (Fields, Papers of Martha Washington description begins Joseph E. Fields, ed. “Worthy Partner”: The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn., and London, 1994. description ends , 397).

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