George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Otho Holland Williams, 20 April 1785

From Otho Holland Williams

Baltimore [Md.] 20th April 1785


I have not had the honor of a line, or message from you since I forwarded, to Mount Vernon, the Parchments which Major Turner sent to me from Philadelphia,1 and I was uncertain of your intentions respecting the Diplomas ’till about ten days ago, a gentleman Mr Hamilton, ⟨(⟩of this town) desired me to look at two blanks to which your name was subscribed—they were Diplomas, and upon enquiry I found they had been taken from a fellow suspected of a theft—He was in prison and I used every means in my power to know how he came by them, but to no effect—He said he found them in a particular part of the Town. I went there, but to no purpose; it was the residence of Vice, and my researches were fruitless—I concluded that the packet of parchments had been sent by the Stage Waggon and [I] went to the Stage office to know if it had not been stolen from thence, but no bill or entry of it could be found there I am now in doubt about the cause of the miscarriage and think it incumbent on me to give you the trouble of this information. I am most respectfully Sir, your Most obedt & mo: Hble Servt

O.H. Williams

ADfS, PHi: Dreer Collection.

1The original of this letter never reached GW. It was not until he got William Jackson’s letter of 19 July that GW learned of the loss of the Society of the Cincinnati diplomas that he had signed and sent back to Williams. The letter that GW then wrote to Williams, on 26 July, has not been found, but Williams responded on 15 Aug., giving GW further details of his investigation of the theft of the certificates. In the end, GW signed a new set of diplomas for the members of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati (see GW to Williams, 25 Sept., and William Jackson to GW, 24 Oct.).

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