George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Rumsey, 5 September 1786

From James Rumsey

Alexandria Septr 5th 1786

Dr General.

I was Verry Sorry to hear that it was Sickness prevented you from Comeing to The meeting at Seneca, Go venor Johnson and Lee was also Sick and Could not attend therefore Their was no Board. It would Oblige me much if The next meeting was to be at the great falls as their is Several persons whose presence will Be Nescessary that Objects to going Over to the maryland Side an account of the Bad attention to that ferry, and Dearness of it, I am Convinced that the maryland gentlemen would wish to See the works at the great falls, and therefore think that they will have no Objection to meeting their.1

Inclosed is an account of the Expence of your Buildings at Bath It amounts to a Considerable Sum higher than I Expected the ac[c]t is Stated in penns. Currencey. The Stone work of the Celler is Extended at an astablished price that I had from Every person that I had work of that kind Done for, when I found Every thing. The underpinning the kitchen and kitchen Chimney I Estamated at ten pounds ten Shillings a particular account of it Being Neglected, But I Beleive it To Be Set Loe, The nails, Glass Locks and hinges are high, But they are at the prices that we was Obliged to give at Bath for them, I am not Quite as To the amount of the money I have Receivd of you But I think it is as follows,—Viz.

paid to Mr Herbert £40.0.0
my first Devidend to potomack Co. 3.6.8
Receivd for Rent of houses 9.0.0
paid me at your house 20.0.0

I am not Very Clear but the money I got at your house was twenty five pounds but I gave a Receipt for it which will Show the amt2—the Boat will be tryed this week on the Oreginal plann you Shall Immediately Hear what Suckcess3—I am with Every Sentyment of Regard your most obt Very hbl. Servt

James Rumsey


1The board of directors of the Potowmack Company met at the Great Falls of the Potomac on 2–4 Oct. (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:47–48). See also GW to George Gilpin and John Fitzgerald, 1 Sept., n.1.

2GW engaged Rumsey in 1784 to build for him at Bath (Berkeley Springs) a two-story house and outbuildings. See Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:9–12, and GW to Rumsey, 5 June 1785,, , and Rumsey to GW, 10 Mar., 24 June 1785. For reports critical of Rumsey’s work, see George Lewis to GW, 25 Aug. 1786, and Jean Le Mayeur to GW, 28 Aug. 1786. Rumsey’s enclosed account of the costs for erecting the structures shows a total charge of £104.9.1. The largest items were £16.16.8 for “33 & ⅔ perches of Stone work in Celler wall @10/,” £18.19.6 to pay Thomas Beard for carpentry work on the house, £10.10 for “under pining kitchen & Building Chimney,” and £12 to the carpenter for building the kitchen. A transcription of Rumsey’s account is in CD-ROM:GW. Rumsey also enclosed in this letter a receipt from Thomas Beard for the carpentry work done on the house.

3GW viewed the model of Rumsey’s mechanical boat at Berkeley Springs in September 1784 and gave Rumsey a certificate dated 7 Sept. 1784 attesting to the boat’s efficacy. He thereafter maintained a lively interest in Rumsey’s progress, or lack of, in perfecting his boat. See GW to Rumsey, 31 Jan. 1786, and note 1 of that document.

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