George Washington Papers

From George Washington to David Stuart, 12 February 1787

To David Stuart

Mount Vernon Feb. 12th 1787.

Dear Sir,

At length I have received the sheriffs acct against me for Taxes—a copy of which I enclose you. Mr Ratcliff supposes I am well acquainted with the manner of discharging it, but in truth I am not—nor whether his charges are right, or not; I shall thank you therefore for your Inspection, & comparison of it with the revenue Acts; and then, for providing me with the means for discharging it to the best advantage; according to your offer.1

At Christmas, when Peter, his Wife, & others of the family informed me his time was up, I sent him home, but he returned; informing me that as there was no place provided for him, Mrs Stuart desired him to remain here till your return from the Assembly. It did not occur to me, either of the times you were here, to inform you, that as he may be called away before the covering season comes on, and the time of the Mares dropping their young, at which alone he would be essentially serviceable to me, that I derive no advantage from his stay; as feeding & dressing can be performed as well by any other person as himself; consequently that I have no desire to keep him, if you find a use for him.2 I am, Dear Sir Yr most Obedt & Affe. Servt

Go: Washington

This letter was sent to Alexandria on Monday, by Mr Lear, who not seeing you in Town brought it back.3

ALS, PWacD: Sol Feinstone collection, on deposit PPAmP.

1Richard Ratcliff (Ratcliffe; c.1750–1825) was commissioner of the tax in Fairfax County. At one time or another he also was a justice of the peace, a deputy sheriff, and coroner of the county. The enclosed account of the taxes owed by GW has not been found. George Gilpin had been elected sheriff in November 1786. A controversy ensued over Ratcliff’s collection of GW’s taxes. See Ratcliff to GW, 10 April 1788.

2Stuart wrote GW on 15 Feb. that Peter was to continue at Mount Vernon through the year, and apparently he was still working for GW as late as April 1788 (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 265).

3GW recorded in his diary on Monday, 12 Feb., that “Mr. [Tobias] Lear went to an Assembly at Alexandria to be held this evening” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:104).

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