George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Taft, 8 November 1789

To Samuel Taft

Hartford [Conn.], November 8. 1789.


Being informed that you have given my name to one of your Sons, and called another after Mrs Washington’s family—and being moreover very much pleased with the modest and innocent looks of your two daughters Patty and Polly I do, for these reasons, send each of these Girls a piece of chintz—and to Patty, who bears the name of Mrs Washington, and who waited more upon us than Polly did, I send five guineas, with which she may buy herself any little ornaments she may want, or she may dispose of them in any other manner more agreeable to herself.1

As I do not give these things with a view to have it talked of, or even to its being known, the less there is said about the matter the better you will please me; but that I may be sure the chintz and money have got safe to hand, let Patty, who I daresay is equal to it, write me a line informing me thereof directed to “The President of the United States at New York.” I wish you and your family well and am Your humble Servant

G. Washington.


Samuel Taft kept a tavern near Uxbridge, Massachusetts. GW and his party stayed in the tavern on the night of 6 Nov. 1789 while on his tour of New England and noted in his diary that although “the people were obliging, the entertainment was not very inviting” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:494).

1Taft’s daughter acknowledged the gift on 28 Dec.: “May it please your Highness Agreeable to your commands, I, with pleasure, inform the President, that, on the 25th inst., I received the very valuble present, by the hand of the Revd Mr Pond of Ashford, you, Sir, were pleased to send me and my Sister, accompanied with a letter from your benevolent hand, of 8th ult.

“The articles mentioned in the letter, viz., two pieces of chintz, containing 30 yds and, five Guineas, came safely to hand, well seeled.

“As it was far beyond my deserving, to receive such a distinguishing mark of your approbation, so it wholly exceeded my expectation.

“And I want words, to express my gratitude to you, Great Sir, for the extraordinary favours & honour, conferred on me and our famaly, both, at this time, and while your Highness was pleased to honour my Papa’s house with your presence—I shall endeavour to comply with your desires expressed in the letter—And, as I have great Reason, I shall ever esteem, and Revere the name of him whose noble deeds and Patriotism, has laid a permanet obligation on all the Sons & Daughters of the American Empire ever to adore their unequaled Benefactor.

“And my ardent desires are that the best of heavens blessings may, both in this, and in the future world ever rest on the head of him who stands at the head of our United Empire—My sister joins with me in the unfeigned acknowladgement I’ve made, likewise hord [honored] Papa and Mama with sincere thanks and duty desirs to be remembred to your Highness, I conclude, resting assured, that it’s wholly unnecessary a pologize for the incorrectnss of the a bove to him whose candour will paliate the want of ability and Education, in her, who is unacquainted with epistolary, correspondence, epeciely with one of the first charecters on the Globe” (DLC:GW). The letter is signed by Mercy Taft, with a note appended: “Pray pardon me sir if I mention the mistake in my name you se Sir, it is not Patty.”

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