George Washington Papers

Tobias Lear to Alexander Hamilton, 28 November 1789

Tobias Lear to Alexander Hamilton

United States Novr 28th 1789


The President of the U. States being very desirous that the several Accts of those Articles which were furnished by directions of Saml Osgood & William Duer Esqr in pursuance of a resolution of both houses of Congress of the 15th of April 1789 and deposited in the house provided for the President of the United States, for his use, should be settled & paid.1 He has, therefore, directed me to inform you that it is his wish that the money appropriated to that purpose might be applied thereto as soon as may be; and that you should employ a competent person to examine & settle said Accounts, and previous to their being paid that the person so employed should compare the accounts rendered in, with the articles actually in the house to prevent any abuse. I have the honor to be with perfect respect Sir Your most Obt Servant

Tobias Lear


1For the action of Congress in arranging for the repair and furnishing of the Osgood house in preparation for GW’s occupancy, see GW to James Madison, 30 Mar. 1789, n.2. GW’s concern for following proper procedures in the matter may have been prompted by the considerable criticism in the spring of 1789 concerning the cost of the renovation and the furnishings for the presidential mansion. The decoration of the house had been fairly elaborate as the niece of Walter Franklin, the original owner of the Osgood house, indicates: “Previous to his [GW’s] coming, Uncle Walter’s house on Cherry St. was taken for him, and every room furnished in the most elegant manner. Aunt Osgood and Lady Kitty Duer had the whole management of it. I went the morning before the General’s arrival to take a look about. The best of furniture in every room, and the greatest quantity of plate and china I ever saw. The whole of the first and second story is papered & the floors covered with the richest king of Turkey and ⟨illegible⟩ carpet. The house did honor to my aunt & Lady Kitty, they spared no pains nor expense on it. Thou must know that Uncle Osgood & Duer were appointed to procure a house and furnish it, accordingly they pitched on their wives as being likely to do it better” (Sarah Robinson to Kitty F. Wistar, 30 April 1789, MSaE: Benjamin Pickman Papers).

Among the register’s papers at the National Archives is a list of items furnished the presidential household, with the names of the merchants from whom they were purchased (DNA: RG 53, Records of the Register’s Office, vol. 138). Another account of “Sundries bot on account of G.W.,” 20 Nov. 1789–96, is in CtY: Washington Family Papers. The lists contain items purchased both in New York and in Philadelphia after the capital moved to that city. They also may include items that were provided by Congress for the Osgood house at the beginning of GW’s presidency. Although it is uncertain when and for what purpose these lists were drawn up, it is likely they were prepared as part of GW’s final accounting of his office, and they will be printed under the date of March 1797 when he left office. See also “Abstract of Accounts of sundry persons for Goods furnished and repairs done to the House occupied ⟨by the⟩ President of the United States,” 29 Dec. 1789 (NHi: Samuel Osgood Papers).

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