George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John O’Donnell, 9 September 1790

From John O’Donnell

[Baltimore]1 Thursday 9 Septr [17]90

ODonnell presents his most respectful Compts to the President of the United States—intreats his Acceptance of the accompanying Indian Apparatus for Smoaking called “a Hooka” which He took the Liberty to mention to Him, when He had the Honor to visit Him sometime since at New York.

The Bearer will shew the President’s Servant it’s use, and the Manner of preparing the Tobacco for Smoaking.


Capt. John O’Donnell (died c.1805) had lived in India for sixteen years in the employ of the British East India Company before he arrived in Baltimore in August 1785 as owner and master of the Pallas with a cargo from China (Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, 18 Aug. 1785). He bought almost two thousand acres on the Baltimore waterfront east of Fell’s Point where he built an oriental mansion called “Canton.” In introducing O’Donnell to GW in 1785, Tench Tilghman described him as “a Gentleman of large Fortune—polished Manners” (Tilghman to GW, 25 Aug. 1785 and note 1).

1GW arrived in Baltimore at 6:00 p.m. on 8 Sept. 1790 and left at 6:00 a.m. on 10 Sept. 1790.

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