George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Frederic Oehler, 1 February 1791

From David Frederic Oehler

Crimmitschau near Leipsig in Saxony
d 1 februar 1791.

Most gracious Lord

Forgive My lord, that a Stranger takes so much a Lyberty, as to trouble such a great men as You are with a Letter. But as you are the Præsident in the Magistrate of the United Provinces, I lay a Case with all humbly Submission for Your Excellen⟨z⟩e and call for Right! Two Merchand Partners Mr Leek & Melbek at Phyladelphia own me a Debt of R.,dollar, 2483 in franz Louidor a 5 R.dollar, for Wolln Etoffs, with wich I indrustit them in the Year 1783, & 1784. acConts ⟨illegible⟩ I lay in closd by. for all, I dit write a great many Letters to Lek & Melbek, but very seldom the dit me give any answer, and it praesent the are as I belive resolvd, to pay me nothing it all, and begin to act as Cheats, because the belive, the great distantz betwen our Countrys make it for me impossible to get my Property from them.1

Great Sir, You are Known amongst us, not only as a great General, but in some tim, as a very Just and honest men; by einquiring, in my Case, the will be found truth, I humbly begg to You for Your gracieux Assistenz, I am certain that a little motion from Your Excellen⟨z⟩ in my behalf, wil save my Property.

I am a German of the Province of Saxony, and cares on a Manufacture of Woolln Cloths, flanells and Etoffs. Our General the Count ⟨Solms⟩, by Whom I had Three Years ago, the plaisure as I paid hem a Visitt, to see Your Portraid, the General enjois by hes great Age a very good health; he Knows me as a honest men and as a men of reputation.

Pray let me hear that You forg⟨i⟩ve my Lyberty, and something comfortables in my Case. I pray You my humbly Respect, and remain with all Submission Your Excellency most Obedient faithfull humble Servant

David Frederic Oehler

Conseiller des finances, de ⟨illegible⟩ le Electeur de Sax


1John Melbeck maintained a mercantile establishment at 74 Vine St. in Philadelphia in 1791 (Philadelphia Directory, description begins Clement Biddle. The Philadelphia Directory. Philadelphia, 1791. description ends 1791, 87). Tobias Lear replied to Oehler on 20 July 1791. His letter reads: “Some short time since the President of the United States of America received a letter from you dated Feby 1st 1791, in which you beg his assistance in enabling you to recover a debt due from persons of the name of Leek & Melbeck belonging to this city. The President commands me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, and to inform you that it would have been more proper for you to have applied to some person in this country, who might act as your agent, and in case it was necessary might bring the matter before a Court of Justice here, in which all foreigners have equal privileges with our own citizens, and where justice is impartially administered—The President’s station and engagements in public business render it highly improper for him to have any agency in the private affairs of individuals—when the laws of the Country afford the means of redress to all who may be injured or oppressed” (DLC:GW).

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