George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Knox, 3 September 1792

To Henry Knox


My dear Sir,Mount Vernon Sep. 3d 1792.

I thank you sincerely for the medicine you were so obliging as to send for my Nephew, and for the sympathetic feeling you express for his situation. Poor fellow! neither, I believe will be of any avail. Present appearances indicate a speedy dissolution. He has not been able to leave his bed except for a few moments to set in an Arm Chair since the 14th or 15th of last Month. The paroxysm of the disorder seems to be upon him and death or a favourable turn to it must soon follow.1

I pray you to turn your thoughts to the communications which may be necessary for me to refer to from the War Department at the opening of the next Session; that such documents as shall be adjudged proper for the occasion may be prepared by that time for both houses of Congress; and if any thing else of a general nature should occur to you I would thank you for noting it for consideration that nothing proper may escape communication.2

I learn through the medium of a letter from the Auditor to his father in law, Doctr Craik, that Colo. Hamilton has it in contemplation to visit this part of the Country in the course of this, or the beginning of next month. Should this event take place and you could make it convenient to be of the party it will be unnecessary I hope for me to say that I should be very glad to see you under this roof. It is fair, however, to add, that this part of the Country has experienced more sickness this summer than is recollected to have happened for many years—first with the flux, and then with intermittant & remittant fevers. happily few deaths have been the consequence of either. The former is now over—but the latter is still prevalent. Both the French and British Ministers talked of coming this way. Should they still continue in the same mind I should be glad if by indirect enquiries you could ascertain & let me know the time, or times (if they come seperately) they may be expected.3 My present intention, if the peculiar situation into which my affairs are thrown by the illness of my Nephew will not necessarily delay it, is to take the Sale of Lots in the Federal City in my way to Philadelphia—and this Sale is appointed to be on the 8th of October.4 I am &ca

G. W——n


1On 31 Aug., Knox sent GW “two more bottles” of “the medicine called Antipertussis” from Philadelphia for GW’s nephew George Augustine Washington, who died on 5 Feb. 1793 from tuberculosis (NNGL: Knox Papers).

2GW made a similar request to the other members of his cabinet for material to include in the address that he delivered to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on 6 Nov. 1792 (see GW to Jefferson, 23 Aug., to Hamilton, 26 Aug., and Randolph to GW, 28 Oct. 1792). For Knox’s response, see his letter to GW of 14 Oct., and note 1.

3For GW’s positive response to the suggestion by Richard Harrison, auditor of the Treasury Department, that Hamilton might visit Mount Vernon, see GW to Hamilton, 26 August. Hamilton and Knox did not visit Mount Vernon (see Knox to GW, 8 Sept. [first letter], and Hamilton to GW, 9 Sept. [first letter]).

In a letter marked “Private,” Knox wrote GW from Philadelphia on 16 Sept.: “Agreably to your request I have sounded Mr Hammond, and Mr Ternant upon their intentions of vissiting Mount Vernon[.] The former who returned from the eastward a few days past, will set out for your house on Wednesday the 19th, and he expects to reach it in four day and an half.

“Mr Ternant who is in delicate health says he shall be unable to form any decision until the latter of the Week, but it is rather improbable that he will undertake the journey” (DLC:GW).

On 18 Sept. in another “Private” letter from Philadelphia, Knox wrote GW that “Mr Hammond in order to accommodate Mr [Robert] Smith of south Carolina, who is to accompany him to Mount Vernon will not set out until the 20th instant” (DLC:GW). Hammond arrived at Mount Vernon on 24 Sept. (see GW to Knox, 24 Sept. [second letter]).

4GW left Mount Vernon on 8 Oct. and arrived in Philadelphia on 13 Oct. to prepare for the opening of the second session of the Second Congress (see GW to Betty Washington Lewis, 7 Oct., to Anthony Whitting, 14 October).

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