George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Knox, 24 September 1792

To Henry Knox


My dear Sir,Mount Vernon Septr 24 92

I thank you for the information contained in your private letters of the 16th & 18th instt—From the contents of the last, it is probable Mr Hammond will be here to day, or tomorrow before Noon.1

I perceive by the Papers that Mr Penn & lady are arrived—and with them, Mr Andrew Hamilton & family. What, pray, has been the reception of the last mentioned Gentleman by the Officers of the State Government (particularly the Govr)—Mr Morris &ca? I wish to be pretty accurately informed of this before my arrival; because, as he is considered as one of the obnoxious characters of the State of Pennsylvania, a little circumspection on the part of the President of the U. States may be necessary.2

I hope Mrs Knox & your family were well when you last heard from them. My poor Nephew though a little better is scarcely able to walk—If he should recover strength enough to bear the ride it is recommended to him to spend the Winter in the lower parts of the State where the Weather is more temperate than it is at Mount Vernon. But the chances are much against this.3

I still hold to my resolution of leaving this for Philadelphia about the 8th or 9th of next month, if the Situation of my family & Servants does not absolutely prevent it; for, never since I have lived at this place has the remitting fever been so prevalent as it has this year.4 Sincerely & Affectionately I am always Yours

Go: Washington

P.S. Since writing the foregoing, Messrs Hammond & Smith are arrived at this place.5

ALS, NNGL: Knox Papers.

1British minister George Hammond and the Rev. Robert Smith from South Carolina arrived at Mount Vernon this day and left two days later (see note 5).

2GW made a slip of the pen here by writing “Andrew Hamilton” instead of “Andrew Allen.” The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia) reported on 19 Sept. 1792: “In the ship Amelia, [Capt. John] Hill, from London, arrived in this city, last Saturday [15 Sept.], John Penn, Esq; and his lady: also Andrew Allen, Esq; with his four daughters and three sons.” John Penn (1729–1795), a grandson of Pennsylvania founder William Penn, had been lieutenant governor of that state before the Revolutionary War. Although Loyalist in his sympathies, Penn never took any overt action against the American cause, and except for some years abroad, he continued to live in Philadelphia or at his nearby country estate until his death. Penn married Ann Allen, the eldest daughter of William Allen (1704–1780), who was chief justice of Pennsylvania 1750–74. Andrew Allen (1740–1825), the second son of William Allen and thus Penn’s brother-in-law, became attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1769. Although Allen was a founder of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry in 1774, a member of the city’s committee of safety in 1775, and a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776, he balked at independence, and after GW’s defeats at Long Island and New York City in 1776, he fled from Philadelphia to British-controlled New York City, returning to Philadelphia only after British general Howe’s forces entered the city in December 1777. Allen and his father eventually immigrated to England, and because he was a Loyalist, his property was confiscated and sold. Following his return to Philadelphia in 1792, Allen tried unsuccessfully for several years to recover some of his lost assets before returning permanently to England.

Although some Pennsylvania patriots might have harbored bitter feelings toward Andrew Allen, Knox reported that many did not. In his first letter to GW of 29 Sept. from Philadelphia, marked “Private,” Knox wrote: “Mr Andrew Allen (who came out with Mr and Mrs Penn, and who is brother to the latter) has been well received. Previously to his return, a pardon, or the reversal of his attainder was obtained from the Governor, under the seal of the State. He appears to be esteemed and his former conduct entirely obliterated. I dined in company with him two days ago at a large party given by Mr [Isaac] Hazlehurst, specially I beleive to him and Mr Penn” (DLC:GW).

3Knox, in his first letter to GW of 29 Sept., wrote that his wife, Lucy Flucker Knox, “was brought abed on the 16th instant with a daughter” (DLC:GW). George Augustine Washington left Mount Vernon in October to spend the winter in New Kent County, Va. (see Anthony Whitting to GW, 31 Oct. 1792).

4GW and family left Mount Vernon on 8 Oct. and arrived in Philadelphia on 13 Oct. 1792 (see GW to Betty Washington Lewis, 7 Oct., to Anthony Whitting, 14 Oct. 1792). For further mention of the illnesses that afflicted various members of GW’s household, see GW to Lear, 21 Sept. 1792.

5When Hammond and Smith were preparing to leave Mount Vernon on 26 Sept., GW wrote a note introducing them to Andrew Ellicott, surveyor of the federal district: “Mr Hammond, Minister of Great Britain, and Mr Smith of South Carolina wish to pass through the Federal City to day, on their way to Bladensburgh [Md]. I pray you to attend on them, and shew the Gentleman such parts of it as their time and inclination may dispose them to view” (ALS, NjP: Straus Autograph Collection).

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