Thomas Jefferson’s Conversation with Washington
[Philadelphia, 13 December 1792]
1792. Dec. 13. the President called on me to see the Model & drawings of some mills for sawing stone.1 after shewing them he in the course of subsequent conversation asked me if there were not some good manufactories of Porcelaine in Germany, that he was in want of table china & had been speaking to mister Shaw who was going to the East Indies to bring him a set, but he found that it would not come till he should be no longer in a situation to want it. he took occasion a second time to observe that Shaw said it would be 2. years at least before he could have the china here, before which time he should be where he should not need it.2 I think he asked the question about the manufactories in Germany merely to have an indirect opportunity of telling me he meant to retire, and within the limits of two years.
AD, DLC: Jefferson Papers.
1. For background on GW’s visit to view the mill for cutting stone that Samuel Mulliken had designed, see Jefferson to GW, 12 Dec. (first letter), and note 1. For a “Drawing of a Mill for Sawing and Polishing Stone,” see Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 24:732.
2. Although GW apparently did not place an order for china with Samuel Shaw, the U.S. consul at Canton, he did acquire a new “sett of China” from Philadelphia merchant John Bringhurst, for which he paid $211 on 18 June 1793 (Presidential Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends ). For a description of the china acquired by GW during his residence in Philadelphia, see Detweiler, George Washington’s Chinaware, description begins Susan Gray Detweiler. George Washington’s Chinaware. New York, 1982. description ends 139–58.