To William Washington
Philadelphia Jan: 30th 1793
Your letter of the 15th of October to my Nephew—Majr G: Auge Washington—after some forward & a retrograde movement found him at Colo. Bassetts in New Kent, Virginia; to which place for change of Air, and a warmer situation for the Winter, he had embarked (by water) about the middle of that month—so much reduced—poor fellow! as to be hardly able to stand. From thence your letter was forwarded to me. By the last Post from Richmond we had accounts of his being then alive, but so low as not to be able, it was supposed, to survive many days.1
The above detail will account for the lapse of time between the date of your letter to my Nephew, and this acknowledgment of it from me. To acknowledge it himself he could not.
Whatever sum shall be found due to me on Acct of Royal Gift (after all the charges are paid, and such other deductions made as may be satisfactory for your expence & trouble in this business) I would thank you for remitting me in the manner most convenient to yourself—perhaps none will be more so than in Bills from your Branch on the Bank of the U: States in this City.
The season is now so far advanced that there is no alternative with respect to Royal Gift. He must therefore remain with you another Covering Season; for besides the hazard of removing him in cold weather on frozen ground, he could scarcely arrive in time—certainly not in order, for the Services that would be required of him next Spring at Mount Vernon. He is therefore committed to your care & management during that period.2
My best wishes, in which Mrs Washington joins me, are presented to you and your lady—and I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedt and Affectionate Kinsman
ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
William Washington, the son of Bailey and Catherine Storke Washington, was GW’s second cousin once removed. He had married Jane Reily Elliott (c.1763–1830) on 21 April 1782. GW, while on his tour of the southern states in 1791, stayed at Sandy Hill, the plantation that Jane Washington had inherited in St. Paul Parish, Charleston District, S.C. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:133–34).
1. George Augustine Washington, GW’s former manager of Mount Vernon, was ill with tuberculosis. He had left Mount Vernon in October to spend the winter in New Kent County, Va., at Eltham, the estate of his father-in-law, Burwell Bassett, where he died on 5 Feb. 1793 (Anthony Whitting to GW, 31 Oct. 1792).
William Washington’s letter from Charleston, S.C., to George Augustine Washington of 15 Oct. 1792 reads: “I have postponed writing untill now that I might give you an account of the profits arising from the covering of Royal-Gift. As James Allen intended to go to Virginia last Fall upon private business, I engaged to pay his passage to Philadelphia by water & his reasonable expences from thence to this Country by way of Mount-Vernon provided he wou’d bring in Royal-Gift, allowing him, if he found it absolutely necessary, to hire some person upon the best terms to assist him. On his return he inform’d me that he cou’d not do without assistance & therefore hired a Man with a Horse which considerably enhanc’d the expences of travelling. He was upwards of a Month in his Journey from Mount-Vernon to Sandy-Hill. His charge of expenditures for which he produced receipts amounted to thirty eight pounds Sterling. The length of the Journey had such an effect upon the limbs of Royal-Gift altho he was moved on slowly, that, some time after his arrival, it was with the greatest difficulty that he cou’d get up after lying down & indeed for some time his life was dispair’d of. However he had so far recover’d by the middle of May that he was put to covering; but it was thought prudent, as he was weak & low in flesh, not to receive more than forty odd Mares & Jennies. He stood at a Mr Fraser’s [John Freazer] on Ashley River & has cover’d twenty eight Jennies at six Guineas each & thirteen Mares at five Guineas. As a compensation for Mr Frasers trouble & for pasturage I agreed to give him one Guinea for each Mare & Jenny sent to the Jack, which terms are rather more reasonable than usual it being customary to pay one fourth of the charges upon covering. Royal-Gift did not leave his Stand untill last week on account of some of the Jennies which had not been fully gratified, so that Mr Fraser will make some charge for the care & maintenance of him from the 1st of August at which time it was presum’d that the season would expire. The Jennies sent to Royal-Gift being the property of those Gentlemen who had importun’d me to make application to the President to send him to this Country, it was agreed that an additional Guinea shou’d be charged upon them in order to defray in part the enormous expence of his travelling out; for most of those Jennies were imported last Fall from the Cape de Verd Islands for the express purpose of being put to him & it was understood that they were to be cover’d at the same price as Mares.
“As I have not Mr Fraser’s account I cannot ascertain the exact balance which will be due but shall transmit a particular statement in a short time. You may however safely draw on me for six hundred Dollars at thirty days sight notwithstanding the greatest part of the money has not yet been paid but am confidant that it will be ready before the arrival of your Bill.
“I have often regretted that I made application to the President to send Royal-Gift to this Country as his adherence to his promise prevented his disposing of him upon advantageous terms & the profits of covering has not been near so great as was expected.
“If the President means to let him remain in this Country another Season it will be necessary for me to be advis’d of it in due time & he may rest assur’d that I shall consult his interest in the management of him. I think it probable that two hundred Guineas or more clear of all expences may be made by him another season if he shall be in good Health. He is at present rather low in flesh but otherwise well except a small ulcer on one of his legs” (DLC:GW).
The letter by the last post from Richmond may refer to an unidentified letter that Frances Bassett Washington wrote to Martha Washington from Eltham (see Fields, Papers of Martha Washington, description begins Joseph E. Fields, ed. “Worthy Partner”: The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn., and London, 1994. description ends 241–47). On GW’s acquisition of the jackass Royal Gift in 1785, see G. A. Washington to GW, 16 July 1790, note 4.
2. On GW’s decision to send Royal Gift to William Washington, see Tobias Lear to GW, 15 May 1791, note 6. For other correspondence concerning William Washington’s management of Royal Gift, see William Washington to GW, 20 April 1793, 6 Jan. 1794 (PPRF; [photocopy], DLC:GW), GW to William Washingon, 9 Feb. 1794 (ADfS, DLC:GW) and 14 July 1795 (ADfS, DLC:GW). Royal Gift remained in South Carolina and died there in 1796 (see William Washington to GW, 23 July 1796, ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection). For the expenses connected with Royal Gift’s transport to and stay in South Carolina and a list of the owners who sent mares and jennies for covering, see Accounts and Miscellaneous Papers Relating to Royal Gift, 1792–1795, ICHi (photocopy, ViMtvL). See also William Washington to GW, 20 April, n.1.