George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William McWhir, 17 February 1793

To William McWhir

Philadelphia 17th February 1793


Until I received your letter of the 5th Inst.1 it had not occurred to me that the absence of my Nephew would cause an infringement on the punctuality which has heretofore been observed in mak[in]g my annual payment for the support of the Poor School in the Alexandria Academy; and I thank you for reminding me of it. As it has been usual to make this payment to the President or Treasurer of the Board of Trustees for the Academy, I shall be obliged by your requesting one or the other of these Officers to draw upon Mr Lear, at sight, for the fifty pounds, (specifying in the draft the purpose for which it is made) as this mode will be safer & perhaps more convenient than to transmit the amount in Bank Bills, and especially as I should not know to whom to make the remittance, which is the reason for giving you this trouble.2

It is with reluctance, Sir, that I decline a compliance with your wishes to give you letters to certain Gentlemen in Georgia. But I am persuaded, that when you recollect that I have had no opportunities of obtaining a personal knowl[e]dge of your talents & qualifications as a teacher, you will readily see the impropriety there would be in my undertaking to recommend upon these points where I am not qualified to judge, and will therefore impute my declining to comply with your request to its just cause.3 Wishing you success in your undertaking & a continuanc[e] of health I am Sir, Your most Obet. Set.

Df, in Tobias Lear’s writing, PWacD; LB, DLC:GW.

1McWhir’s letter of 5 Feb. has not been found.

2In 1785 GW had promised the Alexandria Academy an annual payment of £50 Virginia currency, which was the interest from an investment of £1,000 Virginia currency that GW expected to give the school eventually. GW specified that this donation was for “educating orphan children who have no other resource—or the children of such indigent parents as are unable to give it” (GW to Trustees of the Alexandria Academy, 17 Dec. 1785; see also Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:251). This payment usually was made in early January, but it apparently had been forgotten during the absence of George Augustine Washington from Mount Vernon at that time (see GW to G. A. Washington, 27 Jan. 1793, and note 1). Rev. James Muir, the current president of the academy’s board of trustees, served almost continuously in this capacity from 1792 until his death in 1820. On 20 Mar. “a bill for £50. Virga Cy” was paid for the “President’s annual donation for 1792” (Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends ).

3McWhir, the present headmaster of the Alexandria Academy, later this year accepted an appointment in Sunbury, Ga., as the principal of the Sunbury Academy, a post he held for over twenty-six years.

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