George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 29 March 1793

From Tobias Lear

Philadelphia March 29th 1793


I have the honor to enclose a paper containing some seeds and a note from Mr Powel, which were sent here the evening after your departure.1

I called upon General Knox yesterday in order to communicate to him your observations and wishes respecting several matters mentioned in Genl Wilkinson’s letters. I found the General much better than he had been for some days past; but he said he was not yet well enough to attend to business. With respect to commuting the smaller articles of the Rations for an increase of bread & meat, he observed, that he should take the earliest opportunity his health would admit of to confer with the Secretary of the Treasury (in whose department all the Contracts lay) on that subject—and would inform you of the result: And in a day or two he would converse with me on the other points.2

There has been no arrival here from Europe since you left us; but the merchants who have vessels ready to sail are under great apprehensions on account of the information brought by the Ship from Lisbon.3

I have the pleasure to inform you that Ms Washington and the family are all in good health—and that you may enjoy the same with its best blessings—is the sincere prayer of Your respectful & obliged Servt

Tobias Lear.


1The enclosed note from Samuel Powel of c.28 Mar. has not been found. GW departed Philadelphia for Mount Vernon on 27 Mar., and he received Lear’s letter while in Baltimore (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 107; GW to Lear, 30 Mar. 1793).

2For the most recent letters of Gen. James Wilkinson, see John Stagg, Jr., to Lear, 27 Feb. and 23 Mar., n.1. GW had asked Lear to consult Henry Knox about Wilkinson’s proposal to forgo certain rations in favor of receiving a greater allotment of beef and bread (ibid., 107). The “Act making alterations in the Treasury and War Departments” of 8 May 1792 stipulated that all War Department purchases be made under the direction of the secretary of the treasury (1 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 279–81; see also Alexander Hamilton to GW, 10 Aug. 1792 [first letter]). For a list of the daily rations allowed each recruit, see Hamilton to Otho H. Williams, 11 Aug. 1792, n.1, in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 12:195–96. See also Deputy Q.M. Gen. John Belli’s estimate that the daily ration per soldier at Fort Washington in the Northwest Territory would not cost “above 3½ pence Virginia currency,” in “A Short Sketch of the Cost of a Ration at Fort Washington,” enclosed in Belli to Knox, 12 July 1792, DLC:GW. For attempts by Wilkinson, Anthony Wayne, and other army officers to secure better rations for their soldiers, see Knox to Lear, 11 Jan., note 1, and GW to Knox, 28 Feb. 1793, and note 1. During GW’s absence from Philadelphia between 27 Mar. and 17 April, Lear held at least two other meetings with Knox (Lear to GW, 1, 8 April).

3The Dispatch arrived at Philadelphia from Lisbon on 27 Mar. (General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 28 Mar.). News that France had declared war on Great Britain reached the United States in early April (Jefferson to GW, 1, 7 April, and note 1, and Hamilton to GW, 5 April, and note 1).

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