George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 1 April 1793

From Tobias Lear

Philadelphia April 1st 1793


I know of nothing relative to public affairs that has transpired since your departure.1 In our domestic concerns we go on as usual.

General Knox is mending; but he has not yet been out of his room. I saw him yesterday, when he told me he had just received a letter from General Lincoln, and that he might be expected here about the middle of the present week.2 As General Knox observed that he was not yet well enough to attend to business, nothing was said on the points mentioned to him the day after you left the City.3

I shall this day inform Mr De Barth that I have his bond and am authorized to receive payment thereof; but I do not think there is any probability of his being as ready to produce the money; for there was hardly ever a more general complaint of the want of specie than at present.4 whether the scarcity is real or artificial is left to conjecture; but there are not a few who consider it as altogether of the latter complexion.

The Vessel on board of which the porter was shipped sailed on friday, and since that time the wind has been generally favourable for her.5

If Mrs F. Washington should be at Mount Vernon I must beg the favor of having my best respects presented to her with the sincerest condolence for the loss of her dear friend—and my best wishes for the happiness of herself & children.6

Mrs Lear unites with me in sentiments of respect for yourself & in wishing that health & happiness may attend you. I have the honor to be, with the truest Attachment Sir Your obliged, faithful & Affecte Servt

Tobias Lear.


1GW had left Philadelphia on Wednesday, 27 Mar., for a visit to Mount Vernon (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 107).

2For earlier mention of Knox’s illness, see Lear to GW, 29 March. According to a letter from War Department clerk John Stagg, Jr., to Anthony Wayne, Knox had been “confined to his bed, with a fever,” since at least 23 Mar. (Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 207). GW had appointed Benjamin Lincoln one of three commissioners to negotiate an Indian treaty at Lower Sandusky in the Northwest Territory (GW to U.S. Senate, 1 Mar. [second letter]). Lincoln’s letter to Knox has not been identified. Lincoln arrived at Philadelphia on this date (Lear to GW, 3 April).

3GW’s executive journal indicates that on 27 Mar. he had “Directed Mr. Lear to mention to Genl. Knox certain points touched upon in letters from Genl. [James] Wilkinson—particularly respecting commuting some of the smaller articles of the Rations for an increase of Bread & beef” (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 107). For Knox’s initial response to Lear’s message, see Lear to GW, 29 March.

4On this date Lear wrote to John Joseph de Barth: “When the President left this City on Wednesday last, he left with me your bond for six thousand Crowns, which became payable on the 31st of December last, and directed me to give you information thereof on this day (which he observed was the day stipulated for payment to be made) and to receive such payment for him (if made) agreeably to a power which I have from him for that purpose. You will be so obliging as to give me an answer by the bearer” (ViMtvL). On the two bonds that de Barth signed on 21 Mar. 1791 for the purchase from GW of lands along the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, see GW to George Clendinen, 21 Mar. 1791, and note 2. When de Barth admitted he was unable to fulfill his contract, GW agreed to void their deal (GW to de Barth, 30 April 1793). On GW’s lands on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, see the Schedule of Property enclosed in GW’s Last Will and Testament, 9 July 1799, and notes 9–10.

5On Wednesday, 27 Mar., GW paid $4 for the “freight of 3 hampers 1 bbl & 1 box to Alexa.” (Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends , 1793–1797, PHi).

6For Frances Bassett Washington’s planned visit to Mount Vernon to consult with GW after the death of her husband George Augustine Washington, see her letter to GW of 28 March.

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