George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Fitzgerald, 19 July 1793

To John Fitzgerald

Philadelphia 19th July 1793.

Dear sir,

The day preceeding my departure from Mount Vernon, the enclosed letter was put into my hands.1 pressed as I was at the time by other business, I could give it no answer; & the next day when I saw you in Alexandria this matter had escaped me. I give you the trouble, therefore (since you have allowed me the liberty) to fix something with mister Moore on the subject of it. whatever that may be will be satisfactory, & shall be binding on me, with two provisos—1st: that the term for which the lease is given shall not exceed five years—and 2dly that whatever repairs mister Moore may want, & are really necessary, shall be specifically enumerated, and executed under his own auspices & at his own expence, making a reasonable allowance therefor in fixing the rent. By such enumeration, it may be any time be seen whether the work stipulated has been executed; for in default thereof there can be no claim of deduction.2

I have two motives for giving you this trouble—one because I know you are a good judge of what the House & Lot ought to rent for—& the other, because I have no person in my employ at present in whom I can confide to negotiate this business for me.3 I am Dr Sir &c.

Go: Washington

P.S. I have, by letter, informed mister Moore of the footing on which I have placed the matter.4


1GW departed his estate on 7 July for his return to Philadelphia (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 190). The letter to GW from Alexandria resident Cleon Moore (1752–1808) therefore arrived at Mount Vernon on 6 July. Moore, whose letter of 5 July has not been found, had served as a captain in Grayson’s Regiment during the Revolutionary War.

2GW had previously instructed his estate manager Anthony Whitting to find someone to rent the townhouse situated on the lot at the corner of Pitt and Cameron Streets in Alexandria, Va. (GW to Whitting, 16 Dec. 1792). The problems of managing Mount Vernon after Whitting’s death on 21 June 1793 apparently left GW with the false impression that this had not been done (Tobias Lear to GW, 24 June 1793). For a detailed history of this townhouse, see GW’s Last Will and Testament, 9 July 1799, n.1.

3GW did not find a replacement for Whitting until late August (GW to William Pearce, 26 Aug., Pearce to GW, 30 Aug. 1793). For Fitzgerald’s efforts to comply with GW’s request, see his letter to GW of 3 August.

4In his letter to Moore of this date, GW wrote: “I duly received your letter of the 5th instt but at a time when I was so much engaged that it was not in my power to write you an answer.

“And now, having no knowledge of the condition in which my House & Lot in Alexandria are—and being equally ignorant of the Rent of such houses in that Town—I have requested the favor of my acquaintance & friend Col. Fitzgerald to negotiate this business with you. Any agreement then which you can make with him will be obligatory on Sir Your Obedt Servt” (ADfS, UkWC-A; LB, DLC:GW).

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