George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Augustine Washington, 3 September 1793

From William Augustine Washington

[Haywood, Va., 3 September 1793]

I have been making enquiries respecting the hire of carpenters as you desired. I have at length met with a per[s]on who is a regular bred Carpenter and has four Negro Carpenters that work with him; he says if you will contract with him for twelve months, he will agree to move up to Mount Vernon—his terms are £10 per month for himself and four Negro Carpenters. . . . he will expect himself and hands to be found in provision and a house to be furnished him1 . . . my love to my aunt, . . .

Extract, George H. Richmond, Autograph Letters . . . , 1904, item 329.

1GW drew up and signed a contract, witnessed by Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., for the employment of this carpenter: “Articles of Agreement entered into between George Washington of Mount Vernon in Virginia, at present President of the United States & residing in Philadelphia of the one part, and [ ] of the County of Westmoreland & State aforesaid House Carpenter & Joiner of the other part, Witness that the said [ ] for the wages and other considerations hereafter mentioned, doth oblige himself and four Negro Carpenters belonging to him, who he engages to be good workmen, to wit, [ ] to serve the said George Washington one year from the time they shall enter upon the execution of their duties at Mount Vernon (which he promises shall be on or before the [ ] day of [ ] next ensuing. During which time he, & they, will conduct themselves soberly, honestly and diligently in whatever business (in the line of their profession) they shall be employed in. That he will besides attending to his own, superintend all such Negro Carpenters belonging to the said George Washington as shall be placed under his care & direction; and to the utmost of his skill & industry, so order & contrive the work for the whole, or any part thereof, as to carry it on to the best advantage & with the greatest facility. That he will be particularly attentive as well to the conduct of his own as to such other Carpenters as may be entrusted to him, suffering no idleness when they are in health, nor no neglect of them when sick. That he will cause proper care to be taken of the Tools, & see them forthcoming whenever called for; or a satisfactory account rendered of them if they are not. That he will enter in a book to be kept for that purpose an acct of all the work which has been done by himself and the Carpenters over whom he is placed, and report the same weekly. That he will never be away from his people when they are at work and he is in health; nor be absent from his duty without permission from the said George Washington or his Manager; but on the contrary, by close attention, & an industrious conduct, will set an example to them worthy of imitation. And Whereas it too often happens that men (regardless of their engagements & of course their reputation) when working on standing wages are apt to be idle, careless & indifferent to the interest of their Employers, thereby setting the reverse of good examples, it is hereby clearly understood and expressly agreed to by the said [ ] that he will be at his business as soon as it is light, and remain thereat until dark, when he is in health; & when not employed in laying out, or marking off work for others, that he will labour as faithfully, & as effectually as any hand under him; as well for the purpose of fulfilling this agreement as for the good example he would set by so doing to those who are under his care, and who are not so ignorant (knowing this is required of him) as not to relax as he relaxes, and be idle in proportion as he is idle; because all of them have discernment enough to know that no man can, with propriety, or a good conscience, correct others for a fault he is guilty of himself; the consequence of which is, that indolence & sloth take possession of the whole. Lastly, the said [ ] doth hereby oblige himself, during the term aforesaid, to conform to all orders & directions in the line of his business, or in any other that is reasonable (his time being paid for by the said George Washington) which he the said George Washington, or person having the general Superintendency of his business, shall require⟨.⟩ In consideration of these Services well & truly performed on the part of the said [ ] and his four Negro Carpenters before named, the said George Washington doth hereby oblige himself to pay the said [ ] the sum of ten pounds pr Kalender month—estimating dollars at Six shillings & other gold & silver at that rate, for the hire of the said [ ] and the four Negro Carpenters beforementioned; and in that proportion in case any of them should be unable to come, or die in the service after they have entered upon it. The said George Washington doth moreover agree to furnish the said [ ] and his four Negro Carpenters with provisions; himself with [ ] lbs. of Porke or Beef, and [ ] bushels of Indian Meal or midling flour equivalent in value thereto; and his Negros with the same provisions in quantity & quality as his own Negro Carpenters are allowed—And will provide the whole with Tools, & pay their taxes. He also agrees to furnish the said [ ] with a house to live in, or if this cannot be done in time, conveniently, then, & in that case, a room seperate & distinct from any other person or persons. But the said [ ] is to provide his own bed and necessaries; as also such kind of bedding as he chuses to allow his own Negros. For the true & faithful performance of this agreement, the parties do bind themselves each to the other in the sum of [ ] pounds this [ ] day of [ ] 1793” (ViMtvL).

The carpenter probably was Mr. Stone, mentioned in GW’s letter to William A. Washington of 21 Oct., in which case the proposed agreement was not completed, because the four assistants were not as initially represented.

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