George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 13 September 1793

From Tobias Lear

Portsmouth [N.H.] Septr 13th 1793

My dear honored Sir,

The desire which Mrs Washington had the goodness to express to know how my little boy got through his journey, has given her the trouble of the inclosed letter, which You will be so kind as to do me the favor to give to her.1

I arrived here this morning with my young companion in good health, we met with no accident of any kind on the road. Of rain we had only a sprinkling one day, and such appeard to be the gratitude of the inhabitants in that part of the Country where it fell (near Boston) for a blessing so long wished for, that it gave me pleasure even to ride in it. The drough, particularly about Boston, has been so severe as leave the ground at this season without the appearance of verdure—and I was informed that in many places the farmers had been obliged to begin already to feed out their very scanty store of winter food to the half starved Cattle. Happily, however, the severity of the drough is not general, the Country about Boston has suffered most.

I am happy to inform you that whenever I have, in the course of my journey, heard a sentiment expressed respecting the late measures of Government in regard to privateers, prizes &c.—it has been that of high approbation—and such seems to be the abhorrence in which the act of any Citizens of the U.S. engaging in that piratical species of warfare is viewed, that whoever may engage in it must expect, even if he should escape the punishement due by the laws to such crime, to be execrated by his fellow Citizens, at least in this quarter. I find however, that there is a very general & serious complaint of the capture of American Vessels by the West Indian Privateers. The trade of this part of the Country has suffered much thereby—and more evil is apprehended from the same source: But I presume proper & regular representations of this greeivance will be made to the Government.2

I shall leave this place for New York about the 25 of the present month.

Among the Millions who pray for your health & happiness there is no one does it with more truth & sincerity than my dear honored Sir, Your grateful, affectionate & Obediant Servant

Tobias Lear.


1The enclosure has not been identified.

2On the injury to U.S. commerce by West Indian privateers, see Edmund Randolph to GW, 2 March 1794, which quotes extensively from the complaint of a Philadelphia committee. GW transmitted that letter to Congress on 5 March 1794 (ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:423–24).

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