George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Caleb Gibbs, 12 December 1794

From Caleb Gibbs

Boston Decr 12th 1794

Dear Sir

By the Schooner Porga Captn Coffin who sails to morrow for Philadelphia I do myself the pleasure to ship you two packages of the very best of Isle of shoal dumb fish, which I beg your acceptance of.1

Knowing your fondness for those kind of fish (and being in possession of some of them) Induced me to forward a small quantity to you by this conveyance.

Hopeing they may get safe to hand and in good order is the wish of him who ever was and ever will be With the greatest respect and personal attachment Dear Sir Your most Obedient and most humble servant

Caleb Gibbs.

P.S. Be pleased to offer me in terms of the highest Respect to Mrs Washington.

Inclosed is the bill of lading for the fish.2


1The Porga’s arrival at Philadelphia, thirteen days from Boston, was noted in The Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser of 27 December. On 29 Dec. an expenditure of fifty cents given to “2 sailors who brot a parcel of Fish sent by Colo. Gibbs” was recorded in GW’s Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends (PHi). “Dumb fish”—or dunfish—were cod, the first catch of the season, salted, dried, and then kept alternately above and below ground to mellow (Raymond McFarland, A History of the New England Fisheries [New York, 1911], 68–69).

2The enclosed bill of lading has not been identified. On 15 Oct. 1795 Gibbs wrote to GW’s secretary Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., that “not hearing of their delivery made me suspicious that there was dishonesty in the master, and not long since in conversation with General Knox, he led me to believe that the parcells of fish had never been received by the President. I will thank you Sir to let me know by the returned Post wether or not the fish were ever received, and if not that I may take such measures with the Master as his bills of Lading will Justify me in doing” (DLC:GW). Dandridge’s reply (if any) has not been identified.

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