George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Clement Biddle, 8 April 1798

To Clement Biddle

Mount Vernon 8th April 1798

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 25th Ulto is before me, but I have not yet heard of the arrival of Captn Tice at Alexandria.1

Not being able to wait any longer for Oznabrigs, I have made the purchase of what I stood in need of, in Alexandria—further enquiry therefore after this article, and the price of it, may be discontinued by you, in Philadelphia, on my Account.

The Bills for the other articles, purchased by you, with the A/c currant, have been received. By the latter, a balance of $138.38 appears against me, but as interest on my Certificates became due the first of this month, and you will have the Coach and other things to sell, belonging to me, I have not remitted it.2

About the middle of August, the term for which my present Miller is engaged, will expire; and it is not probable it will be renewed, as he is not, in the first place, though a pretty good Miller, the most industrious man in the world; and in the 2d place, requires an increase of Wages.

His present wages, & allowance of Provisions are: $166⅔ pr ann., the first: the 2d ample, but specified. A Cow is allowed to afford Milk, and Wood is furnished and laid at his door; the house is comfortably large, and a Garden adjoining to it. In short I do not see that any convenience is wanting that a person in that line, can reasonably require.

The Mr Lewis’s, formerly, have aided me in procuring Millers; perhaps they could recommend one now.3 Mr Oliver Evans is much in that line, to him I have wrote, as he is acquainted with my Mill, having fixed some of her Works—and understanding that he lives in Philada I leave the letter open for your perusal before delivery, wishing you to converse with him as well as the Mr Lewis’s on the subject of it, & inform me of the result.4 My enquiries, as you will perceive, go no further at present than to discover a fit character, who would be willing to engage on the terms here mentioned, & could be here by the middle of Augt—With esteem—I am Dear Sir Yr Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1Letter not found. GW was probably referring to Richard Tice, who captained ships sailing between Philadelphia and Virginia at this time (Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, 24 Oct. 1797, 12 June 1799).

2Biddle’s account current has not been found. The interest due on GW’s “6 & 3 per Cent Stock” on 1 April was $78.29 (Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 19).

3Robert Lewis & Co. of Philadelphia hired Joseph Davenport as miller for GW in 1785. Davenport ran the mill at Mount Vernon from the summer of 1785 until his sudden death in January 1796. See Robert Lewis & Sons to GW, 5 April 1785. GW’s present miller was Patrick Callahan, who began work on 12 Aug. 1796.

4GW’s letter to Oliver Evans is also dated 8 April. GW continued through 1798 to correspond about the hiring of a miller, and in 1799 he rehired William Roberts, the man whom he had fired before hiring Davenport in 1785 (see GW to William Roberts, 17 June 1799).

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