George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Elias Boudinot, 22 June 1799

To Elias Boudinot

Mount Vernon, June 22d 1799

Dear Sir,

When I had the pleasure of seeing you in Philadelphia last winter, I mentioned my intention of writing to Mr Pintard for a fresh supply of wine, as my stock was getting low, and you were so good as to offer to furnish me with a pipe from some which you expected from Mr Pintard for your own use. At that time I had no doubt but I should be able to get a s[u]pply from Madeira befor this; but, having written to Mr Pintard on the 13th of January, and hearing nothing from him since, I am apprehensive that my letters may have miscarried, and that my stock will be nearly exhausted before he can be informed of my wants, which I have again intimated to him in a letter of this date the original & duplicate of which I beg the favor of you to forward by the 1st convey[an]ce1—If, therefore, the wine which you expected, has come to hand, and you can, without any inconvenience to yourself, let me have a pipe of it, I will desire Colo. Biddle (who transacts business for me in Philada) to have it ship’d to this place, and pay you the amount, to which I should add my best thanks.2 Mrs Washington unites in respects & best wishes for the health & happiness of Mrs Boudinot, Mrs Bradford3 & yourself with Dear Sir Yr most Obdt Servt

Df, in Tobias Lear’s hand, ViMtvL.

1Neither of GW’s letters to John Marsden Pintard, that of 13 Jan. 1799 or that of this date, 22 June, has been found. John Marsden Pintard (d.1811) was the son of the New York merchant Lewis Pintard and a family connection of Elias Boudinot. At this time he was U.S. consul at Madeira and had his own company on the island. He had been supplying GW with wine since the 1780s.

2Boudinot replied on 28 June: “Your Letter of the 22d Instt with its Enclosures for Mr Pintard came safe to hand, and which I shall be careful to forward by the first Opportunity. I have been, and still am in daily expectation of the arrival of my Wine from Madeira: as it was to be shipped in January, I am at a loss to account for its nonarrival, unless our good friends the Sans culottes have thought it necessary for their present necessities. If it should arrive & turn out as good as I have reason to expect it will be, I will loose no time in sending a pipe as you have directed” (DLC:GW). On 18 Oct., having had no reply to his letters of 13 Jan. and 22 June, GW had his secretary, Tobias Lear, write again to Pintard, who it had been learned was back in the United States from Madeira. Lear explained that GW wished to determine whether or not Pintard had received either of his letters and “if any measures have been taken to forward the wine, so that he may expect it in a short time.” “If this is not the case,” Lear wrote, “and you have any wine for sale in this Country, of the quality which you have been used to supply the General, he will thank you to forward one or two pipes to him without delay . . . for his stock is now so nearly exhausted that he must get a supply from some quarter or another in a very short time . . .” (ViMtvL). Lear sent this letter, unsealed, to Boudinot under cover of a letter to Boudinot of the same date. Boudinot wrote Lear on 28 Oct. that Pintard had left Madeira before either of GW’s letters could have got there but that Pintard had assured him that “his House [in Madeira] will forward the Wines as well as if he had been present” (DLC:GW). Pintard confirmed this in a letter to Lear from New York on 8 Nov. and then went on to say: “In the Interim I can accomodate the General with one or two pipes of very Superiour wine which I Sent to this Country Six years ago to lay by for my own drinking when I Retired from Buisness which I was in hopes to have done long ere this But the depredations of French and British Cruisers have deprived me of most of the fruits of nine years labour and I am obliged to Return to Madeira again perhaps for nine years Longer by which time my wine here would be older than perhaps I can afford to drink I have therefore determined to Sell it and the price will be three dollars per Gallon they are in the hands of Mr John Halsey No. 77 Broad Street of this city and If you will drop him a line he will Ship you one or Both of them . . .” (DLC:GW).

A week later, on 13 Nov., in letters to Clement Biddle and to Boudinot, GW indicated that he had received from Madeira notification of the shipment of the wine that he had ordered. The letter from Madeira was dated 20 Sept. and was written by Charles Alder. It reads: “I am emboldened to take the present liberty of addressing your Excellency by the desire of Tobias Lear Esqr. as Attorney for Mr J: M: Pintard, and in Consequence of the Honor which your Excellency has conferred on said Gentn by ordering from him a Couple of Pipes of our Wines. I have embraced the present Opportunity of Shipping them, as per bill of lading transmitted to Mr Lear; and nothing could prove more gratifying to me than to learn that the Quality thereof meets the Approbation of your Excellency” (DLC:GW). In a letter of the same date to Tobias Lear informing him of the shipment of the wine to GW, Alder includes this postscript: “At the present Juncture, and on account of the scarcity of Sugar there is no good Citron for Sale your influence with his Excy may probably induce him to accept of a couple of small Boxes which Mrs Alder happened to have in the house and takes the liberty of sending” (DLC:GW). Alder’s enclosed invoice dated 20 Sept. 1799 shows that Charles Alder & Co. shipped to GW “Two pipes of fine Old London particular Madeira Wine . . . on board the Lavinia James Cook Master for Philadelphia,” at a charge of £84.

Even after receiving this assurance that the wine from Madeira was on its way, GW had Lear write Pintard on 20 Nov.: “The General is much obliged to you for the offer you make of letting him have some wine which you had sent to this Country six years since, for your own use, and, notwithstanding the arrival of the two pipes from Madeira, he will take one pipe of the wine you mention, provided you can insure it to be of the first quality, and that it has not undergone any change for the worse since its importation, and if the payment at ninety days (as for the other) will answer” (ViMtvL). After the wine arrived from Madeira, Lear drafted for GW a letter to Charles Alder, dated 12 Dec.: “Sir, I have duly received your letter of the 20th of Septr informing me that you had ship’d two pipes of Madeira Wine for me, in consequence of an order sent to Mr J. M. Pintard for that purpose; but which did no[t] arrive till after he had left Madeira.

“Mr Lear will have informed you that the wine has arrived in good order, and that your bill for eighty four pounds sterling has been accepted and will be duly paid.

“Requesting you to accept my thanks for your polite attention to this business, I am Sir, Your most Obedt Sert” (ViMtvL). The next day, the day before GW’s death, Lear drafted a letter to Pintard’s agent in New York, John Halsey, enclosing a copy of his letter to Pintard of 20 Nov. and asking Halsey to attend to the matter. It is not known whether GW’s letter was sent to Alder or whether or not Lear sent his to Halsey, but they may have been among the letters GW franked on the day before his death (Owned [2016] by Bruce Gimelson, Garrison, N.Y.; photocopy DLC:GW, series 9. See Tobias Lear’s Narrative Accounts of the Death of George Washington).

3Mrs. Bradford was Boudinot’s widowed sister, Susan Vergereau Boudinot Bradford.

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