To William Baynham
Mount Vernon July 30th 1799
The bearer of this ⟨letter⟩ my Ploughman, has, for ⟨some months⟩ past, been afflicted with a tumour which has occasioned partial, and threatens (if relief can not be obtained) total blindness.1
He has been under the care of Doctor Craik & others, without receiving much, if any benefit; and being desirous of relieving him from so serious a malady, if ⟨you⟩ can accomplish it, I send him to you.
What operation it will be necessary for him to undergo; how long to stay with you; or what expence to incur, you better than I, can decide. The two first you will be the judge of, and the latter you will add to your Bill.
I would thank you for a line by the first Post (after your rect ⟨of this letter)⟩ advising me of his arrival; and ⟨the time of &⟩ medium of conveyance of his departure.2 I am Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt
ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.
William Baynham (1749–1814), who studied in Scotland and London, was a noted surgeon at this time practicing in Essex County, Virginia. He dined at Mount Vernon on 20 Feb. 1799 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:335).
1. The plowman, named Tom, was one of the slaves at Mount Vernon rented from Penelope Manley French. He was twenty-eight years old, unmarried, and, as GW noted, “getting blind” (List of Slaves, 1799, printed at the end of this volume).