George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Clement Biddle, 20 January 1799

To Clement Biddle

Mount Vernon 20th Jany 1799

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 13th Inst. has been duly received.1

It would oblige me very much if you could procure, and send ⟨me⟩ by the first opportunity which may offer, one bushel of English, or blue grass seeds, Fresh & good—without which, or if it be defective, or foul, my purpose—which is to sow a Lawn before my door, would not be answered.

If Blue grass-seeds cannot be obtained, send white clover seed, if to be had, of equal quantity as above.

From Mr Parish I expected two Hats, which may come with the Boots and Book case, the last of which it would be pleasing to receive.2 Mrs Washington unites with me in offering the complimts of the Season to Mrs Biddle Yrself & family. I am—Dr Sir—Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW; ALS, sold by Robert Batchelder, 1992, catalog no. 84, item 57.

1Letter not found.

2As a sort of postscript to this letter, GW wrote Biddle on 23 Jan.: “Dear Sir, In my last, written to you a few days ago, I intended, but forgot it, to enquire what price flour & Wheat bore in your Market.

“I would thank you for giving these in your next. There used to be the prices current in one of the Gazettes of Philadelphia—which, tho’ a very useful thing, seems to be discontinued. Let me pray you therefore, when at any time you may have occasion to write to me, to mention the price of the above articles & whether they are likely to rise or fall.

“As a Farmer, Wheat & Flour constitute my principal concerns—it behoves me therefore to dispose of them upon the best terms. I am—Dear Sir Your Most Obedt Servant Go: Washington” (ALS, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence; letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB DLC:GW).

Before receiving Biddle’s response of 27 Jan., which has not been found, GW wrote to Biddle on 29 Jan.: “When I wrote to you a few days ago for Blue grass-seed, and if that could not be had, then white clover seed in equal quantity; I expected to have finished a piece of ground sufficiently large to receive it. dispairing of this now and keeping seed over the year is not a good practice—I request, if you have not already purchased a bushel of the one, or the other, as then mentioned that the quantity may not exceed ⟨25 lb.⟩ of whichever of the kind that is sent. If it be purchased, however, I am ready to receive the whole quantity.

“Conceiving I must now be in your debt, if you will transmit the a/c, I will pay the balance as soon as known. With esteem & regard—I am—Dear Sir Your Very Humble Servant Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW; “25 lb.” is taken from letter-book copy, DLC:GW). See also GW’s answer of 1 Feb. to Biddle’s missing letter of 27 Jan. as well as Biddle’s letter of 5 Feb., listing what had been sent to GW and enclosing a copy of his account with GW.

On 1 Jan. Tobias Lear wrote Biddle from Mount Vernon: “The General is very anxious to get the Book Case which was made for him in Philadelphia, as he can make no arrangement of his Books & papers until it arrives; he will therefore be much obliged if you will have it ship’d, without fail on board the first Vessel that offers for this River; and it will be doing a favor, and a security to the glass doors &c. of the Book-Case, if the Captain will consent to landing it at Mount Vernon as he goes up the River. He shall not be delayed a moment longer than is necessary to put it on board the Boat (a large one fit for that purpose is here) and he shall have any assistance in doing it, and a reasonable consideration, if he desires it, will be made him. In this case you perceive it will be necessary to take in the Book Case where it can be readily come at. The Vessel on board which the B[l]ankets &c. were ship’d arrived yesterday in Alexandria. Our River is now open, and at this time there appears no prospect of its being closed again this season” (PPIn). Lear again wrote Biddle, on 15 Jan., asking him to forward a letter to Madeira, perhaps GW’s missing letter of 13 Jan. to John Marsden Pintard, and saying “As our navigation is now entirely clear . . . I hope there will soon be an opportunity of forwarding the General’s book case, hats & boots from Philadelphia” (Parke-Bernet, Alexander Biddle Papers catalog, 1943, pt. 3, item 242). For the sending of the bookcase, costing $152.13, see Biddle to GW, 5 February.

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