George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 3 November 1789]

Tuesday 3d. Sat two hours in the forenoon for a Mr. [ ] Painter of Boston, at the Request of Mr. Brick of that place; who wrote Majr. Jackson that it was an earnest desire of many of the Inhabitants of that Town that he might be endulged.1 After this setting I called upon President Sullivan, and the Mother of Mr. Lear2 and having walked through most parts of the Town, returned by 12 Oclock when I was visited by a Clergyman of the name of Haven,3 who presented me with an Ear, and part of the stalk of the dying Corn, and several small pieces of Cloth which had been died with it, equal to any colours I had ever seen & of various colours. This Corn was blood red & the rind of the stalk deeply tinged of the same colour. About 2 Oclock I recd. an Address from the Executive of the State of New Hampshire; and in half an hour after dined with them and a large Company at their Assembly room which is one of the best I have seen any where in the United States.4 At half after Seven I went to the Assembly where there were about 75 well dressed, and many of them very handsome Ladies—among whom (as was also the case at the Salem & Boston Assemblies) were a greater proportion with much blacker hair than are usually seen in the Southern States. About 9 I returned to my Quarters. Portsmouth it is said contains abt. 5000 Inhabitants. There are some good houses (among wch. Colo. Langdons may be esteemed the first) but in general they are indifferent; and almost entirely of wood. On wondering at this, as the Country is full of Stone and good Clay for Bricks I was told that on acct. of the fogs and damps they deemed them wholesomer and for that reason prefered wood buildings. Lumber—Fish and Pot ash with some Provisions compose the principal Articles of Export. Ship building here & at Newbury Port has been carried on to a considerable extent. During & for sometime after the War there was an entire stagnation to it; but it is beginning now to revive again. The number of Ships belonging to the Port are estimated at [ ].5

1Samuel Breck, a Boston merchant, was interested in various manufacturing concerns in the city including the Boston Duck Manufactory and the Boston Glass House. See also entry for 27 Oct. 1789.

2According to Portsmouth tradition, GW visited Sullivan and the New Hampshire council at the William Pitt Hotel on Pitt Street, kept since 1770 by John Stavers. Mrs. Mary Lear, the widow of Capt. Tobias Lear, lived on Hunking Street in Portsmouth with her daughter and son-in-law Samuel Storer, a Portsmouth merchant.

3Rev. Dr. Samuel Haven (1727–1806), a native of Framingham, Mass., and a Harvard graduate, had come to Portsmouth in 1752 to become the vigorous and popular pastor of South Congregational Church. During the Revolution he had operated a small saltpeter works in Portsmouth “using earth which he dug from under the meetinghouse,” and was noted for the support he extended out of his own meager salary to the victims of the war in the area (SIBLEY description begins J. L. Sibley et al. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. 18 vols. to date. Boston, 1873–. description ends , 12:382–92; BREWSTER description begins Charles W. Brewster. Rambles about Portsmouth. Vol. 1. 1873. Reprint. Somersworth, N.H., 1971. description ends , 1st ser., 96, 322–26).

4Letter book copies of an address of welcome from the New Hampshire council, signed by John Sullivan on 3 Nov., and GW’s reply are in DLC:GW.

5After visiting New Hampshire, GW had apparently originally intended to continue into Vermont and return to New York City by way of Albany. However, on 3 Nov. a heavy fall of snow blanketed Albany and the surrounding area and GW decided to return to the capital by the most direct route (Gaz. of the U.S., 11 Nov. 1789; Pa. Packet, 20 Nov. 1789; WEBB [2] description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends , 3:144).

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