George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to James McHenry, 16 October 1797

To James McHenry

Mount Vernon 16th Oct. 1797

Dear Sir,

Your favour of the 2d instt came duly to hand. For the perusal of the enclosure I thank you—It is returned.1

We heard with much concern, but long after the thing had happened, of the accident which befel your son. We hope he is perfectly recovered from the fall, and you from your billious attack.

Having no news to entertain you with, and could only fill a letter with the perplexities I experience daily from workmen, and other occurrances of little moment to any besides myself, I shall conclude this letter with best respects in which Mrs Washington and Nelly Custis unite to Mrs McHenry and yourself and with assurances of being Dear Sir Your Affecte friend

Go: Washington

P.S. My mind during the last days of my remaining in Philadelphia was so much occupied with public & private concerns that I always forgot, when I was in your company, to enquire whether Mr Lear had accounted to the War Office for the money he had received to purchase the Site for the Arsenal on Potomac. As I was, in some measure, the cause of his Agency in that business, I wish to know whether it is settled to your Satisfaction.2

Be so good as to send the letter for Mr Dandridge to his lodgings if he has not sailed, or left the City.3

ALS (photocopy), DLC: James McHenry Papers; ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers; LB, DLC:GW. The ALS was offered for sale in Sotheby, Parke-Bernet catalog no. 4267, part 3, item 855. The postscript is in neither the letterpress nor the letter-book copy.

2GW began in 1795 to push for the purchase of a site at Harpers Ferry at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers for the erection of a U.S. arsenal. See GW to Timothy Pickering, 16, 28 Sept. 1795. In response to GW’s inquiry shortly before leaving the presidency, Lear assured GW that the deeds for the land that Lear had bought in 1796 at Harpers Ferry for the United States would be forthcoming (see GW to McHenry, 11 Jan. 1797). On 6 May 1798 GW wrote to McHenry to urge that the arsenal be built at Harpers Ferry. See McHenry’s response of 26 June 1798.

3The letter, probably to William Dandridge, brother of Bartholomew, Jr., has not been found.

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