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To George Washington from Matthias Slough, 4 March 1797

From Matthias Slough

Lancaster [Pa.] 4th March 1797

My Dear & most Hond Sir

I have your most Esteemed favour of the 27th February by Mr Root now before me, and have the Honour of mentioning to you in Reply that Root also Delivered me the horse you were pleased to return which is, as I mentioned in my last, no manner of Disapointment to me, Their being an Imediate purchaser for him,1 That I now inclose the ballance remaining in my hands amounting to one Hundred Sixty two and two thirds Dollars as p[er] Account Stated & Inclosed which I hope will prove Satisfactory.2 The Inhabitants of this Brorugh Sincerely regret their not having the Honour of once more Seeing you here, But as their Disapointment will Tend to your Ease and happyness they Chearfully Submit, I hope you have had it in your power to procure Such horses or mares as will without Difficulty take you to your Wished for retreat which You will I trust do me the Honour to believe None more Cordially prays for than My Dear Sir Your most Obediant & most Humble Servant

Matthias Slough


Matthias Slough (d. 1812), colonel of the Battalion of Associates of Lancaster County in 1776 and member of the Pennsylvania assembly through the Revolution, was the landlord of the White Swan in Lancaster from 1791 to 1806.

1This is the last letter in the correspondence between GW and Slough regarding the purchase of horses for transporting GW with his family and possessions from Philadelphia back to Mount Vernon later this month. The exchange began on 6 Feb. when GW wrote Slough from Philadelphia: “Dear Sir, The 3d of March which is fast approaching, will put an end to my political career; and I shall have another to commence through mud & mire, to reach more tranquil scenes at Mount Vernon. This I shall do without delay, or attempt it at least, be the roads in what condition they may, at that time.

“To enable me to accomplish this journey, with such baggage as I do not incline to risk by water, I shall want a pair of strong horses that are true & steady to the draught for a Waggon, lighter than a Coachee, to carry some trunks (not heavy) at the rate we shall travel, which must be slow.

“Would you oblige me so far as to make this purchase, and to have the horses in this City by the first day of March? I should prefer Mares, and wish them to match in (any) colour. They ought not to exceed Six, or at any rate seven years old next spring—nor ought they to be under fifteen hands high. As they will be put to the Plough, or waggon, after I get them home⟨,⟩ I should prefer cheapness to appearance & the reason why I mention Mares instead of Geldings, is, that Mules may be bred from them afterwards—but I must take either.

“Be so good as to let me know, without delay, whether I can, or cannot, place certain dependence on you for the purchase, & having them here by the time before mentioned. The money shall be paid on delivery; or if required, shall be sent to you before, for the purpose of instant payment. I will offer no apology for giving you this trouble, because I persuade myself you are disposed to serve me in it. With esteem I am Dear Sir Your obedt Servt Go: Washington.

“P.S. Let me request the favor of you to have the steadiness of the horses to the draught proved, before they are sent here; for to be plagued with them on the road would be dreadful” (letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers).

Slough replied from Lancaster on 10 Feb.: “Your most Esteemed favour of the 6th Currant duly reached me on the 8th. In reply to which I beg leave to mention to you that its Contents engaged my Imediate attention, and that yesterday by Rideing a few miles into the Country I made a purchase of a pair of Mares on which I have had my Eye for upwards of Twelve Months, But which could not be purchased on any Terms untill now, owing to the Want of money by the owner of them, And from your Discription of the Kind of animals you wish to have I flatter myself they will please, Unless their age and price Should be an objection, They are Beutifull bays without any white excepting a Small Dim Starr in the fore head of one of them, Black Legs, full sixteen hands high, Compleatly formd for any Kind of draft, in which No two in this County can Exceed them, They having frequently taken from Fifty to one hundred bushels of wheat out of this Town to the Mill of their owner and returned with the like Burthen in a Waggon, without any Dificualty, and what will make them more Valuable to you in my opinion is Their being used to draw together for these four years past During which time I ⟨See⟩ them every day Excepting Sunday or when I was from home. They are Heavy Bodyed, and well formd, but light limbd, for Animalls of their Size Eight years old, this Spring Perfectly Sound, Both heavy with Foal to a Compleat draft horse but not so heavy as to prevent their answering your Purpose, and their price is one Hundred & Sixty Pounds, Your Domestick [John] Kreamer Knows them and will recollect them when it is mentioned to him That I purchased them from a George Root a Miller in the Neighbourhood of this Town who about Twelve months Since to my own Knowledge might have Sold them for Two hundred Pounds, I have thus taken the Liberty to give you as Perticular a discription of them as in my power and have onely to add, That Should their Age or price be an objection It will be No disapointment as Several Farmers have already been with me and beged me to let them have them Saying That if they had Known they were for Sale I should not have got them for the price I have, So that in That case If you will only Honour me with your Answer I will Imediately attend to the purchase of another pair which altho they are ⟨Sworn⟩ I will have them at your Command and in the City on or before the day on which you wish to have them their, If you are pleased to take these mares and it is agreeable to you to forward their price, it will be Verry Exceptable to the man from whome I mentioned as I believe it his onely motive for Disposing of them. My wish My Hond Sir to give you a full & minute discription of the Mares I have purchased is the excuse of the length of this letter which I hope you will Pardon. . . . P.S. The man Called upon me this morning and told me That he could not be Quite Certain that one of them is not 9 years old this Spring” (DLC:GW).

On 11 Feb., before receiving Slough’s reply of 10 Feb., GW wrote: “Dear Sir, The enclosed is the copy of a letter I wrote you agreeably to the date; but as it was to take its chance from the stage office, and letters by private conveyances do not always get to their destination, I trouble you with a duplicate; as well on that account, as because I find my journey home requires the purchase of a third horse, or mare, for the draught.

“This third one must, in every respect, be conformable to the description of the last two; except (as it is to go with three others which I have) that it ought to be a bay, and of somewhat better figure. For the reason mentioned in my last, I should prefer, greatly, Mares; and if they were to be here before the first of March (that they might be exercised together, & with breastplates instead of collars) it would be desirable.

“At any rate let me hear from you as soon as convenient that I may know what to depend upon. With esteem & regard I am Dear Sir Yr Obedt Servant Go: Washington” (ALS, P; letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers).

After he received Slough’s letter of 10 Feb. GW wrote him on 13 Feb.: “Dear Sir, On Saturday morning I wrote to you by the Post, and in the afternoon ⟨I received⟩ your letter of the 10th instant.

“Altho’ I had not intended to have gone to the price of one hundred and Sixty pounds for a pair of Mares for the purpose for wch those purchased were wanted, yet from ⟨illegible⟩ & [John] Kreamers account of them, ⟨illegible⟩ pleased that you made it, & thank you for doing so.

“Enclosed, I send you Bank Notes amounting to Six hundred Dollars, to pay for ⟨illegible⟩ part for the third one required, which (if obtained at all) I request may be ⟨illegible⟩ calculated for active movements than I presume the first two are. Whatever this sum shall fall short of the purchase & incidental expences will be immediately remitted to you and I should be glad to ⟨illegible⟩ all three of them here as soon as convenient. If a handsome bay horse, young & well broke to the draught, could readily be ⟨illegible⟩ not so, I shall readily acquiesce. Although I shall ⟨illegible⟩.

“I pray you to accept my thanks for the readiness with which you have complied with my request and the ⟨illegible⟩ of the esteem & regard Dear Sir Your obedt ⟨illegible Go: Washington⟩” (letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers).

Slough wrote GW from Lancaster on 16 Feb.: “I had the Honour to have your Excellencys highly Esteemed favour of the 13th Currant which covered Six hundred Dollars Duly handed me the Evening after the day of its date by Mr Crawford and also that of the 11th Covering a Duplicate of your first, and in reply beg leave to mention to you That I shall forward the two mares which I had the Honour to purchase for you about the Middle of the Ensueing Week and in the Main time I Shall if Possible procure a third, should that however not be Possible I have a Gelding in View which I think a Verry Tollerable Match to your young Mare which I Contemplate Sending forward Previously to Sending the mares in order to give you an opportunity of Seeing and having him Tryed in Harness in which he is Verry Gentie and well used to, he having drawn Leader of a Team for Sometime, He is a fine bay without any white, five years old the ensueing Spring, full fifteen hands high, Gentle and Spirited and in my oppinion handsome, and can be purchased for Two hundred Dollars, Should you approve of this Discription of him and will Honour me with your Commands he Shall be Sent forward Imediately, and if you Should not approve of him it will be no Disapointment to me to have him returned as the Sum I can purchase him for and which I mentioned above can be readyly got for him here, The reason the mares are Detaind is because the man whom I purchased them from is going to the City at that time and has Kindly offered to take care of them and to See them Safely Delivered, which therefore I Preferr to Sending them by a Stranger, And which I hope you will approve. Having the opportunity of the Western Mail which is detained by the Ice in the Susquahannah, the high Waters and Deep roads I think it my duty to make you acquainted with what I have done and intend doing in the Business you have done me the Honour to Commit to me to enable you If agreeable to forward your further Commands or directions on the Subject by the return of the Mail or the Stage from Mr [John] Dunwoody’s [Spread Eagle Tavern] which comes up and returns Every day” (DLC:GW).

GW’s letter to Slough of 18 Feb. has not been found, but on 22 Feb. Slough responded: “Your Highly & most Esteemed favour of the 18th Currant Duely reached me by the last evenings Post and in reply I have the Honour to mention to your Excellency George Root who will have the Honour of handing this is the man from whom I purchased the two bay mares of which I had the Honour of giving you a full discription in my letter in reply to your Original request and which my hope is will prove Sattisfactory, and as the man has to take a boy to Lead them, I wishing not to have either of them rode I send the Gelding which I mentioned in my last That you may View and Try him in Harness, as I think he nearly comes up to the discription you have done me the Honour [to] give of the Kind of horse you Wish to have, Should he however not please, It will as I had the Honour to mention to you in my last Be no disapointment to me, because the man who takes down the Mares will ride him back and I can make Imediate use of him here, If I have the Proper Idea of the discription you give of the Gelding you wish for Nothing but his legs being Probably too thick will be in the Way of which your Excellency will Judge and determine accordingly, I beg leave further to mention to your Excellency That the Inhabitants of this Town are Extreamly anxious to Know If they will have the Honour of Seeing your Excellency Pass through this Town it on your way to Mount Vernon, and Numbers have been with me to make Inquiry, To which I could make no other reply Than that my hope is that the Turnpike road will Probably be an inducement to their having that Honour, I therefore Omit Transmitting an account of my Transactions on your Excellencys behalf untill I have the Honour of being informd, and Know if the Gelding I send will please or not, Imediately after which ⟨should⟩ we not have the Honour of Seeing you here I will Transmit the account, As I hope for the Honour of addressing your Excellency again before your departure from this State Permit me ⟨Sir⟩ onely to add That this being the Anniversary of your Exalted Birth which will be Cellebrated by all good men In which those of Lancaster will have a Distinguished Share, That my most fervant prayers are and will Continue to be That your Excellency will yet See many returns of it That your Enemys altho few may Sinck into oblivian, That the Evening of your days may be Tranquil and happy” (DLC:GW).

To this GW responded on 27 Feb.: “Dear Sir Your letter of the 22d instt was delivered to me yesterday morning by Mr Root, who also delivered the Mares & horse. The latter being too clumsy about the head & legs to suit my Carriage horses, and too high in price for a common plough horse, I return him; since, as you say, no inconvenience will attend it. I must now, as I expect to leave this in ten days, depend upon purchasing a horse or Mare in this City or Neighbourhood. You will please therefore to take the price of the Mares, and whatever incidental expences have been incurred in getting them and the horse here, out of the Six hundred Dollars sent you. I have paid Mr Root nothing, as you did not mention, in your letter, on what terms he was to bring them down; whatever you do in this case will be satisfactory to me.

“I am very sensible of the polite attentions of the Inhabitants of Lancaster, as expressed by you; but as I am anxious to get home, and should have almost as far to it from that Borough as from hence, and the Road after quitting the Turnpike very little better, I shall pursue the most direct & usual rout to obtain the end. For the good wishes you have expressed for me, on the anniversary of my birth, I pray you to accept the best thanks of Dear Sir Your Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers).

2On 9 Mar. $162.37 in cash was credited in GW’s Presidential Household Accounts “to the late President’s Accot propr Rec’d of Mr Slough of Lancaster thro’ the hands of Mr Levi Phillips.”

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