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From George Washington to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 22 January 1798

To Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Mount Vernon 22d Jany 1798.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 12th instant enclosing one from Mr Ross, and the Treasurers draught on Colo. Fitzgerald for $1,961.30, came duly to hand;1 & for your kindness in thus accomodating me with the Order, in lieu of the like sum received from Mr Ross on my account, I feel much obliged.

In the enclosed letter which I have taken the liberty of putting under cover to you (that I may be certain of its having been presented to Mr Ross, as there is a Bond to a pretty considerable amount therein) contains a receipt for the money which had been paid him for my use by Colo. Shreve.2

It is somewhat singular that the Government should have received no advices from our Envoys at Paris since their arrival there, about the 20th of September, when accounts are detailed from thence as late as the middle of November. It is as necessary sometimes to be acquainted with the worst, as to know the best that can happen in matters of moment; & where facts cannot be narrated, to substitute conjecture; declaring it to be such. I cannot, even under the unpleasant aspect of things, believe the French Government mean to enter into a War with this Country; but I can, satisfactorily to my own mind, account for Its proceeding the length it has. I may be mistaken however. It is intoxicated with success, and when that is the case, nothing is too absurd, or unjust to be encountered.

Mr Monroe, I am told, appears in a voluminous work! What is said of it? A writer under the signature of Scipio, will, I conceive, work him pretty well. Who is Scipio? I am fishing for no secrets, but if the Author is known, or conjectured, on good ground, I should like to know who he is.3 From whence proceeds the apparent harmony—perhaps it would be more correct to say calm—in Congress? is it for want of matter to ferment the passions, or because a change of sentiment (wch I cannot flatter myself is the case) has taken place in the minds of the opposition members?

I asked your opinion, (on a small bit of paper, enclosed in my last) with respect to a particular character, whose name was then mentioned; but no answer was given in your last. If your silence proceeds from an unwillingness to touch on the subject, I drop it. If because it did not appear before you at the time of writing, & was forgot, I renew it.4 At all times, you will find me your sincere friend and Affectionate Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. Mrs Washington and Nelly Custis unite with me in every good wish for Mrs Wolcott.

ALS, CtHi: Oliver Wolcott, Jr., Papers; ALS (incomplete letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1GW wrote to John Fitzgerald on this date: “Dear Sir: Enclosed is the Treasury draught, made payable to yourself as proposed in your letter of Saturday—for which be so good as to obtain and send me the Cashier’s acknowledgement that it stands to my credit in the Bank. I am, Your Obedt and affect. Servant. G. Washington” (typescript, ViMtvL). Fitzgerald’s letter of 20 Jan. has not been found.

4The “small bit of paper” enclosed in GW’s letter to Wolcott of 17 Dec. 1797 has not been found, but GW’s retained draft of this note to Wolcott, without heading, date, or closing and marked “Private,” is in DLC:GW: “Knowing that I should occasionally have many small matters to purchase in Phila. wch I did not incline to trouble my friends with; or any one who would not receive a Commission thereon, I committed the business to Col. Clemt Biddle, who in the Interval between the Revolutionary War & my call to the Administration there of the prest Governmt had done the like for me, and in order to enable to do this I gave him a power to receive the interest on my public certificates & other unimportant sums to accrue from the Sale of parts of my furniture undisposed of when I left Philada but not having for sometime (tho’ expected) heard from him it has created some suspicion in my mind, that he may be involved in the distresses of the times. I take the liberty therefore of asking you, without wishing any notice to be taken of it, whether there be any appearance of this—or not.”

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