George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 20 December 1785]

Tuesday 20th. Thermometer at 42 in the Morng. 47 at Night and 45 at Noon.

Morning tolerably clear; but a red sky at the place of the Suns rising (which is an indication of dirty weather) and the wind (tho not fresh) at No. East. The day continued tolerably clear and pleasant, until the Evening when it began to lower.

Dispatched at his own reqt. the Spaniard who had the cha[rge] of my Jack from Spain. Sent him with Mr. Shaw to Alexandria to go in the Stage to New York.

Brought some Carts and Cutters from my Plantations to assist in laying in a Stock of Fire wood for Christmas.

Mr. Shaw returned in the evening accompanied by my Nephew Ferdinando Washington.

the spaniard: Pedro Tellez, who had accompanied the Spanish jackass to Mount Vernon (see entry for 26 Oct. 1785), had asked to return to Spain by way of New York, where he would see the Spanish minister, Don Diego de Gardoqui. He refused any payment from GW, asserting that he was being paid by the king, but GW did prevail upon him to take £21 “as an acknowledgment of the obligation I am under to him, for his care of the animal on which I set the highest value” (GW to Francisco Rendon, 19 Dec. 1785, DLC:GW; LEDGER B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 205). GW also gave the Spaniard two certificates. One, for the benefit of the king, acknowledged Tellez’s care and attention to the animal; the other, addressed to the public at large, identified Tellez and solicited aid in his behalf: “Not being able to speak any other language than that of his native tongue, it is requested as a favor of the good people on the road to assist & direct him properly” (19 Dec. 1785, DLC:GW).

Ferdinand, or Ferdinando, Washington (1767–1788) was the oldest son of GW’s brother Samuel and Anne Steptoe Washington. In 1783 GW had written his brother John Augustine about the possibility of a berth in the navy or on a merchant ship for their nephew but nothing seems to have come of this inquiry. Ferdinand, by extravagance and bad conduct, incurred GW’s displeasure, and GW later refused to assist in settling the young man’s estate (GW to Robert Chambers, 28 Jan. 1789, DLC:GW).

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