George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 20 May 1799]

20. Morning clear & wind abt. So. Et. Mer. at 56 in the Morning & 58 at N. A Mr. Hancock from Boston & a Mr. Smith from Portsmouth dined here.

Mr. Hancock from Boston was likely John Hancock (1774-1859), son of Ebenezer and Elizabeth Lowell Hancock, and nephew of the former Massachusetts governor John Hancock. Hancock had attended Boston’s South Grammar School (later the Public Latin School) as a young boy in 1780, but spent much of his adult life as a merchant, and was for a time a partner in a firm with his brother Thomas. Hancock currently had a mercantile business at "No. 8, Merchant’s-Row" in Boston (Columbian Centinel [Boston], 15 May 1799). Immediately following his visit to Mount Vernon, Hancock described GW and his estate in a letter to a "J. Nicholson" of 22 May, dated at Baltimore. Hancock wrote in part: "I have just returned from Mount Vernon, where I have been to pay my best respects to Genl Washington, he treated me in a very polite manner; I had the honor of dining with him—his Lady is a charming agreeable Woman & my time pass’d away in a very pleasant manner—You would be delighted with his Seat, & his farm is in the highest state of Cultivation—he owns upwards of 500 Slaves & they all are as happy as Lords. My friend Colo. [Tobias] Lear supposes him to be worth a Million of Dollars—You would be surprized to find what an uniform Life he leads, every thing he does is by method & System—he rises at day break, breakfasts at 7 oClo. dines at 3 oClo. retires to bed at 10—he keeps a journal where he records every thing that transpires from day to day, & it is impossible that any Action of his life, can give him the least remorse—he is a model of the highest perfection—let us try to imitate him & each of his Virtues will be a gem of the brightest luster to our Character" (in private hands).

Index Entries