George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Clement Biddle, 1 February 1785

To Clement Biddle

Mount Vernon 1st Feby 1785.

Dear Sir,

In a letter of the 14th of Decr from Mr Boudinot (which only came to my hands by the last Post) he informs me that he should send Six bushls of the Orchard grass Seeds to your care, for my use. If this has been done, I pray you not to forego the first opportunity of forwarding it to me, as it ought to be sowed as soon as the ground can be prepared, which I am now getting in order for its reception.1

I do not know how to account for it, but so the fact is, that altho’ I am a subscriber to Messrs Dunlaps & Claypoole’s Packet & daily Advertiser, I do not get one paper in five of them—was I to say one in ten, I should be nearer the mark.2 Once I wrote to Mr Claypoole on this subject, but he never vouchsafed to give me an answer, and since I have been worse served. If I recollect right, this letter was accompanied with one to you requesting payment of my subscription; lest a tardiness in this respect, on my part, might occasion the omissions on his.3 I now ask the same favor of you, and pray also, that you would be so obligeing as to enquire into, and let me know the cause of my disappointments—which I have regretted the more, since their publication of Cooks voyages; having never been able to get a bound and lettered sett of them.4

Be it remembered that, if the fulfilment of these requests of mine, places you in advance for me, it is because I cannot get a Statement of the acct between us, that I may know how the Balle stands. You talked of coming to Virginia, and I assure you I should be very glad to see you—but it seems as if it would end in talk.

I have received a Cask of clover Seeds & a box with a cast (from Mr Wright)5 unaccompanied by a letter or Invoice. I do not know therefore whether to expect the English grass seeds of which you gave me hopes, or not 6—We have heard of Mrs Shaws Marriage, on which occasion please to offer her mine, and Mrs Washingtons compliments of congratulation: at the sametime present our best wishes for Mrs Biddle & your family. I am—Dear Sir Yr most obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Be so good as to let the enclosed go safe to Messrs Lewis’s. it is to request them to provide me a good Miller of which I am much in want—and in the doing of which, if you could contribute, it would render me an essential Service.7 G.W.

Since writing the foregoing, I have recollected a matter of business which I intended when you came here to have asked the favor of you to negotiate for me. I now enclose it, & would thank you for getting it settled, if it can be done, at the proper office in Philadelphia. The endorsements upon the cover of the Papers (which was made at the time they were put into my hands) contain all the light I can throw upon the business. I pray you to take care of it with the rest of the Papers and let me have it again with whatever settlement is made, or decision is come to; as I have no copy or other Memm by which I can settle an Acct with Gilbert Simpson, or John Johns relative to this matter.8 I am as above. G. Washington

ALS, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence; LB, DLC:GW.

1Biddle wrote GW on 29 Jan. about having sent the grass seed.

2With the issue of 21 Sept. 1784, David C. Claypoole’s triweekly, the Pennsylvania Packet, and General Advertiser (Philadelphia), became Claypoole’s and John Dunlap’s daily, the Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser.

3As early as 19 Sept. 1782, GW was chiding Claypoole for not forwarding the Pennsylvania Packet to Mount Vernon. On 30 June 1784 GW gave Biddle instructions to pay Claypoole what he owed and enclosed a letter to Claypoole, which has not been found.

4On 7 Mar. Biddle wrote that John Dunlap had assured him, “the papers shall be sent & a set of those with Cooks voyage.” Biddle confirmed on 19 April that the papers would be sent regularly, but on 16 May GW wrote Biddle that he had not “received a paper from Messrs Claypool & Dunlap since your mention of their intention to forward them regularly,” and that he intended never “to tak another of their Gazettes.” On 27 July 1785, however, GW wrote to Biddle: “Since your last conference with Messrs Dunlap & Claypool, their Advertiser has come to hand regularly. I am content therefore to have it continued.”

5For the bust of GW that Joseph Wright made and sent, see GW to Joseph Wright, 30 Jan. 1785.

8In September 1784 GW ended his partnership with Gilbert Simpson who since 1773 had managed GW’s property on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania. See, particularly, GW to Simpson, 13 Feb. and 10 July 1784, and Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:1–25. At the dissolution of the partnership, an undefined sum was due GW for the operation of the mill that he had built on the Washington Bottom tract at great expense. Although the surviving accounts of the partnership and its final settlement are sketchy, GW’s subsequent correspondence with Biddle makes it clear that the “Papers” that he is now sending to Biddle are public certificates issued in payment for cornmeal and flour that Gilbert Simpson supplied from GW’s mill for the use of the public, probably the army. Biddle wrote GW on 7 Mar. 1785 that he would send the certificate to Benjamin Stelle, the commissioner empowered by Congress to settle such accounts. He then wrote on 12 April that Maj. John Story had been appointed “an additional Auditor to settle the Accounts in this state [Pennsylvania] against the United States” and that he would consult him about the certificates. On 19 April Story’s office still had not opened (see Biddle to GW, that date; see also John Story to GW, 20 May 1789). It was not until 5 July that Biddle wrote GW further about the certificates, and this letter is missing. GW wrote Biddle on 27 July 1785 to thank him for his “attention to the Certificates” and went on to say that he would “obtain an order from Gilbert Simpson, by which the Interest may be received,” declaring that this was “all I am likely to get for a Mill which he ran me to the Expence of £1200 hard money to build.” What the disposition of these certificates was has not been determined, but nearly a year later, on 18 May 1786, GW sent Biddle a single United States certificate given to Gilbert Simpson in final payment for flour and meal from GW’s mill at Washington’s Bottom. GW left it to Biddle to sell the certificate or not. In the end, Biddle decided to collect the interest due and then lend the certificate to the state of Pennsylvania in return for a state certificate. The state certificate, which paid interest, he sent to GW. In addition to GW’s letter to Biddle of 18 May 1786, see GW to Biddle, 21 June and 31 July 1786, and Biddle to GW, 25 June and 13 Aug. 1786.

Index Entries