George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Mathew Carey, 15 March 1785

To Mathew Carey

Mount Vernon 15th Mar: 1785


I purposed, so soon as I understood you intended to become the Publisher of a News Paper in Philadelphia to request that a copy of your weekly production might be sent to me. I was the more pleased with this determination, when, by a letter from my friend the Marquis de la Fayette, I found he had interested himself in your behalf.1

It has so happened, that my Gazettes from Philadelphia, whether from inattention at the Printing or Post offices, or other causes; come very irregularly to my hands: Let me pray you therefore, to address those you send me, in the appearance of a letter. The common paper, usually applied, will do equally well for the cover—It has sometimes occurred to me, that there are persons who wishing to read News Papers without being of the expence of paying for them, make free with those which are addressed to others. under the garb of a letter, it is not presumable this liberty would be taken.2 I am—Sir Yr most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Papers of William C. Rives; LB, DLC:GW. Facsimiles of the letter may be found in a number of repositories.

1See Lafayette to GW, 21 Dec. 1784, and particularly note 4.

2The second paragraph is one of those relatively rare instances where the changes the copyist makes in GW’s language serve to clarify and make it more direct: “It has so happened that my Gazettes from Philada whether from inattention at the printing or post offices, or other causes, come very irregularly to my hands; I pray you therefore to fold it like, & give it the appearance of a letter—the usual covering of your Newspaper will do. I have sometimes suspected that there are persons who having stronger desires to read Newspapers than to pay for them, borrow with a pretty heavy hand: this may be avoided by deception, & I know of no other way.” GW wrote Clement Biddle on 1 Feb. 1785 to complain about not receiving copies of the Pennsylvania Packet. See note 4 of that document.

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