George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Francisco Rendon, 19 December 1785

To Francisco Rendon

Mount Vernon 19th Decr 1785.


This letter will be handed to you by Mr Peter Tellez, who attended the Jack Ass, which arrived safe, to this place:1 for want of an Interpreter I have not been able to understand him perfectly; but as far as his wishes have been explained to me, they are, that he may be permitted to return to Spain as soon as possible; that it is proper he should go by the way of New York to see his Excellency Don Gardoqui; that as he was employed by his Catholic Majesty, & in the Kings pay until he return’d (his wife receiving part of it from Mr Gardoqui at Bilboa) he would take none from me.

Under these circumstances I have forwarded him to Nw York, after prevailing on him to take a trifle as an acknowledgment of the obligation I am under to him, for his care of the animal on which I set the highest value.2 He has some expectation ⟨in⟩deed, that at his return his Majesty may bestow some humble appointment on him, in the Collection of his Customs; & therein he has my wishes, but I could not ask it for him, or even hint it to the Minister.

Not having the honor of an acquaintance with his Excely Mr Gardoqui, I have taken the liberty of making these communications to you; & to pray, if there is anything improper in my sending Mr Tellez to Nw York, or in my conduct towards him, that it may be ascribed to misconception, & misunderstanding his wants by bad interpretation. Altho’ unknown, I pray you to make a tender of my respectful compliments to Mr Gardoqui, & to accompany them with the strongest assurances of the pleasure I should feel in seeing him at this Seat of my retirement, if inclination should ever induce him to visit the States to the southward of Nw York. It is unnecessary to offer you the same assurances, because I have repeatedly done it before, & you must have been convinced of my sincerity. With very great esteem & regard, I have the honor to be &c.

G: Washington

P.S. Mr Tellez is charged with a Letter from me to Mr Carmichael, enclosing one to His Exy the Count de Florida Blanca, praying that my homage & gratitude may be presented to his Catholic Majesty for the favor he has conferred on me & for the honor of his royal notice. G. W——n


Francisco Rendon was secretary in 1785 and 1786 to Diego de Gardoqui when in 1785 he became Spain’s first official representative to the United States. Rendon had come from Cuba in 1779 to serve as secretary to Spain’s unofficial representative to Congress, Don Juan de Miralles, and in 1780 had succeeded Miralles. Rendon left New York for Spain in 1786, but he returned to America in 1793 as Spain’s intendant in Florida and Louisiana. In 1781 Rendon gave up the house in which he was living in Philadelphia so that GW could live in it for the winter (Robert Morris’s diary in Ferguson, Morris Papers, description begins E. James Ferguson et al., eds. The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784. 9 vols. Pittsburgh, 1973–99. description ends 3:303).

2GW noted in his Cash Accounts on 20 Dec. giving £21 to “Pedro Tellez, Spaniard who brot the Jack” (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 205). GW also provided Tellez with a pass and a certificate, both dated 19 Dec.: “Pass for Pedro Tellez The Bearer of this Pedro Tellez, is the Spaniard who was sent from Bilboa in Spain, with one of the Jack Asses which was presented to me by His Catholic Majesty—& is on his journey to New York, to the Minister of Spain, with a view of returning to his own Country from thence.

“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—which will be considered as an obligation conferred on, G:Washington” (LB, DLC:GW).

“Certificate to Peter Tellez I certify that Mr Peter Tellez the bearer of this, has delivered to me in good order one of the Jack asses which was presented to me by his Catholic Majesty; and that I feel myself under very great obligation to the said Peter Tellez for his care of, & attention to this valuable animal, than which nothing could have been more acceptable to me. Given under my hand & Seal at Mount Vernon, in the State of Virga this 19th day of December 1785. G: Washington” (LB, DLC:GW).

Index Entries