George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 7 May 1786

From Tobias Lear

Boston 7th May 1786

Honored Sir

General Lincoln has favoured me with the perusal of your Letter of the 10th Ulto wherein you mention your acceding to the sum of two Hun[dre]d Dollars in addition to the Stipulations mentioned in your last for my services for a year, and desire that I may come on as soon as is convenient; if I find an opportunity of going by Water I shall embrace it immediately and be with your Excellency in about three week, but if an opportunity does not offer in a few days I shall set off by the Stages, and very probably be at Mount Vernon soon after you receive this.1 I am with sentiments of the greatest Respect your Excellency’s most Obedt & Hume Servt

Tobias Lear


1Lear arrived at Mount Vernon on 29 May. He brought letters from Samuel Haven and John Langdon (1741–1819). Langdon was president of New Hampshire in 1785 and 1786, and both men were from Portsmouth. Lear also brought a letter from Joseph Willard (1732–1804), the former president of Harvard College. See also Benjamin Lincoln to GW, 9 May. The text of Langdon’s letter, dated 5 May, reads: “Mr Tobias Lear, a relation of mine, will have the honor of delivering this letter, which serves only to introduce him to your Excellency’s kindness, and protection. He called this morning, and informed me that he should set out on Friday next for Virginia, where he is to be imployed, and to make one of your Excellency’s family. This young Gentleman sustains a very fair Character, and it will give me the highest pleasure, should he meet your Approbation: I am sure his goodness of heart will lead him to make every exertion to please. With the most cordial wishes for your health, and happiness” (DLC:GW).

Samuel Haven wrote on 6 May: “Your well known candour will permit a stranger to address a Line to your Excellency in Favour of a young gentleman already recommended to your kind Notice by Gentlemen who have had the honor of your Excellcy knowledge far more than I can pretend to boast.

“Mr Lear is a Child of my Parish—And I am happy to say, has conducted, from his Childhood to this manly period of his Life with Marks of Genius, Modesty & Virtue—His Character thro’ an Accademical Education & ever since has been irreproachable I doubt not your Excellency will find him a young Gentleman possest of Principles of the strickest honour, & integrity of Heart—As We Esteem him much, We are very happy that the great Disposer of all human Events has opened before him the Door of your Patronage. Permit me Hond Sir to be numbered among the many Thousands who hail you as the honoured Instrument of their Country’s Salvation. deign to Accept a cordiallity of Duty, an affection to your Excellency’s Person & Lady—in the fervent & daily Prayers offered to Allmighty God for the rich abundance of divine Blessings, both Temporal & Spiritual on your Excellency & Lady and all who, under your Excellencys Guidance & Command have assisted in the present happy Revolution—by one who wishes to be so happy as to promote Virtue, & a Servant to that divine Lord whose Kingdom is not of this world—and who is with the highest Duty & Esteem your Excellcy most obedient Servant” (DLC:GW).

Willard’s letter is dated 15 May: “Mr Lear, the Bearer of this, spent four years in this University, to very good advantage. He pursued his studies with diligence and success, and shone as a Scholar. His temper and deportment were amiable, his morals unblemished, and in all respects he approved himself to the Government of the University. Since taking his Bachelor’s degree with us, which was at the Commencement in 1783. he has been in business, and has sustained a very fair character. I find that he is going to live in your family, in the capacity of your Secretary. From my acquaintance with him, I am persuaded, Sir, that you will find him agreeable; and I doubt not, he will fill his department to your satisfaction. Happy should I be, Sir, to see your Excellency in this part of America, where you first took the field, at the head of our armies: Happy to have it in my power personally to testify my esteem, veneration and gratitude to the Patriot and Hero, who, in the most disinterested manner, has gloriously and successfully asserted the liberties of his country, and established that independence, which not only secures the rights of the citizens of America, but has the happiest aspect upon the liberties and happiness of mankind” (DLC:GW).

GW waited for nearly a year, until 10 Mar. 1787, to acknowledge these letters.

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