George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Steel, 25 May 1786

To Alexander Steel

Mount Vernon 25th May 1786.


As I have no information of Doctr Shiell’s death, nor any connexion with his family or affairs; I return the letter which you sent me for him (and which came to hand last night only) unopened.1 The Doctr married a lady of Newtown in Pennsylvania—a Miss Harris, and had connexions, I believe, in trade with some gentn in the City of Philada, but with whom they were formed, I am unable to inform you.2

Altho’ I have no doubt but that the Account, rendered by you of your services & sufferings, is literally true; yet as they did not happen to fall within my own knowledge, there would be an impropriety in my certifying them. Indeed it has always been a maxim with me, to grant Certificates to no Officers in a subordinate character, who did not apply thro’ the Colonel & genl officer under whom they had served; or from the head of the department in which they had acted if in the staff; the presumption being, tho’ the fact in some instances might be otherwise, that I could only be acquainted with their characters & conduct thro’ one or the other of these channels.

Congress have not, I believe, made provision for losses of property sustained in the course of the War, instances of which are without number; but for invalids & those who have been disabled they have, I believe, where the regular modes pointed out by their resolves, have been pursued, made allowances—but what, or how to come at them, I am unable to inform you, as this business never went thro’ my hands. I am Sir, &c.

G: Washington


2Dr. Hugh Shiell was married to Ann Harris Shiell (1760–1851), daughter of John and Hannah Stewart Harris.

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