George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Hanson, 2 October 1788

From Samuel Hanson

Alexandria 2d October 1788


Agreeably to your desire I have examined into the State of the Boys Cloathes, and find they want as follows viz. George—1 pr common Shoes, 1 pr do for Dancing—2 pr common winter Stocks. & 1 pr of every-day Breeches. Lawrence—1 pr common Shoes—2 pr coarse Stocks.—1 pr ditto Breeches—1 everyday Coat.

They desire me to request you will let them have Leather Breeches, which are to be had in this town, and would be much the cheapest in the end.

They have, both, wore their new Breeches almost constantly since they got them. I spoke to Lawrence abt it. He said his others wanted mending. I then informed him of your request that he would write to you to direct a Servant to call for them that they might be mended at Mount-Vernon. This, however, he has never done, tho I have urged him at four different times. From this information you will, I trust, conclude that no great rigour or fondness for chastisement, whatever he or his Brother may represent to the contrary, can be justly imputed to be Sir Your most respectful & much obliged humble Ser.

S. Hanson of Sam.


Samuel Hanson, who served as a lieutenant colonel of the Charles County, Md., militia during the Revolution, was a merchant in Alexandria and a trustee of the Alexandria Academy. The two boys mentioned in Hanson’s letter are George Steptoe and Lawrence Washington, the sons of GW’s deceased brother Samuel (see Francis Willis, Jr., to GW, 24 Sept. 1788). In November 1785 GW enrolled his nephews in the Alexandria Academy and boarded them with Parthenia Alexander Massey Dade, widow of Townshend Dade (d. 1781), until January 1787 when he transferred them to the custody of Samuel Hanson and his wife Mary Key (Kay) Hanson (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 206, 229). Hanson had trouble disciplining the boys, and in August 1788 Lawrence, apparently with the aid of George Steptoe, ran away to Mount Vernon, complaining of mistreatment by Hanson and offering to show GW “some bruises he had received.” GW sent him back the next day with a reprimand (GW to Hanson, 6 Aug. 1788, GW to George Steptoe Washington, 6 Aug. 1788, Hanson to GW, 7 Aug. 1788). Hanson’s difficulties in controlling the boys led to their removal in April 1789 to the care of GW’s old friend Dr. James Craik of Alexandria (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 301, GW to Hanson, 5 May 1788, GW to George Steptoe Washington, 5 May 1788, 23 Mar. 1789).

Index Entries