George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elizabeth Thompson, 18 August 1789

From Elizabeth Thompson

[New York] Tuesday August 18th 1789


I once more take the liberty of addressing myself to your Excellency, requesting that you will be so good as to give your approbation to the payment of Mr Thompson’s Acct for the Articles provided by him for George M. White-Eyes, which articles he would not have Supplied him with, had he not thought that he was acting upon a Surety of it’s being by your desire. I have Sir—the honour of being personally known to your Excellency, being the Daughter of Mr Fraunces, and one that was so happy as to have offers of friendship from you Soon after your arrival in this place.1 Consider dr Sir to what distress it must reduce Mr Thompson, were he to be refused the payment of his Acct. Good heavens! what must follow? nothing less than to be confin’d in a loathsom Prison, there to pass his tedious days while his distress’d family is wanting even the common necessary’s of life to Subsist on. he has no fortune to depend on, what he gets must be by the greatest industry, or else we could not live. all he had in the world went for the purchaseing of the articles contain’d in the Acct nay more than what he had, as the greatest part is Still due, and he finds it utterly impossible to Satisfy those people any longer that he got them of.

Your Benevolence, and Justice, to all, is well known. reflect then dear Sir on our present Situation, our distress, and anxiety, and then think if we are able to Sustain so great a loss. those who have experienc’d the Same dificulty can best feel for us. Yet Sir knowing your Clemency and Goodness to be such, I have not the least doubt but that your Excellency will excuse the liberty I have taken in troubling you with this, Since it is only wrote with a view to let you know our Situation, and that if Mr Thompson has acted imprudently he was unknowingly drawn into his present dificulty.2

I shall wait with a trembling heart your Excellency’s answer, as on that depends the happiness, or Misery of your distress’d Yet verry Humble Servt

Eliza. Thompson


Elizabeth Thompson was the wife of Atcheson Thompson of New York who had supplied clothing to George Morgan White Eyes, a ward of Congress. See White Eyes to GW, 8 Aug. 1789, n.1. For White Eyes’s further difficulties in the summer of 1789, see also his letters to GW, 2 June and 8 July 1789.

1Mrs. Thompson must have been the daughter of Samuel Fraunces who became GW’s household steward soon after his arrival in New York. Fraunces’s son Andrew G. Fraunces apparently assumed some responsibility for White Eyes since in 1790 he was paid $110.72 for the young man’s board by order of Congress (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends 3:607).

2In an undated letter, probably written to GW soon after her letter of 18 Aug., Mrs. Thompson requested the “favour of a few Moments hearing from your Excellency relative to the Account of George M. White Eyes, which I am sorry to hear is disapprov’d of—and which would not been done had not Mr White Eyes said it was by the particular Order of Mr Lear, that he shou’d be supplied with every thing he wanted that was Necessary” (DNA:PCC, item 78).

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