George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Randall, 30 August 1790

To Thomas Randall

New York Augst 30th 1790.


On the 2nd of May 1789, I wrote to you requesting that my acknowledgments might be offered to the Gentlemen who had presented an elegant Barge to me, on my arrival in this City. As I am, at this moment, about commencing my journey to Virginia,1 and consequently shall have no farther occasion for the use of the Barge, I must now desire that you will return it in my name, and with my best thanks, to the original Proprietors. At the same time I shall be much obliged to you, if you will have the goodness to add on my part, that in accepting their beautiful Present, I considered it as a pledge of that real urbanity, which I am happy in declaring I have experienced on every occasion, during my residence among them: that I ardently wish every species of prosperity may be the constant portion of the respectable citizens of New York: and that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the polite attention of those Citizens in general, and of those in particular to whom the contents of this Note are addressed. I am with sentiments of regard & esteem, Sir Your Most obedient & Very humble Servant

G. W.

Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1At nine o’clock in the morning of 30 Aug. 1790, Gov. George Clinton, the president’s executive department heads, Chief Justice John Jay, “the corporation of the city—gentlemen of the clergy—the officers of the militia—and a number of other respectable citizens, attended by the sheriff, marshalls and constables,” accompanied GW and Martha Washington from their residence to McComb’s Wharf, “where they took a solemn and affecting adieu” at ten o’clock. At the moment of departure, a “federal salute” of thirteen cannon was fired from the Battery, after which GW and Mrs. Washington, Clinton, Jay, Henry Knox, and Alexander Hamilton embarked in the president’s barge, manned by thirteen men uniformed in white jackets and black caps, across the North River to Paulus (Powles) Hook, escorted by a number of customs officers in the customhouse barge. Some of the passengers made the fifteen-minute crossing and took their leave of the president at Paulus Hook before returning on the barges. GW never returned to the city (New-York Journal, and Patriotic Register, 31 Aug. 1790; New-York Daily Gazette, 31 Aug. 1790; Gazette of the United States [New York], 1 Sept. 1790; Decatur, Private Affairs of George Washington, description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends 150).

Fenno’s 1 Sept. 1790 Gazette of the United States (New York) stated, “By the particular request of the President, the gentlemen of the corporation had not given public notice of his intended departure on Monday; which prevented so general an attendance of the citizens as would have been desirous of paying him their respects on this interesting occasion,” but North Carolinian Abishai Thomas reported the same day that “vast crowds of Citizens &c. attended his service to pay their last respects and I think I never saw a more solemn scene” (Blount Papers, description begins Alice Barnwell Keith et al., eds. The John Gray Blount Papers. 4 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1952–82. description ends 2:102). Tobias Lear announced to the public that day: “NOTICE. All persons having demands against the Household of the PRESIDENT of the United States, are requested to exhibit their accounts for settlement, at his late Dwelling in Broad-Way, before the 15th of September” (Gazette of the United States [New York], 1 Sept. 1790).

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