Tobias Lear to Clement Biddle
New York October 3d 1790
One hundred and sixty dollars is the lowest Captain Alberson will take for his vessels; and this exclusive of the Cabin, which he says was never comprehended in his conversation with you; and that it is always considered as seperate from the vessel when a vessel is hired, unless particularly specified. This is different from the custom of this and all other places in the United States where I am acquainted; it may however be the custom of Philadelphia. The Cabin I considered as an3 essential part of the vessel, not only for the Servants of which there will be 9 or 10, but to put such particular things as might be better there than in the hold. And sure I am, from your letter of the 27, that you understood the Cabin as included in the vessel for 160 dollars. He says he should not objet to some small things being put into the Cabin; but he shall charge 2 dollars for each passenger[,] I finding provisions. He even made some objections to my occupying the deck of the vessel—saying that he only mentioned the hold to you. This, however, he gave up. I have therefore agreed to give him 160 dollars for the hold and deck of the vessel, and if I occupy the Cabin to pay him accordingly. He will begin to take in on Tuesday, and in all probability will sail by the last of the week.
Mrs Lear & myself set out for Philadelphia as soon as the vessel sails, and as we shall be obliged to take lodgings ’till the furniture arrives, I will be much obliged to you, my dear Sir, if you will engage them for us at Mrs Houses—or, if she cannot accommodate us, at some other good house near to the President’s—We shall have a man & woman servant with us; but it is not likely we shall be under the necessity of continuing in lodgings but a few days.4 With very great respect & esteem I am Dear Sir, Your most Obdt Servt
ALS, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence; ADfS, ViMtvL; LB, DLC:GW.
3. In MS this word reads “as.”
4. Biddle replied to Lear a few days later that Robert Morris informed him the house would not be ready until 10 Oct. 1790 and that Morris recommended delaying the purchase of firewood. Biddle also mentioned he would engage lodgings for the Lears at Mary House’s if she had any vacancies and concluded: “I certainly explained to Capt. Albertson that you were to have the Hole Deck & Cabin (except the Room for Captn & Crew) & to pay 160 Dollars & provisions for your people but he went off the Day before your Letter Came to Close the Agreement or I should have Reducced the Agreement to Writing[.] I even recommended to him to reduce his price but he thinks himself I suppose at Liberty as I did not Close the Bargain” (Biddle to Lear, 6 Oct. 1790, PHi: Clement Biddle Letter Book). The next evening, two days before he was to leave for the federal district court session at York, Pa., Biddle informed Lear that Mrs. House’s and most other lodgings in the neighborhood were fully engaged. He consequently procured lodgings for the Lears at Mrs. Standley’s, 239 Market Street, nearly opposite the Morris House, and hoped that it proved “agreeable & Convenient to superintend the finishing of the House for the President which I think is not in such Forwardness as you look for.” Biddle also noted he had arranged to have a flat load of wood ready and was “in treaty for one this Evening—the post master tells me there is a Letter in the Office from the President for you & I have Desired that it may be sent on to New York” (Biddle to Lear, 7 Oct. 1790, PHi: Clement Biddle Letter Book).