George Washington Papers

Indenture with Thomas Green, 9 November 1790–14 December 1791

Indenture with Thomas Green

[Mount Vernon, 9 Nov. 1790–14 Dec. 1791]

Articles of Agreement made and enterd into this ninth day of November Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and ninety between Thomas Green Joiner & House Carpenter of the one part and George A. Washington for and in behalf of the President of the United States on the other part Witnesseth that the said Thomas Green for the wages and other considerations hereinafter expressed doth agree and oblige himself to work one year from the tenth day of December next for the said President of the United States, as a Joiner & House Carpenter, and (when not employed in either of these capacities) to do such jobs as he may be set about—and should it be deemed advisable to place under his directions a part (or the whole) of the Negroe Carpenters and others to learn the trade that he shall consider it as an indispensable duty to instruct, and by the most constant attention, exemplary conduct and proper management exact from them such a performance of work as is reasonable, and where it can be ascertained by measurement such as is customary and for all the Tools that is placed in his care he is to be responsible1—the said Thomas Green shall work at any of the said Presidents plantations or at any other place within the County if the Carpenters or Joiners work which the said President may have to do shall require it. The said Thomas Green obligates himself to be honest, sober, industrious and obliging, that neither he nor his family will have any connection or association with any of the Negroes except those immediately under his direction and with those but where it relates to their business—and it is clearly understood that no privileges are to be expected nor indulgences granted but what are specified in the agreement and in case of misconduct, dismission and a forfeiture of one fourth of the wages (which is always to be retain’d) will be resorted to, and lastly the said Thomas shall not absent himself from his work without permission and shall not apply but in cases of pressing necessity and such time shall be repaid.

In consideration of these things being well and truly done and performed on the part of said Thomas Green the said George A. Washington for and in behalf of the President of the United States, doth covenant and agree to pay him the said Green the sum of thirty pounds Virginia Currency for his years services keeping him (as before mention’d) one quarter in arrears as a security for his good conduct—will likewise give him three hundred pounds of fresh pork & one hund. of fresh Beef at killing time fifty two pecks of Indian Meal to be furnish’d quarterly one hundred weight of common flour—one quart of rum every Saturday night, the use of a Cow with a sufficiency of hay in the winter to feed her—the House and Garden he formerly occupied and six cord of wood deliverd at his house and if more is required he is to supply himself by collecting driftwood as not a living tree in the enclosure is to be disturbed.

In testimony of all these things, and for the true and faithful performance of them the parties have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first written.

Done in presence of
Jno. Packett Thos Green
Geo: A. Washington

It is hereby agreed by and between George A. Washington and Thomas Green that the foregoing agreement shall continue in as full force as if a new set of Articles had been drawn from the first day of January 1792 untill the first day of January 1793 with the following alterations viz. that all lost time let the cause be what it may not even sickness excepted is to be made up at the end of the year and no absence to be admited unless by permission the said Thomas Green further agrees to relinquish his claim to the sum allowed him in the foregoing Agreement.2

Witness A. Whitting Done this 14th day of Decr 1791
Go: A. Washington
Thos Green

ADS, in George Augustine Washington’s hand, DLC:GW.

Thomas Green had been at Mount Vernon since at least 1783. He left GW’s service in 1793, abandoning his wife Sarah Bishop Green and children (see GW to Green, 31 Mar. 1789, source note; Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:249).

1An undated note in GW’s hand on a separate sheet adds that: “The said Thos Green is also to keep an exact acc⟨t⟩ of all the Plank, Scantling, Shingles & other Materials which are or may be purchased for, and used in the buildings of the said G.W.; and will be very careful to prevent embezzlement, or waste in working up any of them” (AD, DLC:GW).

2On 6 Oct. 1792 Green and GW renewed their contract a final time in a document drafted and witnessed by Bartholomew Dandridge and signed by each party: “It is agree’d this sixth day of October one thousand seven hundred & ninety two, by and between the parties subscribing these presents, that the Articles of Agreement entered into by George Augte Washington, (in behalf of the President of the United States) and the subscriber Thomas Green, bearing date the 9th of Novr 1790, as altered and amended by the subsequent Agreement of the 14th of December 1791, shall be continued & be in full force for and during the term of one year to commence the first day of January 1793. And where as from experience it has been found indispensibly necessary that the Negro Carpenters shou’d be placed under the immediate direction of some person who is capable of arranging, conducting, keeping an account of, and who will actually see that their work, both in quantity & quality, is duly executed; the subscriber George Washington doth from hence forward until the expiration of the year abovementioned, commit the same to the said Thomas Green, who by these presents obliges himself to discharge to the utmost of his abilities these several duties faithfully; but he is not, by being thus entrusted, to conceive that he is to relax in the smallest degree from his own manual labour, except at those times when he is employed in laying off, preparing & measuring, the work of others. The said Thomas Green is to consider himself as under the immediate direction of Mr Whitting; or whomsoever shall be entrusted with the superintendance and general direction of the said Geo: Washington’s business. And altho’ the sd Geo: Washington does not, nor will not agree to increase, or in anywise alter the wages or emoluments of the said Thomas Green; yet, if the sd Thos Green shall conduct himself soberly and honestly; and it shall appear to the entire satisfaction of the sd Geo: Washington that the business is conducted with skill & dispatch, he will take the case into consideration, and may give him something as a token of his satisfaction. Done at Mount Vernon, the day and year first above written” (DS, DLC:GW). GW’s interlineation “Pearce” appears above “Whitting.”

Green noted the new terms in an undated summary in his own hand of the revised contract: “Considerations Thirty five pounds Va Cy—keeping ¼ in arrea⟨rs⟩ as security for good conduct. 400 lb. pork—100 beef⟨—⟩52 pecks meal—200 lb. com: flour—the use of a Cow & hay for her—house & garden—six cord of wood” (DLC:GW).

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