George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 17 November 1790

To Tobias Lear

Mount Vernon, Novr. 17th. 1790.

Dear Sir,

I am just setting off for Alexandria—bad as the day is—to a dinner given by the Citizens of that place to me;1—and hope by the mail of this evening to be placed upon some certainty with respect to Page’s Stage Coach, and that my Journey to Philadelphia may, as was intended, commence on Monday next the 22d.2

Upon examining the Caps of Giles and Paris I find they (especially Paris’s) are much worn, and will be unfit to appear in with decency, after the journey from hence is performed, I therefore request that you will have two handsome ones made, with fuller and richer tassels at top than the old ones have.3 That the maker of them may have some government in the size the enclosed dimentions of their heads, will I presume be sufficient. As the addition of a pair of leading Harness to the Coach will not greatly enhance the aggregate cost I wish, in order that the whole may be of a piece, that you would order Clarke to make a sett for the two leaders (with a Postillion Saddle, the Saddle cloth of which to be the same as the Hammel Cloth with the same lace) that I may have Harness alike for Six Horses when the Coach is used—with that number.4 I am Yr. Affecte.

Letters and Recollections of George Washington, description begins Letters and Recollections of George Washington: Being Letters to Tobias Lear and others between 1790 and 1799, showing the First American in the management of his estate and domestic affairs. With a diary of Washington’s last days, kept by Mr. Lear. New York, 1906. description ends 30–31.

1The 17 Nov. 1790 dinner was held at Wise’s Tavern in Alexandria and was attended by “a numerous and respectable company” despite the inclement weather (Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 27 Nov. 1790).

2For correspondence concerning Stephen Page and the coach GW hired for the trip from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia, see GW to Lear, 31 Oct. 1790 and notes 3 and 4, and 22 and 23 Nov. 1790, and Lear to GW, 4–5, 7, 14, and 21 Nov. 1790.

3Paris (d. 1794) was a Mount Vernon slave who served GW in New York and Philadelphia as a postilion. Because of his unacceptable performance on GW’s spring 1791 tour of the southern states, he lost the privilege of ever returning to Philadelphia. Lear probably gave the enclosed dimensions, which have not been found, to the hatmaker, to whom he paid $3.66 for three hats on 29 Nov. 1790 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:162, 236, 238, 6:102; 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 32, 39, 208, 169).

4For Philadelphia carriage makers David & Francis Clark’s renovation of GW’s coach, see GW to Lear, 5 Sept. 1790 and notes 9 and 10, and 31 Oct. 1790, the Clarks to GW, 13 Sept. 1790, GW to the Clarks, 17 Sept. 1790, and Lear to GW, 24 Oct. and 7 Nov. 1790.

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