George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 23 November 1790

To Tobias Lear

Spurriers1 Novr 23d 1790.

Dear Sir

With some difficulty (from the most infamous roads that ever were seen) we have got to this place, and are waiting dinner; but have no expectation of reaching Baltimore to Night.2

Dunn has given such proofs of his want of skill in driving, that I find myself under a necessity of looking out for another Coachman.3 Before we got to Elizabeth Town we were obliged to take him from the Coach & put him to the Waggon. This he turned over twice; and this Morning was found much intoxicated. He has also got the Horses into a habit of stopping.

Mrs Washington’s predeliction for Jacob is as strong, as my prejudices and fears are great. Yet in your enquires after a Coachman ask something concerning Jacob—He wanted much it seems to return to us whilst we were in Philadelphia.

The Stage is this instant starting and I can only add that I am Yrs4

G— W—

ALS, ViMtvL: Storer Decatur Collection.

1Widow Ball’s tavern, previously known as Spurrier’s, was located in Howard County, Md., at the later site of the town of Waterloo. GW had dined at the tavern in September 1787 and continued to patronize the hostelry in the 1790s “not because it” was “well kept but because there” was “no other” (GW to Elizabeth Willing Powel, 26 Mar. 1797, ViMtvL; Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:186, 6:204, 211, 213, 238, 327; Warfield, Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, description begins J. D. Warfield. The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland. Baltimore, 1905. description ends 342).

2According to the 26 Nov. 1790 Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, GW’s party passed through Baltimore on 24 Nov. 1790 on their way to Philadelphia.

3Arthur Dunn became the president’s coachman on 7 July 1790, seven months after GW had originally advertised for a replacement for Jacob Jacobus, whose ill health had incapacitated him for service. On 16 Dec. 1790 Lear terminated Dunn, paying his full wages for the month, after a final incident in Philadelphia. The attorney general notified Lear that on 6 Dec. 1790 Pennsylvania governor Thomas Mifflin informed him that the president’s coachman “was very insolent in the use of his whip among the people yesterday at the Church door. He added, that it was near being Serious by the combination of a little mob; but was put an end to by some persuasive means” (Edmund Randolph to Lear, 6 Dec. 1790, owned by Mr. Dudley Stoddard, New York, N.Y.). GW earlier had hired temporarily John Fagan at the Susquehanna ferry opposite Havre de Grace, Md., to complete the trip to Philadelphia. The day after the presidential party arrived in Philadelphia, Robert Lewis sent Fagan a copy of Dunn’s contract and wrote to him that if he agreed with its terms, to report to Philadelphia as GW’s permanent new coachman by 1 December. Fagan was hired and drove GW’s coach on the presidential tour of the southern states in the spring of 1791 (see Robert Lewis to Fagan, 28 Nov. 1790, DLC:GW; 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 94, 147, 175, 209–10).

4The presidential party arrived without ceremony at Philadelphia before noon on 27 Nov. 1790. This left GW a little more than a week to review policy considerations with his departmental secretaries and prepare his address to Congress, while workmen continued to scurry about the presidential mansion finishing their renovations (Parsons, Extracts from the Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, description begins Jacob Cox Parsons, ed. Extracts from the Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, of Philadelphia. 1765–1798. Philadelphia, 1893. description ends 165; Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 1 Dec. 1790).

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