George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Muir and Samuel Hanson, 11 March 1791

From James Muir and Samuel Hanson

Alexandria [Va.] 11th March 1791


Majr Washington informed us some time ago that it was your desire to be furnished with a State of the School founded upon your bounty.1 We should have obeyed your Commands immediately, but for the indisposition of Dr Brown, the other Visitor of the Academy, whose Concurrence we wished in the Communication requested.2 That Gentleman, however, still Continuing too ill to attend, we have ourselves proceeded to the Examination of the School; and are happy in reporting that the Pupils acquit themselves very well, and that the plan of teaching appears to us good, and well executed.

The Teacher informs us that many of them attend very irregularly, owing, as he believes, to the necessity their Parents are under of employing them at home to procure fuel; and for other necessary purposes.

To ensure a punctual attendance, the Teacher passed a law, immediately after the foundation of the School, that “any Pupil absenting himself more than one day, without sufficient excuse, to be judged of by the Visitors, or any one of them, may on that account be excluded from said School, by such Visitor or Visitors, till the next meeting of the Trustees, to be then submitted to them to determine finally on every such Case.” This law we have not thought proper to enforce, because the School has never yet been full; and we Conceived that it was intended to operate only when the number of Candidates for Admission should exceed twenty, and when the Continuance of such as should not attend regularly might exclude others who would.

From the subjoined list it would appear that the School is at present full.3 But we beg leave to explain that Circumstance, by stating that several of the Boys having discovered marks of extraordinary Genius, it was thought proper, at the request of the Rector, to remove them to the other School, where they are taught with out any additional charge. With perfect respect, we are Sir Your most obedt Servants

James Muir

S. Hanson of Saml

DS, in the hand of Samuel Hanson, DLC:GW.

For an identification of Samuel Hanson, see Hanson to GW, 2 Oct. 1788. For GW’s involvement with the Alexandria Academy, see John V. Weylie to GW, 11 Mar. 1789, n.2. James Muir (d. 1820) became pastor of the Alexandria Presbyterian Meeting in March 1789 and served in that office for more than thirty-one years. He was also a trustee of the Alexandria Academy and chaplain of the Masonic lodge. In that capacity he participated in the laying of the cornerstone of the federal district at Jones Point in April 1791, and he assisted in the Masonic ceremonies performed at GW’s funeral. On 29 Dec. 1799 he presided over the memorial service for GW conducted at the Presbyterian Meetinghouse.

1George Augustine Washington paid GW’s donation of £50 Virginia currency to Charles Lee, treasurer of the academy, on 17 Jan. 1791 (Receipt from the Virginia Academy, 17 Jan. 1791, ViMtvL; see also Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 324). George Augustine may have informed him of GW’s desire at that time.

2Dr. William Brown was one of the founders of the academy (for his identification, see Bushrod Washington to GW, 20 Nov. 1788). He may have been ill for a prolonged period before his death in 1792.

3The writers appended a “List of the Pupils attending or belonging to the School,” listing thirteen boys and seven girls: Ignatious Sims, James Dunn, John Hayes, John Smith, Peter Zane, Thomas Warnall, John Farmer, John Harper, James Smith, Laurance Sanford, Robert Evans, Thomas Sanford, John Weylie, Ann Davis, Ann Froud, Jane Frazer, Mary Farmer, Rhoda Zane, Martha Dunn, and Julia Pratt.

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