George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 28 March 1791

To Tobias Lear

George Town [Md.] March 28th 1791.

Dear Sir,

Late this afternoon your letters of the 23d & 24th instant came to hand, and as the Mail is about to be closed (leaving this before sun rise in the morning) I shall, as I must, be short.

I return some letters to be filed;—one from Colo Blaine to be given to Genl Knox, to be acted upon as he pleases;—he is as well acquainted with the man as I am, & knows the want of such a character better than I do;—another letter from Colo Cannon, which I may venture to say proves him to be, what I will not call him; and, that I need never look for any Rents from him.—I pray you to say to him, if he does not come to Philadelphia during my absence, that his own statement—given in at New York—does not justify his prest report—and that I am too well acquainted with the prices of grain and the demd for it last year in his own neighbourhood to be imposed upon by such a tale as his letter exhibits.—In a word, that I am by no means satisfied with his treatment of me;—for sure I am I shall get nothing from him but assurances of improvements, whilst he is either applying my rents to his own use—or suffering the tenants to go free from the payment of them.1

One of the Pads to the Waggon harness was left, it seems, at Mr Clark’s—send it by the Stage to Alexandria;—if it comes too late the matter will not be great.2—I am not able to say yet, how long I shall be detained in this place—where I arrived before breakfast this morning. I am—Your affecte

Go: Washington.

P.S.—I send with my best remembrance a Sermon for Mrs W——n—I presume it is good, coming all the way from New Hampshire, but do not vouch for it not having read a word of it.—It was one of your enclosures.—3

Letters from Washington to Lear, description begins Letters from George Washington to Tobias Lear with an Appendix . . .. Rochester, N.Y., 1905. description ends 24.

The above letter is one of several from GW to Tobias Lear that survives only in print. The original receiver’s copies were bequeathed by Lear’s widow, Frances Dandridge Henley Lear, to distant relatives, and many of them were subsequently acquired by manuscript collector William K. Bixby, who had them transcribed by William H. Samson and published in a limited edition in 1905. The editors will henceforth use the printed Bixby-Samson transcripts as source texts for those letters for which neither receiver’s copies nor contemporary letter-book copies have been found, having previously relied on Jared Sparks’s early nineteenth-century transcripts as published by Lear’s granddaughter Louisa Lear Eyre in 1906. See GW to Lear, 9 Sept. 1790, source note, and 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 v, vii, xi.

1The enclosed letters from Ephraim Blaine (1741–1804) of Carlisle, Pa., and John Canon, GW’s western Pennsylvania land agent, have not been found. Blaine, who had served in the Revolutionary War as deputy commissary general of purchases from 1777 until he became commissary general in 1780, apparently wrote to GW seeking a role in supplying Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s expedition. See GW to Canon, 26 Dec. 1788, source note, and Lear to GW, 1, 3 April 1791.

2Philadelphia carriage maker David Clark apparently had been engaged to work on GW’s baggage wagon.

3For the enclosed pamphlet, see John C. Ogden to GW, 9 Jan. 1791 and note 1.

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