George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 21 September 1791

From Tobias Lear

[Philadelphia] Wednesday Evening Sept. 21st 1791.


Since I had the honor of writing to you this morning, I have been making inquiries respecting Blankets, and find that Messrs Sitgreaves have the largest quanty—the best assortment—and the lowest prices that are to be found. I enclose a list of their prices & qualities in order that you may, if you think proper, point out the kind most suitable for your purpose—and likewise have the prices compared with the Alexandria prices, in order to determine whether it would be better to get them at this place or there.1

General Knox having just informed me that he was about to dispatch an express to you, I embrace the opportunity of sending this, as it will reach you sooner than a letter by the next post—and thereby afford me an earlier answer, which may be advantageous in this matter as these goods are going off very fast.2 I have the honor to be, with every sentiment of respect & attachment Your obliged & Obedt Servt

Tobias Lear.


1George Augustine Washington reported to GW on 7 Dec. 1790 that the price of “Dutch Blankets” in Alexandria was high and advised that more than one hundred and fifty blankets would be needed to supply the slaves at Mount Vernon, but no purchase was made that winter (see also George A. Washington to GW, 14 Dec. 1790). GW informed Tobias Lear on 19 June 1791 from Virginia that “near two hundred” blankets would be needed at Mount Vernon in the fall and instructed him to “make a pretty diligent enquiry after them before I arrive.” The enclosed undated list of prices that Lear obtained from W. & J. Sitgreaves, the Philadelphia firm of William Sitgreaves (d. 1800) and John Sitgreaves (d. 1798) at 48 South Front Street, reads:

Striped Duffells 115/ to 180/ per piece of 15 blankets—

2 point twilled blankets 16/6 pair
2½ point " do  23/6 —
6/4 Rose 15/ per pair
7/4 " 23/ —
8/4 " 30/ —
9/4 " 42/6 —
10/4 " 56/3 —
Diaper rugs 10/ to 13/6 piece.

Lear noted at the bottom of the list that the 2– and 2½-point twilled blankets were “Indian Blankets” (DLC:GW). The correspondence between GW and Lear about the purchase of the blankets continued until 16 October. GW instructed Lear to purchase blankets of sufficient quality and size to avoid distress among his “people” (see GW to Lear, 26 Sept., 2, 7 Oct. 1791, and Lear to GW, 30 Sept., 11, 14, 16 October).

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