George Washington Papers

William White to Tobias Lear, 3 January 1793

William White to Tobias Lear

[Philadelphia] Jany 3. 1793.


In Regard to the benevolent Design of the President, communicated to me by you the other Day, I have to inform you, that were I to attempt to furnish a List of the proper Objects, it would necessarily be a more contracted Application of the Bounty, than is intended: For altho, like other Citizens, I have Applications from Persons of different Communions, yet an annual Duty lying on me of paying special Attention to the poor of the Churches under my perochial Care, occasions my having a Knowlege of a much greater Number of one Denomination, than of all the others.1

In consideration of this & of what I have occasionally learned of the Duties of the Overseers of the poor, I beg leave to suggest for your Consideration, whether it might not be best to deposit the Money with the Treasurer of that Body, giving Notice of it to the Board?2 The Mode of doing this I can communicate to you.

Every one of these Overseers has a certain District; the poor of which are committed to his Charge. The most of them have a weekly Allowance: But I am told, that besides these, the Overseers have always a Knowlege of Families, who are driven by present Distress to solicit Charity; but would be above becoming constant Dependents on it.

Any further Information you may desire I shall have an Opp[ortunit]y of giving you in Person; I am, in the mean Time, Your very humble Servt

Wm White

ALS, MHi: Miscellaneous Bound Collection.

1William White was the bishop of the diocese of Pennsylvania for the Protestant Episcopal Church of America (see John Churchman to GW, 5 Sept. 1792, n.5). No written communication from Lear to White has been identified.

2A corporate body of twelve civil appointees, formally designated as the “Guardians of the Poor in the City of Philadelphia” under Pennsylvania’s poor-relief legislation of 27 Mar. 1789, supervised the collection and disbursement of taxes designated for relief of the poor and directed the city’s almshouse and house of employment (see William Clinton Heffner, History of Poor Relief Legislation in Pennsylvania, 1682–1913 [(Cleona, Pa.), c.1913], 95–118).

Although the size of GW’s contribution to the poor of Philadelphia in January 1793 has not been determined, on 28 Jan. 1794 GW put $250 “into the hands of Dr White to be distributed among the poor of Philada” (Presidential Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends ).

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