George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 18 February 1795

To Tobias Lear

Philadelphia 18th Feb: 1795.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 13th instt came to me yesterday. previous to which your other letters of the 24th & 30th Ulto had been duly received.

About a fortnight ago, I saw and spoke to Mr Weston myself, respecting his visit to the Falls of Potomack; and wished, if he was able, that he would name the time he would, or expected, to be there. He answered, about the last of this month. That he had to return first to Lebanon (near to which they are digging the Canal, between the Waters of Susquehanna & the Schuylkill) and should proceed from thence. As it is more than probable that his rout will be by the way of Carlisle, Shippensburgh, Chambersburgh, and Hagers town above the Mountain. Or if not by that course, that it will be through York & Frederick town below it & in either case that he will return by Baltime. It is to be regretted (as in a former letter you expressed a wish that he should see the Shanondoah near its confluence with the Potomack)1 that some previous arrangement could not have been made for the purpose of meeting him at, or near the spot you wished him to view above. This, for many reasons I could not propose, nor had I an opportunity of doing it, admitting the propriety of the measure, as it was on a public day (in what is called the Levee room) and just as he was leaving the City, that I saw him. Some embarrassments respecting the business of the Canal Companies, in this State, brought & detained him here longer than was expected; but this circumstance was unknown to me untill the moment of his departure, otherwise I should have seen him sooner, and would have conversed more fully with him on his proposed visit. To his detention here may be ascribed his not being with you at an earlier day than is now thought of.

Much has been said, of late, of the Inclined plain in Connecticut River—of the utility of it, I mean;2 It would be well I think to question Mr Weston pretty fully on this mode of raising & lowering Boats; as the simplicity, cheapness and effect is the subject of eulogium—deservedly or not, I shall not undertake to pronounce.

The family are all well; Betcy & Mr & Mrs Peter, left this on Monday Morning for New York3—to return on Saturday. Mrs Washington & the other two4 join me in every good wish for you and I am Sincerely & Affectionately Yours

Go: Washington

ALS, ViMtvL: Storer-Decatur Collection. A docket below the dateline indicates that Lear received this letter on 20 February.

1GW was referring to Lear’s letter of 24 January.

2GW was referring to South Hadley Canal. According to a description in the Independent Gazetteer (Philadelphia), 29 March 1794, “instead of the expensive mode of locking …. An inclined plane, on an elevation of fifteen degrees, joins the two Canals …. At the top of the hill, by means of a water-wheel, and raising a gate, a large cable performs the office of drawing over the inclined plane loaded boats, which are received into the body of a machine, which descends into the Canal, and then it is closed up behind. The front of this machine is contrived to come in contract with the upper Canal, in such a manner, that the boat floats out of it into that Canal, and thus continues its voyage without farther interruption.” For other descriptions of the operation, see Connecticut Journal (New Haven), 12 Dec. 1793, and Federal Orrery (Boston), 1 Jan. 1795.

3The previous Monday was 16 February.

4GW was referring to Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis.

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