George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Mary Gomain Hallet, 28 April 1795

From Mary Gomain Hallet

[28 April 1795]1


Excuse me if once more I trouble you with my affairs. I think I forgot in the letter which was yesterday presented to you by my Son to State the amount of the debts I have contracted here;2 Which come to more than four hundred pounds. In a letter written last night to my husband, The Commissioners allow him a compensation of 250 dollars, on account of the time he has Spent waiting for an answer to the note he had Sent to them in last January at their request.3 Thus are we Short of our engagements by 550 dollars besides the expense of the journey to Philadelphia; and yet the City can afford to my husband, at this time, no means of discharging his debts, and of maintaining his family.

Be pleased, Sir, to consider on our Situation. I need not to repeat what I have exposed in my last memorial; Such is your justice, So deservedly respected is your character as to induce me to wait in a fond expectation your judgement. I am with respect Sir Your most humble servant

M. Gomain hallet

ALS, DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Received.

1The date for this letter was determined by Mary Hallet’s statement that the commissioners for the District of Columbia had written to her husband, Stephen Hallet, “last night.” Their letter was dated 27 April; hers, therefore, is dated 28 April.

2Mrs. Hallet referred to her long letter to GW of 27 April.

3The commissioners informed Stephen Hallet on 27 April that they had “deferred” a response to his letter of 21 January. That body had waited “for a Determination respecting the carrying on the building of the Capitol—that arrangement not leaving any room for availing ourselves of your Talents, we think it proper to give you notice thereof, and at the same time inform you that we have directed our Clerk to pass an Order in your favor for 250 dollars as a full compensation on your passing a receipt for the same” (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent).

In Hallet’s letter to the commissioners on 21 Jan., he referred to “the account rendered you of my conduct in Public Service at our last intervue,” and hoped they considered “the Public monies paid me have not been misapplied.” Hallet reminded the board that on 22 June 1793, the members “resolved for my Expenses in Journies to & from Philadelphia, and Services from the beginning of August 1792. to allow me the Sum of £400. in which Sum was included the Second Premium.

“In the next instance, they fixed my Salary at £400 per annum payable quarterly commencing on the 22d of June, this was communicated to me verbally by the commissionners in Novemr or Decemr 1793. the Salary was Continued untill 28th of June 1794. Subject nevertheless to the deduction of £30 for a half years rent of a House with which I was accomodated by the Commissionners, but for which I had no Idea they intended to charge me rent.”

Hallet expected “an Essential distinction will be made between the active operations of this part of my Public Service,” which he hoped would “not be considered inferior to the Compensation allowed,” and his “application to abstract Theory,” which he considered his “right which every author has to the fruits of his Genius.” He further stated, “I have uniformly aimed at giving Satisfaction & discharging the trust reposed in me … I had a professionnal caractere to Suport, I had a large family dependant on my personal exertions, nothing less than madness could have induced me to act in such a manner as to sacrifice the one, and reduce the other to want.

“If Gentlemen on Investigation you Consider me equal to the post I have enjoyed … I cannot expect less from the Justice of the Board that they will place me in the Same Situation I was when invited into the Public Service, by furnishing me with the means of Satisfaying Some debts which I have Contracted here and enabling me to return to my former residence” (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Received).

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