George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Mary Gomain Hallet, 5 May 1795

To Mary Gomain Hallet

Philadelphia 5 May 1795


It is painful to me to receive the complaints of Mr Hallet, through you.1 It is more so, as I see no propriety in my interfering in the differences between the Commissioners and him. The Commissioners are responcible to the public for conducting the public buildings, and other concerns of the Federal City. In the discharge of this trust, they must pursue such means as in their judgment, are most conducive to the end.

Why Mr Hallet left the business in which he was employed by them; or why he was discontinued; is better known, perhaps, to you, than it is to me.

What assurances were given to Mr Hallet to induce him to leave the business he was engaged in, at Philadelphia; What that business was; What money he has received for his services; and what further sum he is entitled to; are matters entirely unknown to me. All I can do therefore is, to transmit the representation you have made of his case, to the Commissioners, who are knowing of the facts; and can have no interest in with-holding justice, where it is due.2 It is my sincere wish and desire, that it should be administered by them, to every one; and I have confidence that, having the power, inclination will not be wanting to do so.

Having met your letter on the road, and without knowing by whose hand it was delivered, I did not examine the contents until I had reached my evening’s Stage; nor have I had leizure or oppitunity to acknowledge the receipt of it until now. I wish you and Mr Hallet both, well—and am, Madam, Your very Hble Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. Your letter without date,3 but evidently written after those, the receipt of which I have already acknowledged, came to my hands since my arrival at this place; and is transmitted with the others to the Commissioners.


1GW referred to Mary Gomain Hallet’s two letters of 27 April.

2On this date, GW wrote to the D.C. commissioners about Mary Hallet’s letters, “The papers herewith enclosed (except one) were put into my hands whilst I was on horseback, passing through the city on my journey. I did not then read them, or know from whom they came.

“Enclosed is my answer; which, after reading, be so good as to Seal and cause it to be delivered. As it discloses my sentiments respecting the representation of Mr Hallet, through his Wife, I shall not repeat them; further than to assure you of my confidence that you will do strict justice to his memorial and claims as far as they merit” (LB, DLC:GW).

GW also had consulted Edmund Randolph. The secretary returned Mary Hallet’s papers to GW on this date with his comments: “It will be comfortable to her to receive an answer from the President, which refers the subject of her husband to the commissioners; and the letters intended for her and them admit no suggestion of amendment, unless perhaps the last sentence of her letter in the second paragraph could be dispensed with. For altho’ the presumption undoubtedly is that the commissioners have done justice; yet the distressed woman will fancy, that that sentence condemns her husband’s pretensions in part, and leaves little hope that the commissioners will recede, after such a seeming intimation of the President’s opinion. She will suppose that the President’s letter to them will conform to his to her” (AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State).

3GW referred to Hallet’s letter of 28 April.

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