George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 9 March 1797

To Tobias Lear

Chester [Pa.] 9th. March, 1797.

My dear Sir,

Thus far we have arrived safe, but found it disagreeably cold.1

To give the greater surety to the large looking Glasses, and such other articles as are liable to be injured by the jolting of a dray; be so good as to have taken down by hand, and stowed where they will not be trod on; or tossed about in the Vessel’s hold.

The grate (from Mr. Morris’s) pray have packed first in some of the old Carpeting to keep it from scratching. The bedstead which Nelly Custis slept on belongs (Mrs. Washington says) to me. Let this and the trundle under it be sent in the Vessel.2

I question whether enough of the small hooks were got;—desire Mr. Dandridge to get a couple of dozen more, like the two he took out of my Room yesterday,—and he was to have got me small awls, but I believe did not do it. I wish it to be done.

Mr. Hill told me he had done something (but what I do not recollect) with the livery clothes; I pray you to enquire and know they are sent around.3

Mr. Slough of Lancaster had 600 dollars sent him to buy Horses:£160 of which was expended. The balance after deducting incidental expences I expected to have recd. before I left Philadelphia; but did not, and forgot to mention it.4

The newly published Pamphlets, pray purchase, and bring with you for me; Mr. Dandridge knows what I already have. Desire Peter Porcupine’s Gazette to be sent to me (as a Subscriber).5

If there be means left after I have fairly and honorable discharged all the claims upon myself let Mr. Dandridge (if he should have occasion for it) have to the amount of 200 or two hundred & fifty Dollars, to provide such necessaries as he may require for his voyage to be returned when convenient to him.6

When the point at which the Vessel can sail is ascertained; advise me of it by letter. I wish you & all with you, every thing you wish yourselves—and am Sincerely & Affectionately Yrs.

P.S. On one side I am called upon to remember the Parrot, on the other to remember the dog. For my own part I should not pine much if both were forgot.7

Lear, Letters and Recollections, 114–15.

When GW left for Mount Vernon on this day, Tobias Lear (1762–1816), who had been GW’s chief secretary from 1786 to 1793, remained behind to supervise the packing and shipping of GW’s belongings to Virginia. He had come up for this purpose in February from the new Federal City where he had been living since the death of his second wife, Frances Bassett Washington Lear, twelve months before.

1GW wrote in his diary on 9 Mar.: “Left Phila. on my return to Mt. Vernon—dined at Chester & lodged at Wilmington.” He reported that the “Wind changed to No. Wt. blew very hard & turned very cold” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:236). Traveling with him to Mount Vernon were Mrs. Washington, her granddaughter Eleanor Parke Custis, 18–year-old George Washington Lafayette, and Lafayette’s tutor, Felix Frestel. For GW’s description of his journey home, see his letter to Elizabeth Willing Powel, 26 March.

2For Lear’s role in the closing up of the president’s house and the shipping of his belongings to Mount Vernon, see Lear to GW, 15, 20 March.

3Mr. Hill was probably Henry Hill of Philadelphia. On 16 Mar. James McAlpin of Philadelphia was paid $91.37 “for Livery Cloth & sundries” (Presidential Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends ).

5William Cobbett (1762–1835) came to the United States from England in October 1792 and settled in Philadelphia. His anonymous pamphlet attacking his fellow expatriot Joseph Priestley in 1794 launched Cobbett’s career in Philadelphia as a political pamphleteer in which he attacked the new Republicans. On the day that GW left office Cobbett began publishing his Porcupine’s Gazette and Daily Advertiser. There is no report in the Presidential Household Accounts, which run through 25 Mar., of Lear’s purchasing pamphlets for GW

6In the Presidential Household Accounts there is this entry on 25 Mar. for Bartholomew Dandridge: “pd him in full on Account Salary . . . $123.69.”

7This may have been the “Small Dog belonging to a Lady in my house” who in October 1797 bit Christopher, a young slave at Mount Vernon, four days before the dog died, apparently “in a State of Madness.” The “Lady in my house” was probably Eleanor Parke Custis (see GW to William Stoy, 14 Oct. 1797).

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