George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joshua Humphreys, 24 April 1797

From Joshua Humphreys

Philadelphia Apl 24. 1797


Before you left this City you mentioned you wanted a pump for raising water about sixty feet, if you have not one provided and will please to give me the height the water must be raised, the quantity to be delivered, and also the use it is to be applied to, I will endeavour to find out and transmitt to you the best plan for having one made, and what the cost will be.1

The Frigate U. States will be Launched either the last of this month or the begining of the next.2 I am with the greatest Esteem & Respect

Joshua Humphreys


Joshua Humphreys (1751–1838), the leading American naval architect of his day, was named naval constructor for the United States in 1794. The famous frigates United States, Constitution, Constellation, and Congress were being built on his plans and under his general supervision.

1During the Constitutional Convention GW wrote George Augustine Washington at Mount Vernon on 26 Aug. 1787 for the dimensions of the well “(by the Kitchen door)” because he had “some intention of placing a pump in it, instead of drawing the Water up in a Bucket as at present.” After his return home, GW wrote to Clement Biddle on 4 Aug. 1788 about getting a pump in Philadelphia “for a well on a farm yard” because he found those made in Alexandria priced too high. No response to Humphreys from GW has been found. It is not known whether GW wished to replace a pump in one of his wells or to install one in a well without a pump.

2The frigate United States was being built in Philadelphia under Humphreys’direct supervision.

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