George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Hartshorne, 4 October 1797

From William Hartshorne

Alexandria 10 Mo. 4. 1797

Respected Friend

By desire of the Subscribers to the Bridge on Duke Street I now enclose the Subscription paper for thy consideration—I am ready to acknowledge that things of this kind should be done by the public without burdening Individuals in this way, but in the present instance this could not be done—Some of the Country Gentlemen have contributed and we therefore take the Liberty to ask the like from thee—the improvement is like to be a good one and we hope will be finished in a week or two—Please return the Subscription paper to me by thy servant when he comes to the post office.1 I am very Respectfully Thy Friend

Wm Hartshorne


1The Times and Alexandria Advertiser for 27 Sept. 1797 printed the following notice: “DUKE-STREET BRIDGE. The inhabitants of Alexandria and its vicinity are respectfully informed, that this bridge is almost finished, and would be completed in a very short time, but depending entirely on private subscriptions, the money raised in that way is yet insufficient for the purpose.—The work is now so nearly done, that a few hundred dollars more would enable the managers to complete it in a neat and substantial manner, and they hope their fellow citizens will not suffer so useful a work (now so nearly finished) to be lost for want of a small pecuniary aid. . . . Those who incline to contribute to this undertaking will please to call on Abram Hewes, or George Coryell who will receive subscriptions; and those who are willing to assist with a cart and horse, in hauling dirt, will be thankfully attended to, as much is yet to be done in that way towards raising and levelling the road to the bridge.” The bridge was probably the one across White Oak Swamp which became Harrison’s Gut just before it emptied into Hunting Creek southwest of the old town of Alexandria. The stream is now called Hoofs Run.

GW replied from Mount Vernon on 6 Oct.: “Dear Sir, Enclosed you will receive the subscription paper; and a check upon the Bank of Alexandria for twenty five dollars—I would have given more, but my expences run high—and my finances are low—Having, before I left Philadelphia, been obliged to sell two valuable tracts of Land in that state to enable me to meet the former. With esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Your obedient Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS, NjFrHi). On the same day Hartshorne wrote in reply from Strawberry Hill in Maryland: “Thy favor of this date was reed with the Subscription to the Duke Street Bridge and Twenty five dollars enclosed for which I feel my self much obliged and am sure it will be kindly received by those who conduct this work, which is now in a fair way of being finished very shortly” (DLC:GW).

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