George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Smith, 3 April 1798

To Alexander Smith

Mount Vernon 3d April 1798.


I am in want of Plank and Scantling as mentioned below.1 If you can supply me, the sooner I receive them the more convenient it will be for my purposes; and the money shall be paid on delivery. At any rate I pray you to let me know whether I may depend upon being supplied by you, and in how short a time, if you are able to do it.2 I am Sir—Your Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1The enclosed order reads:

“Plank—Pine 4,000 feet of Inch & quarter pine plank; 1500 of which to be 18 feet in length, for flooring—800 to be in length, 8, 12, 16 & 20 feet, to suit particular work—the residue may be indiscriminate in length.

Scantling of Pine

Sleepers 12 to be 17 ft long 10 by 4 Inches
12 do 15 do 10 by 4 do
18 do  9 do 10 by 4 do
Joists 12 do 17 do  9 by 3 do
12 do 15 do  9 by 3 do
18 do  9 do  9 by 3 do
Studs 10 to be 11 feet long—and 6 by 4 Inches
26 do 10 ft do    6 by 4 do
Rafters 30 do 23 ft do 6 by 4 Inchs at one end & 4 by 4 at the other
Beams 15 do 21 ft do 5 by 4 do

If good 18 Inch Shingles can be furnished the Vessel may be fitted with any number not exceeding twelve thousand—Or—if shingles are not to be had, the load may be compleated with good Inch Plank not exceeding 3,000 feet.

If the flooring plank (at least) could be obtained of that which is seasoned it would be most desirable. Go: Washington.”

GW followed this up on 25 April with a second letter to Smith: “Sir, On the 3d instant I wrote to you by way of Baltimore, and sent a duplicate thereof through the hands of Governor Henry at Annapolis. One or the other I hope has been received, altho’ no acknowledgment of either (which is desirable, that I may know what to depend upon) has been given.

“The purpose of this letter is to request—if it should get to your hands in time—that the Sleepers mentioned in the Bill of scantling I sent you, may be 9 Inches by 3, instead of 10 by 4; that the Joists may be 8 by 3, instead of 9 by 3; and that the Studs may be 4 by 3 Inches, instead of being 6 by 4; and that to these may be added, 10 posts, 11 feet long and 8 by 4 Inches in size. I am Sir Your Obedt Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW).

Smith wrote GW from Norfolk on 11 May: “I received your letters of the 3d ulto previous to my leaving Vienna, the contents of which will be compl’d with by delivering the lumber at Mountvernon, some time next month” (DLC:GW).

2Smith shipped and GW received and paid for the lumber in June. See GW to Smith, 17 June, and notes. See also GW to John Henry, 3 April, and note 1 of that document.

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