George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Joshua Sands, 29 May 1798

To Joshua Sands

Mount Vernon 29th May 1798


The last Northern Mail brot me your favour of the 24th Instt.1 As the tin box therein mentioned, has not the addition of President annexed to the direction, there can be no doubt of its being addressed to me, in my private character, although I have received no other advice relative thereto than what you have been so obliging as to give.

From the size of it—as described by you—it must be too cumbersome for the Post Office—which, otherwise, would be the readiest—most expeditious—& safest mode of getting it to me: Next to this, if any Gentleman, coming through the whole route from New York to Alexandria, in the stage, would take charge of it, is to be preferred. If neither of these can obtain, water transportation, in any Vessel between the abovementioned places, seems to be the only, & least desirable mode left, as I presume, from the careful manner in which they are enclosed, that the contents are Papers; and having escaped so far, I would not risk them again, if to be avoided, to another fiery, as well as watery exposure. If however, they must come by water (the same indeed by land) be so good as to direct them to the care of the Collector in Alexandria; & favour me with a line by Post, informing me of the measure.2 I am Sir Your obliged & Very Hble S⟨ervt⟩

Go: Washington


Joshua Sands, the brother and former business partner of the New York merchant Comfort Sands (1748–1834), was U.S. collector of the Port of New York.

1Letter not found.

2GW wrote again from Mount Vernon on 26 July: “Sir, Finding that the Tin Box, of which your former letters speak, is not yet come to the hands of the Collector (Colo. Fitzgerald) in Alexandria—owing, I presume, to your not having found a Passenger coming through from New York to that place I have now to request the favour of you to send it to the Secretary of War (Mr McHenry) who says he can forward it from Philadelphia any day in the Week. I am—Sir Your Obedt Hble Servant Go: Washington” (ALS, PWacD).

GW enclosed a letter from Sands to himself in a letter to James McHenry of 13 Aug., saying Sands’s letter “will shew what he has done with the tin box addressed to me. Some anxiety is felt concerning it; for as much, as it is supposed to contain a present (probably a valuable one) from an East India acquaintance of Mr Laws, to Mrs Law; and directed to me in hopes of insuring its safety.” On that same day McHenry wrote to GW: “I have also sent to Mr [Thomas] Law, the tin box received at New York from the East Indies, and directed to you.” And on 20 Aug. GW wrote McHenry: “Mr Laws Box arrived safe.”

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