George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Smith, 17 June 1798

To Alexander Smith

Mount Vernon 17th June 1798.


For such Plank & Scantling as Captn Walters delivered, I have paid, at the rates mentioned in your letter of the 5th Inst.; of which I give you notice, having done it reluctantly, as you did not direct it in your letter, and he could produce no order to that effect.1

It was customary, he said, for him to receive payment; knew you expected it in this instance; that you wanted the money; and that he had been three years in your Service. All this might be, and I presume is true; but as my contract was with you, and he a stranger to me, I thought paying the money to him was irregular (under the circumstances I have mentioned) and nothing but the fear of disappointing you caused it to be done by Sir Your Most Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1For GW’s negotiations with Smith for the purchase of lumber, see GW to Smith, 3 April 1798, and note 1 of that document. Smith wrote to GW on 5 June: “Agreeable to my letter [of 11 May] from Norfolk to you last month, Herewith you will receive by Capt. Walters the Plank & Scantling, the prices as below” (DLC:GW). He indicates that he was charging per hundred feet, 30s. for scantling, 16s. 3d. for 1¼ inch plank, and 10s. for 1 inch plank, all Maryland currency. On June 14 GW recorded in his Day Book: “By Cash paid for Plank & Scantling Received from Mr Smith of the Eastern shore of Maryland pr Cap. Walter—and pr Bill & Receipt—$183.65.” See Smith’s reply to this letter dated 29 June.

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