George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Philips, 24 June 1798

From Henry Philips

Philad[elphi]a June 24th 1798


About two years ago I had the honor of introducing to you my brother Francis who has since returned to his family & friends in England. He felt himself so much obliged by your attention to him that he has sent out to me an etching & proof Print of a celebrated Painting by the late Mr Wright of Derby in England, with a request that I would beg your acceptance of them in his name, which I now beg leave to do; the Print is called “the Dead Soldier.”1

I sent it about two months ago to Your address by one of the Packets bound to Alexandria, but the letter intended to accompany it was I find, too late for the vessel. Mrs P. joins me in presenting our respects to Mrs W. & our wishes are united that long life attended with happiness may be both your lots.2 With real esteem I am Sir, Your very hble servt

Henry Philips


1Henry Philips was a Philadelphia merchant associated with George and Robert Philips, merchants in Birmingham, England. Francis Philips (1771-1850) was involved with the family’s manufacturing business at Manchester, England. No earlier correspondence regarding his brother Francis has been found. The painter Joseph Wright (1734–1797) of Derby exhibited his painting A Dead Soldier, His Wife and Child at the Royal Academy in London in 1789 and sold it to James Heath (1757–1834) who made a great deal of money from his engraving of the picture. The two prints sent by Francis Philips were hanging in the New Room, or banquet room, at Mount Vernon at GW’s death (“Inventory &c. of Articles at Mount Vernon,” in Prussing, Estate of George Washington, description begins Eugene E. Prussing. The Estate of George Washington, Deceased. Boston, 1927. description ends 410).

2Sophia Chew Philips (1769-1841), who married Henry in 1796, was the daughter of Judge Benjamin Chew (1722-1810). GW wrote to Philips from Mount Vernon on 8 July: “Sir, I have been favoured with your obliging letter of the 24th Ulto, explaining a matter which before the receipt of it, was to me, an enigma.

“A case to my Address was of course opened, when two elegant Prints appearing therein, unaccompanied with a letter, made me suspect that there must have been a mistake in the direction; and, under this impression, I was about to repack them; and should have done so, if I had known where, or to whom to have sent them.

“Permit me now, my good Sir, to offer my grateful thanks, through you, to Mr F. Philips your brother, for this instance of his politeness to me, and to request the favour of you to make my apology to him for not having done so at an earlier period, for Pictures so much, and so deservedly admired.

“Present me, I pray you, in terms most acceptable to Mrs Philips, to which please to add those of Mrs Washington, and our joint respects and compliments to Mr [Benjamin] Chews family. I am Sir Your Most Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB DLC:GW).

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