George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James McAlpin, 10 February 1799

To James McAlpin

Mount Vernon 10th Feb. 1799


Having requested in a former letter, that you would make me a uniform suit of Cloaths by such directions as the Secretary of War would give; of such kinds of Cloth as I mentioned to you in that letter; and moreover, that they might be with me by the 22d of the present month; I hope my desire in all these particulars will be complied with.1

If Mr Washington, one of the Judges, has not left Philadelphia before you receive this letter, & is certain of doing it, so as to be here (where he means to call on his return) by the time abovementioned, he wd afford a good, & safe opportunity by whom to send them.

Let them be packed in a Port manteau to be made for that, & occasional uses thereafter, of very stiff and thick leather of the following size—viz.—two feet in length and two feet nine inches round—with a flap for the convenience of brushes, blacking &ca—and an iron bar (running through staples) and a good lock, for its security. A workman in that line, will be at no loss in discovering what kind of a Portmanteau it is I want, from what is here said.2

Transmit your account of the cost of all the articles required, and the amount shall be remitted to you, by Sir Your Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS, ViMtvL.

2McAlpin responded on 15 Feb.: “Your letters of the 27th Jany and 10th Feby were delivered to me by the Secretary at War—And in compliance with the orders contained in the first, I immediately sought out, and met with an embroiderer, whom I believe was fully equal to the task required. Our next object was Gold thread to work with, which I am extremely concerned to state, we have not been able to procure, either in Philadelphia, New York or Baltimore. By the first Ships from Europe, plenty of the Article is expected, but as it cannot Arrive soon enough to compleat your Order in the time Mentioned, I am under the painful Necessity of informing of my ill success. I beg leave to assure you, that no pains have been wanting on my part, in searching after the Materials—there is not a Store, or person in Philadelphia likely to possess them, to whom I have not Applied—that failing, I got my friends to write to New York & Baltimore, but without success. As soon as any Arrives, should you not think it too late, you may rely on my using every exertion and care in executing your orders to the utmost of my Abilities, And I hope to your sattisfaction. I was fortunate in procuring a very excellent piece of French Cloth, And the Coat has been long cut out, in readiness for the embroiderer . . . P.S. I should have wrote before, but the Secry at War told me he would Acquaint you with our ill success” (DLC:GW). On 18 Mar. GW wrote McAlpin again: “Sir, Your letter of the 15th Ulto came duly to hand, and I feel obliged by the pains you were at, to obtain gold thread for the Uniform Suit you were requested to make and forward to me. I am perfectly satisfied that nothing was left unattempted on your part, to comply with my Order.

“This article (gold thread) being expected in the Spring Importations, you will provide what is good, and have the suit compleated (by a skilful workmen) agreeably to former directions, and sent in the manner required in my last letter. I am Sir Your Very Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS, ViW: Washington Papers; letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers).

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