George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Law, 25 April 1799

From Thomas Law

[c.25 April 1799]

Dr Sir

The Accompg note will be explanatory[.]1 the Boxes came in the George Berkely by Capn Corfeild who has forwarded my Lre. I am now in the Office writing a building Contract your Corner Stone is to be laid to day & I am to attend2—my Garden is preparing & I am planting Poplars—My Square is to day sown with Clover—I am filling in a Wharf.3 I hope therefore to be excused for this hasty scrawl With affe. regards to Mrs Washington I remain Dear Sir With unfeigned esteem & affn yrs mt Oby

T. Law

I wrote to more persons than one & hope to receive in other Ships.4

ALS, DLC:GW. Law’s letter is undated, but GW docketed it “Thomas Law ⟨Esqr.⟩ no date recd 5th April 1799.” The contents of the letter, however, make it clear that Law wrote it after writing his letter to GW dated 9 April and postmarked at Georgetown 10 April, and so GW could not have received it on “5th April.” Furthermore, GW’s letter to Clement Biddle of 21 April reveals that at that time GW had not yet gotten the information contained in this letter from Law. It would appear, then, that GW received Law’s letter sometime after 20 April and before the end of the month: the assumption has been made that GW intended to write “25th April” instead of “5th April.”

1The enclosed note reads: “Extract ‘The present Season is unfavorable for collecting seeds but in three or four months hence Mr Fleming hopes he will be able to furnish a more ample supply. mean while he considers himself as much obliged for the opportunity of offering this small token of his veneration for the illustrious Cincinnatus of America[’]—Cal[cutta]: 14 Sept. 1798.” For “the Boxes” of seed and plants sent from India by John Fleming (d. 1815), a doctor who was trained at Edinburgh and became president of the Bengal Medical Services, see Law to GW, 9 April, n.4. See also GW to Clement Biddle, 21 April.

2See William Thornton’s report to GW in his letter of 19 April on the progress being made in the construction of GW’s houses to the north of the new Capitol.

3In 1798 and 1799 Law erected three buildings on his Federal City lots in square no. 689, at the corner of New Jersey Avenue and C Street, S.E., including the large house in which he lived with his wife, Martha Washington’s granddaughter Elizabeth Parke Custis Law (Harris, Thornton Papers, description begins C. M. Harris, ed. Papers of William Thornton: Volume One, 1781-1802. Charlottesville, Va., 1995. description ends 1:586–88).

4This makes it appear that Law requested Fleming to send the seed and plants from India.

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