George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Charles Pettit, 9 February 1781

Philadelphia 9th February 1781


I was honored with the receipt of Your Excellency’s letter of the 2d instant some days ago, and immediatly put forward the business recommended, which I am informed will be completed today, and the express-rider who has it in charge will return with all possible dispatch. By him you will also receive the spurs, hair-powder and blacking ball, of which I shall inclose a bill.

As your Excellency was pleased to mention fashionable spurs, I took some pains to enquire, amongst the Gentlemen of fashion, for the reigning taste of the day, but with less success than I expected, as I could not find any standard for it, nor that their ideas agreed with each other. I found, however, that the late prevailing mode of connecting the strap & spur by a chain, was generally rejected; and that a plain spur was most generally approved; I therefore sought for the best plain pattern I could find ready made, the time not admitting of getting a pair made by a new direction. The price fixed was 1100 dollars old money or an equivalent in new emissions at 75, which is the established exchange, but in silver I found ten dollars would be accepted, I therefore paid it in silver, as the difference exceeded the received opinion of the real depreciation of paper money, which is about 100 of old money for one in silver, or 100 in new money for 75 in specie; but as the law now stands actual purchases of specie cannot be made without loss of reputation. Bills of exchange now sell at 75 old or one dollar new money for 5 livres; or 5/6 to 6/. specie for 5 livres 5 sous. I take the liberty of mentioning these particulars for Your Excellency’s information as to the real state of paper money.

The money arising from the Bills of exchange Your Excellency was pleased to send to me in February last year was actually appropriated to the public use in March, and I urged it as an argument for obtaining certificates of equal dates, but could not prevail to obtain them of an earlier date than the time of applying at the Office in Virginia. I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble servant

Cha. Pettit

Cash advanced by C. Pettit

Mr Mayer’s Bill for 6th of supr fine hair powder 0.18.0
10 balls of blacking 1. 0.0
New emissions of paper £ 1.18.0

Also for one pair of spurs 10 dollars in silver 3.15.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

Index Entries