Rare Autograph letter signed and entirely in the hand of founding father George Washington
George Washington Autograph Letter Signed.
Item Number: 96527
New York: October 2nd, 1789.
Rare autograph letter signed and entirely in the hand of George Washington six months into his first term as President, regarding a shipment of fruit trees from the famed Mount Clare greenhouse to his Mount Vernon estate. Signed again by Washington with his franking signature as President by the wax seal still intact on the verso of the letter. The letter is part of an ongoing correspondence between Washington, Baltimore plantation owner Margaret Tilghman Carroll, and first commissioner of the Port of Baltimore and Revolutionary War Brigadier General Otho Holland Williams. Washington had arranged for the shipment of young fruit trees from Mrs. Carroll’s greenhouse at Mount Clare who, hoping to exceed his expectations, attempted to instead make an illustrious gift of mature, fruit bearing trees which would require a special and costly vessel to transport. Addressed to General Williams, the letter reads, “New York Oct. 2d 1789 Dear Sir, I am afraid that my request of you, to forward the plants which Mrs. Carroll had been so obliged as to offer me, was so incautiously expressed as to lead you into a mistake, and myself, consequently, into an expence [sic] which I had no intention to incur. More than to embrace the opportunity of the Packet from Baltimore to Annapolis, or any other causal conveyance from the one place to the other, by which the above plants could easily have been sent, I had nor extended my ideas, and if a large vessel should have been employed for this purpose the cost will far exceed the value of the things – if not too late, I could wish to avoid it. I had no expectation of large trees of of any plants beyond their infant growth, the first would be a robbery of their good Lady without answering my purposes so such as those which were younger. – But in any event I hope you receive my sincere thank for the trouble you have taken. – The cost shall be paid so soon as you make it known to Dear Sir your most Obed. Servt. G. Washington.” In near fine condition. Exceedingly rare and desirable. Autograph letters from the early months of Washington’s Presidency scarcely appear at auction with records of only 6 examples dated 1789 to ever have appeared.
Despite further earnest requests in writing to Mrs. Carroll to honor his initial request for small plants, on October 29th, General Williams responded to Washington, "Mrs Carroll sent me five boxes, and twenty small pots of trees, and young plants; among which were two Shaddocks-One Lemon, and One Orange, of from three to five feet in length; Nine small orange trees; Nine Lemon; One fine balm scented Shrub; Two Potts of Alloes, and some tufts of knotted Marjoram." Mrs. Carroll's gift to Washington added such a variety of valuable fruit trees to the estate, it soon housed the most advanced greenhouse of its time.