Archive for the ‘Biddle, Clement’ Category

“will you get . . . two Cloths Baskets”

MARTHA WASHINGTON was not pleased when her husband was elected president. After his service in the Revolutionary War she had hoped to live quietly with him at Mount Vernon. She did not go to his inauguration on April 30, 1789, but in mid-May she left for New York, the temporary capital of the new nation, with her two grandchildren and seven house servants (slaves). She organized the household and devoted herself to the duties she presumed were expected of her as the president’s wife.

Martha placed orders for assorted items from the mundane to the unusual as the letters below show. Clement Biddle, who had served as commissary general under Washington during the Revolutionary War, was a merchant in Philadelphia and had been appointed by President Washington to be the head of the United States Marshals.

July 1790
Mrs. Washingtons compliments to Colo Biddle – will be glad to know, if he had got the knives and fork, – and wine, if it is very good and what quantity she will be very glad to see the list of the things when he has collected them altogether she beggs to know if he has remembered the ginn and liquers the General desires to have them sent and that they may be of the best kind – M W begs he will let Mr Powel* know when the vessel goes that the Chariot and coach Harness may go round with the other things they will be packed up ready for to be put on board-

* Samuel and Ann Willing Powel were close friends of the Washingtons.

Sunday one o’clock

We are much in want of perfumes such as orrange flower water & for cooking

Will you be so good as to get for me the Beauties of Milton Thompson Young and Harvey [poems by John Milton, illustrated by the named]]
M Washington

We are much in want of mops and clamps for scouring Brushes – will you get 6 of each and two Cloths Baskets 1 larger than the other

Pickled walnuts
India Mangoes
Thompson’s Seasons [a collection of poems by James Thomson]
Guthries Geography
Art of Speaking
6 mops or sweeping brushes
6 Clamp scrubbing brushes
2 Cloths Baskets
Orange flower Water
perfumes for Cooking.

Martha Washington, “Letters to Colonel Clement Biddle, July 1790,” in Martha Washington, Item #450 and Item #451,(accessed April 27, 2017).The illustration is of the title page of a later edition of William Guthrie’s A New System of Modern Geography.

posted April 27th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Biddle, Clement,Washington, George,Washington, Martha

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