Archive for the ‘Washington, Samuel’ Category

“send me a gettar”

George Washington had five full siblings and three half siblings. His father Augustine remarried (Mary Ball) after his first wife died. George was the eldest child of that union. George was close to his half brother Lawrence who, when he died of consumption, willed Mount Vernon to him. Betty, his sister, is said to have strikingly resembled him. She married Fielding Lewis and when he died, much in debt, George undertook to do what he could for her and her children.

George’s brother Samuel, two years his junior, gave him a lot of grief. Married five times he was always in financial difficulty. Exasperated, George wrote in 1781: “In God’s name how did my brother Samuel get himself in so enormously in debt?” Nevertheless George lent him rather large sums of money.

HARRIOT WASHINGTON (1776-1822) was one of Samuel’s children by his fourth wife whom George undertook to care for in 1785 after her father died and her stepmother remarried. Harriet was shuffled between relatives, living at Mount Vernon and with her Aunt Betty Lewis, Washington’s sister, from 1790 to 1795. George Washington was not too happy with Harriot’s behavior, considering her spoiled. She has “sense enough,” he told his sister, “but no disposition to industry nor to be careful of her Cloaths,” which are “(I am told) dabbed about in every hole & corner.” Sounds like a typical teenager to me. Harriot wrote several letters over the years to her uncle usually asking either for money or for specific items as in the following letter. Washington had assumed the office of president and was living in New York City with Martha and her grandchildren when Harriot penned this letter.

Mt Vernon April 2d 1790I now set down to write to my dear Uncle as I have not wrote to him since he left this place I should have done it but I thought you had so much business that I had better write to Aunt Washington yet I am sure you would be very glad to se me improveing myself by writeing letters to my friend’s.

I am a going to ask you My Dear Uncle to do something for me which I hope you will not be against but I am sure if you are it will be for my good, as all the young Ladyes are a learning musick, I will be very much obleiged to you if you will send me a gettar, there is a man here by the name of Tracy that teaches to play on the harpsicord & gettar, a gettar is so simple an instrument that five or six lessons would be sufficient for any body to learn, If you think it proper to send me a gettar I will thank you if you will send it by the first opportunity I was informed the other day that you and Aunt Washington were certainly a comeing home this Summer which gave me a great deal of pleasure for I want to se you very much.1

If you please to give my love to Aunt Washington[,] Nelly & Washington. I am My Dear Uncle your Sincere Neice
Harriot Washington.

Frank E. Grizzard, Jr., “Washington, Samuel, (1734-1781),” George! A Guide to All Things Washington, Charlottesville, VA: Mariner Publishing, 2005, 337-338. “To George Washington from Harriot Washington, 2 April 1790,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-05-02-0199. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 5, 16 January 1790 – 30 June 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig, Mark A. Mastromarino, and Jack D. Warren. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, pp. 310–311.]

posted June 16th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Lewis, Betty Washington,Washington, George,Washington, Harriot,Washington, Lawrence,Washington, Martha,Washington, Samuel

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