Washington, George (1732-1799) Autograph Letter Signed, Mount Vernon, 11 September 1799. Single piece of laid paper with R. Williams watermark, inscribed on one page, to Dr. William Thornton (1759-1828), sending payment for residential hardware to George Blagden (d. 1826), a building contractor in the new Federal City, in the form of a check for one thousand dollars on the Bank of Alexandria (not present) by way of Thomas Peter (husband of Martha's granddaughter Martha Parke Custis), and arranging to procure some additional hardware from Peter's brother; slight restoration to left margin, very good, 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.
"Dear Sir, The 20th of this month—when Mr Blagden would require an advance of a thousand dollars—being near at hand—and Mr Peter affording a good and safe opportunity to remit it—I enclose for this purpose, a check on the Bank of Alexandria, to that amount. Mr Peter informs me that his brother ________ has Ironmongery of a good quality, which he wants to dispose of, and would sell cheap. I pray you therefore to inform Mr Blagden of this circumstance, request him to examine it, and if of the kind & quality he requires & to be had on good terms—to supply himself therefrom, and at the foot of the Invoice to draw upon me for the amount; which shall be immediately paid. With great esteem & regard I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedt Servt
Dr. Thornton was a physician and architect responsible for the original prize-winning design of the U.S. Capitol building. Thornton designed stately homes, including Octagon, Woodlawn, Tudor Place, and was the architect of Mount Vernon. He is also known to have attempted a resurrection of the President's corpse. In this particular letter, Washington is arranging for a variety of hardware fittings for building two townhouses in the new Federal City (never referred to by its eponymous name by the former first President). Blagden was to provide butt hinges, screws, hooks, locks, rims, and pendants for front doors, and more perfunctory versions of the same hardware for basement doors in the construction of Washington's townhouses in the city. Sadly, Washington did not live to see the finished construction; the homes were burned very badly when the British took the Capitol in 1814, and then were subsequently razed in the early 20th century.
This letter was sold at B. Altman & Co. in 1985 for $12,500.
Provenance: The Estate of David Spinney.
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