Below is an original letter in WallBuilders’ collection, from George Washington, dated February 1, 1785. This letter was written during a short period of retirement for Washington, following the War for Independence and before the Constitutional Convention. After resigning his military commission, he settled back in Mount Vernon following an almost continuance absence of eight years.
Mount Vernon 1st Feb. 1785
You may think me very troublesome – and the reason I assign for being so (that I am of the opinion you can serve me better than any other) no good apology for the liberty I take.
My Miller (William Roberts) in now become such an intolerable serv, and when drunk so great a madman, that he never unwilling I am to part with an old servant (for he has been with me 15 years) I cannot with propriety on common justice to myself bear with him any longer.
I pray you once more, therefore, to engage & forward to me, a miller as seen as you may have it in your power; and whatever engagement you shall enter into on my behalf I will religiously fulfil. I do not stipulate for the wages at altho’ my Mill (being on an indifferent stream & not constant at work) can illy [sic] afford high wages.
My wishes to procure a servant who understands the manufacturing business perfectly – and who is sober and honest, that I may even at the expense of paying for it, have as little trouble as possible with him. If he understood the business of a Mill _____ and was obliged by his attitude to keep the Mill works in repair, so much the better. Whatever agreement you may enter into on my behalf, I pray you to have it reduced to writing, & specially declared, that there may be no misexception [sic] or disputes thereafter.
The House in which such Muller will live, is a very comfortable one, within 30 yards of the Mill (which works two pairs of stones one pair of them french Burns) – it has a small Kitchen convenient thereto and a good garden properly paled it. There is a Coopers shop within 50 yards of the Mill, with three Negro Coopers which will also be under the direction of the Miller. Whose allowance of meat, flour, & privileges of every kind, I would have ascertained, to prevent after claims. I do not object to the Mans having a family (a wife I could wish him to have) but if it was a small one, it would be preferable.
At any rate be so good as to let me hear from you, that I may know on what to depend, as it is no longer safe for me to entrust my business to the care of Willi’m Roberts. It only remains now for me to ask your sanguineness for this trouble & to assure you of the esteem with which I am
Your friend & very Humble