WASHINGTON, George. Autograph letter signed ("G:o Washington"), Dr. Stuart in Abingdon, Mount Vernon, 15 August 1786. 1 full page, 4to, integral address leaf in Washington's hand to "Doctr. Stuart Abingdon," tiny traces of mount on address leaf, otherwise in exceptionally fresh, clean condition.
"ALL THE CIVILITIES IN MY POWER": WASHINGTON ENTERTAINS "A FRENCH GENTLEMAN OF RANK" AT MOUNT VERNON
Washington invites his Virginia neighbors and good friends, Dr. David Stuart (1753-1814) and his wife Eleanor (formerly the wife of Jacky Custis, Martha's son), to be among the guests at Mount Vernon at a dinner to honor General Jean Baptiste Maudit Duplessis, formerly the French Governor of St. Vincent in the West Indies, who has expressed interest in settling as a farmer in Georgia. Duplessis has been introduced to Washington by his friend and Revolutionary War protégé the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) and by Count Charles Henri Hector D'Estaing (1729-1794), commander of French naval forces supporting the American rebels during the War. In late July, Washington received letters of introduction and warmly invited Du Plessis to visit "the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon" (Fitzpatrick, 28:488-489). DuPlessis, who planned to settle in the United States, arrived at Mount Vernon a few weeks later, and Washington planned a welcoming dinner, even sending his carriage to pick up the Stuarts for the event.
"Mrs. Washington is prevented from dining with you tomorrow by the arrival of a French Gentleman of Rank -- Genl DuPlessis -- who is introduced and very warmly recommended to me by the Count de Estaing, the Marqs. de la Fayette &c. In consequence I have persuaded Col. [David] Humphreys, to postpone his visit to Abingdon. Wishing to shew this Gentleman (Genl. Duplessis) all the Civilities in my power, I should be glad if you and Mrs. Stuart would dine with me tomorrow. Other Company are also invited from Alexandria at Dinner , at this time. That Mr. Stuart may be accommodated George's Phaeton [carriage], & a pair of my horses (two others being sent to Fredericksburg) is carried up by Charles...."
David Stuart had been educated in Edinburgh and France, and was later one of the commissioners of the new Federal capital. Eleanor Calvert in 1774 married Martha Washington's only son (from her first marriage), John Park Custis or "Jacky" (1754-1781). The couple had four children. Eleanor was widowed in 1781 by Jacky's death from "camp fever" while he served as an aide to General Washington. Eleanor remarried Dr. Stuart in 1783, and resided close to Mount Vernon at Abingdon, an estate near Alexandria. Nelly's two youngest children (Martha and Washington, or "Wash" Custis) were informally adopted by George and Martha Washington, and the Stuarts were very frequent visitors at Mount Vernon. The coachman, George, mentioned here, is probably a slave belonging to George Augustine Washington. Papers, Confederation Series, ed, W.W. Abbott, 4:217.