WASHINGTON, George. Autograph letter signed ("G:o Washington") AS PRESIDENT, to Matthias Slough, Philadelphia, 11 February 1797. 1 full page, small folio, integral address leaf with panel in Washington's hand and stamped "FREE." Small seal hole, one corner chipped, a few stains, neatly mounted.
WASHINGTON LOOKS FORWARD TO "THE END OF MY POLITICAL CAREER" AND "MY JOURNEY HOME" TO VIRGINIA
As the end of his second term approached, Washington began preparations to move his household from Philadelphia back to his beloved Mount Vernon. Five days previously Washington had written Slough, a respected Lancaster agent, explaining that "The 3d. of March which is fast approaching, will put an end to my political career; and I shall have another to commence through mud and mire, to reach more tranquil scenes at Mount Vernon. This I shall do without delay..." It is his plan "to accomplish this journey, with such baggage as I do not incline to risk by water," and he requested Slough to supply "a pair of strong horses that are true and steady to the draught for a Waggon." He expressed a preference for mares, as they might afterwards be used for plowing and mules might be bred from them (see Fitzpatrick, 35:385). His first letter evidently went astray, so Washington sends a copy and elaborates on his request: "The enclosed is the copy of a letter I wrote you agreeably to the date; but as it was to take its chance from the stage office, and letters by private conveyances do not always get to their destination, I trouble you with a duplicate; as well on that account, as because I find my journey home requires the purchase of a third horse, or mare, for the draught."
An experienced judge of horses, Washington is quite specific about the sort of horse he wants: "This third one, must, in every respect, be conformable to the description of the last two except (as it is to go with three others which I have) that it ought to be a bay, and of some what better figure. For the reason mentioned in my last, I should prefer, greatly, Mares; and if they were to be here before the first of March (that they might be exercised together, and with breast plates instead of collars) it would be desirable. At any rate let me hear from you as soon as convenient that I may know what to depend upon...."
Slough was happy to fill the retiring President's order, and sent on to Philadelphia a pair of matching draft mares, for which he charged the President £160. However, the Bay ordered here, when delivered, did not suit Washington, being, he reported "too clumsy about the head and legs to suit my Carriage horses, and too high in price for a common plough horse" (Fitzpatrick 35:399). Published (from a letterpress copy in the New York Public Library) in Fitzpatrick 35:386.