WASHINGTON, George, President. Autograph letter signed ("Go: Washington") to the Governor of the Bahama Islands, Mount Vernon, 11 March 1787. 1 full page, 4to, discreetly silked, neat repair to minor tear, otherwise in very fine condition, enclosed in a custom half-morocco clamshell protective case.
THE WASHINGTON-LEE FAMILY CONNECTION
A gracious letter of introduction to the British Governor of the Bahamas, written only two months before the opening of the Federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, at which Washington was unanimously chosen Chairman, or President. Here, Washington introduces Philip Richard Fendall, his wife Elizabeth Steptoe, and his step-daughter, Miss Flora Lee (1770-1795): "With your Excellency's permission - though I have not had the honor of being known to you - I will take the liberty introducing the bearer Mr. Fendall, his Lady & Miss Lee, to your civilities. They are much esteemed and deservedly respected in this Country. Ill health of Mrs. Fendall, has induced her Physicians to recommend the air of the Sea to her; and the Bahama Islands seem to be the object of their voyage. I am persuaded these worthy people will do justice to my recommendation. That a philanthropic attention to them will be as pleasing to your Excellency as to them - and that the interest I take in their welfare is the best apology I can offer for this freedom."
A letter which documents the genealogical connections between two important Virginia families. Miss Flora Lee was one of the two daughters of Philip "Colonel Phil" Ludwell Lee (1727-1775), who had married Elizabeth Steptoe in 1763; she had married Fendall after Lee's death in 1774. Flora Lee, a young girl at the date of this letter, had an older sister, Matilda (1764-1790), who was the first wife of Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee (1756-1818). His third son, by his second wife (Ann Hill Carter), would become the famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee. In 1831, Robert E. Lee married Mary Anna Randolph Custis (1808-1873), a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, thus linking two of Virginia's most famous families.
Published in Writings, ed. J.C. Fitzpatrick 29: 177-178.