Letter, Martha Washington to Fanny Bassett Washington, August 29, 1791

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  • Letter, Martha Washington to Fanny Bassett Washington, August 29, 1791

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Letter, Martha Washington to Fanny Bassett Washington, August 29, 1791


The significance of this letter to Martha’s niece Fanny is the mention of several specific slaves in the Presidential household. Martha complains about the sewing work of Charlot and Caroline and gives her condolences regarding Giles, an enslaved coach driver who was apparently injured in an accident. She also mentions Hercules, the enslaved Washington cook who several years later would run away from the household (image courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies' Association).


Martha Washington


Mount Vernon





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My dear Fanny -                               Philadelphia August the 29th 1791

Your letter of the 25th is come to hand with the ruffles - I wish you'd had them whiped - it was but little more trouble for Charlot, they cannot be sewed on the wristbands till they are whiped - she is so indolent that she will doe nothing but what she is told she knows how work should be done, - I cannot find how it is possible for her and Caroline to be althogether taken up in making the peoples cloths - if you suffer them to goe on so idele they will in a little time doe nothing but work for themselves - I am sorry for pore Giles - & fear he never will be well again - I am glad to hear that you and the children are well again and that the Major was getting better - the President talks of living this place about the 20th of September to come to Mount Vernon - I hope you will be all well - as it is the greatest pleasure I have to come home to see you and Mrs Stuart and the dear girls - I shall send Hercules home when I leve this and will have some porter put up to send by a vessel that will sail for Alexandria some time this week - as you know my dear Fanny that it is probable that we shall have company all the time we stay - it will be necessary to make some provision for us -we shall not stay longer at home than the 17th of October -we bring so many with us that it requires some preparation and I have been so much indisposed my self that I shall leve the House keeping altogether to you - I shall not conscern in the matter at all, -but leve it to you, - make Nathan clean his kitchen and every thing in it and about it very well - I shall bring work for Charlot to doe for me so that she must endeavor to get your family business done as fast as they can, - I hope Mrs. Stuart will come to meet us at Mount Vernon. I shall let her know the time I expect to be there - have they got a Carriage or Horses yet - The General has got the better of all his complaints - dear little Wash is quite well and has a very good apetite and gains flesh and strength every day he is now well enough to go to school - I hope the Major will be better for his trip over the mountains let us know how he is when you hear from him - my love to the children - and all friends -

I am my dear Fanny your
most affectionate
M Washington

From Mrs M Washington
August 1790 (sic)
Mrs F Washington

Original Format

manuscript document



How to Cite this Item

Martha Washington, "Letter, Martha Washington to Fanny Bassett Washington, August 29, 1791," in Martha Washington, Item #308, http://marthawashington.us/items/show/308 (accessed May 30, 2020).