Lot 150

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Rare Martha Washington ALS, "the President will have it in his power to come to Mount Vernon", Written as 1st First Lady!

Martha Washington (1731-1802). Autograph Letter Signed, '[M.] Washington', 4pp, on bifold stationery measuring 7.25" x 9", Philadelphia, February 15, 1794, to her niece Frances "Fanny" Bassett (1767-1796). Letter has been silked. Some separation and paper loss at folds, with a small area of loss affecting signature. Scattered staining, ink showthrough, and toning. Housed in a lovely custom case. 

Written during George Washington's presidency, the First Lady writes of her husband's upcoming travel plans. The letter, in full and with original spelling unchanged: "I was very much pleased to hear by your letter of January 31st, that you had arrived safe at Elkham without difficulty as the season was late to carry out children and the weather very cold hear. Mr. Peters set out on the same day that you did (on Monday) and arrived hear Friday night much fatigued. The girls has both bad colds ever since they got hear. Mr. Peters deliverd me your letter and bundle which I with much pleasure attend to and have all the articles got according to your direction, and done to be sent by water as soon as the river is navigable. As we yet have had no vessels from Alexandria, but expect there soon will be an opportunity by water which is a much better..."

p2: "...way to convey things than by the stage as they are very apt to get ruted and tumbled if not packed well. I have a letter from my poor sister by Mr. Bliss. She tells me she and her children have been all sick and were not well when she wrote, she tells me she has lost another of her children a fine Boy - she has enough left if she could get into a more healthy part of the country. They seem to me to be always sick. I shall be much obliged to you if you will make some enquire into her wants if you can do it in a delicate way as I know she is very unwilling to let me hear that she is in want of any trifle, as I shall be glad to give her anything that I can or do anything that would contribute to her happyness. I am glad to hear so favorable an account of my nephew, J. Dandridge's marriage, and wish him every happyness this world can give him. I wish Patty may marry well she is a clever girl..."

p3: "...and I am the more desirous that she should marry well as I am sure it will be an advantage to her younger sister. The time is drawing near to the rising of the Congress but when it is probable that the President will have it in his power to come to Mount Vernon he cannot at this time tell as it depends on many things as are to happen and to take place before he can fix a time to leave this city for as long a time as it will take him to go home and back, and in that case we shall be very sorry that you should leave friends sooner than you intend, particularly as the President will not stay at Mount Vernon a moment longer than he has looked over his farms. I look forward to the summer with pleasure as I hope nothing will happen to prevent our coming down to see you and all friends with you. The girls made a flying trip to New York they were only two days in the city rode round it and went to lunch on Thursday and to a play. They are so delighted with their journal together they are much fatigued but improving..."

p4: "...this evening. Your things will all be ready to be sent in the course of a wekk and I will send them direct to the care of Col. Gilpin, and if you should think of anything else let me know and I will with cheerfulness get it for you. My love to your brother and sister. I shall be glad to see your brother Boswell hear whether he is in Congress or not I should hope for a trip to the eastward in summer will be very effacacious as to Mrs. Barrett's health. Please give my love to Mrs. Lyons, and all enquiring friends. My love and good wishes to you and your children in which the President and the girls join me."

Letters by Martha Washington are extremely rare. Only a very few survive today in the private sector. Even more scarce are the examples which mention her husband, which our first First Lady does three times in this letter. The correspondence reveals the struggles of women during the late 18th century and the plight of marrying well, not only for themselves but for their families. 

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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October 18, 2023 11:00 AM EDT
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