Berkeley Springs



1/31/86.....Washington to Rumsey...

"If you have no cause to change your opinion respecting your mechanical boat, and reasons unknown to me do not exist to delay the exhibition of it, I would advise you to give it to the public as soon as it can be prepared conveniently. The postponment creates distrust in the public mind: it gives time also for the imagintion to work, and this is assisted by a little dropping from one and something from another to whom you have disclosed the secret. Should a mechanical genius, therefore, hit upon your plan or something similar to it, I need not add that it would place you in an awkward situation and perhaps disconcert all your prospects concerning this useful discovery. For you are not, with your experience in life, now to learn that the shoulders of the public are too broad to feel the weight of the complaints of an individual or to regard promises if they find it convenient and have the show of plausibility on their side, to retract them. I will inform you further that many people in guessing your plan have come very near the mark, and that one who had something of a similar nature to offer to the public, wanted a certificate from me that it was diferent from yours. I told him that, as I was not at liberty to declare what your plan was, so I did not think it proper to say what it was not. Whatever may be your determination after this hint, I have only to request that my sentiments on the subject may be ascribed to friendly motives and taken in good part.

I should be glad to know the exact state in which my houses in Bath are. I have fifty pounds ready for which you may draw on me at any time, and I will settle for the whole as soon as possible........" GWP-F 28:375

2/3/86.....GWD....Rumsey visits Mt. Vernon. Stayed overnight.

Rumsey was employed by the Potomack Company scarcely a year. His departure did not damage Washington's opinion and support of Rumsey's invention.


"Mr. Rumsey having signified his disinclination to serve the company any longer for the pay and emoluments which had been allowed him, and the Directors not inclining to encrease them, they parted...."

In spite of Rumsey's reassurances about Washington's houses at Bath, firsthand observation raised serious questions.

8/25/86....letter from George Lewis to Washington / Bath VA.

"By the particular request of Dr. Lemare, I have examin'd your houses at this place, and from the discription which the Doctor sayes you gave him of them he is induced to think you have been impos'd on . This supposition prompts him to wish of me an accurate and impartial discription of them, in there present situation. On viewing the houses I find them to be two of logs 19 by 17 each, hew'd inside and out, in hight what they call here story and half, cover'd with long shingles, one of them floor'd above and below with a wall'd cellar, which the Doctor sayes was intended for a stable to contain nine horses; I think four might stand in it and no more; the other house has a floor above only, some stone under one end and side. The other logs lay on the ground; this house has a chimney but slightly built, and from appearances must certainly burn the house whenever there is a warm fire made in the harth. In short, the houses are esteem'd badly built, and of bad timber. The Doctor call'd in a workman to examine the work, who agreed in opinion that it was badly done.

I hope to have it in my power to pay you a visit with Mrs. Lewis the fall. She is at this place for her health, and has receiv'd considerable benifit from the trip, and flatters herself another season will be the means of establishing her halth. She joins me in love to my aunt and yourself."

J.A. Washington added PS... "Doctor Lemare who is living in General Washington's house at Bath, and much attached to his interest, conceiving the work not to be done properly and agreeable to bargain prevailed on Mr. G. Lewis to examine it, and has also requested me since to do the same, I find the work executed as our young friend has stated it." PGW4:228-9

8/28/86 ...from J LeMayeur in Bath...

"I should have wrote three weeks ago to your Excellency had not Mr. Rumsey deceived me in his departing from this place, probably he suspected my informing you of the situation of your building -- which he has not done well -- Colo Jno Washington and Mr. Georges Lewes agree with me in oppinion of Mr. Rumsey's performance....." PGW p231

11/30/86....Instructions to Tobias Lear from Mt. Vernon....

"When you are at Bath, enquire the way to a piece of land I have on the river, about 14 miles above the town in the way to Old Town; and see if it is in the occupation of anyone, and on what term they hold it. A Col. Brown at Bath or one McCrachen near the land will, I expect, be able to give you information on this head..." WGW/F 29:95