Attention to him would be to me a lasting Source of Affliction;
3 and God
knows, I need not voluntarily add to the List of Sorrows. My Life has been
sufficiently embittered to make me now very little anxious about
protracting or prerserving it. Death has robbed me of many Friends, and
Time has abated the Ardor of others, so that life in my latter Years has been
little more than a Sieve to let thro some Joy or some Blessing. Mr. Powel,
who is highly sensible of your Friendship to us, desires to unite in every
good Wish to you and yours.
That God may preserve and bless you both, and that you may safely
return in a short Time, is the unfeigned Prayers of your
Mr Powel would have done himself the Pleasure of waiting upon you
before your Departure, had he not apprehended that a Visit in the
Moment of Preparation for a Journey would have been ill timed.
Monday August 9th, 1793
The President and Mrs Washington
(Docketed by G.W.)
Mrs. Eliza Powel
9th Sep (sic) 1793
Yellow fever struck Philadelphia early in July, 1793, apparently introduced by infected
French refugees from San Domingo, fleeing to escape the slave revolution. Sickness and
death gradually increased, and by mid-August it became clear a major epidemic was present.
By the end of the month approximately one-third of the population had fled the city. The
death toll was set at about 5000. The mass exodus from the city brought the federal
government to a standstill. Colonel and Mrs. Alexander Hamilton were both stricken, but
recovered. The Secretary of State ( Jefferson), Secretary of War ( Knox), and the Attorney-
general ( Randolph) left the city. The President was one of the last to leave. For an account
of the epidemic, see
C. F. Jenkins Washington in Germantown, ( Philadelphia, 1904).
In order to escape the epidemic it was decided Mrs. Washington and the children
should return to Mount Vernon. They suggested Mrs. Powel would be welcome to
accompany them. However, Mrs. Washington was reluctant to leave the President alone in
the midst of the epidemic. Neither did he wish to leave the city until about September 20th.
However, he was reluctant to expose her and the children to the disease. He acquiesced and
they left Philadelphia on September 10th and arrived at Mount Vernon on the 14th. The
President remained at Mount Vernon until October 28th, when he set out for Germantown.
Mrs. Washington joined the President at Baltimore and they arrived at Germantown on
Jenkins, Germantown, p. 99.
It was most fortunate Mrs. Powel forsook the trip to Virginia. She left the city to visit
her brother, Richard Willing. Mr. Powel visited her there. On his return to Philadelphia he
stopped at his farm, Powelton, was taken ill, and died of yellow-fever several days later,
Jenkins Germantown, p. 13.