A Shepherdstown resident writes to Martha Washington, 1799

The Museum recently came across a letter that was written to Martha Washington, expressing condolences on the death of her husband,  President George Washington.  The letter was written on December 26, 1799, from “Shepherdstown on the Potomac.”

The author of the letter was Mary Stead Pinckney.  Mary and her husband, General Charles Coatesworth Pinckney, earlier that month, had leased “a small house” in Shepherdstown to serve as their residence. The house would also serve as the general’s headquarters while he oversaw the establishment of the armory at Harpers Ferry as head of the Southern Command of the fledgling American Army. The Pinckneys lived in the house from December 1799 through September 1800.  That house is now the Historic Shepherdstown Museum on East German St.

Charles Coatesworth Pinckney was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, a signer of the United State Constitution, and the American Ambassador to France. He ran for vice-president on the Federalist ticket with John Adams in 1800 and was nominated by the Federalist Party as its presidential candidate in 1804 and 1808, losing to Thomas Jefferson and then to James Madison.

Image courtesy of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon.