Revolutionary War Receipts, 1776-1780

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These receipts were maintained by Washington’s housekeeper, Mary Smith, and his household steward, Caleb Gibbs. Sometime during the twentieth century, conservators at the Library of Congress mounted them in a single volume, volume 29 in Series 5 in the George Washington papers. You can see a description of this volume along with the rest of Series 5, Washington’s financial papers. Also on this page, with the description of volume 27, is an account of what happened to housekeeper Mary Smith, who appears to have been a British loyalist. Each of the receipts is searchable by name in Washington’s papers.

Some of these people, including baker Christopher Ludwick and china merchant Frederick Rhinelander (who Washington later learned was a loyalist, one of several “very dangerous Characters, who I am informed are lurking in the Neighbourhood of Hackinsack”) are further documented in letters in Washington’s papers. You can search by name in the published edition of Washington's papers available on Founders Online.

These receipts are more than records of financial transactions. Some offer vital proof about the movements of Washington's family, troops, and insights into what they wore, ate, and drank. A very faint note on the back of a receipt from laundress Sarah Einglis--“washg for Mrs. Washington"--proves that Martha Washington did accompany her husband during the war. Innkeeper Barnaby Sanigan sold Washington and Alexander Hamilton twenty-three breakfasts and rum for their servants; grocer Carpenter Wharton sold Washington sugar, green tea, pepper, mustard, and other delicacies. Baker Christopher Ludwick lists the ingredients he needed to make gingerbread, on his receipt. These documents provide a wealth of detail about food, clothing, labor, and the people who supplied them.

You can learn how to transcribe receipts and financial accounts, and find a guide for deciphering British Colonial Currency in the Help Center.

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