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A house joiner and undertaker from St. Mary's County, Maryland, Richard Boulton was hired to work at Mount Vernon in 1785. Boulton came to work for George Washington with a recommendation from friend and Virginia statesman William Fitzhugh. In late May of 1785, Boulton signed articles of agreement with Washington, stipulating that he would finish the New Room in a "plain and elegant manner, either of Stucco, Wainscot, or partly of both" depending on what Washington preferred.

Boulton would also eventually work put a new roof on the Mount Vernon mansion, build the ceiling for the piazza, and do the joiner's work in the greenhouse. Boulton also worked with the other carpenters and joiners, some of whom were enslaved, at Mount Vernon and did work on Washington's other properties. In exchange, Washington paid Boulton five shillings in Virginia currency per day, and provided a gallon of rum per week. In addition, Boulton was provided "wholesome victuals twice a day," washing, and lodging.1

Boulton was to provide his own tools which Washington agreed to transport without charge to and from Maryland. By June of 1785, however, Boulton wrote to tell Washington that he would not be able to uphold his end of the agreement, because of his inability to meet the demands of his creditors.2



1. "Richard Boulton and George Washington, May 21, 1785, Articles of Agreement," George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence

2. "George Washington to Richard Boulton, 24 June 1785,” Founders Online, National Archives,