Skip to main content

Thomas Green was a hired joiner and house-carpenter who worked for George Washington between 1782 and 1794. In 1782, Green was paid at a rate of five pounds, ten shillings per month. In the first half of 1783, his salary was four pounds, ten shillings per month. In the latter half of 1783, Green was earning five pounds per month. By 1784, and also in 1785, Green was earning fifty pounds per year. Ten years later his salary had dropped considerably: by the time Green left Washington's employ in September 1794, he was making only thirty-six pounds per year.1

Washington constantly had problems with Green's work, complaining as early as 1787, while writing from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, "Hardly any weekly report comes to hand by which it does not appear that Thos Greene is absent one or more days. I desire you will tell him that this custom is a bad one—contrary to any ideas I entertained when he was bargained with, and that it must be broke."2

By the summer of 1793, it was clear that Washington was very unhappy with Green. Washington warned his nephew Howell Lewis, who was temporarily managing the Mount Vernon Estate during the presidency: "You must have a particular eye to this fellow, for a more worthless one does not, I believe live. Nothing but compassion for his helpless family would induce me to retain him a moment in my service."3

Despite his doubts concerning Green, Washington hired him again in the fall of 1793 to continue supervising his enslaved carpenters, viewing it as an easier solution than finding a replacement. In relaying this news to his incoming farm manager, Washington revealed that Green had some admirable qualities: "He is a good workman himself, and can be active." Washington continued by warning that Green had "little authority (I ought to have said command, for I have given him full authority) over those who are entrusted to him and as he is fond of drink, tho’' somewhat reformed in this respect, I place no great confidence in him."

Green left Washington's employ in the summer of 1794. Upon learning of his departure, Washington wrote: "Thos. Green's quitting my business of his own accord, whatever the pretence may be, is in my opinion a lucky circumstance, as my repugnance to turning him away was on account of his helpless family."4


1. See account for Thomas Green, Mount Vernon Farm Ledger, "January 1794-December 1796," 16.

2. "George Washington to George Augustine Washington, 2 September 1787," The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series, Vol. 5, 311.

3. "George Washington to Howell Lewis, 4 August 1793," The Writings of George Washington, Vol 33, 41n-42n.

4. "George Washington to William Pearce, 21 September 1794," The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 33, 502.