After the terrible attack of fever in Philadelphia in 1793, Washington wrote to a clergyman of that city,—
"It has been my intention ever since my return to the city, to contribute my mite towards the relief of the most needy inhabitants of it. The pressure of public business hitherto has suspended, but not altered my resolution. I am at a loss, however, for whose benefit to apply the little I can give, and in whose hands to place it; whether for the use of the fatherless children and widows, made so by the late calamity, who may find it difficult, whilst provisions, wood, and other necessaries are so dear, to support themselves; or to other and better purposes, if any, I know not, and therefore have taken the liberty of asking your advice. I persuade myself justice will be done to my motives for giving you this trouble. To obtain information, and to render the little I can afford, without ostentation or mention of my name, are the sole objects of these inquiries. With great and sincere esteem and regard, I am, &c."
His adopted grandson he advised to "never let an indigent person ask, without receiving something if you have the means; always recollecting in what light the widow's mite was viewed." And when he took command of the army in 1775, the relative who took charge of his affairs was told to "let the hospitality of the house, with respect to the poor, be kept up. Let no one go hungry away. If any of this kind of people should be in want of corn, supply their necessities, provided it does not encourage them in idleness; and I have no objection to your giving my money in charity, to the amount of forty or fifty pounds a year, when you think it well bestowed. What I mean by having no objection is, that it is my desire that it should be done. You are to consider, that neither myself nor wife is now in the way to do these good offices."