George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Gibbon, 16 July 1788

From James Gibbon

Petersburgh Virginia July 16th 1788


Having once wrote you on the subject of my claim, I am unwilling to repeat it, as applications similar to mine, from their frequency must become troublesome.1

Altho Sir, my case has, by Congress, been referr’d to Mr Pierce he yet in a late letter to me signifies the necessity of referring to yr records with respect to my brevett, the resignation of wh. appears to be consider’d of course with a regimentall comsn I held under wh. I had not acted for two years previous to the revolt of our line2—my motive for it was no other, than by holding it I depriv’d the Junior officers of a Grade without the least consequence to myself, added to a rappid decline of my health which compell’d me going to the West Indies, which I did by the advice of D. Rush whose certificate to that purpose Mr Pierce is possess’d of.3

The Head Quarters of the army being at the time I was to sail at Newburgh and the Oppy flattering, did not admitt an application for the sanction nor did I know Sir, that of Congress was proper or necessary for in either instance my situation wou’d have justified it. Yr taking the trouble to say how my brevett stands or is consider’d on yr records is all I wish, as it will be the ultimatum by wh. Mr Pierce will be govern’d, the matter being totally referr’d to him.

From a wish only to do myself justice have I again troubled you, which I trust will plead my Excuse.4 With respect I am Sir yr Mo. Obt

J. Gibbon

My regimentall Comsn is indors’d at New Burgh—My brevett is not.


2James Gibbon (Gibbons) was brevetted captain in the 6th Pennsylvania regiment on 20 July 1779. The Pennsylvania line’s “revolt” over back pay was in 1783.

3William Leigh Pierce (c.1740–1789) attended Congress from Georgia from January to May 1787. For reference to Gibbon’s petition, which has not been found, see DNA:PCC, item 190.

4GW replied from Mount Vernon on 1 Aug.: “⟨Si⟩r, I received your letter of the 16th Ulto, and can only advise you (respecting the subject to which it refers) that, upon a recurrence to the General Orders, I find y⟨our⟩ Brevet promotion announced to the Army in ⟨t⟩he words of the resolve of Congress; and, that, by farther researches among the memorandums of resignations, I can discover nothing more on the Subject. What was the understanding at the time when you resigned your Regimental Commission, I cannot, at this distant period, undertake to say: but I do not think it was absolutely necessary that the resignation of a Commission in the line should have involved the resignation of one held by the same person, by Brevet. Congress or their Commissioner for settling the accounts of the Army must be the discretionary Judges of right & propriety, in these intricate ⟨ca⟩ses.

“Your conjecture is but too well founded, that the applications to me on similar questions are extremely numerous & perplexing: Whensoever I am possessed of data which can be of any avail in settling disputes, I submit to the t⟨r⟩ouble with the less reluctance, as I am ever desirous justice should be done. With due regard I am Sir Yr Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS, NcD: George Washington Papers; LB, DLC:GW).

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