George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Vincent Gray, 8 April 1789

From Vincent Gray

Dumfries [Va.] 8th April 1789.

Honoured Sir,

From a report, I have understood, that you wanted in your Family a Steward, or rather wood want one it when you arrivd in New York, I have not had the Honour to be personnally known to you, but being sensible of the high & honourable office which you are now appointed to, I take the liberty to offer my service, to serve you in that capasity, should you find me worthy & capable of executing that office, I expect you wood want a Character with me, before you would make any engagement which I wood wish, & can get you, I expect one from two Gentlemen which I will mention, will be a full sattisfactory one to you, one of them is General Smallwood of Maryland whom I am a neighbours Son of,1 & who is a perticular friend to me, & the other is the Honble Wm Grayson of Virga who has been acquainted with me for these six years, & who is the greatest friend to me, that I have in the States, & who I have had the Honour to be trusted with business of his, of the highest importance, should any others be necessary, I can get any one else you please, in this part of the Country, I also can inform you that I had the honour of a commission as Lieutenat in our County & Town Militia conferd on me Last year which commisn I now hold, & I also had ⟨the⟩ honour to be appointed by the Governor & council of this state in a branch of the customs, as Searcher at the port of quantico, on Potomack River, which Commission I now hold,2 & executes, but as the new plan of Goverment will now be put into execution all our commissions as State officers will be abolished, Tho I have every assurety from my Friends the Honble Wm Grayson & the Honble R.H. Lee of geting an appointment in the customs or Militerry, with the honour of your signature, but as I have a desire to see as much of the world as I can I wood for experiance, perfer that birth in your Family to either, being concious at the same time Should you find me worthy & deserving of perferment you wood not be backward in perfering me, Should, only you not be supplyd yet, I flatter my self that I could fill that office much to your sattisfaction, and by droping a line to me, at the post office in Dumf⟨ries⟩ It shall be duly attended to, and answered emediately, with information of my abilities to entitle me to tha⟨t⟩ office, & at 12 or 15 dayes Notice, I could be ready to attend your call, leaving me only time to go to Richmond, to settle with the Auditer of public Acco⟨ts⟩ & write to & receive an answer from Colo. Grayson, which I expect could be done in twelve days, & should you be Supplyd with a Steward, & have any other office that such a person could fill, I shall be very happy to Serve you, & begs leave to subscribe my self with due respect, your Very Obt and most Humble Servant

Vincent Gray

N.B. I am a young, & single person.3


In the fall of 1789 Gray was appointed deputy collector for the port of Alexandria and in December 1793 became surveyor for the district of Alexandria and inspector of the revenue for the port (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:143).

1After his service as brigadier general from 1776 to 1783, William Smallwood (1732–1792) was governor of Maryland for three successive one-year terms from 1785 to 1788. In the latter year he retired to Smallwood’s Retreat, his home in Charles County, Maryland.

2Gray was appointed to this post in April 1788 (Journals of the Council of State of Virginia, description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia. 5 vols. Richmond, 1931–82. description ends 4:228–29).

3On 13 April GW made his usual noncommittal reply—that he would go into office unencumbered by promises of appointments—but closed his letter with the observation that “you will give me leave to observe the office of Steward which you are desireous of filling will [require] equeil experience in that line as a recommendation for the person, who applies for it” (DLC:GW).

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