George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Carter Braxton, 15 April 1789

From Carter Braxton

Richmd April 15 1789

Dear Sir

Altho your appointment to the Presidentship of America under the new Government be not yet formally notified, yet it amounts to a certainty that the fact is so, and will be anounced as soon as a sufficient number of Members are convened for the purpose of forming a Congress.

Permit me then with great sincerity to salute you on the occasion & particularly to congratulate my Country & all America on this appointmt.

The jarring & divided Sentiments on the merits of this untryed System, combine in this Choice And under your Patronage its operations will be undisturbed & viewed with the indulgent Eye of impartiality. To this proof I have ever referred the opponents as the true standard by which to judge of the Constitution. And if I may be allowed to prejudge any event I think I may predict that opposition will weaken as the Government goes on. The Horrors supposed to be inherent in the Texture will wear off & if the People feel no additional burden they will think well of it. If I may be allowed to hope on the first movements, it would be that the present taxes on Land & Slaves might be discontinued & the Sum raised from duties which was formerly required from them. This would immovebly fix a predelection in the Minds of the People in favour of this Government which the oratory of a Henry could not move. But I see I am trespassing on the province of others.

My Son Corbin will have the honor to deliver this to you who accompanies his Sister Griffin to N. York.1 He thinks that in forming the new Government some new places will be created & being out of Business he wishes to fill one of them. His Education has been liberal & his Mind has been improved by reading & reflection & I flatter myself is adorned with most if not all the Virtues that embellish human Nature—These expressions are strong & too often proceed from the partiality of a Parent, but I think in this instance, I shall stand justified by his Conduct & the suffrages of his Companions, to which I freely appeal.

If in the general distribution he can with propriety receive any appointment without injury to superior merit, it will lay me under the greatest obligations. With every Sentiment of respect & esteem I am Sir your affect. & hum. Servt

Carter Braxton


Carter Braxton (1736–1797), the grandson of Robert “King” Carter, was educated at the College of William and Mary and at Cambridge and after 1761 was a perennial member of the House of Burgesses. A conservative supporter of the Revolution, he was a member of the first four Virginia conventions. In 1776 he replaced Peyton Randolph as a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1777 he was elected to the Virginia general assembly, serving through most of the sessions until 1785. He was appointed to the council of state in 1785. In 1786 Braxton became a member of the Virginia council and moved to Richmond.

1Corbin Braxton (c.1764–1822) was the third of Carter Braxton’s five sons by his second wife Elizabeth Corbin, daughter of Richard Corbin. “Sister Griffin” was Carter Braxton’s daughter, Betsy Braxton Griffin (born c.1760), who married Samuel Griffin (1746–1810), a member of the Virginia house of delegates 1787–88 and at this time representing Virginia in the House of Representatives. In a letter of 9 July to GW, in which he presented a list of persons for office, Griffin suggested Corbin Braxton for the post of surveyor of West Point and Cumberland, Virginia. Braxton held the post of searcher at West Point from 1787 to 1788 under the state government. In August 1789 GW appointed him surveyor for the port of Richmond, and he held the post until December 1790 (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 1:15).

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