George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Isaac Sherman, 20 April 1789

From Isaac Sherman

New Haven [Conn.] 20th April 1789.


Nearly eleven years of the prime of life I have appropriated to the service of the public; eight years in the armies of the united states, and part of three years in the surveying department. Nearly the whole of the savings of eight years of uninterrupted military services I have expended in order to carry into effect the land ordinance of Congress—This I did from an order to promote the public good, and from an expectation that my exertions would have been ultimately rewarded: but the reverse of this has happened.1 From these considerations I have been lead to hope; and from a desire to render my country every service in my power, I am induced to ask for an appointment under the new government. I have no particular office in view to solicit, for I do not know what appointments will be made. That your Excellency will not be unmindfull of me among the numerous applications for offices is my most sincere wish. With every sentiment of Esteem and respect, I have the Honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most humble Servant,

Isaac Sherman.


Isaac Sherman (d. 1819) served as captain of the 26th Continental Infantry in 1776 and as lieutenant colonel of the 2d Connecticut Regiment from 1777 to 1779 when he became lieutenant colonel commandant of the 8th Connecticut. In January 1781 he transferred to the 5th Connecticut where he served until his retirement in January 1783.

1On 20 May 1785 the Continental Congress passed “An Ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of Lands in the Western Territory,” which provided that a surveyor from each state should be appointed to serve under Thomas Hutchins, the geographer of the United States, to survey western lands ceded by the states. On 16 July 1785 Congress, upon the recommendation of the Connecticut delegation, appointed Sherman surveyor from that state. As early as September 1786 Hutchins was petitioning Congress on behalf of “the surveyors of Land who accompanied him to the Western Country, praying for a reimburstement of the money, they severally expended while attending on said business” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 28:375–81, 31:660, 687). The surveyors themselves addressed a series of memorials to Congress requesting additional compensation for their services. See, for example, the Surveyors of the Western Territory to Congress, 23 Feb. 1788, DNA:PCC, item 41, vol. 9.

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