George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Booth, 23 April 1789

From James Booth

Newcastle, State of Delaware, April 23. 1789.


Having been informed, that all applications for Offices under the Federal Government, must be made immediately to your Excellency, I beg leave to address you on that Subject.

I hold under the Authority of the State, the Naval-Office of this County, to which I was appointed early in the Year 1777, and which has been regularly continued to me by several Re-Appointments. But as I conceive, that upon the Adoption of a System of Commercial Regulation and Impost by The United States, the State-Appointments in that Department will cease; I beg Permission to sollicit your Excellency for a Continuance in the Office I hold, and that I may be honoured with a Commission for the same, under the Executive Authority of the Union.1

During the Time I have exercised the Duties of that Office, I am persuaded, neither want of Attention, nor want of Fidelity will be imputed to me; and I flatter myself, that the Candour and Justice of the Senators from this State, will afford me a favourable Testimonial to your Excellency. With Sentiments of the utmost Deference & Respect, I have the Honour to be, Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant,

Jas Booth


James Booth (1753–1828) was a native of New Castle. Besides his position in the Delaware customs service, Booth served as secretary of the Delaware Constitutional Convention in 1776, as a privy councilor in 1783, and as secretary of state of Delaware from 1778 to 1797. Booth was chief justice of the Delaware court of common pleas in the late 1790s.

1For an account by one of his rivals of Booth’s customs appointment, see David Finney to GW, 25 Mar. 1789. In the end both men were disappointed when Delaware’s single customs post was assigned to Wilmington and given to George Bush. For the crowded field of applicants for this post, see Jesse Higgins to GW, Jacob Broom to GW, both 3 April, Peter Jaquett to GW, 18 April, Charles Croxall to GW, 19 April, Joseph Poole to GW, 21 April, George Gilpin to GW, 28 Mar., Thomas Duff to GW, 13 June, and George Bush to GW, 5 May 1789.

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