George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Barnwell, 27 April 1789

From Robert Barnwell

New York April 27 [1789]


By the late Congress a Board of Commissioners was appointed to consist of one person from the Eastern another from the Middle and a third from the Southern States to settle their accounts between the States and the United States.1 Mr Baldwin from the South having been appointed a member of the General Government has vacated his seat at this Board. Should Your Excellency have no Person in view and enquiry support my pretensions Your Nomination to this vacant place will be considered as a favor by Your Hmble And Obedient Servant

Robt Barnwell


Robert Barnwell (1761–1814), a rice planter in the Beaufort area of South Carolina, served in the South Carolina militia during the Revolution and represented St. Helena’s Parish in the South Carolina house of representatives in 1787–88. He supported the Constitution in the South Carolina Ratifying Convention and was elected to the last Continental Congress, 1788–89, but did not attend. In 1789 Barnwell was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives. He was elected to the Second Congress in 1791.

1“An Ordinance for settling the Accounts between the United States and Individual States,” passed by Congress on 7 May 1787, provided for five commissioners to receive receipts and vouchers “made on account of bounties, pay, and depreciation of pay to the late Army of the United States” and for other advances made on behalf of the United States. The commissioners were responsible for examining all state claims and forwarding them to the comptroller of the Treasury. A board of three commissioners were then to be appointed by Congress to receive and examine the accounts forwarded by the comptroller. The powers of the commission were to extend for eighteen months (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 32:262–66). On 9 Sept. 1788 William Irvine and John Taylor Gilman were named commissioners, and on 13 Sept. Abraham Baldwin of Georgia was added to the board. When Baldwin was elected to the First Congress in the spring of 1789 he resigned from the board. Although the procedure for filling vacancies on the board had not been settled at the time Barnwell wrote his letter, by the provisions of “An Act for settling the Accounts between the United States and individual States” (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 49 [5 Aug. 1789]) the president was empowered to appoint members to the board. The post went not to Barnwell but to his fellow South Carolinian John Kean, a Charleston merchant.

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