George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Bush, 5 May 1789

From George Bush

New York May 5th 1789


In answer to the questions you were pleased to put to me this day, I take the liberty to trouble you with the following detail.

I was born in the Delaware State, my Father still lives there, & I have resided there ever since the dissolution of the Army. I served an Apprenticeship of four Years to a Merchant in Philadelphia, at the expiration of which in 1776 I was appointed a Liut. in the Troops of Delaware. In 1777 I was promoted to the Command of a Company in one of the 16. Regts Commanded by Coll Hartley, this as you well know was blended with Coll Pattons & formed the 11th Penna. Regt under the command of Coll Hubley.

To this Account I shall only add, as you are in general acquainted with my connexions & circumstances; that I am a Citizen of Delaware & that my health is much impaired. The Ports of Wilmington & New Castle, being of most importance, were by an Act of the Legislature made free to all vessels, of course there was no such Officer as Collector in the State, only a Naval Officer, he lived at New Castle, tho’ Wilmington had eight or Ten Sea Vessels belonging to it & New Castle not more than One. Wilmington had also a great number of consignments from the British Islands; a Deputy resided at that Port, who entered and gave permits at the rate of from two to four Dollars each.

I made a calculation before I left Wilmington, which shews that in two weeks at 15 Cents on the spirits, that was consign’d in British Vessels to that Port would have produced Fifteen Hundred Pounds.

The Naval Officer at New Castle has at this time five or six offices of profit under the Goverment.1 I have the honor to be Sir Your Obedt & Oblig’d Servant

Geo. Bush


George Bush (c.1753-1797), the son of David and Ann Bush of Wilmington, had been collector of customs at Wilmington under the state system since 1781. In a letter certificate dated April 1789 a number of Wilmington citizens recommended Bush as “a person well qualify’d in every Respect, not only as a Man perfectly acquainted with bussiness But from his Integrity, and long services for his Country, Merits any Office of Trust that may be given him under the New Constitution” (DLC:GW).

1In August 1789 GW appointed Bush collector of the customs at Wilmington (De Pauw, Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:15, 20). Finding the emoluments attached to the office not so great as he had hoped, Bush wrote GW on 1 Mar. 1791 asking that he also be allowed to assume the newly created post of inspector of survey for the ports of Wilmington, New Castle, and Port Penn (DLC:GW). He received the appointment (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 1:104).

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