George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ebenezer Hazard, 7 May 1789

From Ebenezer Hazard

New York May 7th 1789


It is really with Reluctance that I add my name to the List of those who are Candidates for Offices, and by their Importunity encrease the weight of your Burthens: nor did I intend to do it: for, enjoying already the Office of Postmaster General, and conscious of no Cause of Removal, I thought it unnecessary; but having been lately informed that I have a Competitor, and fearing lest your Excellency should suppose me indifferent about a Reapppointment, were I altogether silent, it seems a Duty I owe my Family to request the Honor of a Nomination should your Excellency think me qualified for being further serviceable to the Public.1 I have the Honor to be, very respectfully, Your Excellency’s most obedient Servant

Ebenr Hazard


Ebenezer Hazard had been postmaster general of the United States since 1782. See William Gordon to GW, 24 Sept. 1788, n.1.

1The post office went not to Hazard but to Samuel Osgood. At the time he wrote his letter to GW, Hazard apparently realized that competition would be keen. When Congress has “passed a law for any Purpose,” he wrote Horatio Gates on 5 May, “they will then appoint the Officers necessary to execute it: & they will find Plenty for every Office: you can hardly have an Idea of the Number of Expectants; to give every one a mouthful, would require as great a Miracle to be wrought upon the Loaves & Fishes, as was wrought formerly, when the five thousand did all eat & were filled. . . . Nor do the Creatures confine their Expectations to new Offices, but I am told that even the Postmaster General will have a Competitor: if they should oust him, he will be in rather a bad Box; but I hope they will not succeed” (Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ). In 1790 Hazard again attempted to secure federal employment. When Jefferson arrived to take over the State Department, Hazard wrote him on 20 Feb. 1790 that “Presuming upon our former Acquaintance, and the Friendship I experienced respecting my Collection of State Papers, I take the Liberty of intruding upon you now. From my former Services in various Capacities, from my being at the head of the Post Office Department, and my Attachment to our present Constitution of Government, I expected, and I think not without Reason, to have been continued in the Office I had the Honor to hold under the late Confederation: if I am not flattered, this was generally expected throughout the Union, but another has been appointed Postmaster General, and I am now left to seek Employment in some other Line.” Hazard then futilely solicited the position of chief clerk in the State Department (DLC:GW). On 28 July 1790 he again approached GW, requesting an appointment as commissioner of loans for the state of New York. “I beg leave to mention a Circumstance that may not, perhaps, immediately occur to your Excellency, though I very sensibly feel its force; which is, that my having devoted the last fourteen Years of my Life entirely to the Service of the Public has thrown me out of, and, in fact, disqualified me for Business in another Line; which renders a further Dependance on public Patronage absolutely unavoidable in my Case” (DLC:GW). Again unsuccessful, Hazard returned to Philadelphia in 1791 where he held minor business positions and engaged in extensive collection of early American documents and source materials.

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