From Samuel Blachley Webb
New York 11th May 1789.
Painfull as the task is I am under the necessity of soliciting the attention of the President of the United States. my long service in the Army dureing the late War, has deprived me of a property, which with common Industry would e’re this have placed me in a very Independant situation. Since the peace I have been employed in settling an Estate of which I am Administrator, constantly watching some opportunity of entering into a line of business, which might repair my injured fortune, none has presented.1
The hour has at length arrived when there appears a prospect of an efficient federal government, under which, Officers are to be appointed by the nomination of the President—if my services in the Army, and my conduct in private life since the hour of peace has merited the approbation of my much loved General—permit me to request an appointment which may enable me to live decently in that station of life, which I had a reasonable hope for, previous to the sacrifices I have made of property, and part of the prime of life in my Country’s service.
I would not ask nor do I wish for any Office that I cannot fill, usefully to my Country, and with honor to myself.
I should have prefered a personal interview in preference of writeing on this subject, it would have afforded me an opportunity of stateing more minutely my present situation, but I wish not to be troublesome. With the highest sentiments of Esteem and Respect. I have the honor to be Your Most Obedt & Most Devoted Servt
Saml B. Webb
Samuel Blachley Webb (1753–1807) was the son of Joseph Webb (1727–1761) of Wethersfield, Connecticut. In 1781 GW held conferences with Rochambeau at the Webb house in Wethersfield, owned at that time by Samuel’s brother Joseph Webb (1749–1815). Samuel served as GW’s aide-de-camp from June 1776 to January 1777 and thereafter as colonel of several Connecticut regiments. In September 1783 he was brevetted brigadier general. After the war Webb went into business in New York City where he was a strong supporter of the Constitution during the struggle over ratification in 1788. On 7 June 1789 Webb wrote to his fiancée, Catherine Hogeboom of Claverack, N.Y., that “the appointments under the New Government are to be made by my old Patron General Washington, and I am a candidate for an office that will be permanent and honorable, and have the assureances of friendship from our President; but at the same time there are many others on the list” (Ford, Correspondence of Samuel Blachley Webb, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends 3:133–34). Webb at first hoped for an appointment in the Judiciary Department, but by 12 Aug. 1789, when he again wrote GW, he had broadened his ambitions to include the post of federal marshal for New York: “Haveing personally mentioned my desire to be appointed Marshall . . . it only remains for me to lodge the Application in writeing” (DLC:GW). On 6 Sept. he wrote Miss Hogeboom: “I have been obliged to decline one or two proposals from the President, and have been apprehensive, that he was displeas’d,—but in an interview I had with him yesterday evening, my fears on that h[e]ad are done away.—All I can say is, that if I am disappointed, it will not be oweing to a want of disposition in the President to serve me . . .” (Ford, Correspondence of Samuel Blachley Webb, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends 3:139). In late September he discovered the appointment of marshal had gone to William Stephens Smith. “I have failed in the appointment which I expected,” he wrote Miss Hogeboom. “It was determined yesterday. The President sent for me and fully convinced me of the necessity he was under of giveing it to my friend Colo. Smith, Son-in-law to the Vice President,—at the same time giveing me the most flattering assureances of his disposition to serve me, on some future occasion should any thing offer which would be acceptable. I was obliged to acquiess with a good grace. . . . An Idea was again conveyed to me of going abroad, when I was obliged to tell the President, candidly, that no appointment of that kind could meet my wishes” (ibid., 141). Webb received no federal appointment, and after his marriage to Catherine Hogeboom in September 1790, he retired to a farm in Claverack.
1. Webb is probably referring to the difficulties arising out of the settlement of the estates of his father and Samuel’s first wife, Eliza Bancker Webb, who died in 1781 (Silas Deane to Webb, 31 Oct. 1783, Webb to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 19 June 1784, in Ford, Correspondence of Samuel Blachley Webb, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends 3:28–29, 37–39)