George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Paul Richard Randall, May 1789

From Paul Richard Randall

New York May 1789.


It is with extreme diffidence I obtrude myself upon your notice in expressing an inclination to serve my country in some publick Employment. I have no meritorious claims to urge in support of my pretensions having had very little opportunity of manifesting a patriotick zeal.

After receiving an education suitable to the bar, and being admitted to practise in this state, I made a small tour in Europe where I was strongly solicited by the american ministers to accept their appointment as secretary to the Algerine embassy. From motives superior to self interest—and supposing a particular confidence reposed in me, I embarked in that service as a duty I owed to my country and to humanity. In support of this suggestion I may venture to call on Mr Adams.

Colo. Humphreys was at that time in France and I believe not ignorant of those inducements held up to me in the most flattering point of view.

That negociation not being successful I consider as a misfortune to myself although I was not in a situation of responsibility.

I have as yet received no compensation for the loss of time and the derangement of my business consequent thereon—which I have not hitherto been able to resume.

These sir are the only claims I dare urge in wishing to be employed in the publick service should I be otherwise qualified. After England I would give a preference to France and Spain; having had an opportunity of acquiring the rudiments of those languages.

May I hope therefore, sir, to be considered as a candidate for secretary to a legation commercial agent or any other office I may be adequate to in that department.

or if precluded by the superior merit of others that I may not be forgotten in the judiciary or fiscal establishments. I have the honor to be with profound respect Your most obedient servant

Paul Richard Randall


Paul Richard Randall was the son of Thomas Randall (see GW to Randall, 2 May 1789) and brother of Robert Randall (c.1750–1797). He attended King’s College (Columbia) in 1774 where he was a classmate of Alexander Hamilton. Randall left for Europe in March 1785 to improve his health, and while in London he was approached by John Adams, who persuaded him to become a secretary to John Lamb, at this time on a mission to Algiers to free American captives there (see Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 8:33, 54, 544). Randall petitioned the Continental Congress in the fall of 1788 for 150 guineas as compensation for his services on the Algiers mission (Report of the Secretary on the Petition of Paul Richard Randall, 11 Sept. 1788, DNA:PCC, item 123). Although Randall feared that the failure of the Algerian mission would jeopardize his chances for diplomatic employment under the new government, in early 1790 he approached Jefferson, who offered him the consulship at Dublin, which he declined. In 1791 he was considered for but not appointed to a post at Cadiz (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 16:226, 17:251, 19:313,319).

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