George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Leonard Bleecker, 4 June 1789

From Leonard Bleecker

New York June 4th 1789


When I address myself to your Excely in the Character of a Citizen, I feel myself (in my present Situation) at so great a remove from your personal attention, that I am considerably embarassed when I attempt it. However Sir, when I take a retrospect of your affectionate Care, and repeated declarations of regard for the Individuals who have served with fidelity under your Auspices through the late arduous and Successful Struggle for the Liberties of our Country; I feel animated with the hopes that a Representation of my Situation will not probably be unnoticed by your Excellency.

I had the honor Sir, to receive a 2d Lieuts. Commission on the 28th of June 1775 in the 1st New York Regt of Continental Troops and served that Campaign under Genl Montgomery in Canada, and through all the different reforms in the Army, I was continued untill its dissolution in November 1783—How far I conducted myself with Propriety in the various Commissions I held, is well known to the officers of the New York Line, and perhaps my conduct during this Period, has in some Instances come within your Excellencys personal observation; On this Subject however, I shall be Silent.1

Permit me Sir to inform you, that since the Peace, I have industriously employed myself in this City in the Use of all the means in my Power, to obtain a decent, and honorable Support for myself & family, thro various Events in Divine Providence, (unforeseen & inevitable) my pursuits have been in a great measure frustrated, and I am at length become really necessitous.

For the Rectitude & Uniformity of my Conduct in private Life, I can with confidence appeal to my fellow Citizens in General; But for your Excellencys better Satisfaction, beg leave to particularize a few principal Characters, the most of which, I trust are well known to your Excellency, vizt—To Colls Hamilton, Willett,2 & Platt,3 Genl Webb, Commodore Nicholson,4 his worship the Mayor of this City,5 Judge Morris,6 Judge Hobart,7 the Reverend Doctors, Rodgers, Mason, and Livingston.8

If then Sir, my past conduct in the Army? If my well established reputation since the Peace? If the prospect of increasing distresses with a growing family, may claim your Excellency’s attention; permit me Sir to supplicate an appointment to such an Office, as in your wisdom I shall be thought qualified to fill, and the Obligation shall ever be held in gratefull remembrance By your Excellency’s most devoted humble Servant

Leond Bleecker

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 78.

Leonard Bleecker (Bleeker; d. 1844), was a New York City merchant and broker who lived at 70 Nassau Street.

1Bleecker served in various New York regiments during the Revolution and as brigade major under Lafayette from May to October 1781. His service was not without problems. In May 1782 he was convicted at a court martial of “ungentleman-like behavior, in striking and abusing” an ensign and was sentenced to be reprimanded in brigade orders (General Orders, 29 May 1782). Nevertheless he was brevetted major in September 1783.

2Marinus Willett (1740–1830) after a military career with New York State forces during the Revolution served as sheriff of the city and county of New York from 1784 to 1788. Although Willett at first opposed ratification of the Constitution, by 1789 he had moved to support the new government. In 1790 GW sent him as an agent to help negotiate a treaty with the Creek chief Alexander McGillivray (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:41–42).

3Richard Platt, a New York City merchant, was an active member of the Society of the Cincinnati and treasurer of the Ohio Company.

4James Nicholson (c.1736–1804), a native of Maryland, had a distinguished career as a naval officer during the Revolution and, probably in the late 1780s, settled in New York City, where he later became a prominent figure in Jeffersonian political circles. In April 1789 he commanded the barge that carried GW from New Jersey to New York for his inauguration.

5James Duane (1733–1797) was mayor of New York from 1784 until September 1789.

6Richard Morris (1730–1810), a prominent New York jurist, was the younger brother of Gen. Lewis Morris and the half brother of Gouverneur Morris. He served as a judge of the vice-admiralty court in New York from 1762 to 1775 and was appointed chief justice of the New York supreme court in 1779. At the New York Ratification Convention in 1788 he vigorously supported the Constitution.

7John Sloss Hobart (1738–1805), a 1757 graduate of Yale, was active in state and local assemblies in New York before and during the Revolution and in 1777 became a justice of the state supreme court, a position he held for the next twenty-one years. In 1798 he served briefly as a United States senator until his appointment as federal district judge for New York.

8These men were all New York City clergymen. John Rodgers (1727–1811) was pastor of the Wall Street Presbyterian Church, John Mason was minister at the Scots Presbyterian Church, and John Henry Livingston (1746–1825) was pastor at the Dutch Reformed Church.

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