George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 2 July 1789

From James McHenry

Baltimore 2 July 1789


Mr Eiclberger of this place informs me that he has petitioned for surveyor or other appointment in the customs, and begs that I would mention him to your Excellency.1 I think he served about three years in the late army, since which he has carried on a retail trade with a very fair character. He is a Dutch man and not without influence among his countrymen which he has always used like a good citizen. I have reason to beleive that any office not the meanest would be very acceptable as it would be bringing him in more or less, while his present business could be managed by his wife. He writes a good hand is a ready accountant, and a very honest man. If anything can be done for him I am persuaded it would have a good effect upon his countrymen most of which in this place are highly antifederal.

Permit me to mention another applicant, a major Lynch.2 If your Excellency was going to war I could recommend him for his courage and obedience to orders; at the same time I cannot say a great deal in favor of his talents for an important seperate command. He is a good natured honest poor fellow whom a little would content. As far as I can learn he has executed the office of harbour master for this port diligently and faithfully. But that office is set aside by the new government. Perhaps your Excellency may recollect something of the poor fellow, and may through your goodness find some subordinate employment for him.

I set out to-morrow for the Sweet Springs and wish most devoutly a return of your health. With the most profound respect and attachment I have the honor to be your Excellency’s ob. st

James McHenry


1Martin Eichelberger (d. 1840) was commissioned a second lieutenant in Hartley’s Additional Continental Regiment in January 1777 and promoted to first lieutenant the following September. He resigned in March 1779 and after the war moved from York, Pa., to Baltimore. Eichelberger sent an undated application for office to GW, presumably in the summer of 1789: “Having like many other citizens entered into the army to oppose the power of Great Britain your petitioner has shared with them many of the difficulties consequent [in] such service. He has also, pursuing the same object, (the liberty and independence of his country,) taken as active a part as his humble talents and means admitted in favor of the late happy change in our national government. Your petitioner can safely say that in all this he has never once held in view personal emolument or reward; finding however, that many offices are to be filled, and considering that the profits of the small business he pursues is inadequate to the expences of an increasing family, he humbly prays, that he may be appointed to the surveyorship of the Port of Baltimore, the collectors office he hears being asked by that good man Mr Purviance whom he would not wish to interfere with, should your petitioner be so fortunate as to merit your Excellencys approbation for this place; or should it be reserved for another, your petitioner would humbly pray that he may be considered for some other appointment in the same department for this town” (DLC:GW).

On 5 July Samuel Smith of Baltimore wrote GW in support of Eichelberger’s application, explaining that since he had already solicited GW for other candidates, he had responded reluctantly to Eichelberger’s “earnest solicitations.” He now recommended him to the president as a person who “stands fair with his fellow Citizens as a Man of Probity & Industry” and “a firm friend of the New government” (DLC:GW). Smith’s recommendation was seconded on 10 July by a letter from Thomas Hartley (DLC:GW).

Eichelberger apparently retained his minor position as weigher in the Baltimore customs, but he continued to pursue the office of surveyor for the port. When the incumbent surveyor Robert Ballard died in the summer of 1793, Eichelberger wrote to GW on 8 Aug. renewing his application for the post. His application at that time was supported by a letter from John Eager Howard to GW, 8 Aug. 1793. Both letters are in DLC:GW, as are two undated petitions recommending him. Eichelberger did not receive the surveyorship. He was equally unsuccessful in his 18 July 1794 application to GW for the collector’s post at Baltimore (DLC:GW).

2For John Lynch’s application, see his letter to GW, 21 July 1789.

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