George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elizabeth Gaudin, 6 July 1789

From Elizabeth Gaudin

Boston July 6. 1789

Hon. Sir

give a Distrest widow Leave to adress you in the Leterael way first to Congratilate you on your Recoverd health, may heaven long Continue your Life to be a Blessing to the Riseing generation—My Request to your Honnor is to take my Case into your Consideration. I Lost my Husband in Defending the Rights of America in the Service of the States[.] he Enter’d into there Service October 1775—Lost his Life in 1777 fighting for them. I had the missfortune to Lose his Letter in Comeing into Boston in October 1776. and there was Due to him moneys from the States for his Service. I have Sufferd greatly and the agents have not Conducted with justice—I Come to you worthy Sir to plead for ⟨so⟩me assistance you can if you please make the widows heart to Sing for joy by giveing me Something to put me in a way to gain a Subsistance. Because I Lost his Letters shall I want the necesarys of Life your piety and Benevolence Shudders at the Idea of Such a thing. I have Wanted them, and to your Honnor I now have taken the Liberty to ask your friendship and assistance as the head of the United States for Where Shall I find it if not in your friendly Bosom.

Happy is he that fears the Lord

and follows his Commands

That Lends the poor without Reward

or gives with Liberal hands as pitty dwells within

your Breast, to all the Sons of men so god shall

answer your Request with Blessings on your Self

was my Circumstances Easy I would not have Troubled your Honnor with my Letter—A Sixth part of what your Honnor has for your Table in a year would put me into a good way—I on my bended Knees beg your Honnor to do Some Thing for me; you Can if you please and not miss it from your abondance, be kind Enough to Read Thiss and Let the pleadings of a Widow be heard—Mr George Lenord from Nortan knows me, and Mr ⟨illegible⟩ which Came from Boston—I Submit my Case to your Honnor trusting in your goodness to do Some Thing for me and am with great Respect your Honnors most obediant and Devoted Servant

Eliz. Gaudin

P.S. Mr Gaudin his Christian Name was Phillip—Honale Sir had Mr Gaudin fell on the other Side I Should have had help from them, and you will not Let them Excell you in Humanity to the widow and Distrest.

please to Dyrect to me at No. 56 Newbury Streat if you will Condesend to help me.

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 78. The envelope is addressed to GW at New York “or to be Sent to his Seat if gone away from there.”

According to her petition to Congress, 7 Mar. 1787, asking compensation for her husband’s service and claiming she was “in want of the Necessarys of Life,” Elizabeth Gaudin was a schoolmistress in Reading, Mass., who in 1771 married Philip Gaudin, a Marblehead mariner. “I can prove my marriage,” she assured the members of Congress, “he was a Short man of a Ruddy Countenance was born in jersey spoke very bad English” (DNA:PCC, item 42). Philip Gaudin supposedly joined the crew of one of Esek Hopkins’s vessels and died in battle around 1777 while serving in the Continental navy. On 30 Mar. 1787 Mrs. Gaudin’s petition was referred to Benjamin Walker, the commissioner for settling marine accounts. Walker wrote to her on the same day that he could find no Philip Gaudin in his records but that he had located a Philip Gordon who had served on board the Columbus and had deserted in 1776 (Clark, Naval Documents, description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends 7:147). Walker requested further information on Gaudin’s wartime services from his widow (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 32:148; DNA:PCC, item 31; see also Nicholas Cooke to the sheriff of Providence County, 10 Dec. 1776, in Clark, Naval Documents, description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends 7:435). On 2 April Walker reported to Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress, that no records of Gaudin’s services had been located (DNA:PCC, item 31). Mrs. Gaudin was not compensated by the Confederation Congress and was apparently equally unsuccessful with the new government, although she renewed her application to GW in a letter of 15 July: “Where shall the Distressed and Injurd apply if not to you. I am Convinced your Benevolent heart will Comiserate my loss and in your great goodness give me a small part of what properly belonged to my Husband 2 years wages and his Dividend of the prize money which nearly amounted to £400, Lawfull a Quarter part of that would Enable me to get a Subsistance while I Continue in this world of Sorrow” (DNA:PCC, item 78).

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