George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Nicholson, 6 July 1789

From James Nicholson

New York July 6th 1789


I beg leave to offer myself as A Candidate for the Office of Naval Officer or Surveyor of the Customs for the Port of New York and to briefly mention the reasons that may operate in favor of my application.

I was at an early period of Life taught the art of Navigation and Seafaring business, and have for many Years commanded Ships of merchandize from America to most of the Nations of Europe, and been conversant in the Mode of entering and Clearing Vessels and all the various duties of the officers of the Customs of this Country as well as of other Nations, and from the opportunity of observation and experience in that business I flatter myself that I should without difficulty be enabled to discharge the duties of such office in such manner as would gain your approbation and promote the Interest of my Country.

My peculiar situation also impells me tho with reluctance, to trespass upon your time with the relation.

At the commencement of the late War I was called by my Country to the command of the Marine of the United States, which obliged me to relinquish all other business that was necessary for the support of myself and family and submit my fortune and Interest to the fate of War and the Justice of my Country having, I believe with the general approbation of my fellow Citizens passed through the many vicissitudes incident to such a Command, I found myself at the close of the War divested of property and employment and left with the consolation only that I had faithfully discharged my duty and that the United States would again have occasion for my services, either in the Navy or such other way as would be usefull to the Public and myself.

Enclosed are some Testimonials in my behalf and for further information I beg leave to refer Mr R. Izard, Mr R.H. Lee, Colo. Greyson, Mr Carrol of Carlton, Mr J. Henry, Mr Read, Mr Basset, Mr Robt Morris & Mr Egbert Benson.1 I am Sir with much respect your most Obedt Humbe Servt &ca

James Nicholson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

For an identification of Nicholson, see Leonard Bleecker to GW, 4 June 1789, n.4.

1Nicholson enclosed several supporting letters addressed to him: from Joshua Seney, 22 June 1789, from Benjamin Contee, 7 July 1789, and a letter dated 2 July and signed by Lambert Cadwalader, George Gale, William Smith, and Daniel Carroll (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Nicholson’s letter was enclosed in one to GW, 6 July 1789, from John Laurance, who supported Nicholson’s application: “I can add, to the other recommendations this Gentleman has procured from his Friends, that I have been intimately acquainted with him for some time past, and I am persuaded he would discharge the Duties of either of the Offices he has applied for with Ability and Integrity” (DNA:PCC, item 78). Nicholson received no federal customs appointment from GW or from John Adams, but early in his first administration Jefferson named him commissioner of loans for New York.

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