George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathaniel Falconer, 8 July 1789

From Nathaniel Falconer

Philada July 8th 1789.

May it please the President of the United States

The Subscriber respectfully forwarded to his Excellency in the last Month Certificates under the hands of several respectable Citizens of Philadelphia, recommendatory of him as an Applicant for an appointment in the Customs at Philadelphia.

At that time the principles of the Collection bill not being made public, the place or object of Appointment was not clearly designated in the Certificates.

With the greatest deference, the Subscriber now solicits his Excellency to nominate him for one of the new Appointments in the Customs at Philadelphia.1 And as in duty bound &ca

Nathaniel Falconer


During the 1760s Nathaniel Falconer was a Philadelphia ship’s captain—Benjamin Rush, who occasionally took passage to Europe with him, called him “dear little Captain Falconer” (Butterfield, Rush Letters, description begins L. H. Butterfield, ed. Letters of Benjamin Rush. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1951. description ends 1:63). In 1776 Falconer was a member of the Pennsylvania committee of safety and in the same year supervised the construction of vessels for the Continental navy. From 1778 to 1782 he served as inspector of the Continental press for issuing bills of exchange and other financial documents. By 1792 he was master warden for the port of Philadelphia.

1Falconer’s application was supported by a recommendation from Thomas Mifflin to GW, 10 June 1789: “From a long and intimate acquaintance with Captain Nathaniel Falconer of Philadelphia—The Underwritten, with great respect and submission, recommends him to the President of the United States; as an early, decided and uniform friend to the Independence and good Government of the Union; and declares, that, to his knowledge, Capt. Falconer has given on many important Occasions, and for a long series of years, his attention to public Business; without deriving, at any time, any share of the Advantages of Office. Capt. Falconer is well acquainted with the Business of the Customs—he wishes not to interfere with any person in Office, but humbly hopes that the President General will be pleased, so far as may appear consistent with propriety, to honor him with a moments attention when any Recommendations, with respect to new Establishments in the Customs at Philadelphia, are about to take place. Should an Inspectorship or Searcher of the Customs at Philadelphia be thought expedient by Government, Captain Falconer can obtain ample Testimonials of good Conduct and of fitness for Office” (DLC:GW).

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