George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Marsden Pintard, 16 July 1789

From John Marsden Pintard

New York 16th July 1789


Haveing been Honor’d with the appointment of commercial Agent for the United States in the Island of Madeira where I resided for some Years; it was by the permission of the Honble Congress that I returned to this city, in order to render a true State of the American Trade in the Kingdom of Portugale, which might be advantageous to the general Interests of my Countrymen. It is now a Considerable time since my arrival, but have remained here with the Publick approbation to settle some private Business and wait the event of the New Constitution. The happy Issue, has now taken Place & I think it my duty to address you Sir on this occasion.

I presume the public service requires my return to that Kingdom but I am informd that it will be necessary that a New appointment by the President of the United States should warrant my future services.

In order to save you time as much as possible, I beg leave to refer you Sir to a Letter I had the honor of sending to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in February 1787 a copy whereof is here enclosed;1 That Honorable Gentleman is well acquainted with the comercial Situation & circumstances of Portugale and of the proceedings of the late Congress relative to my application for the Consul ship of that Kingdom & can give more information on that head than I dare presume to take up your time in listening to. all I can further say, is that if You should think proper to carry the designs of the former Congress into execution by appointing me Consul or Commercial agent for the Kingdom of Portugale I am very confident that I can render essential services to the Commercial Interests of the United States.

As Lisbon is but the distance of three or four days Sail from Madeira I propose to reside at that City & attend the Port of Madeira occasionally where the House to which I belong is established.

I also take the Liberty of referring to a letter from the Governor of Madeira to the Minister of Foreign Affairs & now in his Office as it will shew that I was not unacceptable to that Nobleman, if the President of the United States should wish for any particular information relative to the commercial regulations of Portugale my long residence in that Kingdome will enable me to give it.2

No pecuniary recompence is asked from the United States for this service as the Honor & Advantage of the Public confidence especially in a Commercial Line is a Competent reward. I have the Honor to be with profound Respect Sir Your Mo. Obt & very Hume Servant

John Marsden Pintard


John Marsden Pintard (d. 1811) was the son of Lewis Pintard, a leading New York merchant, and Susanna Stockton Pintard. Through his mother he was related to the prominent New Jersey families of Richard Stockton and Hannah Stockton Boudinot and Elias and Elisha Boudinot. The elder Pintard was a major importer of wine from Madeira, and his son supervised his interests on the island. At the close of the Revolution, John Pintard was appointed commercial agent at Madeira by the Confederation Congress (committee report, 30 Oct. 1783, DNA:PCC, item 25; commission, 31 Oct. 1783, DNA:PCC, item 182). In addition to his official duties, the younger Pintard established his own firm on the island. In early 1786 he returned to the United States where he remained until at least mid–1790. When appointments were made to the consular service in June 1790, Pintard received the Madeira appointment, although he continued to press unsuccessfully for the more prestigious post of consul at Lisbon (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:75; Pintard to Jefferson, 23 Jan. 1791, DLC:GW).

1The enclosure was Pintard’s letter of 20 Feb. 1787 to John Jay, concerning the possibility of a consular appointment at Lisbon (DLC:GW).

2Pintard is referring to a letter to Congress from Diego Forjas Coutinho, governor of Madeira, 18 Mar. 1786, expressing the satisfaction of his administration with Pintard’s conduct. Pintard brought the letter with him when he returned to the United States. See Jay to the president of Congress, 5 June 1786, DNA:PCC, item 80; 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 30:332; and Jay to Coutinho, 17 Dec. 1787, DNA: RG 59, Foreign Letters of the Continental Congress and the Department of State, 1785–90.

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