George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Parke, 25 July 1789

From John Parke

Dover, Delaware State July 25 1789.


Amid the Multiplicity of the most important Business, that ever has fallen to the Lot of one Man to adjust: I hope Sir, you will excuse this small Interuption, from a Person who was once dignified by your Friendship & Acquaintance, & who, for several Years, during the late glorious Revolution, was honored by your Excellency—with a regimental Command.

The Number of Departments under Government, that are now filling with the Proper & necessary Officers, have induced me, with great Submission to become an Applicant to your Excellency.

Any secondary, or subordinate Post, to which my Abilities are equal, would be highly acceptable, & my Zeal for promoting the public Service, (which was early demonstrated, in being the first Man—from my native State, who joined your Excellency’s Army before Boston—in addition to a Number of other Considerations—which I forbear to enumerate,) Will I hope render me worthy of the Appointment.

Wishing you a long & uninterupted Continuance of Health, Satisfaction & Happiness, & perfect Success in the administration of the high Trust, to which you have unannimously been delegated by the free Suffrages of Your Countrymen! A Station, not more illustrious—than your own Character! I have the Honor to be with all due Respect, Gratitude & Veneration, Your Excellency’s most obliged, most obedient and very humble Servant

John Parke


John Parke (1754–1789) of Delaware attended Newark Academy, Newark College, and the College of Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1771, receiving an A.M. degree in 1775. Before the Revolution he studied law with Thomas McKean and during the war served as assistant quartermaster general of the army during the Boston campaign. In June 1776 he was appointed lieutenant colonel of artificers and served in that and other posts until his resignation in October 1778. After the war he settled at his estate Poplar Grove in Kent County, Del., from which he published numerous—and sometimes controversial—poems in Delaware newspapers (Munroe, Federalist Delaware, description begins John A. Munroe. Federalist Delaware, 1775–1815. New Brunswick, N.J., 1954. description ends 185–86). Parke is now best known for the book of poetry he published anonymously in 1786, The Lyric Works of Horace, Translated into English Verse: to Which Are Added, a Number of Original Poems. By a Native of America (Philadelphia, 1786), dedicated to GW. Included was Virginia: a Pastoral Drama, on the Birth-Day of an Illustrious Personage [GW] and the Return of Peace, February 11th, 1784 (see Griffin, Boston Athenaeum Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 159–60). Parke sent the volume to GW. For GW’s warm acknowledgment, see his letter to Parke, 23 Mar. 1787. GW included him on a list of prospective appointees, but Parke died in December 1789 before a post was found for him (GW to Hamilton, 25 Sept. 1789).

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