George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Cornell, 10 September 1789

From George Cornell

[10 September 1789]

The Memorial of George Cornell of Portsmouth On Rhode Island—Your Excellency Humble Memorialist is the first of all this State that yet appears To Congratulate your Excellency Too the Appointment of Their President—and he Thinks Himself forever Happy Now under Your Excellencys Reign and Good Government, and To whome with a faithfull heart he wishes Long life and all Happiness—and your Memorialist Looks up To your Excellency as a father To his people—and he as One of the Children, who have Been Ever faithfull1 Begs Leave To inform Your Excellency that Our State will Soon Be Joined To the union—and as there Must Be Custom House Officers appointed within the State—he would Most Humbly Beg your Excellency To Confer the Collectorship of the Customhouse of Newport upon him, Or any Other appointment as your Excellency in his Clemency will Be Graciously Pleased To appoint Beleave him On the word of a man that your Excellency will find none More faithfull Through all his america then your Excellencys Humble Memorialist[.] He also Begs Leave to acquaint your Excellency, that he went into the Canadia war in 58 as an Ensign, and then at the Age of 16 years and Soon obtaind a Company in the Rhode Island Corps, and Continued in the field untill 65 and his Conduct was Such as To Merit the Esteem of sir Jeff. Amhast who Treated him with that Respect Due to a faithfull Soldier—But the war Being Over he Left the Army and Betook him Self To the Seas—a poor Exchange—as he has been Amazing unfortunate in being Taken in the Late war—and as there is places of Appointments wholy in your Excellencys Own Disposial he Begs your Excellencys Clemency—He flatters himself that as Some person Must be appointed To the Customhouse that if your Excellency will be Graciously pleased To Confer that Honor on him that his Steady Conduct will be always Such as To Merit Esteem—He Begs Leave To Take the Liberty thus Early To Recommend himself to your Excellency Protection—Hopeing your Excellency in his Great Goodness, will Be pleased to Signify his Pleasur—for which Your Excellencys Most Humble Memorialist will be in Ever Duty Bound2

Geo. Cornell Son of Clarke


During the French and Indian War George Cornell (1736–1799), the son of Clarke Cornell (b. 1714), served as an ensign in 1758, a second lieutenant in 1760, and a first lieutenant in 1761. By 1763 he had apparently risen to the rank of captain with Rhode Island forces.

1At this point in the MS Cornell wrote “faith,” followed by “faithful.” He neglected to delete the first word.

2On 5 Nov. 1789 Cornell again wrote to GW asking for an appointment. In his earlier memorial he “did then Open his Simple and most faithfull Heart To Your Excellency as to his father, and as there is appointments To be Made he could wish your Excellency could find the freedom To help the widows Son, who is forever faithfull. . . . Your Excellencys Memorialest Could Make a Good Clerk and Steward To One of Your Excellencys Hospittles Or Clerk To Your Dockyards. . . . May it Please Your Excellency if Our State Does Not Come into the Union Dont Cast of Your faithfull Memorialest and Subject for he will Move Out of the State to fall river in the Massachusetts State Immediatly and God bless Your Excellency Due Give him Some Small appointment To Enable him To Maintain his famerly he will Move in 10 Day from this Date and there wate your Excellencys Benevolence and Goodness.” Receiving no appointment, Cornell wrote GW on 1 June 1790 asking for a post in the customs or as keeper of a lighthouse in Rhode Island. In a letter dated July 1790 Cornell reminded the president that he was “as Good an Enginear and Draughtsman as is in your Amarica” and suggested himself for the command of the fortress at West Point. Both letters are in DLC:GW.

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