George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lewis Nicola, 10 October 1789

From Lewis Nicola

Philada 10th October 1789


Relying on your Excellencies goodness to excuse my trespassing on your time devoted to so important attentions I take the liberty to inform you that the, to me, unfortunate resolve1 of Congress passed in 1785 not allow any State interest paid by them to publick creditors, having occasioned a general belief that the State of Pensylvania would pay any more to its citizens compelled me to try some other means of supporting my family, to accomplish which I was obliged to sell my certificates at three fourths loss, but miscarrying in my schemes I was reduced to the necessity of accepting an employment degrading to that I had the honour to fill under the United States, and more immediately under your command. This employment is Keeper of the publick Workhouse in this city & one years experience shewing that the income is inadequate to providing a maintenance & enabling me to discharge some pecuniary obligations I am under compels me to look up to your Excellency. I am informed that an officer is to be appointed in each State for the purpose of inspecting & paying the Pensioners, should you not think me disqualified & are not already engaged I entreat your appointing me to that office.

Not to trespass further I shall only request you will present my respects to Mrs Washington & accept from Your Excellencies Most humle and Obedient Servant

Lewis Nicola


Lewis Nicola (1717–1807) was born in France but came to Philadelphia from Dublin around 1766. He soon became active in scientific and military circles in Pennsylvania and in the early days of the Revolution produced several military treatises and military maps. During the war he served as colonel of the Corps of Invalids. For his suggestion for the establishment of a monarchy with GW as king, see William Gordon to GW, 24 Sept. 1788, n.4. Nicola was brevetted brigadier general in 1783 and after the war held a number of positions in Philadelphia. He left the city briefly in the mid-1780s, but by 1788 he had returned and became commandant of the invalid corps. He retained his position as director of the Philadelphia workhouse until 1793. GW did not provide him with federal employment.

1In MS this word reads “relsove.”

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