George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Walker, 13 December 1789

From John Walker

Wilmington North Carolina December 13th 1789


I had the honor to be appointed Naval Officer for Port Brunswick in this State by joint ballot of both houses of our Legislature in the year 1782—and have continued in that office untill this time, by the laws of this State it is held during good behaviour—This State has lately ratified the federal Constitution by which I learn that my Office is vacated, and that it is to be filled by your Excellencys appointment.

I am informed that an application is to be made by Mr Callender of this place supported by the petition of many respectable Citizens for his advancement to this Office1—Against Mr Callenders merit I have not a word to offer—nor against the Gentlemen whose names are subscribed to his petition, I have however been told that a report prevailed and gained credit with many of those Gentlemen that I had resigned which implied a voluntary going out of Office, which was certainly not true and so far those Gentlemen were deceived, and in order to convince me that they were so, most of those very Gentlemen subscribed the enclosed certificate subsequent to their petition in favour of Mr Callender.2

Mr Callender has served in the American Army with reputation during the late war, I also had the honor to serve under your Excellencys command and had once the good fortune to be Known to you but cannot now flatter myself that I retain a place in your recollection—To your Excellencys judgement this will appear of little moment as to the subject on which I trouble you, but I rely on your humanity to excuse me if I betray some vanity in recalling to mind the honor I have enjoyed in being known to your Excellency.

I am not conscious that I have neglected any Duty or committed any ill practice in the Office I have held—I am sure no complaint has been made that I know of—which the aforementioned certificate will demonstrate—I am therefore only removed by this States having entered into the New federal Government—We have rejoiced at being reunited to the other States under the New federal Constitution, I trust your Excellency will not make the event painfull to any one.

I beg pardon for the trouble I have given your Excellency—and beg leave to subscribe myself with th⟨e⟩ greatest respect and submission, Your Excellencys, Most obedt & Most humbe Servt

Jno. Walker

ALS, DLC:GW; ALS (duplicate), DLC:GW. According to the address sheets on these letters, one was sent from North Carolina by ship, the other by post.

John Walker (1755–1841) was born in Virginia but moved with his father to North Carolina. The younger Walker served as a lieutenant and captain during the Revolution. In February 1790 GW reappointed him to his old place as collector of the customs at Wilmington (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 , 2:57, 60).

1Thomas Callender (d. 1828) was a Wilmington merchant who had served as a lieutenant and captain during the war. In February 1790 he was appointed surveyor at Wilmington.

2The enclosure was a statement signed by seventy-eight citizens of Wilmington attesting that Walker “has always conducted himself as Naval Officer for Port Brunswick with propriety and perfectly as a Man of Business and can alledge no reason why he should be removed from that Office” (DLC:GW). At the end of the enclosure Walker noted: “The Original I have forwarded to your Excellency by Post—presuming it to be the safest mode of conveyance—This being a true copy I transmit it to you by water.”

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