George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Perez Morton, 26 December 1789

From Perez Morton

Boston Decbr 26th 1789


If, as the Commerce of the United States is every day extending, & their Intercourse with the East Indias rapidly growing into an established Trade, The Wisdom of the Supreme Executive should suggest the Necessity of appointing Consuls in that Quarter of the Globe, permit me to solicit the favor of an appointment of that kind for the Hither India in behalf of a Brother, Joseph Morton, Merchant at Fort St George, on the Coromandel Coast.1

He is twenty five Years of Age; he left this Country early in the Year 1787, and has been established at Madrass in the mercantile Line about two Years. Educated in the habits of Œconomy, he is prudent & discreet beyond his period of Life; and for his Integrity, Capacity and Patriotism I can chearfully pledge myself. least however both the Candidate and the Solicitor may be personally unknown to you, I beg leave to refer you to Genl Lincoln’s Letter accompanying this, whose Enquiries respecting the Qualifications & Character of the Candidate have been such, as have induced him to support his Pretensions in the manner he has—I flatter myself, should no other present, who in your Judgement would better serve the Interests of the United States, you will honor him with your Nomination & Support; which will confer an Obligation on him, who has The Honor to subscribe himself, with every Sentiment of Respect your most Obedient and very hu. Servt2

Perez Morton


Perez Morton (1751–1837) was born in Plymouth, Mass., but was taken to Boston by his father Joseph Morton who took over operation of the White Horse Tavern on what is now Washington Street. The younger Morton graduated from Harvard in 1771, read law with Josiah Quincy, and was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1774. From 1775 to 1776 he served as deputy secretary of the commonwealth under Samuel Adams. During the war he held several state offices and acted as aide-de-camp to John Hancock during the Rhode Island campaign. In 1779 he returned to the practice of law and was appointed attorney for Suffolk County. Around 1812 he became attorney general for Massachusetts, a post he held for some twenty years.

1Joseph Morton (1764–1843) remained in business in Madras for some years but was back in Boston by 1804 (Records Relating to the Early History of Boston: Boston Marriages, description begins A Volume of Records Relating to the Early History of Boston, Containing Boston Marriages From 1752 to 1809. Records Relating to the Early History of Boston, 30th Report. Boston, 1903. description ends 206).

2GW also received a letter of recommendation for the younger Morton from Benjamin Lincoln: “I am informed that Mr Joseph Morton, a native of this town, is now settled at Madrass in the mercantile Line. He is mentioned to me by many of whom I have sought his character, as a gentleman of abilities, integrity, industry and of a fair reputation. Should there be a consul appointed at the port of Madrass and if among the various candidates, which may be placed upon the list, the pretensions of Mr Morton should be equal to any and your mind should ballance between him and an other permit me to assume such an interest for him as shall cause the ballance to preponderate in his favor. This request is dictated by no other motive than a wish to throw before your Excellency the character of a deserving young gentleman who I think would do honour to the appointment should he receive it” (26 Dec. 1789, DLC:GW).

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