George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Daniel Rodman, 19 January 1790

From Daniel Rodman

New York January 19th 1790

SirCherry Street N. 70

Impressed with the most lively sentiments of your exalted character for justice and humanity, and The just attention shewn to Persons whose exertions, & sufferings were meritorious in The Revolution in which you had The honour To act so conspicuous a part: Together with the advice of a number of Friends, Hath emboldened me To lay The following statement of facts before you, praying your interposition in my behalf, so far, as is consistant with That duty you owe The Publick, and The superior claim of individuals. At the commencement of the late War, I was in easy: or what in New England would rather be called affluent circumstances. In The Spring 1775. I was one of the principle Persons consulted by the late Gouvernour Hopkins of Rhode Island in makeing all the arrangements respecting the first Troops that were publicly raised upon This continent, and I believe I may say without much vanity that I was one of the most active Members in May Session 1775 in preventing Gouvernour Wanton & Deputy Gov. Session from being sworn into Office, after they had been unanimously elected by the Freeman; as They had both (with three of The Gouvernours Counsel) Publicly protested (now upon record) against the act for raising Troops the preceeding April.1 In consequence of which Sir James Wallis then commanding Three Frigates in the harbour of Newport, wrote several letters to the General Assembly calling us an illegal body of Men Assembled together without our legal Supreme Magistrate at our head and ordering us to disperse, upon pain of being declared Rebels & Traitors, I had The honour of drafting answers to those letters and at a day when many trembled to hear Them read, However Familiar the sound rebel became afterwards,2 That was before we Knew that the God of armies had provided a Saviour to secure our necks from the Halter: and our Estates from confiscation—In The years 1775. 76. 77. & To April 1778, I loaned to the United States between Eleven & Twelve thousand pounds Lawfull money reduced by the scale, and for upward of one Thousand pounds of which I sold a real Estate, but reitterated misfortunes in trade obliged me to part with The whole of the securities for the money Thus Loaned and the most advantageous disposition I made of any was about £2600 sold Messrs Broom & Platt for dry goods @ 7/6 p. £. I was The second man That put Money into the Loan Office in Rhode Island, by placeing six hundred Dollars There The day that the office first opened, and upon West India goods turned out to different Commissaries of the Armey Two Thousand pounds Lawfull money in addition to all The pay That I ever received, would not have replaced me my goods exclusive of interest, by reason of the depreciation of The pay before I could obtain it—I had also a considerable store of dry goods burnt in The genneral conflagration at New London3 I also lost rising one Thousand pounds Sterling first cost in Amsterdam Captured by The British in two Vessels from Thence without any Insurance, also rising Four Hundred pounds Sterling upon a Cargo of goods Shiped at Amsterdam & stoped at the Texel upon the rupture between the British and Dutch which was unladed and sold at Auction. And I believe it will not be contended where I was known, that many Persons advanced their property upon every call of Their Country with more chearfulness and liberality than I did—And at the commencement of peace, in hopes of redressing my losses I ventured what I had left in Navigation, and by a series of unbounded misfortunes lost The whole and am now reduced to The necessity of keeping a boarding House in this City to support a Wife and seven small Children—And as I hope and expect that The State of Rhode Island will adopt the confederacy this winter (which is the land of my nativity and in which State I held the Office of Clerk of The supreme Court for seven years and Then resigned it) should that event happen and upon inquiry you judge that my character & situation is deserving it, I will be very thankfull for the Collectors Office of the Port of Newport4 (or if more convenient and agreeable any Thing else that will give my Family a decent support—I am not insensible of The delicasey of your exalted situation, and the numberless applications necessarily attendant upon it. in every event therefore my opinion of your goodness will remain the same, as I am an entire stranger to you I have taken the liberty to enclose Coppy of a certificate5 (the original of which is now in my hands) given me upon leaving The State of Rhode Island, since which I have lived in the State of Connecticutt until the last spring, when I removed to this city, and for my genneral character of conduct since in Connecticutt; I beg leave to refer you to the Delegates in Congress from that state, particularly Benja. Huntington Esqr. & Colo. Wadsworth & Trumbull who were intimately acquainted with me during my residence there, and if necessary His Excelly Govr Huntington & Genl Huntington6 as I lived in the same Town with them many years and was particularly intimate at their Houses & they at mine—I have the Honour to be with The greates[t] respt Sir Your Most Obdt & very Humbe Servt

Daniel Rodman


Daniel Rodman (born c.1748) of South Kingstown was a deputy in Rhode Island’s general assembly from 1773 to 1778 and acted as its secretary in 1777. He served as major of the 2d Regiment of King’s County militia from the summer of 1776 until he left the state in 1778. By 1780 he was living on Bean Hill in Norwich, Conn., where he was active in trade and town affairs. He was listed in the 1789 New York City directory as a merchant at 70 Cherry Street. Rodman received no federal appointment at this time (MS “[Rhode Island] Minute Book Lower House of Assembly Commencing at October Session (by adjournment) A.D. 1789” in Library of Congress Microfilm of Early States Records; Bartlett, R.I. Records, description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends 7:602, 8:385).

1On 19 April 1775, before news of the Lexington and Concord battles arrived, Rhode Island freemen had reelected conservative governor Joseph Wanton to office. On 25 April he, Deputy Gov. Darius Sessions, and two other members of the upper house signed a protest against the resolution presented by an emergency session of the lower house then meeting in Providence to raise a 1,500–man “army of observation.” After Wanton had absented himself from the next general assembly session of 3 May (at which Rodman, Stephen Hopkins of Providence, and a majority of the deputies had passed an act to recruit, supply, and pay the new army) and refused to sign commissions for its officers, the general assembly illegally forbade anyone from administering the oath of office to Wanton “unless in free and open General Assembly” and with its consent. In November that body officially replaced Governor Wanton with newly elected Deputy Gov. Nicholas Cooke (Bartlett, R.I. Records, description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends 7:310–11, 317–26, 332–37).

2James Wallace commanded the 20–gun frigate Rose, the 20–gun frigate Glasgow, and the 14–gun sloop Swan that threatened the inhabitants of Newport and Narragansett Bay from November 1774 to April 1776. Rodman may be referring to the correspondence between Cooke and Wallace that began with an exchange of letters on 14 and 15 June 1775, in which Wallace wrote, “I must desire to know whether or not, you, or the people on whose behalf you write, are not in open rebellion to your lawful soverign, and the acts of the British legislature!” (Roelker, “Patrol of Narragansett Bay,” description begins William G. Roelker and Clarkson A. Collins, 3rd. “The Patrol of Narragansett Bay (1774–76) by H.M.S. Rose, Captain James Wallace.” Rhode Island History 7 (1948): 12–19, 90–95; 8 (1949): 45–63, 77–83; 9 (1950): 11–23, 52–58. description ends 7:13, 18, 8:79–80, 9:58; Bartlett, R.I. Records, description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends 7:337–38).

3British forces under Benedict Arnold burned New London, Conn., in September 1781.

5The enclosure, dated 10 April 1778, about the time Rodman left Rhode Island, attests to his conscientious service as clerk of Rhode Island’s Superior Court of Judicature and of King’s County Court of Assize and General Jail Delivery and his honorable tenure as justice of the peace for King’s County. The original certificate was signed by Deputy Gov. William Bradford as well as William Greene, Shearjashub Bourne, Jabez Bowen, Thomas Wells, and Paul Mumford, justices of the Rhode Island superior court, who testified that Rodman had discharged his duties “with great honour & integrity; And hath ever been a warm and steady advocate for the rights and liberties of America and a True Friend to his injured Country” (DLC:GW).

6Gov. Samuel Huntington and Gen. Jedediah Huntington had also been residents of Bean Hill.

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