George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William West, 26 January 1790

From William West

Baltimore-Town [Md.] Jany 26th 1790.


Sensible that Merit only should claim the Attention of one, whom Merit alone has advanced to supreme Dignity; and sensible too that an honest Recommendation will be acceptable to you—I cannot but testify, in Favour of Mr Alexander Wooddrop Davey,1 of this Town, that I have been acquainted with him for some considerable Time, and admire him for his Integrity & upright Principles. And I scruple not to say, that in my Heart I verily believe he will faithfully discharge any Office to which he may be appointed. He wishes to obtain the Excise Office, & could he be so happy as to succeed, I am fully convinced he would acquit himself with Honour & Reputation in the Discharge of it. Less than this I cannot say tho’ duly sensible of the Weakness of my Testimony, in Favour of that honest & worthy man—And I trust you will pardon me for being interested in the Success of such a Character, who am, with the greatest Respect & Gratitude, Sir, Your obliged humble Servt

Wm West


1William West, an Anglican minister and rector of St. Paul’s Parish in Baltimore, again recommended Alexander Wooddrop Davey to GW on 1 Feb. 1791. Davey was a Baltimore merchant who supplied Maryland troops during the Revolution (Md. Archives, description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends 43:90, 47:38). On 10 Feb. 1791 U.S. senator John Henry of Maryland forwarded this second letter to GW along with an undated petition written by Davey, whom he recommended “as a Man of Industry and probity” (DLC:GW).

The enclosure stated that: “your Petitioner has been regurly bred to Mercantile Business, Which he has managed with Industry and Success, Till near the close of the late War, When he became unfortunate, but still maintained an unsuspected Character for Uprightness & Integrity for the Proof of this, your Petitioner is happy in having it in his Power to refer to the enclosed Letter, As well as to the Personal Knowledge of the Honourable Robert Morris, William Smith Joshua Seney and Benjamin Contee Esqrs. for his General Character for his Capacity & Deligence in Business, Together with an Uniform Attachment to the Cause of America.

“Altho your Petitioner pretends to no other Merit to attract your Excellency’s Notice, yet depending on your Excellency’s wisdom and goodness, he prays that you will be pleased to appoint him The Excise officer for the Town and District of Baltimore, where he resides, and your Petitioner as in duty bound shall ever pray &c.” (DLC:GW). Davey did not receive a federal appointment.

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