George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hazelwood, 22 March 1790

From John Hazelwood

Philadelph⟨e⟩ia March 22d 1790

The Memorial & Petition of John Hazelwood respectfully Sheweth

That your Memorialist was early appointed to Command a Vessell of force in the Pennsy[lvani]a State Fleet when he was sent by the Council of Safty to New-York to Form some fire Rafts & Ships which he performed, was ordred by your Excellency to pokepsy to construct a Boom & Chain a cross the North river which was effected, that on his return to New-York was active in bringing off the troops from long Island and Governor’s Island with Genls Putman & Mifflin, on his return to Philada he was Commi[ssion]ed Commodore of the State fleet & also was Commissiond by Congress to Command all the Contl Vessells then in the Deleware bay & river which he did and Exerted his utmost abillities at the Seige on the river Deleware & the Defence of mud Island & Red Bank Forts which your Excellency may possibly remember, & flatering himself that in these & other services he gave General Satisfaction, & for which he was honoured by Congress with a Sword—Since the peace being out of office & meeting with some heavy Losses in trade finds himself constrained to Solicit some Publick employment, and being Informed that a person is to be appointed to superintend & take care of the Buys Bacons & piers in the Deleware Bay & river

Your petitioner therefore prays your Excellency to appoint him to that office as he has a thorough Knowledg of that business having been some time a Warden of the Port, or that your Excellency will give him some other appointment to assist him in supporting his family, which will be ever remembred with Gratitude by your Excellencies Most Obt & Very Humbl. Sevt1

John Hazelwood

I beg leave to mention the Honble Robt Morris & Mr Fitzimmons to whom I have the honor of being known.


John Hazelwood (c.1726–1800) emigrated from England at an early age and became one of the most prominent Philadelphia ship captains in the decade before the American Revolution. In 1775 and 1776 he served as superintendent of fire rafts in the Delaware River and in July 1776 was sent to New York where he performed the services described in his memorial. Appointed a commodore in the Pennsylvania navy in April 1777, he distinguished himself in the defense of the Delaware from the British fleet in the fall of that year (see Pennsylvania Council of Safety to GW, 11 July 1776). When the Pennsylvania navy was disbanded, Hazelwood returned to private business. He was appointed commissioner of purchases for the Continental army in Philadelphia in June 1780 and in December of that year became receiver of provisions for the Pennsylvania militia. On 11 April 1785 he was appointed one of the wardens of the port of Philadelphia.

1The office of superintendent of buoys, beacons, and public piers was authorized by “An Act for the establishment and support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers” (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 5:1245–54). The Pennsylvania legislature ceded control of navigational aids in the Delaware in the fall of 1789, and shortly thereafter William Allibone, master warden of the port of Philadelphia, applied to GW for the post of superintendent (Allibone to GW, 12 Oct. 1789). Allibone acted temporarily as superintendent until his appointment was confirmed in April 1790 (Allibone to Hamilton, 29 April 1790, in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:398–99). Hazelwood received no federal appointment from GW.

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