George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gideon Wanton, 31 May 1790

From Gideon Wanton

Newport [R.I.]

May it please your Excellency.May 31th 1790

For two years past I have been elected by the General Assembly of this State, Naval Officer for this port and District of Newport, and at present hold that Office, but as that appointment ceases by the adoption of the new Constitution, I humbly supplicate your Excellency’s interposition for my continuance in the same, being altogether unacquainted with every Gent. who has a Seat in Congress I conceive that will be my excuse for an immediate Application to your Excellency.

Pardon me Sr for informing you that I am the Son of Gideon Wanton Esq; deced, many years Governor here previous to American Independency, that I am now advanced in life and my Fortune by a concourse of unfavourable Events far from splendid, and that during the time of my officiating under this State, I have discharged the trust reposed in me to the Satisfaction of the Publick, and if it shall please Your Excellency to promote my continuance in that Office, it shall be my earnest endeavour to discharge the same with all Fidelity, and ever to acknowledge, that I am with due respect Sr Your Excellys most obedient, obliged & humble Servt

Gideon Wanton


Gideon Wanton, a Newport merchant, was the son of Gideon Wanton, governor of Rhode Island in 1745–46 and 1747–48. The younger Wanton served on the council and represented Newport in the general assembly in 1776. During the Revolution he was imprisoned by the British. After the war he was appointed naval officer at Newport by the state. Wanton renewed his application with a nearly identical letter on 8 June, apparently concerned that the first letter had not reached GW. Daniel Owen recommended Wanton for the office “as a man worthy to be continued in Office, and more especially having suffered for the general Cause both with the Provost and on board the prison ship at Newport, while that place was held by a British Garrison, and as a Man whose integrity may be depended upon” (Daniel Owen to GW, 10 June 1790, DLC:GW). After news that Robert Crooke had been appointed naval officer at Newport reached Rhode Island, Wanton wrote to GW reminding him: “I lately did my self the honour to address Your Excellency. . . . I presume however my Letter did not get forward seasonably, and the Senators for this State not setting out so early for Congress as was expected, the Officers of the Customs here, have been appointed, and I find my self excluded to my great regret.” Wanton repeated his summary of his own qualifications and concluded by expressing his “earnest desires to serve the public in any vacancy that is now, or, may arise, whether in the Loan Office, Excise or any other department where employment will be attended with adequate reward” (Wanton to GW, 21 June 1790, DLC:GW). Wanton received no federal appointment.

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