George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Channing, 8 June 1790

From William Channing

Newport [R.I.] June 8th 1790


With deference I beg leave to name my brother Walter Channing, for your consideration as an Officer in the Customs for this Port, and would beg leave most respectfully to refer you, in regard to his qualifications, to those who on this occasion may have kindly interested themselves in his behalf.1

Should it please you to honor him with an appointment, I shall consider myself as pledged for his faithful discharge of the trust: Or should another in your wisdom be more eligible I shall from the goodness of your motives cheerfully acquiesce.

If there is any impropriety in this application; I trust Sir that you will consider it as not intentional, but impute it to an ardent wish to promote the Interest of a Brother whom I greatly regard. I have the Honor to be Sir With the greatest Respect Your most Obedt & hble Servt

Willm Channing


William Channing (1751–1793) was born in Newport, graduated from Princeton in 1769, studied law in Providence, and took up practice in Newport in 1771. In 1773 he married Lucy Ellery, daughter of William Ellery, one of Newport’s leading citizens. In 1777 he was chosen attorney general of Rhode Island. Channing was a member of the town committee that welcomed GW to Newport in March 1781. GW later wrote Channing in 1783 to introduce his nephew George Augustine Washington who was visiting Newport for his health (see GW to William Channing, 7 June 1783). A hard-money advocate and Federalist, Channing was defeated in the election for attorney general in 1787. GW appointed Channing U.S. attorney on 2 July 1790 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 2 July 1790). He served until his death from smallpox in 1793 (Harrison, Princetonians, 1769–1775, description begins Richard A. Harrison. Princetonians, 1769–1775: A Biographical Dictionary. Princeton, N.J., 1980. description ends 13–16).

1Walter Channing (c.1758–1827) served as a lieutenant in the Rhode Island militia during the Revolution and was later clerk of the superior court for the county of Newport (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 9:377). Henry Marchant, soliciting Elbridge Gerry’s assistance in obtaining the post of naval officer for Channing, described him as “a gentleman of good Sense, Abilities, Strict Honor and Virtue, and from whom the best Information can be had and relied upon” (Marchant to Gerry, 12 June 1790, MHi: Gerry Papers). Channing received no appointment from GW.

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