George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Cabot, 16 July 1790

From George Cabot

Beverly [Mass.] July 16th 1790


The death of Mr Harris having made a vacancy in the Revenue at Marblehead 1 I am informed that Col. Joshua Orne2 will offer himself as a Candidate for the office.

I am so strongly impressed with an idea of the importance it is to the Revenue to have the best men employed in it that I cannot refrain from testifying to you “that Col. Orne is one of the very few men, within my knowledge, who wou’d execute the duties of such an office with faithfulness toward the Public & reputation to himself.”3 I have the honor to be Sir with the profoundest respect your most obedient & devoted Servant

George Cabot


2Joshua Orne (1757–1805) of Marblehead, Mass., left Harvard College to join the Continental Army during the Revolution and saw action in Col. John Glover’s 14th Infantry and in Col. William Raymond Lee’s Additional Regiment until his resignation in October 1778. Orne represented Marblehead in the Massachusetts General Court in 1790 and 1797, as his uncle Maj. Joshua Orne (1747–1785) had earlier (Smith, Journals of Ashley Bowen, description begins Philip Chadwick Foster Smith, ed. The Journals of Ashley Bowen (1728–1813) of Marblehead. 2 vols. Boston, 1973. In Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts Collections, vols. 44–45. description ends 672; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, description begins J. L. Sibley et al. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. 18 vols. to date. Boston, 1873—. description ends 75–76).

Orne did not receive the Marblehead collectorship, and he died tragically in Bordeaux on Christmas morning, 1805, according to the U.S. consul there: “This gentleman was employed by a number of his friends, to pursue their claims under the Louisiana Treaty, and had actually received bills of Genl accounting to the amount of three or four hundred thousand francs. Some artful designing men at Paris, who knew him to be in possession of large sums of money, led him into ridiculous speculations, and finally swindled him of two thirds of the property, intrusted to his care, in consequence of which, he lost his senses and in a fit of delirium, fell down stairs and died instantly of a contusion to the head” (William Lee to James Madison, 15 Jan. 1806, DNA: RG 59, Despatches from Consular Officers: Bordeaux; Columbian Centinel [Boston], 22 Mar. 1806).

3Cabot also recommended Orne, who was on his way to New York to solicit the appointment in person, to Alexander Hamilton (Cabot to Hamilton, 16 July 1790, DLC:GW).

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