From Abishai C. Thomas
New York, 2 Aug. 1790. Presents himself as a candidate for the appointment of commissioner of loans for the state of North Carolina. “With regard to my integrity and other qualifications, I can only say that should they be so represented as to make a favorable impression on your mind I confide that no act of mine shall ever reflect disgrace on such representations.”1
Abishai C. Thomas left his Georgia home as a young man and found employment in Washington, N.C., as a land agent of John Gray Blount. Thomas served in the Revolution as a deputy quartermaster general for the Continental Army and later secured, probably through Blount’s influence, the office of agent for settling the accounts of North Carolina with the United States. He was a member of the North Carolina assembly in 1787. Thomas served as Blount’s business agent in New York from January 1789 until September 1790 (Blount Papers, description begins Alice Barnwell Keith et al., eds. The John Gray Blount Papers. 4 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1952–82. description ends 1:391, n.26, 459–60, 2:61, 102, 611–12). Congressman Timothy Bloodworth recommended Thomas for the position of North Carolina loans commissioner the day after the president nominated William Skinner for the office, and Thomas did not receive any federal appointment from GW (GW to the U.S. Senate, 6 Aug. 1790 [second letter]; Bloodworth to GW, 7 Aug. 1790). He nevertheless followed the federal government to Philadelphia and lived there until 1794. In November 1795 Thomas left for London to conduct business for David Allison. In the summer of 1799 Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert made Thomas the principal clerk of the new Navy Department at an annual salary of $1,200, and he served in that position until 1801 (Blount Papers, description begins Alice Barnwell Keith et al., eds. The John Gray Blount Papers. 4 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1952–82. description ends 2:611–12, 3:31, n.74, 439).
1. Thomas had a drinking and especially a gambling problem. See Thomas to Blount, 8 Aug. 1789, in Blount Papers, description begins Alice Barnwell Keith et al., eds. The John Gray Blount Papers. 4 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1952–82. description ends 1:501–2. On 5 Sept. 1794 David Allison wrote to Blount from Philadelphia that Thomas was “so much engaged in that rascally gaming business that I have little hopes of him.” In 1799 Thomas was in jail, and Blount was sued for his bail. By 1803 Thomas was living in poverty in Baltimore, and William Blackledge wrote, “I fear from his character [he] will never be in a better situation” (ibid., 1:391, n.26, 2:24, n.67, 429–30).