George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Bard, 26 August 1790

From Samuel Bard

New York August 26th 1790.


As I am informed it is not improbable but that a Law for establishing an Excise may pass during the next Cession of Congress,1 I beg leave to mention to you my Brother Mr John Bard Junr2 as a Candidate for the Honor of your nomination to an office in that Department, consistent with his Residence in this City or County.

upon this occasion it may not be improper to inform you that at the commencement of the last war, he early enterd into the service of his Country, with the Rank of Captn in the Georgia Line, in which station he was made a Prisoner at the taking of Savanah, and remained unexchangd the greater part of the war, ill health having compelled him to come to the northward—I might too vouch for his Character as a man of Business and Integrity, but in these respects I beleive I may confidently refer you to Coll Hamilton—Coll Lawrence, and Mr Bensen.

Before I conclude permit me Sir, to make to you my gratefull acknowledgements for the confidence you have reposed in me and the honor with which you have destinguished me during your Residence in this City; and to assure you that nothing could alleviate the regret with which I must relinquish so honorable a station as that of your Physician, so much, as the approbation you have been pleased to express of my faithfull Services. I have the honor to be, with great Respect Sir Your most humble & most obedient Servt

Samuel Bard


For Dr. Samuel Bard and his medical care of GW, see William Jackson to Clement Biddle, 12 May 1790, editorial note. Bard’s son attended Patrick Murdoch’s private school with GW’s adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis, and Henry Knox’s and Alexander Hamilton’s children (see Lear to GW, 28 Oct. 1790 and note 2).

1On 9 Aug. 1790 the U.S. House of Representatives ordered the secretary of the treasury to report on “such further provision as may, in his opinion, be necessary for establishing the public credit.” Alexander Hamilton presented his two reports on the subject on 13 Dec. 1790, a week after the third session of the First Congress commenced (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 3:562, 629, 5:768–73; Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 7:225–27).

The Committee of the Whole House debated the report on 27 Dec. 1790 and appointed a committee chaired by Theodore Sedgwick to prepare a bill, which was presented on 30 December. The house debated and amended the bill from 5 to 27 Jan. 1791 and on 17 Feb. considered Senate amendments. On 23 Feb. the House and Senate appointed members to a conference committee to iron out their differences on the legislation, and the committee reported two days later. The speaker of the House signed the resulting “Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties heretofore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same” on 28 Feb., the vice-president signed it on 1 Mar., and the president signed it into law on 3 Mar. 1791 (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 4:571–82).

The act levied increased duties of twenty to forty cents per gallon on foreign distilled spirits and for the first time levied excise duties on American spirits: eleven to thirty cents per gallon on the products of American stills manufactured from foreign raw materials and from nine to twenty-five cents on “all spirits . . . distilled within the United States from any article of growth or produce of the United States, in any City, Town, or Village.” It divided the United States into fourteen collection districts, which the president could subdivide into surveys of inspection, and authorized him to appoint a supervisor for each district and as many inspectors for each survey as he thought necessary (1 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 199–214).

2John Bard, Jr., was commissioned a captain in the Georgia Line of the Continental Army in November 1776 and was taken prisoner by the British at Savannah on 29 Sept. 1778. He was on parole until 1780 but never rejoined the army, having removed to New York City in 1779. He is listed as an ironmonger in the 1789 and 1790 New York City directories and lived with his brother and father, the prominent physician Dr. John Bard, Sr. (1716–1799), at 38 Queen Street. GW did not appoint him to an excise post (New York City Directory, description begins The New-York Directory, and Register, for the Year 1789. New York, 1789. description ends 1789, 9; 1790, 11).

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