George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Howell, 11 November 1790

From John Howell

Augusta, Ga., 11 November 1790. Offers his services for command of the Georgia revenue cutter, “having had the experience of Commanding a Cutter on the Southern coast during a great part of the war and thereby obtaining a particular knowledge of the same.” Mentions James Gunn and Benjamin Hawkins as references.1


During the Revolutionary War John Howell commanded the privateer galley Sailor’s Delight, which captured the British ship Britannia in the mouth of the Great Ogeechee River in 1781 (Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution, description begins Charles E. Claghorn. Naval Officers of the American Revolution: A Concise Biographical Dictionary. Metuchen, N.J., 1988. description ends 158).

1U.S. senator James Gunn of Georgia wrote to Alexander Hamilton from Augusta on 11 Nov. 1790, recommending Howell, whose qualifications Gunn discussed with Hamilton before the senator left New York (see Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 7:147). The enclosures in Hamilton’s brief cover letter of 10 Dec. 1790 to GW (DLC:GW) probably included Howell’s and Gunn’s letters, as Tobias Lear responded later that day, “By the Presidents command I have the honor to return the enclosed papers respecting Capt: Howell which were submitted to the President this morning. I am moreover, ordered by the President to inform you that if you know of nothing to counteract these recommendations of Captain Howell, and if no particular reason operates against his having the command of one of the Cutters, you have his approbation to signify to him that his appointment will take place” (DLC:GW). The next day Hamilton reported to the president that he would delay appointing Howell until “he has had an opportunity of submitting to the President some other candidates & recommendations from the same quarter, merely to afford an opportunity of comparison, & to acquaint himself towards those who have made applications, & those who have seconded them” (Hamilton to GW, 11 Dec. 1790, DLC:GW). Lear also forwarded to Hamilton on 11 Dec. 1790 (DLC:GW) a 20 Nov. 1790 letter to GW from Henry Putnam of Georgia, who also applied for command of the Georgia cutter.

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