George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Reuben Gilder, 3 January 1791

From Reuben Gilder

Baltimore, Janu[a]ry 3d 1791


A Law having passed Congress for the Establishment of Hea[l]th-Offices in the different Ports, Your Memorialist begs leave to be considered by your Excellency as an Applicant for the Office of Physician for the Port of Baltimore; and is encouraged to make this Application from the length of his Services during the late War, the many hardships he endured, and the Prime of his life that he spent during that Service. Your Memorialist from these circumstances fondly hopes your Excelly will be pleased to grant him the Prayer of his Memorial, and remains your Excelly’s most obedt & very hble Servt

R. Gilder


For the background to this letter, see John Coulter to GW, 23 Dec. 1790. Reuben Gilder (1755–1794) served as a surgeon in the Continental army and after the war established himself as one of the leading physicians in Baltimore. Gilder was recommended as port physician by Otho H. Williams, who wrote that he “knew Doctor Reuben Gilder personally in the American Army, That he served in the Southern detachment under Generals De Calb, Gates, and Greene as Physician, and Surgeon for the Troops of the Delaware state.” Williams added that “I have known the Doctor ever since the War as a practicing Physician and Surgeon in Baltimore Town and I believe he is well qualified to discharge the duty of Port Physician, or health officer, and that he is worthy of the trust” (Williams to GW, 1 Jan. 1791, DLC:GW). Samuel Smith also wrote to GW regarding the appointment, recommending Gilder as reportedly of “Infinite Service by his Skill & great Attention to the Sick & wounded of the Southern Army” and as a doctor who “enjoys a Considerable Share of the Practice” in Baltimore; Smith also mentioned John Coulter (see Coulter to GW, 23 Dec. 1790) and John Ross as satisfactory candidates (Smith to GW, 2 Jan. 1791, DLC:GW). Gilder also was recommended by John Eager Howard, who noted that during the war “he always rendered his services, which were great, wherever they could be most useful, either with his Regiment or in the hospital. Since the Peace he has resided in this place, and by his attention & good conduct has increased his business & acquired the confidence of many worthy citizens” (Howard to GW, 3 Jan. 1791, DLC:GW). Gilder received no appointment from GW.

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