George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Patton, 18 January 1791

From John Patton

Philada 18th Jan: 1791


Should the Bill now before the Legislature for raising a Revenue from Distilled Liquors be approved by your Excellency & passed into a Law, I beg leave to offer myself a Candidate for the Office of this District.

I hope you will excuse my laying before your Excellency the Motives which induce me to make the present Application—I have a large Family of Children & am considerably advanced in years, added to which it would be a gratification I should ever most sensibly feel to be appointed to an office by you sir in the federal Government—Permit me also to observe, that it may be said the office I hold under the State is advantageous. on the contrary I beg leave to assure your Excellency that from the late alterations made by Law I find it scarcely adequate to a bare support of my Family and am determined to decline the Office.

Should I be so happy as to meet your approbation in my present application, I can truly say the Duties of the Office shall be faithfully executed and from my general knowledge of the Inhabitants from long experience as Vendue Master I may without presumption assume a knowledge which few have experienced.

The Gentleman also who is now Collector of Excise under the State is my Relation, and from him I should also receive every necessary information.

Had he came before your Excellency for the office you should not be troubled with my application. Whatever may be your determination, permit me sir to say it cannot add to, or diminish that high respect and esteem which I ever have had, and shall always have for your Excellency. I have the Honor to be your Excellencys most Hble Serv.

Jno. Patton


John Patton (1745–1804) was born in Ireland and emigrated to Philadelphia in 1761, where he established himself as a merchant. He served as a major with Pennsylvania troops in 1776. He was commissioned colonel on 11 Jan. 1777 and given command of one of the additional Continental regiments, thereafter referred to as Patton’s Regiment. He resigned his commission on 3 Feb. 1778. After the war he resumed business in Philadelphia, where he also served as a public auctioneer; in 1791 he moved to Centre County, Pa., where he engaged in iron manufacturing. Patton wrote to GW again on 21 Feb. 1791 renewing his application and enclosing a testimonial regarding his “conduct and character” from Pennsylvania governor Thomas Mifflin (DLC:GW). Mifflin characterized Patton as a “zealous” patriot and an “active and useful Officer” in the military who had “given great satisfaction to your Fellow Citizens” in public office (Mifflin to Patton, 15 Feb. 1791, DLC:GW). Patton was also recommended for the post by Richard Peters, speaker of the Pennsylvania senate (Peters to GW, 21 Feb. 1791, DLC:GW), and by Samuel Miles, in whose regiment Patton served as major in 1776 (Miles to GW, 22 Feb. 1791, DLC:GW). Patton received no appointment from GW.

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