George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Aaron Dunham, 4 February 1791

From Aaron Dunham

Trenton [N.J.] 4th Feby 1791

The subscriber being informed, that, by the Excise Law an Inspector of the Revenue will be necessary for the State of New Jersey; he begs leave to offer himself for that appointment. For his Character and Pretensions he refers to the Testimonials herewith transmitted, and to the Senators and Representatives of this State in Congress.1

Aaron Dunham


Aaron Dunham (1759–1802) of Hunterdon County, N.J., served in the New Jersey legislature from 1791 to 1795 and as state auditor. GW nominated him to be supervisor of the revenue for New Jersey on 4 Mar. 1791 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 4 Mar. 1791). He served from 1791 until 1801, although during the later stages of his tenure, according to Oliver Wolcott, he “contracted habits of Intemperance and the business of his office, was for a time too remissly conducted. I once thought of asking him to resign” which “induced him to correct his conduct.” A staunch Federalist, Dunham was accused of drunkenness and of being delinquent in his accounts by Republican critics and was removed from office by Jefferson in 1801 (Oliver Wolcott, Jr., to Alexander Hamilton, 10 Oct. 1801, Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 25:423–27; Joseph Bloomfield to Aaron Burr, 8 April 1801, Kline, Burr Papers, description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed. Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1983. description ends 1:555–558; N.J. Archives, description begins Documents Relating to the Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey. 42 vols. Newark and Trenton, 1880–1949. description ends 1st ser., 39:141–43).

1The enclosures have not been identified. Dunham was recommended for the post by Philemon Dickinson, who wrote to GW on 5 Feb. 1791: “I have the honor of transmiting to you, the papers accompanying this address—Together, with the inclosed letter from Govr Paterson to myself, of the 2d Instant. Uninfluenced, by any other considerations than a wish, to serve a Gentleman of real Merits, & at the same time, to promote the true Interest of the Union, I beg leave to observe, that if Mr Dunham, should be honor’d with the Appointment he solicits, I do not entertain a doubt, he will discharge the duties annexed to it, with the highest Reputation to himself, & the most perfect satisfaction to the State of New Jersey” (DLC:GW). Dickinson apparently enclosed Dunham’s application with his letter. None of the other enclosures to Dickinson’s letter have been identified.

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