George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, 8 May 1791

To Alexander Hamilton

Charleston [S.C.] May 8th 1791.


Mr Cogdell, the Collector of Georgetown appearing on enquiry a proper Person to be appointed Inspector of Excise for that Survey—You will signify his appointment to that Office & transmit to him his instructions.1

Capt. Robert Cochran seems in all respects best qualified to command the revenue Cutter on this station, and I have in consequence appointed him to that Office. He is desired to apply to you for his commission and instructions which you will transmit & communicate to him.2 I am, Sir Your most Obt servt

G: Washington


1On 2 Aug. 1791 John Cogdell, collector for the port of Georgetown, S.C., wrote to GW: “Honour’d Sir Sometime past I gave notice of my intention of resigng the Collectors Office, Since that I have had a Commission hand’d me for the Inspectors Office, the business I do not wish to enter On as it clashes with my Own Domestic concerns, not this Only but my time of life being upwards of Sixty, I may drop of and the Affairs may fall into Such hands that may not understand the Settleing the business—I have also Acquaid the Secretary & Comptroler of the Treasury, my Intentions—I therefore take the Liberty of Incloseing you my Commissions, you have been pleased to Honour me with—I am ready to Settle every farther when Call’d On, please direct my bond to be returnd me that I may Satisfy my Sureties (give me leave to recommend Mr Jacob William Harvey to your Notice in those Offices as he is a man well Acquainted with business, has been regularly brought up to it &c.[)]” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Cogdell, however, withdrew his recommendation of Harvey, on 16 Aug., “as I am told he is too fond of Liquor” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). For earlier references to Cogdell’s appointment to the excise inspectorship of South Carolina Survey No. 2, see GW to Alexander Hamilton, 15 Mar. 1791 (second letter).

2Early in GW’s presidency Robert Cochran (1735–1824), a Boston native, requested the president’s assistance in retaining his post as harbor master of Charleston, S.C., referring to his Revolutionary War services, which included “the expedition to Augustine for Gun powder—which I effected and which your Excellency, may recollect was Sent from This State to Cambridge—that to the northward to recruit Seamen for the defence of this State And the voyage I undertook to France prior to any Alliance with that Kingdom for military Stores, which terminated happily for the State and Army” (undated, DLC:GW). On 22 June 1791 Cochran wrote to GW from Charleston: “The appointment you was pleased to confer on me while in Charleston gave me room to have Some conversation with Mr [George Abbott] Hall the Collector on the busyness and from him I obtain’d the information, that it was intended to have the cutter built in Virginia as it was thought the carpenters here could not do it on the Same terms that they could there—upon this I made it my busyness to make Some enquiry among them and found that Mr [Paul] Pritchard would agree to take the Eleven hundred dollars allowed by Congress and trust to Subscriptions to make up the Sum Mr [Thomas] Penrose got for building the Philadelphia Cutter—taking into consideration the Superior advantages which would accrue from the materials being of live oak & Cedar And the best yellow pine plank—Stuff calculated to Stand the heat of the climate—also the only and first opportunity of finding employ for the Seamen of this place, I apprehend are inducements Sufficiently Strong to have her constructed here particularly as I imagine She will be obliged to be copper’d—we having no fresh water ports or inlets to run into to Stop the ruinous effects of the worms in the Summer months an advantage all the other States have. I will likewise beg leave to inform you that Captain Campbell recommended by the Merchants here, has accepted of the first Mate’s berth—the Vacances of the other Officers allowed I shall endeavor to fill up with such persons as are well acquainted with every part of the coast—waiting for the arrival of the respective commissions and my particular instructions” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Tobias Lear transmitted Cochran’s letter to Alexander Hamilton with the president’s request that he give it “such consideration as it may merit” (Lear to Hamilton, 7 July 1791, DLC:GW).

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