George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Ballard, 4 September 1791

From Robert Ballard

Baltimore Septemr 4th 1791


I must once more take the liberty of trespassing on your time with a few lines, which respects the compensation to be allowed me for my services as Inspector of the Revenue.1 The Supervisor in his Circular Letter to me, says that, “as it was supposed that the Office would add but little trouble to the Office of Surveyor, no particular compensation is allotted.” I cannot find any part of the Law which warrants such an opinion—and I am sure that in exercising the duty, I find the entire service falls on me. Mr Gale performs not any duty other than that of furnishing me with blank Cerficates, and semiquarterly a Copy of my proceedings. I am, sir, to acknowledge the very great obligation I owe you for your goodness in bestowing this second kind favor on me; and permit me to assure your Excellency, that I shall observe the most watchful attention in the exercise of my duty—but sir, if Mr Gales Opinion prevails, that is to say, I do all the duty, and he receive all the pay, then I am more than ruined. My fees arising from my Surveyors Office is far short of maintenance, and nothing but the kind indulgence of my Creditors prevents me from Suits. The duty of an Inspector of the Revenue, is very arduous, and the office important & respectable—at present I keep only one Clerk who does nothing but write in the Office; to him I give £100 per Year. In the Spring when the Crops of Spirit comes in, I must have an additional Clerk. It is a melancholy reflection where my whole time and service is yielded to the Public to know that the emoluments allowed, falls considerably short of Support: especially as I am growing old & have a large family to maintain and educate—and that is all I now look up to.

I have, may it please your Excellency, been thus particular, well knowing that when any case comes fairly before you that the strictest justice will be done, I must furthermore add that the Ex⟨mutilated⟩ business falls considerably heavy on my other duty, without any reward for it. The Gauger and Weigher are paid for their share of that duty, and nothing is allowed to the Surveyor.2 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s most Obedt humble Servt

Robert Ballard

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1On 3 April Robert Ballard, surveyor for the port of Baltimore, solicited from GW the post of excise inspector for the port. He apparently already assumed his duties under Maryland district supervisor George Gale, although his appointment, together with that of the other inspectors, was not confirmed until mid-March 1792 (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 111).

2Tobias Lear informed Ballard on 7 Sept. that he first should have brought the matter to the attention of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton: “As it is impossible for the President to attend to the minutiae of business which may be communicated by Individuals, he wishes always to receive such information as may be proper to come before him, relating to the several Departments, thro’ the heads of the Departments to which the business properly belongs. Upon this view of the matter the President is persuaded, Sir, that you will not consider his declining to reply to the subject of your letter, at this time, as a singular case; for he observes the same conduct on all occasions of this nature” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Lear forwarded to Hamilton Ballard’s letter along with a similar one Boston collector Benjamin Lincoln wrote Lear (Lear to Hamilton, 7 Sept. 1791, DLC:GW; see also GW to Lincoln, 14 Aug., n.3, and Hamilton to Ballard, 17 Oct. [letter-not-found entry], in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 9:401).

Index Entries