George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 16 October 1791

From Tobias Lear

Philadelphia October 16th 1791.


Considering the little time you would have after your arrival in this place before the meeting of Congress, I thought it could not be amiss to prepare this letter to meet you at Baltimore, enclosing the information which you directed me to obtain upon the points recommended in yours Speeches at the opening of the three last Sessions of Congress.1

I went carefully through the three speeches, and noted down, as you will perceive, on one margin of the page, every matter which you had recommended to the Attention of Congress—and opposite to each point I have noted what has been done upon it. In those matters where laws had passed in conformity to the recommendation, I have mentioned them in that manner. In those cases where the subject had been taken up, and not finished, I did not find the Journals satisfactory, and therefore applied to Mr Beckley for information respecting what had been done about them, and from him I obtained the satisfactory information annexed to these cases. I thought it best to note down every matter which had been recommended, whether it had been acted upon & finished or not, in order that every thing might be brought into one view—and every chance of omission avoided. I flatter myself it will be found accurate, and I shall be much pleased if it proves such as you wished.

I have the honor likewise to enclose a translation of the Memorial enclosed in the letter of Messrs Tirol Roux & Co.2 I received it from the Secretary of the Treasury this morning only, which is the cause of its not having been transmitted before. The original of the memorial I keep here lest any thing should prevent this letter’s meeting you. A Copy of the Notes from the Speeches &ca. I have likewise preserved.

A Memorandum of the Blankets which I have purchased is enclosed for your inspection.3 A Vessel sails about middle of the week for Alexandria, on board which they will be shipped.

The Mortality among the Judicial Officers of the United States has extended to New Hampshire. Mr Parker, the Marshal of that District, is dead, and Genl Sullivan the Judge, is in a situation that it is said he cannot long exist.4

Mr Gore, the Attorney of the Massachusetts district, is in this city with his Lady.5 In a conversation which I had with him yesterday respecting the Federal City, he observed, that he was well assured it was A thing much desired by the people of Massachusetts, that every facility should be given towards preparing that city for the reception of the Government of the United States, and that they were fully impressed with the necessity of carrying the law respecting it into full effect. If the Representatives from Massachusetts did not speak this language, he said they would not express the sentiments of their constituents in general.

Mr Langdon, the Senator, arrived in town last evening, and a large proportion of the Gentlemen from the Eastward are said to be on the way hither. A considerable number of persons from New York & Massachusetts are expected in town in the course of the week, to be present at the meeting of the Stockholders of the Bank of the United States. In the choice of directors it is thought there will be some altercation. And it is said disputes may arise respecting persons entitled to vote for directors &ca. upon the point, whether those only who were original subscribers, or persons authorized by proper power for that purpose from them, shall vote; or whether the mere holding the Scrip, as it is called, shall entitle a person to vote whether he obtained it by subscription, purchase or other ways. The Secretary of the Treasury has requested the opinion of the Attorney General on the point.6

The family are well. Mrs Lear & Majr Jackson unite with me in every respectful & affectionate sentiment for Yourself Mrs Washington & those with you, and sincerely wish you a safe & pleasant Journey to this City. I have the honor to be, with true respect, gratitude & attachment, Sir, Your most Obliged & Obedt Servt

Tobias Lear.


1The enclosure has not been found. For GW’s instructions concerning its creation, see GW to Lear, 7 October.

2For the translation of the memorial, see Triol, Roux, & Co. to GW, 15 June, n.1. In November GW had Lear transmit the memorial and its cover letter again to the secretary of the treasury for Alexander Hamilton to consider and report on them at his leisure (Lear to Hamilton, 15 Nov., DLC:GW).

3The enclosed memorandum has not been found.

4John Parker (1732–1791), who had sent an emended census return to GW during the summer of 1791, died on 4 Oct. (see Tobias Lear to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 11 July, DLC:GW). U.S. Senator John Langdon wrote Lear on 2 Nov. recommending that Col. Nathaniel Rogers of Newmarket, N.H., or Col. Aaron Hill of Portsmouth, N.H., be appointed to fill the vacancy (DLC:GW). Paine Wingate, the state’s other U.S. senator, wrote GW on 8 Nov., recommending William Simpson and Rogers, whom he previously had recommended for the position of federal loans commissioner for New Hampshire (DLC:GW; see also GW to Alexander Hamilton, 8 Nov. 1790, n.2). Wingate wrote New Hampshire president Dr. Josiah Bartlett (1729–1795) on 11 Nov.: “Since your letter [of 25 Oct.] came to hand I had an opportunity of conversing with the President on the same subject, when I informed him of the gentleman, whom you had recommended as a person well qualifyed for that office. He has likewise been recommended to the President by one other of the delegates at least. Who will be appointed, is at present very doubtful to me. I think the appointment cannot be a great object for any one to be anxious for; as the emoluments cannot be considerable & the place may probably exclude the holder of it from the Legislature, if not from other state appointments” (Mevers, Bartlett Papers, description begins Frank C. Mevers, ed. The Papers of Josiah Bartlett. Hanover, N.H., 1979. description ends 354–55). GW nominated Rogers as marshal on 11 Nov., and the Senate approved the appointment two days after receiving it on 14 Nov. (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 11 Nov., Lear to Thomas Jefferson, 17 Nov., DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; 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 1:89, 90). John Sullivan continued to serve as New Hampshire federal district court judge until his death in 1795.

5Christopher Gore (1758–1827), a Boston lawyer and state legislator who had voted for the Constitution as a member of the Massachusetts ratifying convention in 1788, was appointed as Massachusetts district attorney in September 1789 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 24 Sept. 1789). Fisher Ames introduced the wealthy Gore to Alexander Hamilton on 8 Sept. 1791, writing that although Gore held much stock in the Massachusetts Bank, “you will find him national,” and “as he will, probably, represent a great many proprietors, with whom his opinion and reputation will weigh a great deal you will find him able to inform of the views of the eastern stockholders” of the Bank of the United States (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 9:187–88). “His Lady” was Rebecca Payne Gore (c.1760–1835), whom Gore had married in November 1785.

6Hamilton requested the opinion of Edmund Randolph on 12 Oct. 1791. On 18 Oct. Randolph submitted to Hamilton his conclusions: no holder of purchased scrip could vote for the directors of the Bank of the United States merely by his right of purchase; commissioners of the bank could not superintend the election; and only the original subscribers, or their authentic and concurring proxies, could have the right to vote (ibid., 406–11). The stockholders met at the City Hall of Philadelphia on 21 Oct. and elected twenty-five directors: nine from Pennsylvania (Thomas Willing, who was chosen president on 25 Oct., Joseph Anthony, Joseph Ball, William Bingham, James Cole Fisher, Robert Smith, Archibald McCall, Charles Pettit, and John M. Nesbitt); seven from New York (James Watson, Philip Livingston, Rufus King, Nicholas Low, Herman LeRoy, John Lawrence, and John Watts); four from Massachusetts (Jonathan Mason, Jr., Joseph Barrell, George Cabot, and Fisher Ames); and one each from Connecticut (Jeremiah Wadsworth), Maryland (Charles Carroll of Carrollton), Virginia (Dr. James McClurg), North Carolina (Samuel Johnston), and South Carolina (William Loughton Smith). See Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 24 October.

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