George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Stephens Smith, 10 February 1792

To William Stephens Smith

Philadelphia february 10th 1792


I was sorry to learn from your letter of the 7th instant, that you propose to resign the Office which you hold under the United States.1

Presuming that this determination is the result of a due reflection upon the subject, and a conviction that the measure is for your best interest, I acquiesce in it, altho’ I regret the loss of your services to the public. And, while I express my approbation of your conduct in the Offices which you have held under the United States, so far as it has come to my knowledge—permit me to add my best wishes for your future happiness & prosperity.

Your proposal of continuing to discharge the duties of your office until the first of March, or until another person shall be appointed thereto, will allow time for the selection of a proper character, which, as soon as determined on, will be duly notified to you by the secretary of the Treasury. With sincere regard & esteem I am, Sir, Yr most ob. St

Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1William Stephens Smith wrote GW from Philadelphia on 7 Feb. 1792: “It is not with enviable feelings at the expiration of Seventeen years faithful service, that I am obliged in justice to myself to present to The President a resignation of the office which I have the honor of holding under the Government. I am induced to take this step from some existing causes, which would be unpleasant for me to detail and perhaps superfluous for The President to be informed of, in addition to which, I conceive a duty I owe myself and a numerous family to turn my attention to such private pursuits as may guard my own feelings from further unpleasant exercise, and them from want. With these objects in view I propose to vacate the office of Supervisor of The Revenue for the New York District on the first of March, or sooner if The President should think proper to appoint another Gentlemen before that time to fill the station. It would not however be doing justice to my feelings, were I thus to retire from all posts of honour, trust or profit, under the Government without acknowledging myself sensible of the various marks of confidence particularly in the course of the War, with which I have been honoured, and to assure The President that no Gentleman will notice with greater satisfaction the establishment of his well earned reputation, nor see with greater exultation the honour, dignity and interest of his Country promoted under his administration than The Presidents most Obedient Humble Servt” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Abigail Adams wrote her sister Mary Cranch on 5 Feb. 1792 that Smith and his wife Abigail, daughter of John and Abigail Adams, had been visiting Philadelphia for five weeks and that he “has made a very advantageous contract with some Gentlemen which will carry him abroad and keep him two years” (Mitchell, New Letters of Abigail Adams, description begins Stewart Mitchell, ed. New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788–1801. Boston, 1947. description ends 77–78).

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