George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Dick, 5 April 1792

From Robert Dick

Bladensburgh [Md.] 5th April 1792


Your known goodness will, I hope, excuse the trouble of this letter, which I presume to write You in order to introduce to Your notice the bearer of it Mr James Oswald; who is a Son of George Oswald Esqre of Scotstown near Glasgow, and a partner in the business which I have conducted in Virginia and Maryland for many years. This Young Gentleman is Grand Nephew to Richard Oswald Esqre, the British Plenipotentiary in making the Peace of 1783. He has lately entered into the Navy, and having some time to spare, and a strong desire to see America, he has, with his Father’s approbation, embraced the opportunity of coming in one of our Ships, in order to gratify it.1

The notice which you may be pleased to take of him will be a particular obligation confered on, sir Your Most Obedient & humble Servant

Robt Dick


Robert Dick, who had emigrated from East Lothian, Scotland, to the United States in the fall of 1788 in the hope of establishing himself as an agriculturalist, arrived in Bladensburg, Md., by mid-March 1789 (see Dick to GW, 15 Nov., 8 Dec. 1788, 14 Mar. 1789). He is listed in the U.S. census of 1790 as heading a household consisting of 4 white males, 5 white females, and 21 slaves in Prince George’s County, Md. (Heads of Families [Maryland] description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Maryland. 1907. Reprint. Baltimore, 1965. description ends , 93).

1George Oswald (c.1735–1819) was head of the tobacco firm of Oswald, Dennistoun, & Company of Glasgow and a partner in the Ship Bank. His uncle, Richard Oswald (1705–1784), was Lord Shelburne’s agent in the negotiations with Benjamin Franklin at Paris in 1782 and was the chief British negotiator of the peace treaty ending the Revolutionary War.

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