George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hazelwood, 21 June 1792

From John Hazelwood

Phila. June 21st 1792

Sir in the Year 1776 By order of your Excellency I fitted four fire ships In the City of New York, for which I never had Any Compensation.1 as I was sent by your self to Poughkepsie to fitt a Boom & Chain to be put a Cross the North River &c., it being too late when I returnd to Apply as our Army were retreating from Long Island & there being so much to Attend to That I thought it improper.

I now wish to have it settled as Congress have takein Off their limitation Acts but as it will be necessary to have some proof I hope your Excellency will give me a line certifying that I fitted them2 which favour shall ever be Acknowledged by your most Obt & Very Humbl. Sevt

John Hazelwood

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1There was apparently little validity to this claim. Hazelwood, who had been appointed to command a squadron of fire rafts by the Pennsylvania council of safety in late December 1775, was paid a salary and reimbursed for fitting out and servicing these vessels by that body on 12 April, 10, 21 June, 28 Aug., 2, 23 Sept., and 7 Oct. 1776 (see Naval Documents, description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends 3:286, 4:789, 5:456, 669, 6:338, 658, 967, 1154). At the request of the N.Y. convention but apparently with the knowledge and approval of both GW and the Pa. council of safety, Hazelwood fitted out another vessel and sailed to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in the summer of 1776. Although the N.Y. convention told Hazelwood to apply to GW if he needed money or assistance, it later voted to pay him $300 for his trouble and expense (ibid., 5:1244, 6:307). On 10 Oct. 1776 the Continental Congress resolved that Hazelwood, along with several others, be paid “their whole account of their charge for preparing six sail of fire ships at New York, and their expences going to, in, and coming from, New York to Philadelphia” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 6:865). When Hazelwood applied to GW on 22 Mar. 1790 for a federal appointment, he did not mention that he had not been properly reimbursed for his services, only that “he was sent by the [Pennsylvania] Council of Safty to New-York to Form some fire Rafts & Ships which he performed.”

2Hazelwood is referring to “An Act providing for the settlement of the claims of persons under particular circumstances, barred by the limitations heretofore established” of 27 Mar. 1792, which says “that every such officer, soldier, artificer, sailor, and marine, having claims for services rendered to the United States in the Military or Naval Departments, who shall exhibit the same for liquidation at the Treasury of the United States, at any time during the said term of two years, shall be entitled to an adjustment and allowance thereof on the same principles, as if the same had been exhibited within the term prescribed by the aforesaid resolutions of Congress” (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 2d Cong., 1st sess., 1348–49). No letter from GW to Hazelwood certifying the latter’s claims has been found.

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