George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Gale, 4 September 1792

From George Gale

Baltimore September 4th 1792


I am extremely sorry that I have not been sooner able to obey your Instructions in regard to enquiring of Mr Porters fitness for the command of the cutter.1 As he is by Birth a New England Man I first sought among the Gentlemen from that Country for his character and found them unfavourab⟨l⟩y impressed; two circumstances were alledged to his prejudice such as his having been in a manner expatriated for keeping a Public house of Ill fame in Boston and again his having lost a ship in such a way as to induce suspicions of his integrity.

On more minute enquiry the better opin[ion] seems to be that the latter charge is ground less; and Capt. Porters general deportment as a good citizen since his residence in Balta. eight or nine years is a favourable evidence of his reform and does in a degree atone for his former manner of living.

It is objected to him as an Officer that whilst in the pay of the Government he engaged in the service of a merchant of this Town for whom he made a Voyage without resigning his commission.

Having heard these reports I thought it my Duty to communicate them at the same time I must observe that it appears to me the appointment of Capt. Porter would be agreeable to many of the respectable merchants of Balta.; they think him sober & industrious though an unfortunate man and pity a numerous family of small children whose Subsistence perhaps depends on his provision from the Government.2 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect and permit me to add sincerest esteem Sir your most Obedt Hbe servt

Geo. Gale

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1For GW’s request that Gale, the current supervisor of revenue for the Maryland district, send him information about David Porter, see GW to Hamilton, 5 Aug. 1792.

2Gale’s mixed letter of recommendation arrived after GW had decided to appoint Porter as the master commandant of the Maryland cutter Active (see Hamilton to Otho H. Williams, 13 Aug. 1792, 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 12:199). The appointment was effective 5 Aug. 1792 (see Tobias Lear to Jefferson, 26 Oct. 1792).

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