George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Gale, 21 September 1792

To George Gale


Dear Sir,Mount Vernon Sep. 21st 1792

Your letter of the 4th Instt came duly to hand, but previous to the receipt of it I had been under the necessity of giving the Secy of the Treasury some direction for the Commd of the Revenue Cutter of Maryland, I am not less obliged however by the trouble you have been at to obtain the information you gave me on this point.1

I would thank you for relating, in as precise terms as you can recollect, what you told me (as I passed through Baltimore) Colo. Mercer had said of my Sentiments respecting his Speeches opinions & Conduct in Congress—and the manner in which he had come at or had understood them to be mine.2 With much esteem I am—Dr Sir Yr Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (photocopy), NjP: Armstrong Collection; LB, DLC:GW.

1Gale’s letter of 4 Sept., with its mixed recommendation of David Porter for the master commander of the Maryland revenue cutter Active, arrived after GW had decided to appoint Porter (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). For GW’s earlier request for Gale’s opinion on Porter, see GW to Hamilton, 5 Aug. 1792. The appointment was effective 5 Aug. 1792 (see Tobias Lear to Jefferson, 26 Oct. 1792).

2GW apparently saw Gale the previous July when he stopped in Baltimore during his return to Mount Vernon from Philadelphia (see Bartholomew Dandridge to Gabriel P. Van Horne, 14 July 1792, in Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson, 11 July 1792, n.2). For background on GW’s disagreement with John Francis Mercer over Mercer’s use of GW’s name in his 1792 election campaign for Congress, see GW’s Memorandum of a Statement by James Craik, 7 Sept., Mercer to GW, 15 Sept., and GW to Mercer, 26 Sept. 1792. Gale reported his recollections to GW in a letter of 23 Sept. from Baltimore: “As I have not an Opportunity of immediately recurring to the Gentleman from whom I had the confidential communication which I imparted to you (on your Way through Baltimore) I cannot at this Interval of Time State it as precisely as I could Wish. As well as I can now recollect I told you in general Terms I had been informed that Colo. Mercer had told two or three influential Characters in his district that his Political Opinions and Conduct during the last Session were approved by you; that he had Assurances of it from some Character high in your family or Confidence and the impression of the Gentleman from whom I had it seemed to be that he meant the Secretary of State” (DLC:GW).

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