George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Vans Murray, 12 December 1792

From William Vans Murray

81 South 3d [Philadelphia] 12 Decr 1792.


As an Inspector of the Eastern Shore Survey of Maryland is, I am informed, speedily to take place1 I beg leave as the only representative of that Shore now in Congress to place the names of Colonel William Richardson of Caroline county2 & of Colonel John Eccleston of Dorchester county,3 before you—Either of these gentlemen whether considered in point of weight of character⟨,⟩ merit of past services, centrality of situation or official qualifications would probably be found superior to most who could be brought to view. They are both much respected—men of firmness & very decided character—& who could in any situation to which their the official duties might be Placed act with a very deciding influence.4 I have the honour to be Sir with great deference & respect Yr mo. obt sert

W. V. Murray.


William Vans Murray (1760–1803), an attorney and a loyal Federalist from Cambridge, in the Eastern Shore district of Maryland, served in the House of Representatives from 1791 to 1797, when GW appointed him U.S. minister to the Netherlands. Murray held that post until 1801. He also was a member of the diplomatic mission that negotiated the Convention of Mortfontaine of 3 Oct. 1800, which ended the Quasi-War with France.

1GW issued a proclamation on 4 Aug. 1792 announcing modifications to the “arrangement of Offices and distribution of compensations” in the federal revenue service. One change was the increase of the surveys in Maryland from two to three, thus creating a new inspector of revenue position for a new third survey, which included all the counties on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

2William Richardson (1735–1825), a prominent merchant in Caroline County, Md., served in the lower house of the Maryland assembly until he accepted a colonel’s commission in the 4th Maryland Brigade of the flying camp in 1776. He continued in active military service until October 1779, after which he held a number of state and local offices, including associate justice of the state’s fourth district court, 1791–93. He had been a member of the state’s ratifying convention in 1788.

3John Eccleston of Dorchester County, Md., was a veteran of the Revolutionary War who had been commissioned a second lieutenant in Barrett’s Independent Maryland Company in 1776 and subsequently served in the Continental army until the end of the war, rising to the rank of major. Tench Coxe described Eccleston in a letter to Alexander Hamilton of 14 Dec. 1792 as “a man of pure and extensive public Esteem, [who] lives in the distilling Country, and the centre of the Survey, [and who] has been recently sherriff of the County with great satisfaction to the bar, which evinces his punctuality and office talents. He has served in popular offices, but has had nothing lucrative in the executive line” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 13:322).

4Former Maryland governor John Eager Howard and the current governor, Thomas Sim Lee, wrote letters of recommendation to GW for Talbot County planter William Perry, on 19 and 20 Dec., respectively. Howard described Perry as “a Gentleman well qualified to discharge the duties of Supervisor” (DLC:GW), while Lee wrote that Perry “is very much respected, both in his public & private Character” (DLC:GW). William Perry (1746–1799) represented the Eastern Shore district in the Maryland senate from 1781 until his death. James McHenry also had recommended Perry in a letter to Alexander Hamilton of 18 Nov. (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 13:157).

GW already had decided to nominate William Richardson before Howard and Lee composed their letters. Hamilton wrote GW a brief note on 18 Dec. 1792, informing him that the title of the new appointment was “Inspector of the Revenue for Survey No. 3. of the District of Maryland” (DLC:GW), and GW sent Richardson’s nomination to the U.S. Senate later on that date (LS, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–93, Senate Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Executive Nominations; LB, DLC:GW). Following the Senate’s approval on 19 Dec., Tobias Lear notified Thomas Jefferson of Richardson’s appointment in a letter of that date (DLC:GW; see also Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 127).

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