George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Brooks, 13 March 1793

From Samuel Brooks

Philada March 13th 1793


Embolden’d by the fame of Your excelency’s complacent disposition, I have presum’d (tho a poor Widow’s son) to adress You with the utmost Respect, Yet without restraint.1

The business upon which I have taken this liberty is, to beg that You may permit me to present a specimen of my abilities in Die sinking, which if found to contain suficient merit, and that my character with other requisites are Judg’d suitable to the office of engraver in the Mint; that You would be pleas’d to give my Aplication for it, a favorabl concideration.2 I have the honor to be with all dutifull respect Your most Obedient Humble Servant

Saml Brooks.3


1The term “widow’s son” is a reference to Hiram of Tyre, who according to 1 Kings 7:13–15 was the “son of a widow” who helped construct King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. In Masonic lore Hiram’s architectural and metallurgical skills proved that he belonged to the order of Freemasons, and masons of varying rites claimed descent from him (Mackey, Lexicon of Freemasonry description begins Albert G. Mackey. A Lexicon of Freemasonry: Containing a Definition of All Its Communicable Terms, Notices of Its History, Traditions, and Antiquities, and an Account of All the Rites and Mysteries of the Ancient World. 5th ed. Philadelphia, 1866. description ends , 198–200, 519). Samuel Brooks [Brookes] was a goldsmith and seal cutter in Philadelphia. By the early 1800s he was using his skills to help the government of Virginia detect counterfeit currency (see Resolution in Council, 16 June 1804, DLC: Jefferson Papers).

2Brooks did not receive a job at the mint. In December 1793 GW appointed Robert Scot to be the first engraver of the mint (GW to U.S. Senate, 27 Dec. 1793).

3Brooks followed his signature with four marks written in the “pigpen cipher,” commonly used by Freemasons in the eighteenth century. The symbols, each separated by a comma and ending in a period, translate into the letters “R, A, E, M.” The meaning of these letters has not been identified.

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