George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Fitzgerald, 5 April 1793

From John Fitzgerald

Alexandria [Va.] Aprill 5th 1793


By this time you will probably have received from Mr Charles Lee a letter resigning the Collectorship of this Port[.] This Gentleman has for a length of time past informed me of his intentions & always wished that I should make application to succeed him[.] in this however I was undetermin’d untill Governor Lee on his way from the Northward insisted on it in such positive terms that I promised Compliance.1

If I have any claim on the Public, You, Sir are acquainted with it, I shall therefore be silent on that head, & shall only say that there is perhaps no person in the U. States has suffer’d more than I have, in proportion to my fortune, by the Introduction of the Fœderal Government A Distillery under the Government of Virginia worth at least one Thousand Guineas per Ann: is now not worth £300 a Year—this I foresaw & was warned of, yet still the measure had my warmest & most active support.2

In making this application I disclaim any reliance on that friendship & Confidence with which I have been honor’d by you, & assure you that I would not for any Emolument arising from the Office, wish you to make an appointment which from Integrity did not secure the public Interest & from the Idea of its propriety, did not conciliate the public mind.

Mr Lee has spoken handsomely & I believe very deservedly of his Deputy Mr Gray—he has agreed to fill the same place with me, should I be favor’d with the appointment, so that I shall be at no Loss in entering on the business.3

Be Assur’d Sir that let your determination on this subject be what it may, it can never weaken the Personal attachment which I have always cherished for you.4 With the highest Sentiments of Respect I have the honor to be Sir your mo. Obedt Hble Servant

John Fitzgerald.


1Charles Lee offered his resignation in a letter to GW of 4 April. Virginia governor Henry Lee stopped in Alexandria on his return from a visit to Philadelphia (Henry Lee to James Wood, 3 Mar., Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 6:301).

2On 22 April 1794 John Fitzgerald (d.1799) leased his distillery on Union and Wolfe Streets in Alexandria to Abraham Morehouse (Munson, Alexandria Hustings Court Deeds, 1783–1797, description begins James D. Munson, comp. Alexandria, Virginia: Alexandria Hustings Court Deeds, 1783–1797. Bowie, Md., 1990. description ends 115). Fitzgerald, who had been an aide-de-camp to GW during the Revolutionary War and later one of the initial directors of the Potowmack Company, had served on Alexandria’s committee to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. During the congressional debates over the future location of the federal capital, Fitzgerald had advocated a Potomac River site for the District of Columbia, which once established included Alexandria until the town’s restoration to Virginia in 1846.

3For Charles Lee’s recommendation of Vincent Gray, see his letter to GW of 4 April. Gray applied for the Alexandria collectorship in his letter to GW of 5 April.

4GW appointed Fitzgerald to the collector’s position (GW to Fitzgerald, 12 April, to U.S. Senate, 27 Dec. 1793).

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