George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Dodge, 10 August 1793

From Samuel Dodge

Balt[im]ore Augt 10th 1793


Enclosed are letters concerning my services in the late American Army and also relative to my character and deportment as a private citizen, which I beg leave to submit to your Excellency’s perusal and consideration—My pretensions to the office of surveyor (vacant by the death of Wm Ballard) which I presume to solicit, are founded as well uppon the part I acted during the late revolution, as uppon the precariousness of my present appointment, being only Inspector of the Revenue, a provision by no means comfortable for one who has consumed the prime of life and a small patrimony in the service of his Country, and who was obliged, when our Army was disbanded, to spend the principal part of his pay to restore in some degree, a Constitution much injured by the length and hardships of his service.1

Permit me to add that the letters from the Barron Seuben Messrs Courtlandt Fish and Platt were addressed to the Governor of this State at a time when it was in contemplation to raise a Militia.2 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excelly’s most Obedient, and Most Hble Servt

Saml Dodge


Samuel Dodge (1758–1820) enlisted in 1777 as a sergeant in the 4th New York Regiment. He received an ensign’s appointment on 1 June 1779, transferred to Col. Philip Van Cortlandt’s 2d New York Regiment in 1781, and left the army in 1783. He was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. He served as a customs inspector at the port of New York City after the war but was dismissed from this position in 1791 (GW to Edmund Randolph, 1 Mar. 1791, n.1).

1Dodge sent this letter and its enclosures to Tobias Lear with a brief cover letter written from Baltimore on 10 Aug., in which he asked Lear to deliver “as soon as possible the enclosed package” to GW (DLC:GW). The three extant letters of recommendation are from superior officers with whom Dodge served in the 2d New York Regiment and were written in 1791. They were addressed to former Maryland governor John Eager Howard, who enclosed them with a brief cover letter to GW of 10 Aug., which he composed at Belvedere, his estate near Baltimore. Howard wrote that “as I am but little acquainted with Mr Dodge I take the liberty of referring your Excellency, for his character, to the enclosed letters” (DLC:GW). In his letter of 10 Jan. 1791, written at New York, Nicholas Fish wrote that as Dodge sought an appointment as “Inspector of the Militia of the State of Maryland … I conceive it a just tribute to the Services of an old Soldier, to communicate such facts as may make known his character, and detail such services as may in any degree tend to a reward.” He observed that Dodge’s military conduct during the war “did him honor, he was active and attentive to duty” (DLC:GW). Philip Van Cortlandt (1749–1831) also wrote from New York on 10 Jan. 1791: “The knowledge and respect I have for his Services are Sufficient inducements” for writing this recommendation. He explained that Dodge served as “a Subaltran in the regiment I had the honor to Command to the End of the war and his Conduct in that Capacity was such as Merritted not only my attention but did him honor in the Estimation of his Brother Officers he was Active and Attentive to duty and I make not the least doubt but he will Acquit himself with reputation should he Succeed to the Appointment” (DLC: GW). Richard Platt (1755–1830) wrote from New York on 8 Jan. 1791 that Dodge was “a young Gentleman of Merit … and ’tis with great Pleasure that I tell you he was often under my observation in his Military Capacity, and always exhibits Enterprize, Diligence, Activity and Spirit becoming his Station” (DLC:GW). Maryland congressman Samuel Smith wrote GW from Baltimore on 9 Aug. 1793 to recommend Dodge as one who “Conducted himself with propriety” and who “has lately acted as one of the Inspectors of the port in which office he has Given full Satisfaction” (DLC:GW). On the intense competition for an appointment as the surveyor of customs for the port of Baltimore following the death of Robert Ballard, see David Plunket to GW, 7 Aug. 1793, n.1.

2The letter of recommendation from Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben has not been identified. Dodge did not receive the desired position. For GW’s appointment of Daniel Delozier instead, see GW to John Eager Howard, 25 Aug., and to U.S. Senate, 27 Dec. 1793.

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