George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Graff, 21 October 1793

From John Graff

[Pennsylvania] October 21. 1793


Your Excellency will no doubt before the receipt of this be informed of the death of the late naval Officer Fred. Phile—Having had the honor to represent the Collector of the District of Pennsylvania (whose name is in the list inclosed) since the Year 1784 untill this date under the regulations of sd state & since under our happy Constitution I trust with Integrity am emboldened to sollicit a nomination for the Office above named1—Almighty God having visited the City of Philada with a great Calamity prevents me at this time to offer recommendations such as I hope would be satisfactory, the Citizen in the mercantile line being dispersed in this & neighboring States, shall take the liberty of forwarding further recommendations as soon as may be2—With great Respect & Esteem am Your Excellencys Most Obt huml. Servt

John Graff


John Graff (born c.1760), who served in the Philadelphia militia during the Revolutionary War, continued to work as a weigher and deputy collector of customs until 1811 or 1812.

1Graff’s application file contains three undated recommendations (two of which are labeled “No. 3” and “No. 5”) reading (with slight variations of style): “The Subscribers recommend John Graff Dy Collr of the Distr[i]ct of Pennsylvania as capable & worthy of Trust to fill the office of Naval Officer, vacant by the Death of Fred. Phile late Naval Offr” (DLC:GW). Collector of Customs Sharp Delany appears as a signatory on the unnumbered recommendation.

Delany also wrote a separate letter to GW, dated 17 Nov.: “Mr John Graff being advised by his Friends to solicit for the Naval Office at his Request I take the Liberty of Informing Your Excellency, that he has acted as my Deputy for a Number of Years, and has conducted himself with Honesty and Ability” (DLC:GW).

2Apparently, two recommendations were submitted with this letter, and Graff submitted additional recommendations with his letter to GW of 14 November. The three recommendations remaining in Graff’s application file contain the names of ninety-eight individuals and firms. He did not, however, receive the appointment.

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