George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Stephens Smith, 11 January 1794

From William Stephens Smith

Philadelphia Jany 11th 1794.

To the President of the United States–

When I had the honor of addressing a Letter to The President, last, it was dictated by the necessity I was then under of retiring from public employment—in which I took the liberty of observing, that I should not discover a disposition to return to it, under the then administration.

without entering into a detail of the Circumstances which produced that decission, on my part, I shall observe, that the late change in administration, removes all my personal objections to public stations.1

Considering the present unpleasing situation of my Country relative to European Powers, and the position of some of its internal affairs, and that for myself I have during my attention to private business, acquired a sufficiency to justify me, in offering my service, without injury to my family.2 I have the pleasure to inform The President, that I am ready to return to public employment, should it be supposed that I am capable of rendering service, either in the present, or expected situation of affairs. In making this communication, I gratify my own feelings on public Subjects, and flatter myself it will be pleasing to The President to learn, that I have no personal accommodation in view on this subject.

It may not be improper to remark, that tho’ I am untainted with party Zeal, I am firmly attached to the Constitution and Government of my Country, that it is my lott to stand alone, free from personal commitment, that, in general I am rather attached to measures than under the influence of Individuals—and that I shall always study to carry with me a proper Zeal for my Country’s welfare, directed by that integrity and aided by that small weight of personal Character, which supported by the flattering opinions of my friends, have bouyed me thus far thro’ Life.

If with such dispositions and thus situated, I should be considered as capable of rendering service, I shall always consider myself complemented by The Presidents notice.3 I have the honor to be The Presidents most Oblidged & very Humble Servant

W. S. Smith


1In resigning from his position as the supervisor of the revenue for the District of New York, Smith offered no specific reasons. Instead, he wrote: “I am induced to take this step from some existing causes, which it would be unpleasant for me to detail” and that he would now “turn my attention to such private pursuits as may guard my own feelings from further unpleasant exercise” (Smith to GW, 7 Feb. 1792, in GW to Smith, 10 Feb. 1792, n.1). The “late change” probably refers to the resignation of Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state (Jefferson to GW, 31 Dec. 1793 [second letter]).

2In 1786 Smith had married Abigail Amelia Adams, the daughter of Vice President John Adams and his wife, Abigail. The Smiths had two children at this time: William Steuben (1787–1850) and John Adams (1788–1854).

3GW did not appoint Smith to any federal position.

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