George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Hendricks, 15 January 1794

From James Hendricks

Wilkes County Georgia 15th Jany 1794


By the death of my worthy friend that good man Majr Forsyth the office of Marshal for this State has become Vacant1 I have presum’d to offer myself to your Excellency for the Vacancy, I need not say any thing of my abilities to Exercise the duty incident thereto, shall only observe that being cast on this climate and not finding the discription of the country answer’d to my wishes, the compliance with my request will help to Smooth the declining years of a family always devoted to your Service—I need not attempt to give your Excellency the news of our Country as no doubt you have it Officially, I Shall only observe the disquietude I am under to see a parcell of Blockheads around us with Cockades in their Hats said to be in the Service of Mr Genet and ready to embroil us in a contest with the Spanierds our neighbours who appear to wish to live in Harmony & friendship with the United States,2 every indirect method seems to have been used by these adventurers and others of the Same Stamp to provoke the Creek Indians to Hostilities but I hope their artifices will prove fruitless, as I am decidedly of opinion these People is not inclin’d to war if treated with decency, This opinion is the result of an attentive observation since my first Settling in Georgia.3 beleive me with much respect Your Excellency’s Obedt Hble Servt

James Hendricks

ALS, DLC:GW. Postal inscriptions on the cover read “Alex 12 Febry” and “Free.”

James Hendricks, formerly a merchant in Alexandria, Va., moved to Georgia in 1789 or 1790.

1Robert Forsyth was shot and killed on 11 Jan. 1794 while attempting to serve papers on Beverly Allen, a former Methodist minister from South Carolina, and his brother William Allen. For a contemporary account of this incident, see Georgia. The Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State, 18 Jan. 1794.

2On the efforts of Edmond Genet, the French minister to the United States, to recruit Georgia residents for an expeditionary force against Spanish colonies, see William Moultrie to GW, 7 Dec. 1793, and enclosures.

3Hendricks sent a second, and very similar, letter of application to GW on 22 Jan. because “the water being up the Port will be Stopp’d for two weeks, this I Send by way of Augusta” (DLC:GW; postal stamps read “BALT FEB 16” and “FREE.”). He also sent a third letter, dated 1 Feb., in which he wrote: “I am Solicited by the Widow & the Sweet little Orphan Boys of my departed friend to be thus importunate, as their estate will be much embarrass’d by the untimely death of the Majr it is conceived that a Successor to the office who is their friend might be much to their advantage, as the greatest part of the suits in the Federal court is nearly at Issue after which the Marshal wou’d have had his fees and he has done the greatest part of the drudgery on his own expence, and I think it highly reasonable the family ought to have the result of his labours especially as they will need it much” (DLC:GW). Robert Forsyth and his wife, Fanny Johnston Houston, had two sons, Robert Moriah (1778–1797) and John (1780–1841). Mrs. Forsyth had at least one child from a previous marriage, a daughter named Sarah (Alvin L. Duckett, John Forsyth: Political Tactician [Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1962], 2–8). According to “An Act to make provision for the widow and orphan children of Robert Forsyth,” 7 June 1794, Congress granted $2,000 to Mrs. Forsyth “for the use of herself and the children” (Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends . 6:17). GW was not swayed by Hendrick’s three letters, and he nominated Josiah Tattnall as the next federal marshal for Georgia (GW to U.S. Senate, 5 March 1794).

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