George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James D. Smith, 1 March 1794

From James D. Smith

Germantown Farqr County Virginia1 1st March 1794

Will your Excelly pardon the freedom I have taken, of Addressing you, & of inclosing a letter of introduction, from an Uncle of mine in Scotland—who says he has been acquainted with you, forty years ago2—I should have delivered it Personally, but time will not permitt me to go so fare as Philidelpha—& as your return to Mount Vernon being uncertain has made me take this liberty—I came into this Country shortly after the close of the late war with Thomas Montgomerie Esqr. as an assistant in the Store he keep’t at Dumfries where I liv’d for five years—Afterwards went to Richmond & liv’d with my Cousin Alexander Donald for two years, & return’d again to Dumfries with a Small assortment of goods, but finding Trade dill, I retired to this place, which I find much the same, & not likely to be better.3

Being a Young man (& is now almost going idle) I wish to be in an actize life—As Congrass has proposed to raise a Body of Troops, I think that by joining them—or any other Line your Excelly may think proper under your Auspicious eye I can push my way thro: the worald with all propriaty—should your Excelly these requests—I will immediatly sell of all my property, Settle my Accts & with the greatest chearfullness Act as you may be pleased to desire—A letter Addressed to the Postmaster of Dumfries will be thankfully received by him4 who has the honour to be with the greatest respect & Esteem Your Excellys Faithfull Servant

J.D. Smith


1Germantown, an historic unincorporated community in Fauquier County, was about twenty-five miles northwest of Fredericksburg, Va., and near the present-day village of Midland.

2For the enclosed letter of introduction, see Robert Donald to GW, 5 June 1793.

3Smith may have left Dumfries because of the death of Thomas Montgomerie in 1792 (see James Keith to GW, 7 March 1793). The business misfortunes of his cousin, Alexander Donald, in the spring of 1793 may have prompted Smith to return to Dumfries. On these misfortunes and for Donald’s description of his nephew “as too young to take the charge of my business” and as “a very fine young man,” see Donald to Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1793 (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 25:351–52).

4A reply from GW has not been found, and Smith did not receive any federal appointment from GW.

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