George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mendenhall, 14 March 1794

From Thomas Mendenhall

Philadelphia March 14th 1794

Dear sir.

Being a considerable sufferer in the calamities which my fellow Citizens are at Present strugling with, has perhaps tempered my Disposition, and Excited sentiments of humanity towards the Injured Seamen of my Country, in proportion to the Indignation at the Cruel, and unpresedented Conduct of the British Cruizers which has brot these Misfortunes upon Us.

the deep Impression of this sentiments, and a real regard for the Interes and Dignity of my Country, I hope Sir will be an apolegy for this Freedom.

On Monday last1 arived in Wilmington D. the Schooner Kitty Capt. Brinton from S. Eustatius who brought Six American Seamen in Passengers and informs that he left about Sixty or Seventy more there, (the Crews of Condemned Vessels,) in great Distress beging for Passages to America, and that others ware daily ariving from the Windward Ilands in hopes of meeting with homeward bound Vessels that would afford them a conveyance to this Continent, which could not be obtained but in a few Instances.2

The Loss of so many Brave Seamen as are now Driving about those Ilands and must eventually fall into the British Servis, or that of Other foreign Nations if some effacatious measures be not adopted is of a nature at this Moment which need only be hinted at.

If a Suitable Vessel could be provided and despatched Immediately for their releif, I should be Induced to offer my Servis in order to carry the Measure into Effect, nor would I Stipulate any thing for a compensation but the gratitude of those whom I might be Instrumental in releiving from their Distress. I have the Honour to be sir with the greatest respect your real friend, and that of my Country.3

Thomas Mendenhall
a Citizen of Wilmington Delaware

P.S. I have Just been Creditably Informd that the Brittish Agents in this Citty are takeing the Oath to the United States, and thereby Securing their Debts. yours Respectfully as above


ALS, DNA: RG 59, Letters Received Regarding Impressed Seamen.

Thomas Mendenhall (1752–1843), of Wilmington, Del., served in 1775–76 aboard the brig Nancy, a privateer operating in the West Indies. After the war he began his mercantile career as the master of other merchants’ trading vessels. By 1794 he was a prosperous merchant engaged in the West Indies trade. He also had extensive land holdings in Wilmington, including his townhouse at the corner of Front and Walnut streets (Bernard L. Herman, “Multiple Materials, Multiple Meanings: The Fortunes of Thomas Mendenhall,” Winterthur Portfolio, 19:67–86). Stage boats between Philadelphia and Mendenhall’s wharf in Wilmington ran back and forth on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 29 March).

1Monday last was 10 March.

2For a recent list of American vessels detained by the British in the West Indies, see Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 11 March. On the magnitude of this problem, see n.1 of GW to U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 25 March.

3No reply from GW has been found.

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