George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Rutherford, 7 April 1794

From Robert Rutherford

Philadelphia April 7th 1794

Dear Sir

I address you with reluctance, with unease that you are too often beset, while the momentous Concerns of your Very important trust are pressing.

Soon after Coming to this place,1 I saw a letter to Colo. Parker from Mr D. Bedenger at Norfolk in which he says “I have been informed that Mr Fitzsimmons in presence of Majr Frazier of Pittsburgh and in public Company declared that a Certain Mr Bedenger of Norfolk was the author of the publication under the signature of Veritas, and as I have reason to believe this story was invented to injure me I feel myself obliged to make inquiry respecting the Authority upon which that Gentleman made the declaration. In short I wish to know of whom Mr Fitzsimmons had his information and must rely on your friendship in procuring a sattisfactory answer from that gentleman.” 2

I went immediately to Mr Fitzsimmons with the above extract under which he wrote. “I never said to any person or in any Company that either Mr Bedenger or any particular person was the author of the pieces under the Signature of Veritas nor was the name of the writer of these papers inquired after by me directly or indirectly.[”] This he Signed and dated Philada January 3d 1794,3 and I inclosed a Copy to Mr Bedenger, who tho a perfect Stranger to the author of this publication, has Several times mentioned the nature of a Certain party in that place, who regularly Correspond with those of their sentiments here and elsewhere, that I am induced to trouble you with a State of real facts. Mr Bedinger my son in law,4 as myself, is a warm friend to his Country & it’s goverment, he therefore of Course is looked upon with an evil Eye by these Silken Commercial birds of passage, who are for the most part factors, and as far as they have influence, emessarys of Brittain, and too much infect our States while they are Malignant in their hate. But I am happy to know beyond a possibility of doubt, that the most disinterested paternal regards for the rights of the people & well being of this our Common Country fill your mind with the ardor of a patriot, and an honest man, the noblest of all charactors, and this Conscious evidence of mind is all powerful with my brother & all our Connections, Mr Peyton Clerk of the Winchester Scottish Court and who acted as clerk when the Resolutions of that place were entered into, and Mr Conrad Mare of the town are of my family as is Colo. Morrow of Shepperds Town, and Mr Hite, who with Mr Bedinger were officers in the Continental army, where Mr Hite sufferd much by a wound.5

Capn Christie of this place has often expressd his desire to obtain some appointment. Certificates in his favour are full. he is Cousin to Mr Christie from the State of Maryland. His Connections here are honest people. He is poor & his family rather suffering, a wish to be with them & the affair of the Algerene war having deranged his usual mode of life. He served through the last war as Capn of one of the Galley’s, was wounded at red bank & mud Island. an appointment at the arsenals or where his family Can be with him appears to be most his wish. I beg pardon for detaining you tho it is perhaps less troublesome than waiting on you as at several times when I attended you were engaged.6

Pray accept my sincere good wishes while I have the honor to be with every Sentiment of real respect Dear Sir Your Most Hble Sert

R. Rutherford


1Virginia congressman Robert Rutherford arrived at Philadelphia in time to attend the opening on 2 Dec. 1793 of the first session of the Third Congress (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 3d Cong., 1st sess., 133).

2The letter from Daniel Bedinger, the current surveyor of customs for the port of Norfolk, Va., to Virginia congressman Josiah Parker has not been identified. Thomas FitzSimons of Philadelphia also was a member of the current House of Representatives. For the anonymous letters, which were critical of GW, see Veritas to GW, 30 May, 3 June, and 6 June 1793.

3The extract with the signed affidavit from FitzSimons of 3 Jan. 1794 has not been identified.

4Bedinger married Sarah Rutherford (born c.1770) in April 1791.

5Thomas Rutherford (1729–1804) represented Hampshire County, now in West Virginia, in the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1761–68. Rutherford’s connections probably included: John Peyton, who served as the clerk of the town of Winchester, Va., after the Revolutionary War (Norris, Lower Shenandoah Valley description begins J. E. Norris, ed. History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley. 1890. Reprint. Berryville, Va., 1972. description ends , 160, 180); Col. John Morrow of Shepherdstown, Va., who served as a colonel in the Virginia militia, 1778–81, and later represented Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1805–9; and one or more members of the Hite family of Virginia, of whom several served as officers in the Continental army (Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783. 1893. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C., 1914. description ends , 292).

6Capt. Christie may be the John Christie (born c.1746) who was commissioned in 1776 to command the fire brig Vesuvius of the Pennsylvania navy, and in 1781 to command the armed sloop Sally (Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution description begins Charles E. Claghorn. Naval Officers of the American Revolution: A Concise Biographical Dictionary. Metuchen, N.J., 1988. description ends , 59). Christie remained active in the maritime trade despite his desire for a federal appointment (Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 20 Sept. 1794; Finley’s American Naval and Commercial Register [Philadelphia], 29 Jan. 1796). On the October 1777 attack on Fort Mercer, overlooking the Delaware River at Red Bank, N.J., see Charles Stewart’s two letters to GW of 22 Oct. 1777 (letters 1 & 2), and Samuel Ward, Jr., to GW, 23 Oct., and n.2 to that document. On the subsequent attack on Fort Mifflin, located on Mud Island in the Delaware River, see GW to George Clinton, 26 Oct. 1777. Gabriel Christie (1755–1808) represented Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1793–97 and 1799–1801.

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