George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Alexander, 10 September 1794

From William Alexander

Elkton [Md.] Sepr 10th 1794.


Encouraged by my friends, I take up my Pen to ask you for the appointment, of Naval Officer, for the District of Baltimore; which if conferred on me, I flatter myself, it will be executed with the Stricktest propriety. As Offices, flow through the channel of Favor, when candidates, are equally qualified to execute them—permit me, Sir, in that case, to offer an argument in my favor? that there is no man in the Community, who has a higher sense of your Virtues, & eminent Services, to your Country than myself—I have declared it, in my most reflecting moments, that was it possible, to be so ordained, for you to suffer an innocent death, that I would at any moment die for you, as I thought you worthy of dying for, in this assertion, I beleive, no man who hear’d me, & knew my character, doubted my veracity—I this moment appeal to the Searcher of all hearts, if I made the declaration, with a view of its ever assailing your Ears, or with any interested motive whatever, & if I know myself, it did not spring from self-conceit. Had I deemed it necessary, I could have obtained certificates, favorable to my character, from many of the first characters in & around Baltimore, I being well known to them, & some of them my connexions—Should, further particulars relative to my character, be necessary, than are contained in the enclosed Certificates,1 I take the liberty of referring, the President, to Chief Justice McKean, John Barclay Esqr., or Mr John B. Bordley.

If Mr Delosier should be appointed, Naval Officer, the Appointment of Surveyor would be equally acceptable—If Nathaniel Ramsey Esqr. should get the Appointment, the office of Marshall would be equally so.2 Tho I have solicited either of the Appointments, your granting or refusing it, can make no alteration, in the manner you stand engravened on my heart. I have the honor to be, Sir, yr mo. Obedient & humble Servant

Wm Alexander


William Alexander, an Elkton attorney, was the son of Robert Alexander, a Loyalist who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776. William Alexander later was involved with the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

1The certificate of Robert Milligan of Cecil County, Md., 5 Sept., stated "that in his private as well as public life," Alexander "has always conducted himself with reputation & honour, discharging his duties and engagements in business with punctuality diligence and Ability" (DLC:GW). Samuel Briscoe, also of Elkton, in a certificate of this date, wrote that he and his partner believed Alexander "to be a Gentleman, who hath uniformly loved his Country, that he is a man of Honor, Integrity And Understanding, that he Sustains the Character of a Virtuous Citizen, And believe him to be well Qualified to execute any Trust which may be reposed in him" (DLC:GW).

2GW already had signed a commission on 29 Aug. appointing Nathaniel Ramsay as naval officer (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 319).

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