George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Charles Burrall, 6 January 1795

From Charles Burrall

Philadelphia January 6, 1795


The office of Postmaster General being vacated by Colo. Pickerings late removal to the War Department, permit me in the most respectful manner to offer myself as a candidate to supply the vacancy. Confiding implicitly in your disposition to do justice to every individual, as well as your vigilance to promote the public service I should not have troubled you with a direct application, but from an apprehension that my silence might be construed into a waver of any claim to the appointment, or a disregard of some necessary form for obtaining it.

How far a constant attention to the business of the Department for several years has rendered me competent to the execution of the trust which I solicit, Colo. Pickering (by whose occasional absence in the prosecution of services more immediately important to his country, the whole charge of the department has sometimes devolved on me) is able to judge, and will I am persuaded be willing to declare. To him therefore, sir, I chearfully refer on that point, and should any additional testimonial of general character be required, I have the satisfaction of appealing not only to the same source of information, but likewise to the sentiments of many members of congress from every quarter of the Union.1

Under these circumstances I presume it would be improper to detain you longer than to assure you, that I shall receive the appointment with gratitude, and perform its duties with fidelity. I have the honor to be, Sir, with the greatest respect, your most obedient servant

Chas Burrall


Charles Burrall (c.1763–1836) served as assistant postmaster general from 1791 to 1800 and as postmaster at Baltimore from 1800 to 1816.

1Burrall wrote GW’s secretary Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., on 10 Jan., enclosing “such testimonials as I hope will be satisfactory” and asking him to submit them to GW. The enclosures probably included the letters of recommendation to GW from Kentucky congressman William Barry Grove and North Carolina congressman Nathaniel Macon of 6 Jan., Kentucky congressman Alexander Dalrymple Orr of 8 Jan., and Vermont congressman Israel Smith of 9 Jan. (all ALS, DLC:GW). Grove wrote, “Should you Sir, not find some other person of more Merit and better claims for this appointment … I feel confidant in saying he would execute the duties of the office with Fidelity and ability.” Macon, who had “been acquainted with him, for four years past” and “lived a considerable part of that time in the same house with him,” wrote that “he appears to me to be well qualified to fill the Office with propriety.” Orr, who had “known Mr Burrell for three years” and “lived in the same House with Him for part of this time,” stated “that I Believe Him well qualified to discharge all the duties of the office.” Smith had been acquainted with Burrall for ten or twelve years and esteemed “him a man of handsome talents and remarkable for his Industry and Integrity” who “would discharge the duties of that office satisfactoraly.”

North Carolina congressman James Gillespie added another recommendation on 15 Jan., writing GW that “Mr Charles Burrell is from a persanal acquaintance of some of my Colleagues, Esteemed a person qualified to fill that Important station,” and noting particularly that Burrall’s “attention in organising new Rout’s, and other matters of that office in North Carolina, is highley Acceptable to its Delegation” (ALS, DLC:GW).

GW, however, nominated Joseph Habersham for postmaster general in February.

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