George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Miles King, 27 April 1797

From Miles King

Hampton April 27th 1797

Worthy Sir

From my Early Acquaintance with you I have taken the liberty of Addressing you in an Appointment of Importance to my large and growing Family—having Spent Upwards of Twenty Years in the Service of my Country and Eighteen Years in the Assembly of Virginia Acquainted with business being all my life in the Merchantile line and knowing the Duty of the office which I Wish to gett, my Aid in Convention to Establish the Present Government and my Friendship for good Order & good Government will I hope plead in my favour[.] I have this Moment heard the Collector of Norfolk Cannot live many days and by his Death the Office will be Vacant,1 I must request the favour of you sir if Consistent with your Own Opinion of me that you will be pleased to Write to the President of the United States in my favour & Aid me and my Family in the Appointment when the Office becomes Vacant, My Friend Colo. Cary has been long Acquainted and Will be my Security for the faithfull discharge of the Dutys of the office,2 in Short I can gett a recommendation from every County in Virginia was it Necessary having an Extensive Acquaintance—One Word sir from you will do the business, if Mr Jefferson was at Philadelphia he would render me every Assistance as I am Well Acquainted with him, my Brother John King was Collector to the day of his Death and Executed the Dutys of that Office with great Satisfaction,3 As the Office is of great Importance I expect there will be many Applications for it. Your Aid Sir will Oblige an Old servant of the Public—I am with great respect Your Most Obedient Servant

Miles King

This is the first Appointment I ever Askd for—and Should not do it now if it was not for a large Family.


Miles King (1747–1814), a merchant in Hampton, served intermittently on coastal patrols in Virginia during the Revolution. He was a member of the Virginia house of delegates from Elizabeth City County in 1777 and 1778 and served in that body continuously from 1784 until 1798. He also was a member of the Virginia convention that ratified the federal Constitution in 1788. He was not appointed collector of the port of Norfolk, but in 1798 he resigned from the house of delegates to assume the relatively lucrative position of clerk of his county’s court. In 1804 and again in 1805 he was elected mayor of Norfolk.

1The collector of customs at Norfolk was William Lindsay.

2Colonel Cary was probably Wilson Miles Cary (1734–1817) of Richneck, Ceelys, and Carysbrook. In 1797 he was living at Ceelys in Elizabeth City County. Cary, a brother of GW’s friend Sarah Cary Fairfax, had extensive landholdings and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the house of delegates. He also was commander of the Elizabeth City County militia.

3John King was the first collector of the port of Norfolk after the Revolution.

Index Entries