George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Cadwalader, 24 July 1798

To Thomas Cadwalader

Mount Vernon 24th July 1798.


In answer to your favour of the 20th, I can assure you with much truth that I had a very sincere and Affectionate regard for Genl Cadwalader, your father, when alive; and that it would give me great pleasure to do any thing in my power, consistently with the object in view, to serve his Son.1

But if circumstances should render it expedient for me to take the Field, the variegated, & important duties of the Commander in Chief are such as to require, indispensably, that the Gentlemen of whom his family are composed should be experienced, & well acquainted with the duties they are to perform. This then, candour bids me say, is an insuperable bar to your wishes for an appointment as one of my Aids; and it is more than probable my old Secretary Lear of whom I have had fourteen years proof, of his Integrity and abilities, will fill this Office under my present appointment.

Of what age you are, I know not; if twenty one under which no appointments, knowingly were made when I was in the Administration of the Government (except in the case of young Mr Izard who was sent to qualify himself as an Engineer in one of the Military Academies in France) there is no doubt if it be your desire, and that of your friends, but you might receive a Commission in the line of the Army.2 Mrs Washington unites with me in compliments & best wishes to Mrs Cadwalader and with esteem & regard I am Sir Your Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1Thomas Cadwalader (1779–1841) begins his letter of 20 July from Philadelphia: “As I have not the Honor of being personally known to you, I should consider the Liberty I am about to take, as presumptuous if I were not encouraged by a Persuasion, that the great Friendship you were pleased to extend to my late Father, might induce you to consider his Son, not absolutely in the Light of a Stranger” (DLC:GW). His father John Cadwalader (1742–1786), a successful merchant in Philadelphia before the Revolution, was colonel in the Pennsylvania forces during the war and fought with GW at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown.

2After expressing to GW his “Ambition of obtaining some Station in your Family, when the Army of the United States shall be organized,” young Cadwalader concludes his letter: “If it should be your Pleasure to encourage this Application, I shall be ready to obey your Commands as to the Season of repairing to your Head Quarters. meanwhile as the Pursuit of my Studies is at this Period of my Life of the utmost Consequence to me, I shall persist in an Assiduous Attention to them, until I may be necessarily called into the Exercise of my Duty. My Mother unites with me in most respectful Compliments and good Wishes to Mrs Washington” (DLC:GW). His mother, Williamina Bond Cadwalader, was the daughter of Dr. Phineas Bond, one of the founders of the University of Pennsylvania where 19-year-old Thomas was a student. Young Cadwalader held the rank of brigadier general in the War of 1812.

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