George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Anthony Macharg, 28 July 1798

To Anthony Macharg

Mount Vernon 28th July 1798


Your letter of the 16th instt has been duly received.1 A person understanding, as you profess to do, the art of training horses & Instructing their Riders for Military Service, would certainly be very useful in the Cavalry of the United States; but whether provision is made for such an Officer, in the Law which establishes them, I am unable to say.

All therefore I can add, on this subject, for want of this knowledge, and a better knowledge of your character and fitness for the Office you seek, is, to advise you to apply to the Secretary of War by letter, to be informed whether on public or private account, it is likely you cd be employed for the purpose you mention; but previous to this as you probably are unknown to him and strangers I presume will not be admitted who cannot produce ample testimonials of their character, and good deportment, as well as fitness for teaching I recommend it to you, as an indispensible measure to have your character well certified by the principal Inhabitants of Norfolk and such Officers of the Government as may reside at that place and transmit the same—with this letter to the War Office and it will place the application on decisive ground when you receive his answer—without which, as a stranger, it is not probable your application would be attended to.2 I am—Sir Your Very Hble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Among other things, which the Secretary might wish to know, are—your Country—how long you have been in the United States—and what have been your pursuits ⟨since⟩.

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1GW sent Macharg’s (MacHarg’s) letter to James McHenry on 30 July; it has not been found. GW’s letter to McHenry reads: “Dear Sir, The writer of the enclosed letter, in name and character, is an entire Stranger to me; nor do I know whether by the Law establishing the Cavalry any provision is made, under which such a person could be employed—tho’ certain it is, if Mr Macharg understands what he professes to be master of, he might be employed very advantageously in training that part of our force.

“I have wrote him to this effect; adding, that as he is a stranger, his application to the War Office must be accompanied by ample testimonials—not only of his skill in the business he professes, but to his character in all other respects—with which, and my letter to him, he would come properly before you; and without which, I conceived it wd be useless to apply. I am—Dear Sir—Yr obedt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW).

2Macharg wrote to GW from Norfolk on 18 Aug.: “I have proceeded to the best of my knowledge according to your Excellencys instructions the certificate is now before me—the inclosed is a copy of it it was drawn up signed and delivered to me by my friends, there are Gentlemen whose names are affixed to it with whom I have lived in habits of the Strictest intimacy but not one whose signature I would have presumed to ask to any testimony in my favour dictated by myself The few lines written and signed by Genl Matthews was from his own suggestion—I believe I may venture to say that the absence of the British consul alone is the reason that his name does not appear to the certificate—however there is Captn Hamilton who is related to and lives in the Coll⟨ins⟩ family Mr Pennocks signature will be known at the war office being the Government agent for Supplying the ships of war of the united States that may come here with stores Mr Donaldson holds the same office for the British—Captn Hamilton I believe is not a Citizen—all the rest of the gentlemen are—for myself I am a native of Scotland my father was an officer in the 12th Regt of Dragoons in the British service I have been nearly three years in this State the last two years in Norfolk into which place I have imported a few goods. I have never taken the oaths to the United States thinking it unnecessary as my views at one time were to have returned to Europe as soon as I heard of peace being declared between Great Britain & France—but I can take the Oath with cheerfullness if calld upon” (DLC:GW).

The copy of Macharg’s certificate from James Donaldson and others, dated 12 Aug., certified that “Anthony Macharg is a man of integrity and respectability and that from our knowledge of him we are confident that he would not offer himself as a Candidate for any office the duties of which his abilities were not fully adequate to discharge.” The certificate has attached to it the names of “James Donaldson, Dunbar Sloan, Thomas Hamilton, Samuel Kerr, Alexr Wilson & Co., Wm Pennock, and Wm Johnston” (DLC:GW).

The second of Macharg’s certificates of which a copy was enclosed is dated 17 Aug. and is Thomas Matthews’s affirmation that the signers of the certificate were “residents of the Borough of Norfolk and Men of respectability and who’s characters induce me to believe that they would not affix their signatures to any instrument without the fullest conviction of its propriety” (DLC:GW).

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