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To George Washington from Nathaniel Barber, Jr., 1 May 1793

From Nathaniel Barber, Jr.

St Croix [Virgin Islands]
May 1. 1793

May it please Your Excellency,

It is with much pain & reluctance, that I trouble a Gentleman of your high Station & amiable Character. At this time, cruel necessity obliges me to do it, & I hope you will excuse me. I was in the Public service as Commissary of Military Stores, & Station’d in Boston from the time the British evacuated that Town, to the 16 of April 1781. My resignation was Accepted by Congress the 5 of March. It was made known to me the 28, & I finished delivering the Stores which remaind in my care the 16 of April. I have pay & rations due to me for the last 3 mo. & 16 ds. of my service, & am in very great want of it1—I was unfortunate at home, for which reason, I came to this Country & have resided here near Seven years—I have also been unfortunate here—I have a Wife & Family, & am in the utmost distress—I wrote General Knox so, last November, & enclosed him a petition to Congress2—The time was, when General Knox very frequently wrote me, often thankd me for my good conduct, & beg’d me to continue in the service—In one of his letters to me, he says, “I have shewn your letter to His Excellency, & He is much pleased with it—Go on Sir, in the great matters committed to your charge, & while you support the good character, which you have already obtain’d, provided I have any influence, your interest shall be attended to.”3

Now he neglects me—It is no great that is due to me, I know, but small as it is, I can with truth inform your Excellency, that it would revive my spirits, for I am really in want. I have the honour to be with the greatest esteem, Your Excellency’s, Most Obedient & very humble Servant

Nat. Barber

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. The docket reads: “Recd 26 May,” and the cover indicates that “Capt. Da Costa” of the “Brig Newton” brought this letter to Philadelphia.

1Barber, whom some historians have confused with the Boston naval officer of the same name, began serving as the commissary of ordnance stores in April 1776, one month after British troops evacuated Boston. For Barber’s resignation, see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 19:232. Barber’s complaint centered on Massachusetts’s decision to compensate him at $40 per month, despite a written pledge from Henry Knox promising a salary of $50 per month for 1777 and $60 per month for each year thereafter (Barber to Knox, 1 April 1782, NNGL: Knox Papers).

2Barber’s letter to Knox and petition to Congress have not been identified.

3The source of this quotation has not been identified. No reply from GW to Barber has been found, and no evidence indicating that Congress responded to Barber’s appeal has been identified.

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