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From George Washington to Timothy Pickering, 27 September 1795

To Timothy Pickering


Mount Vernon 27th Sep. 1795

Dear Sir,

Your private letter of the 21st instant, did not reach me until yesterday.1 A late letter of mine to you, will have fixed the Directorship of the Mint upon Mr Boudinot2—The application therefore of Majr Jackson, however fit he may have been for the Office, is too late. But besides the reasons assigned in your letter against such an appointment at present, I should have preferred a character from another State, if one equally suitable could have been found; for the reasons you have often heard me mention altho’ they do not apply with the same force now as formerly.

With respect to Mr Dexter for the Office of Attorney General, altho I have a very good opinion of his abilities, and know nothing in his moral character or connexions that are objectionable3—yet the reason which I assigned when his name was first mentioned to me has still weight in my mind; that is, after a long & severely contested an election he could not obtain a majority of suffrages in the District he formerly represented.4 In this instance then the sense of his constituents respecting him personally has been fairly taken—and one of the charges ag[ainst] me, relative to the treaty you know is, that I have disregarded the voice of the people, altho’ that voice has never yet been heard unless the misrepresentation of party—or at best partial meetings can be so called.

I shall not, whilst I have the honor to Administer the government, bring a man into any Office, of consequence knowingly whose political tenets are adverse to the measures which the general government are pursuing; for this, in my opinion, would be a sort of political Suicide that it wd embarrass its movements is most certain. But if two men equally well affected to the true interests of their country, of equal abilities & equally disposed to lend their support, it is the part of prudence to give a preference to him, against whom the least clamour can be excited: for such an one my enquiries have been made and are still making: how far I shall Succeed, is at this moment problematical.5

I have not relinquished my intention of being in Philadelphia about the middle of next month. With great esteem & regard I am. Dear Sir Your Obedt & Affecte

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. A transcript made from the letter received and certified by Octavius Pickering in 1866 as “A true copy” is in MHi: Pickering Papers. It has a number of minor variations from the draft, but none affecting the letter’s content.

3Instead of the two previous words, GW originally wrote and then scratched out “would disqualify him.”

4GW referred to the congressional race between Samuel Dexter and Democratic-Republican candidate Joseph Bradley Varnum in early 1795. A final count gave Dexter 1,456 votes and Varnum 1,504 (Aurora General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 21 April).

5In the draft at this point, GW wrote and crossed out the following statement: “If the choice should finally fall upon Mr Dexter I can with truth say I have been actuated by no other motive than is here expressd for I have an exceeding good opinion of him.” GW appointed Charles Lee to succeed the deceased William Bradford as attorney general.

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