George Washington Papers
Documents filtered by: Period="Washington Presidency" AND Project="Washington Papers"
sorted by: editorial placement

[Diary entry: 1 October 1789]

Thursday 1st. Exercised in my Carriage in the forenoon.

The following company dined here to day. viz.—

Mr. Read of the Senate, Colo. Bland and Mr. Madison of the House of Representatives—Mr. Osgood and his Lady Colo. Duer his Lady and Miss Brown Colo. Lewis Morris & Lady—Lady Christiana Griffin and her Daughter and Judge Duane & Mrs. Greene.

Mr. Thomas Nelson joined my Family this day.

Dispatched Many of the Comns. for the Judiciary Judges, Marshalls and Attorneys this day with the Acts.

George Read (1733–1798) was United States senator from Delaware. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Read was a member of the Continental Congress 1774–77 and a delegate from Delaware to the Constitutional Convention where he represented the interests of the small states. He served in the Senate from 1789 to 1793 when he became chief justice of Delaware.

Theodorick Bland had been elected to the House of Representatives from Virginia in 1789.

James Madison had been elected to the House of Representatives from Virginia in 1789 with GW’s quiet support. During the early months of his administration GW had frequently called upon Madison for advice on matters pertaining to appointments and protocol and requested his aid in drawing up such official papers as his first inaugural and other addresses and statements to Congress. In these months Madison assumed the role of an unofficial cabinet member and administration whip in the House (see BRANT description begins Irving Brant. James Madison. 6 vols. Indianapolis, and New York, 1941–61. description ends , 3:276–89).

Samuel Osgood (1748–1813) had been a member of the Continental Congress 1781–84 and of the Board of Treasury 1785–89. Although he opposed ratification of the Constitution, GW appointed him postmaster general 26 Sept. 1789, a post he retained until the federal government moved to Philadelphia in 1790. In 1786 he married Maria Bowne Franklin, widow of Walter Franklin of New York. Upon GW’s arrival in New York he occupied a house facing Franklin Square built by Walter Franklin and now owned by Osgood. The house, “square, five windows wide, and three stories high,” had previously been occupied by the president of the Continental Congress (DECATUR description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends , 117). Congress had ordered Osgood 15 April 1789 to “put the same, and the furniture therein, in proper condition for the residence and use of the President of the United States, to provide for his temporary accommodation” (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 1st Cong., 1st sess., 149–50).

William Duer (1747–1799) was born in Devonshire, Eng., educated at Eton, and served in India as aide-de-camp to Lord Clive. He emigrated to America in 1768 and settled in New York where he became active in business and politics. Duer was a member of the Continental Congress in 1777 and 1778 and in Mar. 1786 was appointed to the Board of Treasury. His appointment as assistant secretary of the treasury in 1789 was one of GW’s more controversial appointments since Duer’s speculative ventures had already excited the suspicions of the Antifederalists. In 1779 Duer married Catherine Alexander, usually called Lady Kitty, daughter of William Alexander, Lord Stirling.

Anne Brown (Browne), who was born in 1754, was a daughter of William and Mary French Browne of Salem, Mass. (Some members of the family dropped the “e” from the family name.) Her parents died while she was still a child and she was sent to New York to live with relatives. In Dec. 1773 she and her older half-brother William Burnet Browne visited Mount Vernon (see entry for 11 Dec. 1773). In 1764 William Burnet Browne married Judith Walker Carter, daughter of Charles Carter of Cleve in King George County. Browne and his family lived at Elsing Green in King William County, Va. In the early 1790s the Brownes’ daughter Judith Walker Browne married GW’s nephew Robert Lewis. Anne Brown (Browne) was a cousin of Lady Kitty Duer.

Lewis Morris (1726–1798), a half brother of Gouverneur Morris, was born at the family estate, Morrisania, in Westchester County, N.Y., and educated at Yale. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, he served in the Continental Congress 1775–77 and in the New York legislature 1777–81, and as a member of the New York Ratifying Convention he had vigorously supported the Constitution. In 1749 he married Mary Walton, daughter of Jacob and Maria Beekman Walton. At his father’s death in 1762 Morris had received the half of the estate of Morrisania lying west of Mill Brook, and in 1789 he was still engaged in restoring his property which had been extensively damaged by the British during the Revolution.

Lady Christina (Christiana) Griffin (1751–1807) was the wife of Cyrus Griffin (1748–1810), a prominent Virginia jurist and the last president of the Continental Congress. In 1770 Griffin had married Lady Christina (Christiana) Stuart, daughter of John Stuart, sixth earl of Traquair, in Edinburgh. In Aug. 1789 Griffin had been appointed a member of the commission to negotiate with the southern Indians (see entry for 16 Nov. 1789) and was now absent from New York. In Feb. 1790 GW appointed him federal judge of the district of Virginia.

James Duane (1733–1797), of New York City, was a member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783 where he was particularly active in financial and Indian affairs. He was mayor of New York City from 1784 to 1789 and a member of the New York Ratifying Convention where he strongly supported the Constitution. In 1759 Duane had married Mary Livingston, daughter of Robert Livingston, third lord of Livingston Manor. GW appointed him first federal judge for the district of New York in Sept. 1789.

Catharine Littlefield Greene (1755–1814), a native of Shoreham, R.I., had married Nathanael Greene in 1774. During the Revolution the Greenes became close friends of the Washingtons. Greene died in 1786, leaving a plantation in Georgia and a legacy of debt to his wife and five children. At this time Mrs. Greene was spending part of her time in Newport, R.I., and part in New York City.

Thomas Nelson, Jr., was the son of Gov. Thomas Nelson of Virginia. Governor Nelson had died in Jan. 1789 leaving his wife and children impoverished and with extensive debts. David Stuart wrote GW, 14 July 1789, suggesting that some government position might be found for young Thomas. Since the governor had been an “old friend and acquaintance,” GW decided to appoint the young man as one of his secretaries, although “I must confess there are few persons of whom I have no personal knowledge or good information that I would take into my family, where many qualifications are necessary to fit them for the duty of it—to wit, a good address, abilities above mediocrity—secresy and prudence—attention and industry—good temper—and a capacity and disposition to write correctly and well, and to do it obligingly” (GW to Stuart, 26 July 1789; GW to Nelson, 27 July 1789; Nelson to GW, 13 Aug. 1789, DLC:GW). Nelson resigned from GW’s family in Nov. 1790 (Nelson to GW, 24 Nov. 1790, DLC:GW).

acts: These officers had been appointed under the provisions of “An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States” (1 STAT. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 73–74 [24 Sept. 1789]).

Index Entries