George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 15 November 1789]

Sunday 15th. Went to St. Pauls Chapel in the forenoon and after returning from thence was visited by Majr. Butler Majr. Meridith and Mr. Smith So. Cara.1 Received an Invitation to attend the Funeral of Mrs. Roosevelt (the wife of a Senator of this State) but declined complying with it—first because the propriety of accepting any invitation of this sort appeared very questionable and secondly (though to do it in this instance might not be improper) because it might be difficult to discriminate in cases wch. might thereafter happen.2

1Pierce Butler (1744–1822), United States senator from South Carolina, was a native of Ireland and came to America in the early 1770s as a major in the British army. After holding various posts under the state government, he was elected to the Continental Congress in 1787 and represented South Carolina at the Federal Convention. He was elected to the Senate as a Federalist in 1789 and served until 1796.

Samuel Meredith (1741–1817), of Philadelphia, was an active Patriot before the Revolution and served in the Pennsylvania militia until 1778 when he resigned to resume his career in business and politics. In 1788 he was appointed surveyor of the Port of Philadelphia, and in Mar. 1789, anticipating GW’s election, he wrote him requesting an appointment in the “Impost Department” (Meredith to GW, 23 Feb. 1789, DLC:GW). GW replied 5 Mar. stating that if he assumed the presidency, he had resolved “to go into it, perfectly free from all engagements of every nature whatsoever. A conduct, in conformity to this resolution, would enable me in ballancing the various pretentions of different Candidates for appointments, to act with a sole reference to justice and the public good. This is, in substance, the answer that I have given to all applications (and they are not few) which have already been made” (DLC:GW). See also entry for 20 June 1787.

William Loughton Smith (1758–1812), congressman from South Carolina, had studied at the Middle Temple and also at Geneva. Before the Revolution he practiced law in Charleston and was elected to the state legislature. In 1789 he was elected as a Federalist to Congress where he served until 1797, rapidly becoming one of the administration’s most reliable supporters, especially in financial matters.

2Isaac Roosevelt’s wife was Cornelia Hoffman Roosevelt (1734–1789), daughter of Martinus Hoffman of Dutchess County, N.Y.

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