George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 26 December 1789]

Saturday 26th. Exercised on Horseback in the forenoon. Chief Justice Morris and the Mayor (Colo. Varick) and their Ladies, Judge Hobart, Colo. Cole, Majr. Gilman, Mrs. Brown, Secretary Otis, & Mr. Beckley dined here.

Richard Morris (1730–1810) was elected chief justice of the New York Supreme Court in 1779. His wife was Sarah Ludlow Morris.

John Sloss Hobart (1738–1805) of Fairfield, Conn., was a justice of the New York Supreme Court.

Isaac Coles (1747–1813) had been elected as an Antifederalist to the First Congress from Virginia. Coles was educated at William and Mary, served as a colonel of militia during the Revolution, and was a member of the Virginia Ratifying Convention. His Virginia plantation was at Coles Ferry on the Staunton River, Halifax County, Va.

Samuel Allyne Otis (1740–1814) had been secretary of the United States Senate since April 1789. A native of Barnstable, Mass., he graduated from Harvard in 1759, served in the state legislature 1776, 1784–87, and was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress 1787–88.

John Beckley (1757–1807), born in England, came to America at the age of 11 and was apprenticed as a scribe to Virginia botanist John Clayton. Under his employer’s guidance he quickly became an expert clerk and by 1780 had acted as clerk to at least 12 official bodies in Virginia, including the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. At the same time he read law and devoted at least a portion of his time to his law practice. In 1783 and again in 1788 Beckley was elected mayor of Richmond and in April 1789 became clerk of the United States House of Representatives.

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