George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lawrence Kortright, 10 October 1785

From Lawrence Kortright

New York 10th Octor 1785

Good Sir

Give me leave to address myself to your Excellency, in order to put in my power to get settled my Acct against the United States, in regard to my Sloop Hester, wch Capt Randall, at perticular request of your Excellency, had in the Service for an Arm’d Vessell, wch was taken into pay the 8th April 1776 & discharg’d the 23d August, wch has been Valued And apprais’d by the Wardens of this port wch will undoubtedly be paid. on my Sloop Hester being discharg’d, it was thought proper to dispose of her, w[it]h her warlike stores, for fear of her falling into the hands of the British. Accordingly She was apprais’d for Twenty Eight Hundred pounds, wch Mr Isaac Sears took at the appraisement, & says he gave Col. Moiland his obligation for the Same; payable to your Excellency, Col. Moiland Says, if so, it must have been lost w[it]h the papers he sent to Brunswick. The Wardens of this port have valued my Sloop w[it]h [t]he Tackel, at Eleven Hundred & Eighty one pounds, so that a Ballance of Sixteen Hundred & Nineteen pounds is in Favor of the States, w[it]h Interest. I shall esteem it a particular kindness done me; if your Excellency will be kind enough to order, in w[ha]t way I shall get payment for my Vessell.1 Your Goodness in this, will much Oblige your Excellency’s Very Humble Sert

Lawrence Kortright


Lawrence Kortright (d. 1794), a merchant in New York whose daughter Elizabeth within a few weeks, on 16 Feb. 1786, was to marry James Monroe, made his fortune in privateering during the French and Indian War but, according to Monroe, was now “injur’d in his fortunes by the late war” (Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 11 May 1786, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 9:510–12). Kortright was a large landowner, and in 1790 he was conducting his business at 90 Broadway in New York City.

1In the spring and summer of 1776, until as late as 27 July, Lt. Col. Benjamin Tupper patrolled the Jersey shore from Amboy to Sandy Hook in the sloop Hester. On 3 Aug. as captain of the Washington he was in command of the galleys that engaged the Phoenix in the Hudson River off Tarrytown (Tupper to GW, 27 July, 3 Aug. 1776, in Morgan, Naval Documents, description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 12 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends 5:1244–45, 6:37–38). Capt. Thomas Randall, who was a privateer and New York merchant, managed the privateers commissioned by the state of New York operating out of Elizabethtown, now known as Elizabeth, New Jersey. Isaac Sears (1730–1786) in 1776 was acting in Long Island under the directions of Gen. Charles Lee. Stephen Moylan (1737–1811), a Philadelphia merchant, was GW’s aide before being promoted in 1776 to quartermaster general with the rank of colonel. No record of Kortright’s making a claim on the United States for the loss of the Hester has been found in the papers of the Continental Congress. For Tapper’s activities in 1785, see Benjamin Tupper to GW, 26 Oct. 1785, n.1.

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