George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Barclay, 18 February 1789

From Thomas Barclay

Philadelphia 18 Feby 1789


I never was more Embarrassed about the propriety of writing a letter than I am at this Moment and nothing but the information which I have received that some Applications will be made to you on the same subject by others, wou’d have induced me—at this time to take the liberty which I Now do—Fearing therefore that the omission of writing to you might operate against me at a future day, I am Bold enough to tell you that it has been for a long time my intentions to Endeavor to prevail on the President General of the New Government to nominate me for the office of Collector of the Imposts at this place.1

Shou’d I be so happy as to succeed in those Endeavors, I have little doubt but I will be supported by many of the Senators to whom my Exertions to discharge the several Trusts that have been Committed to my Care, with attention are known and I hope the sentiments of Mr Jefferson, Mr Jay, Doctor Franklin and Mr Adams on that subject will shew that I am not altogether unworthy of the Confidence of my Countrymen.

Shou’d there appear any thing improper or provacative in what I have written I trust to your known goodness to forget and forgive it2—I am Very respectfully Sir Your very obed. Humble Servant

Thos Barclay


Thomas Barclay (1728–1793), a Philadelphia merchant, was United States consul at Paris during the Confederation and for several years during the 1780s served as agent for the Continental Congress in settling the Revolutionary accounts of the United States in Europe. In January 1783 the Continental Congress appointed Barclay consul general in France “with authority to appoint Vice Consuls or agents at such port or ports, within the Kingdom of France, as he shall deem necessary” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 24:3). In 1786 Barclay negotiated a successful treaty with Morocco, and in 1791 GW appointed him United States commissioner to renew the treaty. The next year he succeeded John Paul Jones as agent to secure the release of American captives in Algiers but died abroad early in 1793 before he could open negotiations.

1Barclay enclosed with this letter testimonials addressed to him concerning his conduct in Europe from Jefferson, 3 Aug. 1787, from John Jay, 5 Oct. 1787, from Benjamin Franklin, 10 Nov. 1787, and from John Adams, 4 Nov. 1788 (DLC:GW).

2For GW’s response, see his letter to Barclay of 2 Mar. 1789. On 26 May 1789 Barclay renewed his request for this position or perhaps one on “a Board of Commissioners of the Revennue” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries