George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathaniel Gorham, 10 March 1789

From Nathaniel Gorham

New York March 10th 1789


I sincerly congratulate your Excellency upon the unanimous call which you have received from your Country to preside over its Councill & to execute its Laws—that it may be an event conducive to the wellfare of the People and of happiness and honor to yourself is my most earnest wish.

It would have afforded me great pleasure to have taken a part in the Legislature of the new Government had my private affairs admited thereof—but the necessary attention to a large and young Family forbad it.

My situation however is such that it would be very agreable and convenient to me to execute the duties of the principal Revenue Officer in Massachusetts—provided I might be so happy as to meet your Excellencys approbation and nomination to that Office.

As I can easily conceive Sir that you may be much incommoded with applications of this kind I shall endeavour to give your Excellency as little trouble as possible.

And shall therefore only observe that I have been nineteen years in the public service. that I lost a large proportion of my property by the destruction of Charlestown in the begining of the late War—and that I have a Family of nine Children.

Any of the Gentm. from Massachusetts will be able Sir to inform you in what light my appointment woud probably be viewed by the People of that State—praying that the best of heavens blessings may attend you1—I remain with every sentiment of esteam and respect Your Excellencys most Humble Servant

Nathaniel Gorham


Nathaniel Gorham (1738–1796), a Charlestown, Mass., merchant, was a member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly from 1771 to 1775, of the Board of War from 1778 to 1781, and of the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1783 and 1785 to 1787. From 1785 to 1796 he also was judge of the Massachusetts court of common pleas. In 1788 he joined Oliver Phelps in the purchase of a large portion of the 6–million-acre tract of land known as the Genessee Country, ceded by New York to Massachusetts after the Revolution. Although large parts of the Phelps-Gorham purchase were sold to settlers, the speculators eventually were unable to meet their payments to the Massachusetts legislature. Gorham was unsuccessful in his application for office in 1789, but he was appointed supervisor of the revenue for the district of Massachusetts in 1791 (De Pauw, Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends 2:128).

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