George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jacob Broom, 3 April 1789

From Jacob Broom

Wilmington [Del.] April 3rd 1789.


I congratulate you upon the success of that inestimable Constitution, which I had the honor to witness your weighty and influential support and approbation of; and it is with singular pleasure I stand informed, that you have the unanimous suffrages of the Electors, to fill the Chair of first President.

I take the liberty to solicit Your Excellency for an appointment as Collector or receiver of duties and imposts; this being the only Commercial Town within the State, I conceive it extremely probable, Your Excellency will consider it as the proper place for the residence of such an Officer.

Your Excellency may be assured, I could have procured a very general recommendation in my favor; but as I had the honor to be one of the Deputies to the Fœderal Convention, and am, at present a Member of Assembly (a seat which I have filled for several years) I flatter myself Your Excellency will be pleased to consider those situations, as marks of the confidence of my Fellow Citizens, as well as favorable and sufficient testimonials of my Character and Capacity; and which added to your own knowledge of me, will give me a place in your esteem as worthy of such a trust.

The Merchants concerned in the Shipping Business, have desired me to transmit to Your Excellency the enclosed Memorial; which I flatter myself will give additional weight to my application.1

If I should be so happy, in the opinion of Your Excellency, as to merit the appointment, the Honor done me shall be held in the most grateful remembrance. I have the honor to be, Sir, with the greatest respect and esteem, Your Excellencys most Obedient, and most Humble Servant

Jaco: Broom


Jacob Broom (1752–1810), a Wilmington manufacturer and landowner, acted briefly as a collector at Wilmington before the Revolution and served as the town’s first postmaster. William Pierce described him at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 as “a plain good Man, with some abilities, but nothing to render him conspicuous. He is silent in public, but chearful and conversable in private” (Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention description begins Max Farrand, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven, 1966. description ends , 3:93). Broom wrote to GW again on 19 April stating that a “Letter is in the hands of the Honorable R. Bassett Esquire, one of the Senators from this State (now at New York) addressed to Your Excellency, purporting an application for the appointment of a Collector of Duties and Imposts, for the Port of Wilmington and it’s dependencies; which letter I desired might be handed to Your Excellency, immediately after you had qualified as President General of the United States. I have been advised to make a personal application to Your Excellency at this place upon the occasion; but delicacy forbids it, as I conceive it improper, until Your Excellency shall take the Presidential Chair.” On 22 April Broom wrote to GW a third time, citing “a prevailing opinion that Your Excellency will probably appoint or continue the present, or former Officers in the several States; where no exceptions can be taken as to their situation” and once again summarizing his own past experience in customs (DLC:GW). The post went to George Bush. In 1795 Broom established what was probably the first cotton manufactory in Delaware. On 4 Feb. 1797 he renewed his application for Bush’s post. Three days later, he wrote that he had found “upon examining the Laws of the United States, that a Collector of the Customs, cannot be concerned in Commerce; under this impression I beg leave to relinquish my application for that Office; it not being convenient for me to abandon my Commercial pursuits at this time.” All of these letters are in DLC:GW.

1The enclosure may have been an undated memorial from a group of Wilmington merchants, addressed “To His Excellency the President General, and the Honorable the Senate of the United States,” representing that “the residence of the Revenue Officers under the Regal Government, has been, for the most part, at the Town of New Castle; and the Merchants of this place have laboured under great inconvenience and unnecessary expence, by reason that the Captains of their Vessels together with their sureties have been obliged, from time to time, to go thither to enter & clear out; thereby occasioning considerable delay in discharging; and in some instances losing the opportunity of a fair wind: long experience has plainly pointed out this to be a grievance, and which some of your Memorialists have often had occasion to lament. Your Memorialists further represent, that since the Revolution took place, none other than a Naval Officer in that Department has been appointed, whose residence has also been at New Castle: it is true, he has, for some time past, employed a Deputy to transact that business at this place; but with great submission, Your Memorialists beg leave to observe, that from the great growth of the Population and Commerce of this Borough, it is apprehended that it’s Commerce will contribute considerably to the Revenue of the United States; and as your Memorialists are disposed to give the Government every support and just due; they hope that such appointments will be made in the Revenue Department as will render it easy for Your Memorialists to account with the principal Officers, whose responsibility to the Government will no doubt prompt them to be more assiduous in protecting the fair trader, which your Memorialists conceive is most effectually done by detecting the illicit. Your Memorialists feel extremely happy in being subjects of a Government to whom they can freely represent their Grievances; and from whose deliberations they have no doubt justice will flow; and under a consciousness of their pure intentions, pray, that Your Excellency and Your Honors, will be pleased to take their case into your wise consideration; and that the residence of the principal Officers in the Revenue Department, with whom Your Memorialists will have to account, may be confined to the Borough of Wilmington” (DLC:GW).

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