George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Peter Jaquett, 18 April 1789

From Peter Jaquett

Wilmington [Del.] 18th April 1789


A series of misfortune since the conclusion of the late War oblidges me to trouble your Excellency with this application—After having served to the end of the War, I returned to my farm in expectation of a convenient subsistance at least, but the winds and the waters have conspired to overwhelm my little Plantation, and the unrightious Government of Delaware has deprived me of the only fund, by which I could have fortified against these furious Elements. In short sir, the small parcel of Land which I hold, consists chiefly of the low grounds and meadows near Wilmington, which by the breaking of the Banks, have been constantly overflowed for several years, and I have not the means of repairing the Banks and reclaiming the marshes; those aids, which might have been expected from our publick securities, we have been deprived of, by the prevailing Politic’s of this State.

This short history may serve to inform Your Excellency, that I am in a situation not very easy or happy, and will Appologize I hope for troubling you with an Application for some Appointment under the new Government.

I confess to your Excellency, that the Naval Office and Collectorship of Wilmington, would be most agreeable to me, But, if I should not be so happy as to obtain either of them, a militery appointment would oblidge me much, And I flatter myself Sir, that there is yet in your Excellencys Breast, an Advocate in favour of those Officers of your Army who served through a Doubtfull War as good soldiers, and have lived since the Peace as honest and peaceable Citizens, And as I am the only Officer who has served in the Line of the Delaware State that will make application to your Excellency at present, I flatter myself with success.

When I recollect how accurately your Excellency used to recognize and discriminate each and every officer of your Army, I cannot but flatter myself that I am not entirely unknown as a soldier, notwithstanding the three last years of my service I was detached from your Excellency, under the more immediate Command of that verry excellent and respectable Officer Major General Green. I shall rely upon these recommendations to obtain Your Excellency’s favour and Patronage, rather than on the influence of the great.1 I have the Honour to be with the greatest Affection, Your Excellencys, most Obt Humb. servt

Peter Jaquett


Peter Jaquett (c.1754–1834) served from 1776 to 1781 in the Delaware Continentals, entering the war as an ensign and ending the war as major by brevet. After the war Jaquett resided at Long Hook in New Castle County and was an active member of the Society of the Cincinnati. A number of Delaware citizens recommended Jaquett to GW: on 12 Mar. James Tilton wrote that Jaquett’s “small patrimonial estate has been rendered unproductive, by the overflowing tide through breaches in the Wilmington banks . . . that five years interest on his depreciation debt is the only substantial benefit he has ever received from his public securities, and so unfriendly to the army creditors is the Government of Delaware, as to afford no regular prospect of further relief until the general government shall be able to interpose, with more than recommendatory powers.” On 13 April David Finney and John Thompson, both judges of the Delaware Supreme Court, assured GW that Jaquett’s appointment “would give great Pleasure to the Virtuous Citizens” of New Castle County. A letter dated 13 April and signed by members of the Delaware legislature testified that Jaquett’s “distinguished services in the Army, have greatly endeared him to his Countrymen, and particularly to his brother officers and soldiers. Some inevitable misfortunes that have happened to his patrimonial estate, and the present low state of public credit, have reduced him to the necessity of making application for some post of profit under your Excellency’s direction.” In his letter to GW, Jaquett also enclosed a supporting letter from John Dickinson to Richard Bassett, 24 Mar. 1789. All of these letters are in DLC:GW.

1Having received no position in the new government Jaquett on 16 Jan. 1791 wrote to GW in a second unsuccessful attempt to secure a public post (DLC:GW). For Jaquett’s involvement in the complicated affair of Joseph Anderson’s appointment to a judicial post, see Anderson to GW, 11 June 1790 and 23 Feb. 1791.

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