George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Poole, 21 April 1789

From Joseph Poole

Wilmington on Delaware April 21st 1789

Permit me Sir to Join in the congratulations of my fellow Citizens on seeing your Excellency appointed to the first station in the Government of the United States by the sufrages of a large majority of their virtuous Inhabitants who all ardently wish to see a permanent Government carried into execution under your mild administration when faith and confidence shall once more be restord to this long divided Country and the Arts Sciences Agriculture and Comerce shall combine to make us a great and happy People.

As it is probable that the Revenue of the United States will early come under the consideration of the fedral Government and such arrangements take place as will make it necessary to establish a Custom House in this State where are present there is not Legal regulation and the Office of Collector of the Customs having been heretofore held by a non residenter has alway been considred as a grievance by the Merchants of this Place there being no Foreign Trade from any other Port in the State1—with every sentiment of respect and duty I beg leave to solicit your Excellency for the appointment of Collector of the Customs for this Port and its dependencies whenever such appointment shall take place.

I have nothing to expect from your Excellencys personal knowledge of me having been brought up to the Sea—But being an American a Native of this Place and a steady friend to the revolution for the success of which my small abilities have been constantly exerted I am induced to make this application to your Excellency—and that you may live to participate largely in the blessings you have been so instrumental in confering on a gratefull People is the sincere prayer of Your Excellencys most Obedient & most humble Servant2

Joseph Poole


Poole served in various Delaware regiments during the Revolution.

1Delaware’s customs office was located at New Castle, some seven miles from Wilmington. For Wilmington’s merchants’ complaints about the location, see Jacob Broom to GW, 3 April 1789, n. 1. Poole was correct in assuming that the office would be moved to Wilmington under the new government, but another Wilmington resident, George Bush, not Poole, obtained the appointment in August 1789.

2Poole wrote to GW from New York on 2 May 1789: “I had the Honor of delivering your Excellency my petition accompanied with recommendations from a Number of respectable Merchants & Citizens of the Borough of Wilmington”; should GW “wish to have farther Information,” Poole referred him to Robert Morris and Thomas FitzSimons of Philadelphia and to William Constable and Charles Smith, merchants of New York (DLC:GW). On 22 May he wrote again from Wilmington to add the names of Melancton Smith and George Douglas, both of New York (DLC:GW). There are also in DLC:GW two undated recommendations for Poole, one signed by John Bennett, William Hemphill, and a group of Wilmington citizens, and the other by John Lea, Thomas May, and James Gibbons.

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