George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ebenezer Storer, 23 May 1789

From Ebenezer Storer

Boston May 23d 1789


Tho’ personally unknown to your Excellency, I am not so to the fame of your virtues, but am one among the great number of those who sincerely rejoice in the independence of my Country & your election to the Presidency of the united States of America. Permit me therefore, Sir, to join my congratulations with theirs & excuse me if I call off your attention for a few moments from the more weighty cares & concerns of your station, while I briefly relate the circumstances of a family, who, by a wise overuling providence, are reduced by the War from easy comfortable circumstances, not indeed to absolute penury & want, but which must end in that, unless I can obtain some office or trust, which may enable me to maintain & support them.

Before the War I was in large business, imported considerably & had large connections in this & the neighbouring States & had I been out of Debt should have thought the ballance of my Stock a full competency. but unfortunately when the War broke out, I was among the number of those who were in debt in Great Britain, & tho’ I sold the Goods I had on hand for the paper Currency, & red[uced] my debts in the same manner, yet I could not avail myself of those payments to discharge the debts due from me. I therefore thought it most for my Interest & that of my Country to invest the money in the public funds & accordingly lent it to this State & the Continent, expecting at the close of the War it would discharge the debts due from me & leave me something to begin business again. but to my great disappointment when the peace took place, the principal was greatly depreciated & would not discharge the debts due from me without a heavy loss. I therefore sent a statement of my affairs to my Creditors, who allowed me time to pay, & took my Bonds accordingly, & I hoped when these Bonds became due, the Securities would be so far appreciated as to enable me to make the payments, but instead of this when the first & second payments fell due, the securities had still further depreciated, & I had no other alternative, but to accept the offer made me by my Creditors of taking my real Estate at an apprized value & the public Securities at 4/ being one fifth part of the specie value, & taking a discharge from them. this I complied with, tho’ by it I have sustain’d almost a total loss of my property. they have left me a few debts & part of a Legacy due to Mrs Storer from her Father’s Estate, which from the difficulty of the times will not perhaps be wholly paid—and this with a small Salary as Treasurer of the University at Cambridge is all my dependance.

Under these circumstances & perplexities I have been advised by my Friends to make application for some office under the new federal constitution, & accordingly wrote to the Vice President before he left this place, giving him a particular account of my situation & requesting his Interest on my behalf, to him therefore I beg leave to refer your Excellency for further particulars & also to Mr John Atkinson a considerable Merchant in New York, who married my eldest Daughter, & who will at any time wait on your Excellency, & give you any further information you may wish to know respecting these matters.1

I know not what appointments there may be this way, but if there is any one, which your Excellency on enquiry may think me capable of executing & can confer it on me, you may depend on my utmost endeavours to perform the duties of it with the greatest fidelity.

Your known goodness & readiness to assist the distressed has induced me to trespass so much on your Excellency’s time, I shall therefore only add my best wishes & most ardent prayers for your health & happiness, that your administration may be easy & prosperous, & that my Country, as it has in time past, may continue for a long time to enjoy the benefit of your important Services. I am, with the highest esteem & respect Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

Ebenezer Storer


Ebenezer Storer (1730–1807) of Boston graduated from Harvard in 1747 and received an M.A. degree in 1750. After working briefly in his father’s warehouse, he opened a mercantile business and served in several minor municipal posts. He became treasurer of Harvard in July 1777 and was a founder and first treasurer of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Storer received no appointment under the Washington administration, but in November 1797 John Adams appointed him inspector of survey no. 3 in Massachusetts (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:251).

1John Atkinson was a partner in the merchant firm of Atkinson & Francis, with an establishment at 10 Hanover Square in New York City.

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