George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Courts Jones, 1 June 1789

From John Courts Jones

Maryland June 1st 1789.


At a very early period of Life I obtained a Commission in the Army, and continued ’till the Conclusion of the War, in which time I was promoted to the rank of Major—On the return of Peace, finding my Finances a good deal exhausted, I was induced to solicit an employment in the civil Department, and rejoiced to find my application attended to—soon after, the Governor and Council in Consequence of a vacancy happening, appointed me Naval Officer of North Potomack first District—In that employment I am now engaged, and wish to be continued if your Excellency should consider me to be equally entitled with any other who may apply.1 I am very Respectfully Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

John C.Jones


John Courts Jones (1754–1802) of Charles County, Md., was a planter who began the Revolution as a second lieutenant in the 1st Maryland Battalion of the Flying Camp and ended the war as a captain, serving as aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. William Smallwood from 1779 to 1783. After the war he served in the Maryland lower house from Charles County in 1785 and as naval officer for the first district in 1786 and was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati. Jones married Dorothy Hanson Harrison, daughter of GW’s military secretary Robert Hanson Harrison.

1Otho H. Williams enclosed an undated statement concerning Jones in his letter to GW of 5 July 1789: “Major Jones informed me that he would offer his services by Letter, addressed to the President of the United States. Majr Jones when a Youth was clerk to an Officer of the Customs under the former Government of Maryland. He entered early into the Army—and was esteemed a good officer. He obtained a Commission as Captain in the line; And, in the Staff was appointed Major of Brigade, and Aid De Camp to Genl Smallwood. The two first Offices he executed with capacity and reputation; and, in the second, his conduct exceeded what his duty, as aid, strictly required; for at the first unfortunate action of Camden, Jones, of my knowledge, assisted to rally the Brigade to which he belonged, more than once after his General had left the field—Since the Peace—Jones has so conducted himself, in private life, as to gain the suffrages of a Majority of his Country Men who sent him to represent them in general assembly—His appointment to the Naval office, of the Lower District, on Potowmac river, disqualified him from being a representative, and he has even since continued in the execution of his Office without the imputation of a misdemeanor” (DLC:GW). In August 1789 Jones received a federal appointment as collector of the customs at Nanjemoy in Maryland’s eighth naval district and in 1792 was named inspector of the excise at Cedar Point (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 1:11, 104).

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