George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Goodhue, 30 June 1789

From Benjamin Goodhue

New York June 30th 1789

Mr Goodhue, a member from Massachusetts, and resident in the Town of Salem would beg leave, in as much as the bill for collecting the revenue, now before Congress contemplates the formation of several districts, at which Officers are to be appointed, for the purpose of making such collection, humbly to recommend to the President of the United States, such persons, for filling those Offices within his neighbourhood, as by his personal knowledge of their abilities and integrity he may deem worthy of such a trust, and whose appointments, he has the fullest assurance will meet the general wishes of his Constituents.

For the district of Salem, William Pickman Esqe as a Collector,1 and Joseph Hiller as Naval Officer2—the former he has known from Childhood, and is one of the best families in the Town, is now their Representative in the State legislature, and is strongly recommended to several members of Congress, by his Townsmen, as well as some of the first characters in the State, as being well qualified for this Office—the latter is an amiable and worthy man, who now irreproachably holds the same office, under the State government—for a Surveyor for Salem, Mr Goodhue is not yet prepared for a recommendation, but will endeavour to be in season.

For a Surveyor for Marblehead, Stephen Sewall,3 for Beverly, Josiah Batchelder Esqr.,4 and for Ipswich, Jeremiah Staniford,5 each of whom are now employed, in their respective ports as Naval Officers.

For the district of Newbury port, are Michael Hodge,6 Jonathan Titcomb7 and Stephen Cross,8 two of whom are now employed in the State revenue, and the other is well qualified for such business.


Goodhue also wrote to GW on 2 June and 22 July 1789 suggesting other Massachusetts Federalists for federal appointments. Viewed by many as the choices of the Essex Junto, almost all of Goodhue’s candidates received federal posts.

1William Pickman (1748–1815), of Salem, graduated from Harvard in 1766 and entered his father’s countinghouse. During the Revolution he amassed a considerable estate by privateering, and in 1787 he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature. In 1789 he was serving as a justice of the peace in Salem when GW appointed him naval officer for the ports of Salem and Beverly, a post he held until 1803.

2Joseph Hiller (1748–1814) of Salem was collector of customs for the port under the state government and was reappointed by GW in 1789. He held the post until 1802. Hiller was active in Federalist circles in Salem throughout the 1790s.

3For Sewall’s application for office, see his letter to GW, 1 Aug. 1789.

4Josiah Batchelder (1736–1809), a native of Beverly, was a ship captain in the West Indies trade before the Revolution. In August 1789 GW appointed him surveyor for the ports of Salem and Beverly (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends 2:13). Batchelder’s letter of acceptance, 11 Aug. 1789, is in MBevHi.

5There were several Jeremiah Stanifords living in Massachusetts at this time. This is probably Jeremiah Staniford (1751–1816), son of Jeremiah Staniford (1722–1801), a shipowner, and Mary Potter Staniford of Ipswich. Before his appointment as surveyor at Ipswich in August 1789, Staniford served as the town’s jail keeper.

6Michael Hodge (1743–1816), a Newburyport merchant and ship captain, was clerk of Newburyport from 1783 to 1785 and at various times surveyor and collector of the customs under the state government. GW appointed him surveyor for the port in 1789 and later inspector. He served in the customs until 1809. For Hodge’s application for office, see his letter to GW, 8 July 1789.

7For Jonathan Titcomb, see his letter to GW, 19 June 1789.

8Stephen Cross (1731–1809), a Newburyport merchant and shipbuilder, held a number of local offices both before and after his service as collector of customs for the port. Cross was appointed to the post in August 1789 and was removed in May 1792, apparently for misconduct. For a discussion of Cross’s problems, see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 23 April 1792, and Cross to GW, 25 Nov. 1793.

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