George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Proctor, 5 July 1789

From Thomas Proctor

Philadelphia July 5th 1789

Esteemed Sir

Be pleased to suffer the Intrussion of this address which perhaps may interfer with business of Importance, and I shall with brevity acquaint your Excellency that th[r]ough adverse and unforseen misfortunes while I continued Sheriff of the County of Philadelphia, I have been led to bear the losses of those, for whome I had once felt the utmost tenderness—even to the nonfulfilment of my duty; to save them from apparrent ruin & their turn been served, of course they neglected me, and through the consequent attendant, my Estate in a considerable degree is wasted by various suits to the adjusment of such demands. This catastrophy is the more hightned when I reflect that under providence I am the only one that a numerous and aged family have to look to for their comfort and suport. such being my lot and at a time when I have nearly passed the Zenith of usual activity Induces me to leave it upon the recollection of your Excellency; that if in the arrangement of the war, and Ordnance departments, their should happen a vacancy to which I might be deemed capabel, and worthy of filling; I would willingly accept it as your gift. And why I name the line of the Ordnance particularly is—That notwithstanding its extensive branches, I beg leave to say that I have an intimate and Mechanical knowledge, of the Equipments of that branch of the Army, it being the profession of my youth, upwards of Twenty one years; previous to the late war in America. I will not add farther at this time, only to asshure you that I am with wonted sincerity for your happyness your Excellency Obedient Servant

Thomas Proctor


Thomas Proctor (1739–1806) was born in Ireland and was brought to America at an early age by his father Francis Proctor. Before the Revolution Proctor worked as a carpenter in Philadelphia; during the war he rose rapidly, reaching the rank of colonel of the 4th Continental Artillery in 1777. After the war he served as sheriff of Philadelphia County from 1783 to 1785 but soon returned to a military career. In 1790 he was commissioned “Lieutenant of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia” and in 1791 served as a commissioner to the Indian tribes living along the Miami and Wabash rivers. In 1793 Proctor was appointed a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia and commanded Pennsylvania troops during the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794; in 1796 he was made a major general in the state forces. Proctor had serious financial problems in his later years, including a lawsuit regarding the ownership of Hog Island in the Delaware River. Proctor received no federal appointment from GW although he was commissioned by the president in 1793 to carry an invitation to the Seneca chief Cornplanter for an abortive council in Philadelphia (see JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 64, 65).

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