George Washington Papers

Conversation with Samuel Griffin, 9 July 1789

Conversation with Samuel Griffin

New York, 9 July 1789. In a letter to Edmund Randolph, 10 July 1789, Samuel Griffin described his conversation on this date with GW as: “I had yesterday morning a long conversation with our worthy president on the subject of officers of the judiciary and the customs. He appears very anxious to know whether any of the gentlemen, who are now in the judiciary department in the state of Virginia, would prefer the continental establishment, and mentioned Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Lyons and Mr. Blair; and ask’d me, whether you had ever intimated a wish to serve in that or any other line, under the fœderal government.”1 In the course of the conversation, Griffin left with GW a list of applicants for public office who had requested Griffin’s recommendation.2

The text of this conversation is taken from an extract quoted by Randolph in a letter of 19 July 1789 to James Madison (DLC: Madison Papers).

1For the Judiciary Act and GW’s judicial appointments, see his letter to the United States Senate, 24 Sept. 1789.

2The undated list is in DLC:GW. The applicants included John Marshall, Benjamin Waller, John Hopkins, David Lambert, Alexander McRoberts, Corbin Braxton, Francis Bright, James Barron, Abraham Archer, William Reynolds, Samuel Eddins, John Campbell, Jacob Wray, David Randolph, James Gibbon, Gustavus Wallace, William Peachey, Hudson Muse, Preeson Bowdoin, Edward Stevens, Philemon Gatewood, Benjamin Pollard, William Finnie, and “Mr Scott of Maryland,” probably Gustavus Scott. On 3 Aug. Griffin wrote Tobias Lear that “When I gave in my list of applications to the President,” he forgot to mention John Hague, searcher at Rocket Landing, although on account of Hague’s advanced age he doubted he would accept the appointment. In a second letter of the same date to Lear, Griffin indicated that he had consulted other customs agents on Hague’s qualifications who indicated that Hague was not equal to the job, “on Account of age, and want of understanding.” Both letters are in DLC:GW.

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