George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Woodward, 15 July 1789

From John Woodward

New York July 15. 1789.


Having formerly been a Merchant in this City, and having taken an active Part in the late Revolution the Consequences whereof entirely deranged my Pursuits, I am induced at this Commencement of the Administration to solicit an Employment under Government. Any Office in the Customs or in any of the other Departments to which I may be judged competent will be thankfully accepted.

I shall not trouble you, Sir, with numerous Recommendations, which might easily be procured, but beg Leave to present the accompanying select Testimonials.1 I may also venture to refer to the Governor of this State.

Should I be favored with any Appointment from the National Government, I trust that I shall discharge the Duties of my Office with that Faithfulness Diligence and Address which I wish should mark all the Transactions of, Sir, your most Obedient and most humble Servant,2

John Woodward


1No supporting letters are now in DLC:GW.

2Woodward renewed his application on 14 Nov. 1789, expressing his willingness to accept any appointment which might procure “even One Hundred Pounds a Year” and referring GW to Gov. George Clinton for an opinion on Woodward. On 16 Nov. he wrote again, stating that Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was willing to aid him in obtaining a clerkship in the auditor’s office. Hamilton had at least some business dealings with Woodward in the early 1780s. See Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 3:571, 576–77. Woodward accepted the appointment, and on 25 July 1791 he wrote to GW from Philadelphia: “Shortly after your Arrival at New York I had the Honor to address you upon the Subject of a public Appointment. Having removed from thence with the Offices of Government last Fall to this Place I now beg Leave to renew my Application.

“Permit me, Sir, to observe that although regularly brought up to the methodical Knowledge of Mercantile Business and before our public Interruption considerably engaged in the Exercise of it upon my own Account, the eventful Vicissitudes of the War, but chiefly my uniform Attachment to the American Cause, obliged me to accept of a Clerkship in the Treasury Department under the Direction of Mr Nourse in March 1790 where I still remain. The Salary is somewhat incompetent to the Support of my Family and to embrace the desirable Object of finishing the Education of my two Sons, the younger of whom lately prepared to enter College I have been obliged to stop until the returning Smiles of Providence may enable us to proceed.” All of these letters are in DLC:GW. GW gave him no public appointment.

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