George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Bowdoin, 17 July 1789

From James Bowdoin

Boston July 17: 1789


I have the honour of enclosing to your Excellency a Letter I just now received from Wm Wetmore Esqr.—recommending Mr Samuel Waldo of Portland for the office of Comptroler (or by whatever name the Office may be called) in the Revenue Department in the Eastern Counties of this State.1 The Character he gives of Mr Waldo I believe to be a very just one, and for that reason beg leave to join in the recommendation of him, uninfluenced by the Consideration, that he is a nephew to Mrs Bowdoin. This Circumstance I thought proper to mention, however it may effect the recommendation. With every Sentiment of respect and Esteem I have the honour to be, Sir, Yr Excellency’s most obt hble Serv.

James Bowdoin


During the 1780s James Bowdoin (1726–1790) served as governor of Massachusetts, holding the post from 1785 until John Hancock defeated him in the election of 1787. After attending the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention in early 1788 where he strongly supported the Constitution, Bowdoin devoted the remainder of his life to scientific and literary pursuits.

1William Wetmore (1749–1830), a 1770 graduate of Harvard, was a Massachusetts attorney. He began practice in Salem but after his marriage to Sally Waldo moved to Maine and practiced law in Castine. In 1804 he moved to Boston and served as a judge of the court of common pleas. Samuel Waldo (1764–1798), a Portland merchant, was the son of Samuel Waldo whose father had established the Waldo Patent in Maine. Wetmore’s recommendation of Waldo, addressed to James Bowdoin and dated 14 July, is in DLC:GW. Waldo, Wetmore wrote, would have preferred the post of collector at Portland, but “Mr Saml Winslow has upon the suggestion of Genl Knox, applied directly to the President by letter, for the Collectors Office & will probably obtain it. . . . The mode of applying directly to the President, by letter, which it seems is the general method & was recommended to Mr Winslow he feels averse from, because he has never had the honour of being introduced to him or of knowing him.” Waldo received no federal post in 1789, and on 25 Oct. 1790 he wrote directly to GW, reminding him of Bowdoin’s recommendation and proposing “myself a candidate for the office of collector of excise, should the assumption of the State debts occasion the establishment of such an officer.” In 1791 he again tried unsuccessfully for a federal post—the inspectorship of the District of Maine. His letter of application to GW, 13 April 1791, and Leonard Jarvis’s letter to GW, 11 June 1791, recommending him, are in DLC:GW.

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