George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Solomon Bush, 20 July 1789

From Solomon Bush

London 20th July 1789

May it Please Your Excellency

Permit, one who has fought and Bled in the service of his Country, with heart felt pleasure to Congratulate Your Excellency in your late dignified appointment, offering up his sincere prayers to Almighty God for your, health and happyness, and the prosperity of his Country.

I take the Liberty of informing your Excellency of an event that has taken place within these few days, which has as an American taken up much of my attention—Capt. Watson Commanding a Ship belonging to New York; an American Bottom, on his Arrival at this Port, was seized on account of a number of the Seamen on board being Natives of Great Britain, although, the Captn as well as the Crew made Oath; the former that he Shipp’d his Men as Americans; the latter that they Ship’d themselves as American seamen; this has still availed nothing, the Ship still under Arrest;1 as an American, Although not authorized by being in a diplomatic Line; I have taken upon Me to assist the Injury done to the Trade & Priviledges of my Country, and with, the Captn shall waite tomorrow on the Minister to dine and redress the event of which I will in a few days inform your Excellency—from this event and many injured and distressd Countrymen, I have reliev’d since being in London, points out the necessity of a persons immediately being appointed in a diplomatic Line—Shou’d the Government of my Country think proper to Honour Me with that appointment, from my acquaintance and Connection wth personages of the first Consequence in this Country, I dout not of rendering my Country many services—believe I have nothing in View but the prosperity of America. With, Sincere Respect I beg leave to subscribe Your Excellencys most faithfull Hble Sert

S. Bush of Philadelphia


Solomon Bush (1753–1795) was the son of Mathias Bush (1722–1790), a Jewish merchant of Philadelphia. The younger Bush served during the Revolution as deputy adjutant general of the Pennsylvania militia until his military service was terminated by a severe wound received in an action with the British in Chester County. He ended his military service as a lieutenant colonel. Although he apparently had no formal medical training, Bush had evidently picked up enough medical knowledge, perhaps during the time he spent in London, to be generally referred to as Dr. Bush. Bush’s business affairs did not prosper after the war, and he became a perennial applicant for public office under both the state and Confederation governments. After 1789 he transferred his supplications to GW, and a number of letters remain as testimony to his assiduous—and fruitless—pursuit of public employment. Bush was an active Mason and went to London in November 1788 on business for the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge (Oppenheim, “Jews and Masonry,” description begins Samuel Oppenheim. “The Jews and Masonry in the United States before 1810.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 19 (1910): 1–94. description ends 47). GW replied to Bush’s letter, 24 Nov. 1789, thanking him for his good offices in the matter of the detained ship but not commenting on Bush’s request for employment. On 5 Aug. Bush wrote GW with additional information on the ship (see note 1) and again requested a diplomatic appointment (DLC:GW). Not receiving a post, he apparently settled down to a “beneficial Medical employment” in London (Bush to GW, 24 Oct. 1793, DLC:GW) until called back to Philadelphia by his father’s death. He arrived in the United States at the end of September 1790 (Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 24 Sept. 1790). On 24 Oct. 1793 Bush again wrote to GW asking to replace the recently deceased Frederick Phile as naval officer for the port of Philadelphia and on 12 Nov. offered to secure recommendations for the post. Both letters and a recommendation from Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, 20 Oct. 1793, are in DLC:GW. Bush did not receive the appointment.

1In his letter to GW of 5 Aug. Bush wrote that he was “happy to say by a spirited exertion, and due representation, the Ship is again liberated.” For a more detailed account of this incident, see Richard Claiborne to GW, 23 July 1789. Bush went on to point out that “from this event and a number of American Seamen daily comeing to this Metropolis it points out the necessity of a Minister or Consuls being appointed for the United States, from my Connection in this Kingdom, I think it wou’d be in my power to serve my Country shou’d they think proper to confer a diplomatic Appointment on Me, beleive I do not speak from Interested or pecuniary principles, as I will undertake to serve my Country, from the same principles I step’d forward to the field. I am happy to find the Warm affection between the people of this Country and their former Bretheren, the Americans residing here, which is a pleasing presage of the happy Union which every good Man wishes to take place between the two Countries” (DLC:GW).

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