George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Comfort Sage, 31 July 1789

From Comfort Sage

Middletown [Conn.] July 31th 1789

the opinion of the Subscriber, would not of itself have given him the Confidence, in this manner, to address the Supreme Magistrate, of the United States, the present mode, of application, has been represented, as agreeable, to the Usual practice, on Such Occasions, this measure, was advised, by a parson, whose Station was Sufficiently, alevated, to forbid the doubting, its propriety, this Consideration (it is hoped) will Exempt, the Subscriber, from censure, while he represents, that he is at Present, Naval officer, for the Port of Middletown, in Connecticut, that he had been, for a number of years, before his appointment, engaged, in Commercail business, but has Since, disposed of his stock, in Trade, & abandoned, all Ideas, of again, ingaging in his former Employment—this was done in obedience, to the Opinion of his Excellency, the Governor, of this state, & with Expectation, of being continued in his present, or Simelar office, Such being his Situation, & he being now, in the 58th year, of his age, he cannot but feel, a desire, to be honored with an appointment, under the united states, Similer to that he now enjoys, under the State of Connecticut, if the act for Collecting, a general impost, should provide, for the Establishment, of Such an office, at the Port of Middletown, or if any new appointments, Should be made for the Port of New London, & Middletown (not being Established as a port) Should be included, in that district, his present imployment, designates him, as not unworthy, of like imployment, under the United States, if any further recommendation, be requrisite On the present Subject, he begs Liberty, to refer to the delagation, in Congress, from this state, he is Confident that this application, will meet with Every attention, which becomes, the allustrious Character; To whome it is addressed.

Comfort Sage


Comfort Sage (1731–1799), a lifelong resident of Middletown, Conn., served with the Connecticut militia during the Revolution and during the Confederation held the post of naval officer for the port of Middletown. GW made the customs appointments on 3 Aug. and Middletown was included in the customs arrangements with the port of New London, for which Jedediah Huntington was named collector. Asher Miller received the post of surveyor at Middletown. On 8 Aug. Sage again wrote GW concerning his ambitions: “The appointment of Genl Huntington, at New London, is well Pleaseing to me, the good Services, that Gentleman, has Rendered his Country, in the Late Contest, Intitles him, to Notice, of this kind. . . . on the 31st of Last month, I addresst your Excellency, on the Subject, which I Should not have done, had I had the Least Idia, of Genl Huntingtons applying, I hope Sr your Excellency, will be So good as to pardon & Excuse me: in that Adress I gave your Excellency, to understand, that I had Sold my Stock in Trade, and quited that Business, with an Expectation, of being Continued in office, Similar to one I was then in, or Some other office, in that Line, but good Sr I find my Expectations are blasted, for reasons I am Neglected cant learn, my office was worth £200 a year, I am now out of Employ, no way of geting Subsistance in office, pray good Sr Judge my feelings, on being thus neglected, be so good as to put me into office, of Some kind or other, Equel to my late one, the Appointment of my Neighbour Mr Miller appears to me, & many others, very Exstronary, it being a Business intirly out of his line, and Naturally in the Line of mine, and he noticeed, & Myself Neglected, I fear a true representation, has not been made, to your Excellency, & the Sanate, respecting my Charrettor, had there ben, I am Sure, I should not have Met, with this Neglect, Something, unfavorable, against me, must have been made to your Excellency. . . . I had high Expectations, of Being Continued in office, of Some kind or other, and now to be thus disopointed & Neglected, it greaves me, to the very Soul, I hope Illustroues Sr, if their is not, already, an office for me their will be one Soon” (DLC:GW). For GW’s explanation, see his letter to Sage, 18 August. According to his diary entry for 19 Oct. 1789, when he was in Middletown on his New England tour, GW held a discussion of Connecticut maritime affairs with Sage. Local tradition has it that Sage was ill and confined to his bed when GW visited him (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:467; Crofut, Historic Sites, 2 :469). On 4 Nov., hearing that Miller was about to resign, Sage importuned GW for Miller’s post even though “the office is inconsiderable, yet as nothing better at Present offiers am willing to accept it” (DLC:GW). On 19 Nov. Samuel Huntington wrote GW recommending Sage. “I have hitherto utterly declined troubling You with my Addresses of this nature; but as Genl Sage had discharged the duties of Naval Officer at the Port of Middletown to good acceptance under my appointment, & is a Gentleman of character & reputable Connections, he was disappointed, & his feelings wounded at the appointment of Mr Miller” (DLC:GW). When Miller resigned his post in February 1790, Sage replaced him (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:38, 40). In the spring of 1794, hearing that Congress was considering making Middletown a separate port of entry, Sage wrote GW on 12 May asking for the post of collector, a request seconded by Samuel Huntington in a letter to GW on 1 November. Sage repeated his request in a letter of 9 Jan. 1795. All of these letters are in DLC:GW, as are several supporting letters of 1795 from Connecticut residents addressed to the Connecticut congressional delegation and to Oliver Wolcott.

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