George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Aquila Giles, 11 August 1789

From Aquila Giles

New York 11th August 1789


It is with great diffidence that I trouble your Excellency with solicitations for office, conscious that you have already experienced a great deal of trouble from similar applications—I beg leave however to offer myself to your Excellency’s consideration for the Office of Marshall of this State—Should you on enquiry, find me qualified to discharge the duties of the Office, I shall flatter myself with the hope of your Excellency’s favour—I have the Honor to be with all possible respect, Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant

Aquila Giles


Aquila Giles (1757–1822) was born in Maryland. During the Revolution he served as an aide-de-camp to Arthur St. Clair. After the war he settled in Kings County, N.Y., and served in the New York assembly from 1788 to 1793. In 1789 the marshal’s post for New York went to William Stephens Smith rather than Giles. In 1791 when Smith was appointed inspector of the revenue for New York, Giles again asked for the marshal’s post: “The loss of property which I sustained by the depreciation of the Continental Money, which amounted to Eight thousand pounds, and my early entering into the Army which prevented me from acquiring a profession, whereby I might have been enabled to rear and Educate a large and a growing family of children, makes it necessary for me to endeavour to procure some appointment. . . . I humbly submit myself to your Excellency’s consideration, being thoroughly convinced, that those who have spent so much of their time in the service of their Country, and who received so little compensation therefor as that of the officers of the late Army, ever have and ever will have a share of your Excellency’s favours” (5 July 1791, DLC:GW). Matthew Clarkson received the appointment of marshal in 1791, but in May 1792, after Clarkson’s resignation, GW appointed Giles to replace 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 1:121). When Smith resigned as inspector of the excise in early 1792, Giles wrote GW, 3 Mar., applying for the post (DLC:GW). On 1 Feb. 1795 he applied, without success, for the post of commissioner of loans for New York because his present office “produces so little, and at the same time requires nearly my whole attention, that to a large family of children it makes but a small provision” (DLC:GW). GW evidently viewed such perennial complaints of public officers about the inadequacy of their compensation with some sympathy, since Robert Morris’s wife reported that on a visit to her GW “had declared himself in the most pointed Manner for . . . Generous Salaries, and added that without large Salaries proper Persons, could never be got to fill the offices of Government with propriety” (Bowling and Veit, Diary of William Maclay, description begins Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit, eds. The Diary of William Maclay and Other Notes on Senate Debates. Baltimore, 1988. description ends 74).

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