George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Turner, 18 August 1789

From George Turner

Philadelphia August 18th 1789


The numerous applications which no doubt your Excellency has received from candidates for public favour, and the superior abilities which such a range of choice must afford, impress me with great doubts as to the propriety of any application from me.

I have taken a liberty, however, which I hope your Excellency will excuse—in thus soliciting the favour of your nomination to place me in some appointment suitable to my pretensions. Major Butler, who has politely offered to be the bearer of this, will be able to furnish your Excellency with further information. I could wish to be more explicit here; but an unexpected interruption has brought me within three minutes of the hour at which the post goes out. I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

G. Turner


George Turner (c.1750–1843), a native of England, served with South Carolina forces during the Revolution, was taken prisoner at Charleston, and after his release was appointed deputy commissary general of prisoners for the southern army, 1780–81, and commissary of marine prisoners, 1782–83. Turner again wrote GW on 24 Aug., stressing his need for a federal position and expressing his wish “to fill the vacancy on the Western Bench. . . . The losses I have sustained by the general derangement of affairs, and the failure of individuals, who owed me considerable sums are, with the years I devoted to public service, considerations which I should not have brought into view here, if after all, a sufficiency had been left me for the necessary support of an increasing little family. Thus circumstanced, I ventured to come forward at a late hour indeed, but I could not prevail upon myself to trouble your Excellency sooner. . . . A public office could not fail to prove both acceptable & convenient” (DLC:GW). For the president’s consideration of Turner as a candidate for a judgeship in the Northwest Territory, see his letter to James Madison, c.8 Sept. 1789. On 11 Sept. 1789 he sent Turner’s nomination as judge to the Senate (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends 2:38). Lear’s letter to Turner, 14 Sept., announcing the appointment is in DLC:GW, and Turner’s two letters of acknowledgment to GW, 16 and 23 Sept., are in DNA:PCC, item 78. In early 1793 Turner’s reluctance to remain at his judicial post in the Northwest Territory was causing considerable consternation in the cabinet (see JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 89, n.5). Turner served until 1797.

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