George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Archer, 21 September 1789

From Edward Archer

Virginia—Norfolk September 21st 1789

Sir

Although I have not the honor of being personally acquainted with your Excellency I have taken the Liberty of addressing you.

I observe a Bill is now pending before the representatives of the United States for establishing Marine Hospitals for Sick and disabled Seamen and preserving regular levies for the Harbours of the United States.1

The State of Virginia is now erecting a Marine Hospital which is far advanced in the completion; I doubt not but our Assembly at their next Session will pass a vote offering it for Continental cases;2 they have done me the Honor to appoint me a Commissioner, for compleating the same; I am hopefull such a mark of their approbation and confidence will operate in my favour with your Excellency, when I declare myself a Candidate for an appointment in this or any other department under the United-States that you may please to Honor me with.

I have long had it in consideration, to solicit your Excellency for an Appointment, but when I reflected how many worthy Characters there were who fought and bled in our late arduous struggle I could not in justice to my own feelings oppose their pretentions.

To the Virginia delagation in Congress I beg leave to refer your Excellency for such information respecting my character and situation in Life, as you may wish to be inform’d of as to most of them I have the honor of being personally acquainted. I have the honor to be Your most Obt Servt

Edward Archer

ALS, DLC:GW.

There were several Edward Archers living in Norfolk at this time. This is undoubtedly the Edward Archer who served as one of the commissioners for the construction of the marine hospital at Washington, Norfolk County, Virginia.

1On 20 July 1789 the House of Representatives appointed a committee “to bring in a bill or bills, providing for the establishment of hospitals for sick and disabled seamen, and for the regulation of harbours.” The committee, consisting of William Loughton Smith, George Clymer, and Daniel Carroll, brought in a bill on 27 August. After two readings of the bill it was postponed until the next session of Congress (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 , 3:115, 171, 172, 208–9, 210). Provision for the construction of hospitals for seamen was not finally made until the passage of “An Act for the relief of sick and disabled Seamen” in July 1798 (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:605–7).

2“An Act for establishing a marine hospital for the reception of aged and disabled seamen” was passed 20 Dec. 1787 and provided for funds to erect a marine hospital for “aged, sick, and disabled seamen” at Washington, Norfolk County (12 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 494–95). The commissioners signed a contract with a Norfolk businessman on 8 May 1788 providing that construction of the hospital would be completed before the end of November 1789 (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 5:130). On 24 Dec. 1790 the legislature passed “An act authorising the sale of the Marine Hospital” authorizing the commissioners appointed to superintend the construction of the hospital “to dispose of the said marine hospital to the Congress of the United States, for the purposes of its original institution.” The money realized from the sale was to go for discharging expenses for the construction of the hospital, with any remaining funds to be divided between the towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth to support schools for orphans (13 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 158–59).

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