George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Beverley Randolph, 14 December 1789

To Beverley Randolph

New York December 14th 1789.


I was surprized to find, by your Excellency’s letter of the 1st instant,1 with which I have been favoured, that my dispatches of the 3d of October did not reach you until the last day of November; and, in consequence thereof, I have inquired of the Post-Master in this City to know if they were detained in his Office. He informs me they were not—and, as a proof of it, he refers to the stamp on the face of the letters, which will shew the day of the⟨ir⟩ leaving his Office. And I will thank you, for your own, and my satisfaction, to examine the same.

The detention of these letters is a matter of some importance not only as it respects them, but as to the general regulation of the Post-Office; and I wish exceedingly to know where they were detained, and whether it was owing to the inattention of any Post Master through whose hands they must have passed—or to a worse cause. An investigation and discovery of this matter may prevent future offences of the like nature. You will therefore oblige me, Sir, and render a service to the public, by using your endeavours to know the cause of their detention.2 I have the honor to be, Your Excellency’s most Obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, CSmH; Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1Randolph’s letter of 1 Dec. was a routine acknowledgment of the receipt of GW’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation and of copies of a number of laws passed by Congress (Vi: Executive Letter Book).

2On 28 Dec. Randolph replied that “upon examining the cover of your letter of the 3d of October I find stamp’d on it Octr 5th so there can have been no negligence in the Post Master at New York. The time which has elapsed since the receipt of those Dispatches will perhaps render it difficult for me to ascertain the cause of their Detention. You may however be assured Sir, that I shall make every enquiry, which I conceive will lead to a Discovery” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Randolph wrote to GW on 1 Jan. 1790 with additional information: “Since my last of the 28th of December, I called upon mr Augustine Davis, Post master at this place, and inquired of him the cause of the Detention of your Dispatches of the 3d of October. He informed me, that about the time which I received them, there came to his office from Savannah, two letters from you directed to me; On the cover of one of which was written in a fair hand, ‘These letters have been sent to Savannah by mistake.’ I asked him whether there was any check established, by which he could ascertain the particular office, at which this mistake had happened, he answered, that no other entry was made in his Books of free Letters, than their number and the time of their receipt” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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