George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Archibald Crary, 2 February 1790

From Archibald Crary

East Greenwich State of Rhodeisland

SirFeby 2 1790

The undoubted Prospect we now [have] that this State will recognize the Federal Government at the meeting of the Convention the first Monday of March next induces me to trouble your Excellency at this time.

I have had the honor to be imployed eithe[r] in civil or mililitary service of my Country from the commencement of the lat[e] war with Great Brittain untill the Revolution that took place in our State Government in the year 1786: since which their proceedings have not only been degrading to the State but injurious to many individuals especially those who were openly opposed to their measures; And as a number of Gentlemen must be imployed in collecting the Revenue in this State, I take the liberty to solicit the honor of your Excellency’s nomination and appointment to one of the places in the District and Port of Newport. I am encoraged to make this application by nearly all the principal Charecters in this State, as your Excellency will be more fully informed.1

If I should be so fortunate as to meet with your Excellency’s favour I will endeavour to manifest my gratitude by a strict and faithful observance of the duties of the Office to which I may be appointed.2 Permit me to be with the greatest veneration your Excellency’s most obedient and very huml. Servant

Archibald Crary


During the Revolution Archibald Crary (1748–1812) served as colonel of the 2d Rhode Island Regiment and agent for the War Department in Rhode Island. He was adjutant general of the Rhode Island militia from 1780 to the end of the war. In 1784 he was elected a deputy to the Rhode Island assembly for East Greenwich.

1On 1 June 1790 William Greene, William Bradford, Jabez Bowen, James Manning, Enos Mitchell, Jr., Thomas Tillinghast, Peter Turner, and Gardner Mumford, all Newport residents, wrote to GW recommending Crary for his “integrity & Abilities” and as “a suitable person for an appointment in the Revenue Department in the District and Port of Newport” (DLC:GW).

2After Rhode Island ratified the Constitution on 29 May 1790, Crary and other Rhode Island office seekers hastened to New York. There he wrote to GW on 21 June 1790: “On my Arrival in this City. I found that the Revenue Officers for the Ports of Newport and Providence were appointed, as we did not expect, that those Appointments would take place previous to the Ratification being receiv’d. therefore Letters in favor of some Appli[c]ants were delay’d.

“I had early thought of making Application for an Appointment and was so happy as to meet with the Approbation and encouragement of all the Gentlemen to whom I made it known. I did not think that it would be necessary to trouble your Excellency with Names, whose characters would be unknown, neither did I think that the Merchants were suitable Persons to Recommend any Candidate for those Appointments, altho did not doubt of their freindship, therefore apply’d, to only, a few of the first Characters in the State, from whom I hope your Excellency has receiv’d a Recommendation in my favor previous to this request.

“Theodore Foster Esqr. who has been Honor’d with the Appointment of Naval Officer, for the Port of Providence, has also been Appointed, by the State of Rhode Island, as Senator to represent them, in the General Government, therefore as He cannot perform the duties of both Appointments, one must become Vacant.

“Newport being the Capital of the State. Govern’d me in my Choice for that Port; my place of Residence is at East Greenwich about Twelve Miles from Providence.

“If an Appointment of Naval Officer, is made in Room of Mr Foster and it is your Excellency’s pleasure, I should be happy to meet with your Approbation, to fill up that vacancy If any further Recommendation from Gentlemen of Rhode Island is necessary. I doubt not of the friendly assistance of as many of, those of the first Character, as could be wish’d for.

“If my past Services has merited anything from my Country, my present Circumstances urges me to claim their Attention” (DLC:GW). Instead of nominating Crary as Foster’s replacement, GW appointed Ebenezer Thompson on 2 July 1790 as naval officer of the port of Providence (Ebenezer Thompson to GW, 21 May 1790; 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 2:83).

Crary was still in the city at the end of June when he again wrote to GW: “By particular request of a Number of the Good Citizens of Rhode Island. I take the Liberty once more to trouble your Excellency.

“From many and various causes has the Unhappy divisions that has prevailed in that State arose, perhaps from no one more than that of a Jealousy that prevail’d between the Citizens of Newport and Providence, and those in the other parts of the State. Great pains have been taken to quiet the minds of the people and to reconcile those disputes, but Sir I am informed that from the Exertions that is making, to obtain all the Officers that is to be appointed in that State, under the General Government in those Towns, that Jealousies begin again to arise, as they think that each part of the State (where suitable Characters are to be found) have a Claim to their part of those Officers, and as East Greenwich is near to Center of the State, and surrounded by inhabitants of all descriptions, they think that it would give more general Satisfaction if the Marshall might be appointed there—I have ther⟨e⟩fore been advised to give up, any application, that I may have made for any other appointment, and Solicit your Excellency to be appointed Marshall” (Crary to GW, 29 June 1790, DLC:GW). On 2 July 1790 GW appointed William Peck as U.S. marshal for the Rhode Island district (William Peck to GW, 15 Feb. 1790, source note).

Crary received no federal appointment in February or in June or July 1790. On 12 Feb. 1791 he again wrote GW, from Philadelphia, this time asking to be named as an excise district inspector in Rhode Island (DLC:GW). He was not offered the post. In 1798 he unsuccessfully solicited appointment as naval agent at Newport (Crary to Theodore Foster, 21 May 1798, DNA: RG 59, Letters of Application and Recommendation during the Administration of John Adams, 1797–1801).

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