George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Michael Ryan, 12 March 1790

From Michael Ryan

Richmond [Va.] March 12th 1790


Some unforeseen accidents and a tedious indisposition have so derang’d my affairs that I am totally out of business, I would therefore willingly accept of any place in which I may be useful. Your former approbation of my conduct in a military line emboldens me to make this direct application. Should I be call’d forward on the arrangement of the militia or in any other Station it shall be my constant study to merit the confidence that may be repos’d in me. I am With every sentiment of respect, attachment, and esteem, Sir, your faithfull Humble Servt

M. Ryan


Michael Ryan (d. 1791) of Pennsylvania served in various Pennsylvania regiments during the Revolution, rising from the rank of second lieutenant in the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion in 1776 to captain in the 5th Pennsylvania at the time of his resignation in June 1779. In 1780 he served as inspector general of the Pennsylvania militia with the rank of lieutenant colonel and in the same year was brigade major of the First City Brigade of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 46 [1922], 167). At some point after the Revolution, Ryan, in partnership with “Mr Whitecroft of Annapolis,” acquired a substantial grant of land adjacent to GW’s holdings on the Great Kanawha River in what is now West Virginia. Ryan’s partner was probably William Whetcroft (d. 1791), an Annapolis clockmaker and merchant. By the mid-1780s Ryan and Whetcroft concocted an ambitious plan for laying out two towns in the area and attracting European farmers to settle the grant, which they, perhaps overenthusiastically, estimated at two hundred thousand acres. By late 1787, however, the partners, finding that the scheme was “too arduous an undertaking for us unconnected,” proposed forming a company and selling shares in the grant for expenses and to fund marketing the land in Europe. In December 1787 Ryan tried unsuccessfully to interest GW in the scheme. See Ryan to GW, 23 Dec. 1787 and GW to Ryan, 9 Jan. 1788. GW gave Ryan no federal appointment.

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