George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Simeon Thayer, 15 June 1790

From Simeon Thayer

Providence [R.I.] June 15 1790

May it please your Excellency

An Officer in the Fifty third year of his age after much painful service rendered to his Country and Sufferings in her Cause (a brief Sketch whereof is contained in the inclosed paper) finds himself reduced to the necessity of asking for the means of Support for the residue of Life.1

The charges of an expensive Family during the period of his service in the War, besides the support of an aged Father and Mother who with three others of his Family are since Dead incumbered him with Debts—these he could not discharge by no other means than by selling his Securities at the rate of three shillings to three shillings and Six pence in the pound.

He begs Leave further to observe that he has now a wife and Six children Dependent on his Industry for their Support the second a Daughter about 17 years of age in a declining State of health.

The Loss of a Right Eye would entitle your Applicant to a compensation on the Invalid Establishment could he have replaced his securities that was out of his power at the Time of passing the order of Congress, and by their enhansed price is rendered still more so.

Your applicant is fully convinced of your Excellency’s readiness to attend to the redress of all greivances especially those of a Soldier; and cannot doubt of being taken such notice of as may be practicable. Of this be assured Sir that the reluctance with which this application is made is equal in degree to the chearfulness with which the Service was performed.

It is wholly submitted to your Excellency’s Discretion either to provide for your present applicant by giving him a place in the Collection of the Revenue, as Marshal in this State or by recommending his case in any other way that may seem proper and may be calculated to Render the evening of Life comfortable in the enjoyment of a Compentency. With profound veneration and the most cordial attachment, I am your Excellencys most obedient and very Humble Servant

Simeon Thayer


Simeon Thayer (1737–1800) was born in Massachusetts and was apprenticed to a peruke maker in Providence at an early age. He served in the French and Indian War before establishing himself in his trade in Providence. He raised a company of Rhode Island troops in 1775 and participated in Arnold’s attack on Quebec, in which he was taken prisoner. He commanded the defense of Fort Mifflin in the Delaware in 1777. He lost an eye at the battle of Monmouth but remained with the army until January 1781, retiring with the rank of major. After the war Thayer kept a public house in Providence and served as brigadier general of the Rhode Island militia (Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society, 6:70–80). He received no appointment from GW.

1The enclosure was a manuscript diary—“A Journal of the Sufferings and Adventures of Simeon Thayer in the two last Wars in America” (DLC:GW). A transcription is on CD-ROM:GW. Thayer kept a much more extensive journal of experiences on the march on Quebec, published as The Invasion of Canada in 1775: Including the Journal of Captain Simeon Thayer, Describing the Perils and Sufferings of the Army under Colonel Benedict Arnold, in Its March through the Wilderness to Quebec in Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society, 6 (Providence, 1867), 1–45.

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