George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Paul Allen, 18 June 1790

From Paul Allen

Providence [R.I.] June 18th 1790


The happiness Individuals of the United States have in addressing your Excellency, is One of the greatest blessing they enjoy under the present Constitution. Emboldened by the kind reception others have met with from your Excellency in similar circumstances, I have presumed to venture on that ground under the fullest conviction that your Excellency has ever attended to the welfare of those who have suffered in the cause of their Country.

In the beginning of the War⟨,⟩ I took an early and active part being Master of the second vessel that brought warlike stores into this Town.1 After that I furnished the Army with provisions to the amount of 120,000 Rations, as likewise the sum of £1500 in Ammunition this was nearly all I possessed, and for which I received the public’s securities; many of these evidences I have since been under the necessity of parting with at a very low price to supply the wants of a large and growing family who are all of them Minors and depend on me for subsistence, this circumstance with many others has so exhausted my property as to occasion my humbly soliciting your Excellency for the appointment of Naval Officer in this Town, which duty have the confidence to think I could discharge in such a manner as to merit yours and the public approbation, which should I be so happy to have my address handed previous to the choice of that Officer, and your Excellency should be induced to make such enquiry respecting my abilities as a suitable person for that department I would beg leave to mention Theodore Foster Esqr. one of the Senators from this State, who although I presume has previously recommended Ebenr Thompson Esqr. yet will not be wanting to give your Excellency such satisfactory information as the nature of the appointment requires. I have the honor to be with the greatest deference & respect Your Excellency’s most Obedient and most Devoted humble Servant

Paul Allen


Paul Allen (c.1741–1800), a Providence ship captain, was involved in the Association movement before the Revolution and was active in supplying the state with military stores during the war. He represented Providence in the Rhode Island general assembly in 1778 and again from 1783 to 1786. Allen’s application was supported by a letter of recommendation from Samuel Nightingale, John D. Torrance, Nicholas Powers, and John Spurr, who wrote that “in the late struggle of his Country [Allen] ever discovered a strong attachment to its cause and interest, both of which is manifested by his supplying the Army early in the War with warlike stores and provisions to a very considerable amount” (Samuel Nightingale et al. to GW, 12 June 1790, DLC:GW). Allen did not receive an appointment from GW. In February 1791 a committee of Rhode Islanders, including Jabez Bowen, Enos Hitchcock, John Brown, Jeremiah Olney, James Manning, John James, Samuel Nightingale, and Thomas Smart, recommended Allen for excise collector, also without success (see Jabez Bowen et al. to GW, 14 Feb. 1791, DLC:GW).

1In 1776 Allen made a voyage to the West Indies on the sloop Unity, returning with a cargo of military stores (see Nicholas Brown to Capt. Paul Allen, 31 Dec. 1775, and “Manifest of Cargo Imported in Sloop Unity Paul Allen Mr from Curacao,” Clark, Naval Documents, description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 12 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends 3:322–23, 4:593–94).

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