George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 2 July 1790

To the United States Senate

United States [New York]
July 2nd 1790

Gentlemen of the Senate.

I nominate Henry Marchant to be Judge,1 William Channing to be Attorney, and William Peck to be Marshall of the Judicial Court of the United States within the District of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.2

I likewise nominate the following persons to fill offices in the Revenue Department of the United States, within the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations—viz.3

Ebenezer Thompson to be Naval Officer of the Port of Providence, in the place of Theodore Foster, who is appointed a Senator of the United States.

Daniel Eldridge Updike to be Surveyor of the Port of North Kingstown.4

Job Comstock to be Surveyor of the Port of East Greenwich.5

Nathaniel Phillips to be Surveyor of the Ports of Warren and Barrington.

Samuel Bozworth to be Surveyor of the Port of Bristol.

George Stillman to be Surveyor of the Port of Pawcatuck River.

John Anthony Aborn6 to be Surveyor of the Port of Patuxet.7

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–91, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Executive Nominations; LB, DLC:GW. Following each nomination in the original LS is the letter “a,” most likely signifying Senate approval.

On 2 July Tobias Lear, GW’s secretary, presented this letter to the Senate, which ordered it to lie for consideration. The following day the Senate approved each nomination except Updike’s, which was “postponed for want of information” (DLC:GW; 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).

1On 6 Aug. 1790 Marchant wrote to GW from Newport, R.I., gratefully acknowledging receipt of his commission from Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and thanking GW for his confidence. Marchant added: “For the first Time, I opened the District Court, agreably to the Act of Congress last Monday at Newport—I had every Testimonial of the Satisfaction of the People in the Institution of this and the other fœderal Courts: May They prove Blessings to Them” (DNA: RG 59, Acceptances and Orders for Commission, 1789–1893).

2On 5 July 1790 Lear notified Roger Alden, chief clerk in the State Department, of Marchant’s, Channing’s, and Peck’s appointments and directed that he date their commissions 3 July 1790 (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

3Lear transmitted the commissions of those surveyors under the jurisdiction of Newport collector William Ellery to him on 5 July, noting: “The Surveyor of North Kingston is not yet appointed, owing to a mistake in the name of the person who was recommended to the President as a proper character; this will soon be rectified and his Commission forwarded accordingly” (DLC:GW).

4Confusion arose over the existence of two contemporary cousins named Daniel Updike. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton wrote to Providence collector Jeremiah Olney on 6 July: “One of the Senators of your State informs me, that he is acquainted with Daniel Updike, but knows of no person by the name of Daniel Eldridge Updike. If they are not two distinct persons, it will be necessary to ascertain the true name of the Gentleman intended for the office, and to communicate it to me, as speedily as may be, in order that the appointment may suffer no delay.” Olney replied from Providence on 16 July: “The name of the person recommended for Surveyor at the port of North Kingstown is Daniel Eldridge Updike. There is also another person of the same place by the name of Daniel Updike who is the State’s Attorney” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:470, 482–83, 498). This latter Daniel Updike (1761–1842), a son of Lodowick Updike, was a lawyer, a member of the state legislature, and secretary of Rhode Island’s ratifying convention. Daniel Eldridge Updike was a Wickford, R.I., merchant and justice of the peace for North Kingstown. The Senate approved his nomination on 3 Aug. 1790 and so notified GW. Lear sent his commission to Hamilton the following day for transmittal (Senate Resolution, 3 Aug. 1790, DLC:GW; Lear to Hamilton, 4 Aug. 1790, DLC:GW; 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 2:86).

5On 30 July Sen. Joseph Stanton sent GW Comstock’s letter of 7 July declining his nomination and recommended Benjamin Howland to fill the vacant surveyorship of East Greenwich (DLC:GW).

6John Anthony Aborn of Warwick, R.I., who had been recommended for the surveyorship by the state legislature, declined his appointment after Lear already had requested Jeremiah Olney to forward Aborn his commission (Arthur Fenner et al. to GW, 9 June 1790; Lear to Olney, 5 July 1790, DLC:GW; see also Jeremiah Olney to GW, 19 June 1790).

7On 5 July Lear sent papers (probably copies of the federal revenue collection acts) to Thompson, Aborn, Stillman, Bosworth, Comstock, and Phillips and requested acknowledgment of their receipt (DLC:GW; see, for example, GW to the U.S. Senate, 9 Feb. 1790, n.1).

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