George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Neilson, 2 August 1790

From John Neilson

New Brunswick [N. J.], 2 Aug. 1790. Conceiving New Brunswick to be “conveniently situated1 for the People of New Jersey,” submits his name as a candidate for the office of commissioner of loans for that state. “If I have presumed too much on your knowledge of my Character, and by not procuring the recommendation of my fellow Citizens on this occasion, have left it too much to that issue, you will I trust pardon the error.”2


John Neilson (1745–1833) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1761 and later inherited his uncle’s mercantile business in New Brunswick, New Jersey. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he raised a minute company and soon became colonel of the Middlesex County militia. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1777 and served as deputy quartermaster general of New Jersey for the Continental Army from 1780 to 1783. After the war he returned to his extensive mercantile trade and held a number of local offices. Neilson was a member of the New Jersey convention that ratified the federal Constitution in 1787 and served as a presidential elector in 1789 (U. Pa. Biographical Catalogue, description begins University of Pennsylvania. Biographical Catalogue of the Matriculates of the College . . . 1749–1893. Philadelphia, 1894. description ends 8).

1For the controversy surrounding the location of the New Jersey state loans commissioner’s office, see James Schureman to GW, 5 Aug. 1790, in which the author refers to Neilson “as a fit person for the appointment” of New Jersey loans commissioner.

2GW appointed James Ewing, not Neilson, as New Jersey commissioner of loans on 6 Aug. 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 2:89).

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