George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Caleb Gibbs, 8 August 1790

From Caleb Gibbs

Boston August 8th 1790.

Induced Dear Sir by motives of filial regard and the most affectionate attachment, and flattering myself that you continue to be interested in my fate, I have once more presumed to address you1 to take my leave, before I retire from this place to Barree about seventy miles into the country; The Ill chances of life have ditermined it so, and by the 18th Instant I shall sett off (after having disposed of great part of my furniture by Auction) with Mrs Gibbs and her Little girl2 to incounter the wilderness, incompassed by an uncooth neighbourhood, and to occupy a house prehaps not tennantable.3 If any part of my military Life claims your least attention and you think me worthy of a line a Letter left at the Post-Office at Worcester and directed to me at Barree will certainly reach me.

I pray you to offer me in terms of the highest respect to Mrs Washington and compliments to Colo. Humphrey’s. And may the God of all mercies have you under his holy keeping is the sincere prayer of him who always was and ever will be Dear Sir, Your devoted Obedient and very humble servant

Caleb Gibbs


2Margaret Gibbs was born to Caleb and Catherine Hall Gibbs (1766–1849) in 1789, two years after their marriage.

3Gibbs wrote to Alexander Hamilton, after whom he named his eldest son born in 1791, from Barre, Mass., on 16 Jan. 1791, pleading to be informed “if nothing is yet in your power sufficient to call me from this place. Mrs. Gibbs would go with me almost any where if a Comfortable competence offers (even with the strictest oeconomy) and can be obtained. Perhaps something within your own sphere can be found. Think of me My good Sir and notwithstanding the Presidents forgetfulness of me a hint from you I know would answer every purpose” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 7:436).

Upon his return from rustication, Gibbs solicited GW for a federal appointment, writing from Boston on 15 June 1793: “Mrs Gibbs being very unhappy in the Country owing to the seperation from her connections; the impossibility of obtaining an education for our children; the unaccustomed manner of living and falling in the rear with hard fare and close Industry at the end of the year, were inducements with other inconveniencies to occasion my removal” from Worcester County. He noted, “It is not for myself I ask, no Dear Sir be assured it is not, it is for the comfort and support of one of the most amiable Wifes on Earth and three promising Children, which I wish to carry through life with decency and reputation” (DLC:GW).

Gibbs accepted a clerkship at the Boston Navy Yard in December 1794, supposedly “at the solicitation’s” of GW and Henry Knox, both of whom, he claimed, “gave me the greatest assurances of soon having a place more satisfactory and observed to me in a Letter, to accept of this for the present as something better would soon turn up” (Gibbs to Thomas Jefferson, 20 June 1801, DNA: RG 59, Letters of Application and Recommendation during the Administration of Thomas Jefferson, 1801–9; see also Knox to Gibbs, 16 June 1794, NNGL: Knox Papers).

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