George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Beverley Randolph, 24 August 1790

To Beverley Randolph

United States [New York] August 24th 1790


I had the honor to receive your Excellency’s letter of the 4th Inst. with its inclosures, just as I was about to embark on a visit to Rhode Island, which has prevented my answering it ’till my return from thence.1

Previous to the receipt of your Excellency’s letter I had nominated and appointed the three Gentlemen who had heretofore acted in that office, Commissioners for settling accounts between the United States and individual States.2

Although I received no official information of the report3 of two of the Commissioners to the House of Representatives respecting the Accounts of Virginia; yet the purport of it, and the effect which it had upon the Gentlemen from that State were communicated to me. Upon a knowledge of this circumstance I felt myself much embarrassed, and was led to make very particular inquiry into the official conduct and abilities of those Gentlemen before I gave the nomination of Commissioners to the Senate. The result of my investigations was favourable to the characters of the Gentlemen. They had, so far as I could learn, conducted themselves with integrity; and, except in the instance of the above report, no complaints had been uttered against them; and in this case, they went not to an impeachment of their intregrity, but rather of their discretion in giving an opinion, where facts only should have been stated; and the reception which this report has met with, and the comments upon it, will in my judgement, be such a lessen for future caution, that the State of Virginia will have no cause to apprehend a premature or uncandid decision upon any accounts which may come before them from that State.

Under these circumstances, and upon the fullest consideration I could give the subject, I could not see any just cause for removing men from office whose integrity and abilities bore the test of investigation, and who, undoubtedly, had a knowledge in the business of the department, equal, if not superior to others who had never been engaged in it.

I have entered thus minutely into this business with your Excellency as it appears to be a matter in which the State of Virginia feels peculiarly interested, that you may see I have not been inattentive to a subject of this magnitude. I say nothing of the peculiar delicacy and embarrassment which I have felt on this occasion, as being a native and citizen of Virginia; you will more readily conceive than I can express it. I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s most Obedt Humbe Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Your Excellencys letter of the 10th of July enclosing a copy of a certificate respecting the Lead Mines in Virginia, came duly to hand; but not requiring any particular answer I have delayed the acknowledgment therof ’till this time.

LS, PHi: Dreer Collection; Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1GW must have received Randolph’s 4 Aug. 1790 letter between 9 Aug., when he nominated the board of commissioners to the Senate, and 15 Aug., when he left New York for Rhode Island. The president returned to New York on 21 Aug. 1790.

2For GW’s appointment of John Taylor Gilman, William Irvine, and John Kean, see Commissioners for Settling Accounts to GW, 21 July 1790, n.2, and GW to the U.S. Senate, 9 Aug. 1790.

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