George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Claypoole, 4 September 1790

From John Claypoole

[Philadelphia] The 4th of Septr 1790


I intreat your pardon for taking this method of presenting my petition, as I had not an opp’y, of sending it in the usual way.

I make bold to inclose1 the opinion of some of my fellow cittizens with respect to my Qualifications as an officer in aid of the Customs.

wishing not to intrude on your time, I have only to promise, that should you be pleas’d to appoint me, I shall exert my best abilities in a faithfull discharge of the duties of that appointment. I take the liberty to subscribe myself with every Sentiment of respect Your huml. Servt

John Claypoole

P.S. If it should please you to order me to your presence before you leave this Citty,2 or send an answer I live 3 doors above the Citty Tavern.


Upholsterer John Claypoole (Claypole; 1752–1817) was the son of tanner William Claypoole of Philadelphia and Mount Hope, New Jersey. He served on the privateer Luzerne during the Revolutionary War and was captured and imprisoned in England. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1783. GW did not appoint Claypoole to a customs post at this time (Heads of Families [Pennsylvania], description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Pennsylvania. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1970. description ends 237; Philadelphia Directory, description begins Clement Biddle. The Philadelphia Directory. Philadelphia, 1791. description ends 1791, 22; Pa. Mag., description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 139 vols. to date. 1877–. description ends 16 [1892], 178–190).

1The enclosure has not been identified.

2After spending the nights of 30 and 31 Aug. 1790 at Elizabethtown and New Brunswick, N.J., and that of 1 Sept. probably at Bristol, Pa., GW and Martha Washington, accompanied by Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, secretaries William Jackson and Thomas Nelson, and ten servants, arrived at Philadelphia in the early afternoon of 2 Sept. 1790. Despite GW’s earlier request to Clement Biddle that public ceremony be limited, the presidential party was met outside Philadelphia by large crowds and escorted to its lodgings at the City Tavern by troops of cavalry, artillery, and infantry. Church bells pealed in welcome, and a feu dejoie was ignited. The city corporation provided a 4:00 p.m. dinner attended by state executive officers, legislators, and members of the convention that was then meeting in Philadelphia and had just completed drafting a new state constitution. The dinner was followed by the obligatory thirteen toasts, and later a brilliant display of fireworks illuminated Market Street (Gazette of the United States [New York], 8 Sept. 1790; Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 4 Sept. 1790; see also Parsons, Extracts from the Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, description begins Jacob Cox Parsons, ed. Extracts from the Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, of Philadelphia. 1765–1798. Philadelphia, 1893. description ends 163).

Despite Martha Washington’s indisposition, in the afternoon of 4 Sept. 1790 the president and first family attended with 200 of Philadelphia’s ladies and gentlemen a private fête champêtre in the groves of Gray’s public gardens near Gray’s Ferry on the Schuylkill River. This picnic was followed by a concert and tea, coffee, and other refreshments, and the company did not retire until nine in the evening. The presidential party left Philadelphia and continued its homeward journey on 6 Sept. 1790 (Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 8 Sept. 1790).

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