George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Henry Lee, 29 September 1790

From Richard Henry Lee

Chantilly [Westmoreland County, Va.]
Septr 29th 1790

Dear Sir,

A long and severe visitation of intermitting fever since I returned from Congress, has placed me in a very low and reduced situation.1 But unfit as I now am for writing, I cannot withhold my testimony when it is requested, in favor of a very deserving young Man who wishes an appointment to the command of one of the Cutters to be equipped under the late Act of Congress “providing more effectually for the Collection of the duties &c.”2 Mr John Parker who will have the honor of delivering you this letter, is a trained Seaman, and well acquainted with this Bay3—he is a Man of honor & spirit, and a fifth brother of that brave and persevering family of brothers that served, three of them in the Continental Army, and one in our State Navy during the late war. His eldest brother fell at Charles Town, and the two next served under your command from the beginning to the end of the war, and as I have been informed, with honor to themselves and usefulness to their country.

Since the peace, this young gentleman has been diligently fitting himself for Sea service, by voyaging to Europe and the W. Indies, and by the command of Vessels in the Bay trade. It is my opinion Sir, that if you shall be pleased to appoint Mr Parker, he will prove an useful Officer in his Line, and I am sure he will always retain a grateful remembrance of his Benefactor.4

Present, if you please, my best respects to your Lady, and be assured that I am, with the highest respect and esteem, dear Sir Your most affectionate and most obedient servant

Richard Henry Lee


1U.S. senator Richard Henry Lee wrote to his son-in-law Corbin Washington on 1 Sept. 1790 that he arrived home at Chantilly on 30 Aug., “pretty much fatigued with my journey” from New York (James Curtis Ballagh, ed., The Letters of Richard Henry Lee [2 vols.; New York, 1911–14], 2:540–41).

2For the background to the establishment of the Revenue Cutter Service, see Hamilton to GW, 10 Sept. 1790, n.1.

3On 25 Jan. 1791 John Parker (born c.1765) wrote GW from Richmond: “When I had the honor of visiting you at Mount Vernon it was not Known whether Capt. Taylor would accept of the command of the boat now building, in this State for Congress. I have lately visited him and he informs me he has accepted of his Appointment but does not propose to hold his commission above a year, I did not think to Inform you Sir, that I would if he did accept be glad of a command under him, and now I beg leave to Sollicit to be appointed second in command in that Boat, or to any command in this Line that you shall be pleased to honor me with” (DLC:GW). Lear replied to Parker on 13 Feb. 1791: “I have to inform you, that as you did not when you was at Mount-Vernon, signify a desire to receive the second office on board the Cutter, it was not known that you would accept it” and that a second-in-command had already been appointed (DLC:GW). It is uncertain whether or not Parker accepted the third post he was then offered.

4Parker was also recommended by George Lee Turberville, who wrote to GW’s friend David Stuart, on 26 Sept. 1790, and by Hudson Muse, who wrote the president from Tappahannock, Va., on 4 Oct. 1790. Both letters are in DLC:GW.

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