George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Bankson, 6 January 1791

From John Bankson

January 6th 1791.

May it please your Excellency

Being encouraged by a number of my Military and other friends among whom are (Doctor James McHenry, and General Otho H. Williams) am induced to offer myself to your Excellency as a Candidate for the Office of an Inspector of the Militia for the State of Maryland.1

It may Sir, be thought from the duties incident to the appointment much knowledge and information, together with a thorough acquaintance with the nature and form of returns are truly indispensable and requisite to render that person competent, who should, be honor’d with the appointment.

Aware of these qualifications have maturely consider’d the same, and would remark, that upon the true and faithful discharge of the duties annexed to this appointment much depends.

As a great part of the services performed by me in the late revolution, were of a nature similar to those requisite for an Inspector, have taken the liberty to subjoin a short narrative of the same, and, beg leave further to add, that I am in possession of the printed forms &c. incident to the resspective Stations, which I have had the honor to fill.

I would with all deference submit the same to your Excellency, praying, should the appointment, be vested in you—I may be honor’d with your confidence Your Excellency’s most obedt Servt

Jno. Bankson


John Bankson (1754–1814) served from 1775 to the end of the Revolution as an officer with Pennsylvania troops, rising from lieutenant to major (American & Commercial Daily Advertiser [Baltimore], 7 June 1814). Along with his application Bankson enclosed a narrative of his military service, reporting that he was commissioned a lieutenant in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment on 25 Nov. 1775 and participated in the campaign against Quebec in 1776. From 1778 to 1781, according to his narrative, Bankson served as regimental paymaster, and after Yorktown he was appointed inspector of Maryland and Pennsylvania troops under St. Clair in South Carolina (Bankson’s Narrative, 6 Jan. 1791, DLC:GW). James McHenry wrote to GW on 1 Jan. 1791 recommending Bankson for the post of militia inspector. After expressing regret that private business had called him to Annapolis when GW had passed through Baltimore on his way to Philadelphia, McHenry noted that the expected passage of the militia bill “has brought forward a number of the old officers of the army as expectants. I know very well that I cannot add to your knowledge of the relative merit of these gentlemen while in the service; but having been solicited by several of them for recommendatory letters, all that I could do in such a case was to select two for your consideration, whose conduct I have had a particular opportunity of observing since the peace. One of them, Major Bankson is an inhabitant of this Town, a deserving man, and justly intitled to that esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens. He is moreover in every respect qualified for the office of inspector, and has been particularly my friend in my opposition to those in this place who thought differently from me respecting the present government.” McHenry also named David Hopkins (1753–1824), a former major in the Continental dragoons, as a deserving candidate (DLC:GW). McHenry apparently gave this letter to Bankson, who was on his way to Philadelphia. Bankson enclosed a separate note along with his letter and narrative, requesting a personal conference with GW “at the same time to deliver him a letter from Docter James McHenry” (DLC:GW).

1For the background to this letter, see John Carlile to GW, 23 Dec. 1790.

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