George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathaniel Appleton, 3 December 1791

From Nathaniel Appleton

Boston 3d Decembr 1791


with great respect & diffidence I address the President of the United States.

One of my sons Thoms Appleton about 26 years of age has resided in Paris the last 5 years,1 & has been connected in business with a very respectable House there, in supplying the City with Oil by contract, which gave a fair prospect of yeilding him a handsom proffit, but during the Revolution there, such dificulties have arrisen in the business that he found it necessary to quit it, upon which his friends in Paris, from his good proficiency in writing & speaking the French language, & from the reputation which he has gained since his residence there, have advised him to apply for the appointment of Consul from the United States at the Port of Lisbon, for which appointment, I have now taken the liberty, in his behalf, to address you on the subject—it may be improper for me to enlarge upon his qualifications, but as he had the honor of being acquainted, according to their different ages & rank, with the honorable Mr Secretary Jefferson when he resided in Paris, I know of no person so capable of informing your Excellency of my sons qualifications & reputation, I understand he has written to Secretary Jefferson on the subject—if my son should be thought worthy of the appointment, I hope he will with reputation to himself & his Country promote the Interest of the United States.2

My son went abroad So young that but very few persons in this place have sufficient knowledge of him to second this application—perhaps Mr Secretary Otis may recollect him as he was acquainted in his family. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys most obedient & obliged humble Servant

Nathl Appleton


1Thomas Jefferson described Thomas Appleton (born c.1765) to John Jay on 14 Nov. 1788 as “young, and just beginning business. He is sensible, active, and fit for the viceconsulate, with a view to the Consulate at some future day” (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 14:56–66).

2Appleton had applied to Jefferson for the consulship at Lisbon on 12 Dec. 1790 and 10 July 1791 and persuaded a reluctant William Short to write to Jefferson on his behalf, which Short did in a postscript to a letter of 23 Dec. 1790 (ibid., 18:152, 355–59, 20:161n.). Nathaniel Barrett, who had recently returned from Europe, also wrote to Jefferson for Appleton, on 6 Dec. 1791. Jefferson replied to Barrett on 15 Dec. 1791 that the appointment had “been for some time otherwise destined,” an oblique reference to John Telles of Lisbon, who had the support of Robert Morris and other influential Philadelphia merchants (ibid., 22:405; see also Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., 6 April 1791, ibid., 20:160–61). For the candidates under consideration for consular posts, see Jefferson to GW, 22 Dec. 1791. Appleton received no appointment from GW, but John Adams nominated him consul at Leghorn in 1798 (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:260).

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