George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Sylvanus Bourne, 28 December 1791

From Sylvanus Bourne

Philadelphia Decr 28th 1791


As the Legislature of the United States, appears not to contemplate, either an adequate regulation of the powers of their Consuls, or reward for their services, and the present state of St Dominique, being less favourable to mercantile pursuits, than heretofore, I have reason to think that my return to that Country, would only tend to increase the weight of those Disbursments, which my former Essay has already led me in to.

Thus situated I am under the necessity of asking your acceptance of the resignation of my Commission as h⟨ere⟩ inclosed; which I make with a due sen⟨se⟩ of the Confidence you was pleased to pl⟨ace⟩ in me by the appointment, and have ⟨illegible⟩ regret that it has not in my hands, ⟨illegible⟩ rendered more subserviant to publick benefit.1 I have the honour to be With perfect Respe⟨ct⟩ Sir Your Most Obedi⟨ent⟩ & Humble Servan⟨t⟩

Sylv: Bourne

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Consular Despatches: Amsterdam.

1Tobias Lear forwarded the enclosed commission with its cover letter to Thomas Jefferson on 30 Dec. 1791 (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Sylvanus Bourne had written to Jefferson from Philadelphia on 10 Dec.: “The aggregrate result of that investigation, which I have made of the sentiments of the members of Congress relating to the Consular System, of this Country, tends to weaken my expectations of ever returning again to the West Indies, and the more especially as the present state of Hispaniola renders still more precarious than before, every pursuit of a mercantile nature: but faint as my expectations from a tenure of my present Commission may be—they are more than I possess from any other source; or I should e’er this have resigned that Charge, which I was induced to accept from a false association of Ideas, cherished by my aspiring hopes—but which has brought on me the weight of accumulated expences, disappointment & Chagrin” (DLC:GW). Bourne unsuccessfully solicited appointment as treasurer of the mint in 1792, before accepting the consulship at Amsterdam (see Bourne to GW, 22 May 1789, n.3, and Shearjashub Bourne to GW, 20 Jan. 1792).

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