George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Spotswood, 7 February 1792

To Alexander Spotswood

Philadelphia, Feby 7th 1792.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 4th of December should have received an earlier acknowledgment, if the pressure of public business would have sooner permitted me to make the necessary enquiries relative to the object of it. And I was induced to delay the matter until I found myself at leisure, from an idea that no inconvenience could result to you or your Son, from a short postponement, as your letter mentions his being now in London, and not expected in this Country ’till March.

Captn Truxton, with whom you express a wish that your son might sail, is now in London, and Mr Morris informs me that he will sail from thence to India, and may be expected to return here in about 18 months, and is good enough to add, that if your Son shou’d be in the Country at that time, and incline to go [on] an India Voyage with Captn Truxton, he would provide a birth for him; but he must not expect the place of Chief mate in his first voyage to India; for great dependance being placed on the Chief mate of those Ships in respect to Seamanship and Experience, a man who has been to India and proved himself capable of the birth, is generally obtained to fill it.1

If your Son should not wish to delay a voyage to India ’till the return of Captn Truxton, there will be vessels sailing from this place next Summer on board of one of which he may undoubtedly get the birth of Second or third mate; but as his sole object in such a voyage will be to gain knowledge and experience in his profession, it may be proper for him to be well ascertained of the character and talents of the Captain, in this line, under whom he may sail.

It will give me pleasure to promote the enterprizing views of your Son in this way, by any information I can obtain and communicate respecting it. I will still continue my enquiries, and if I can, at the Season when the Indiamen are fitting out, hear of a suitable birth for him, I shall not fail to let you know it; for I am pleased to find that there are some young Gentlemen of respectability, stepping forward with ardor in a profession, where they may render service to their Country at a future period.2 With great esteem I am Dear Sir, Your most obedt Servant,

Go: Washington.


For Alexander Spotswood’s son John Augustine Spotswood and the background to this letter, see Alexander Spotswood to GW, 4 Dec. 1791.

1For Thomas Truxtun and his China-trade voyages, see Thomas Jefferson to GW, 1 May 1791, n.1.

2Alexander Spotswood replied to GW from Nottingham, Va., on 14 Mar. 1792: “I have the honour to acknowledge the rect of yr favour of the 7th Ultimo; which; from the bad weather, that occasioned m⟨e⟩ to keep Close house, laid in the office, Sometime before I got it—or I would have done myself the honr of Answering it Sooner. I Return you Sir my most Sincere acknowledgements; for your attention to the Intrest of my Son—and I am Confident, from his past Conduct through life—that you will never have reason to Repent; Takeing him by the hand. From what you Say, respecting the time that Capt. Truxton will be gone—I presume, his return will not be until June 1793—In which case, my Son Can easily Make another Voyage to London—and on his return, which will be in October next (—I will Send him on to Philadelphia, when perhaps Mr Morris, may Employ him in ⟨him⟩ one of his West India Vessels. until the arrival of Capt Truxton) with Whoom I wish him ⟨to⟩ be, in preference to any other—being well assured, tha⟨t⟩ he is not only able in his profession—but a man of good Morals & much of a Gentlemen—When at leisure I shall feel myself hond by yr Answer—Mrs Spotswood Joins in our best wishes, for yrs & Mrs Washingtons health & Happiness” (DLC:GW).

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