George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Peter Greene, 31 March 1792

From Peter Greene

Boston 31st March 1792.

May it please your Excellency,

To pardon the liberty that I have presumed in the present occasion to offer myself to your Excellency, as a Major, to serve in one of the New Regiments against the Hostile Indians—should that office be Vacant—at the same time I must believe Your Excellency will be surprised that such liberty should be presumed, by one who is a stranger to Your Excellency—Sir, if it will not be presumption in me to inform Your Excellency that at the Age of 19 Years, I was appointed an Ensign in Colo. Hitchcock’s Regiment at Prospect Hill, in the Year 1775,1 and in September following I went thro’ the Wilderness with Colo. Arnold, to Quebec, after the unfortunate attack upon that City, I was appointed Adjutant, of that Regiment, by Colo. Arnold, until that Corps returned Home—in the year 1777 I was appointed Officer of Marines on Board the Continental Ship, “Queen, of France”—in the year 1780 I was taken Prisoner of War, at Charleston S. Carolina under the Command of General Lincoln, and returned Home a prisoner on parole—and in the year 1787 when Daniel Shayes, Commenced a rebellion in the State of Massachusetts, I was appointed to Command a Company by Governor Bowdoin, and went out under the Command of General Lincoln, against Said Shayes.2

I now Sir, hold a Lieutenant Colonels, Commission, in the first Regiment of Millitia, in the County of Suffolk, in the town of Boston. I thought it my duty to acquaint Your Excellency, of these particulars as being a Stranger—Should your Excellency desire further information with respect to my Character, or Abilities, I would refer your Excellency, to Governor Hancock, or to the Hon. Thomas Russell Esqr.3—if your Excellency should think p[r]oper to Confer on me such an Office, I hope it will be in my power to give such satisfaction, as may be agreeable to Your Excellency, and the United States.4 Being with great Respect Sir Your Excellency’s Most Obedient & most Humble Servant

Peter Greene.


Peter Greene (Green) headed a Boston household consisting of five persons in 1790 (Heads of Families [Massachusetts] description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Massachusetts. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1964. description ends , 187).

1Col. Daniel Hitchcock (1739–1777) commanded a Rhode Island regiment until his death at Morristown, N.J., in January 1777.

2Capt Daniel Shays (1747–1825), who had served at the battles of Lexington, Bunker Hill, and Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, resigned from the service in October 1780. After leaving the army he moved to Pelham, Mass., where he was elected to the committee of safety and to the post of town warden. During the economic downturn of the mid–1780s, Shays led a rebellion which aimed at lightening the tax burden, reducing the number of seizures for overdue debts, and increasing the amount of paper currency in circulation in Massachusetts. After several armed clashes the rebels dispersed. Shays and a number of the other leaders of the insurrection were condemned to death, but they were later pardoned.

3During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Russell (1740–1796), a wealthy merchant from Charlestown, Mass., raised subscriptions in Boston for the Bank of North America and served as deputy agent of marine for New England. After the war Russell supported the adoption of the Constitution at the state ratifying convention, held various local offices, joined a number of philanthropic and learned societies, and continued to expand his vast business enterprises. No correspondence between GW and either John Hancock or Russell concerning Greene has been found.

4GW apparently never appointed Greene an officer in the U.S. Army.

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