George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel McDowell, Sr., 20 October 1792

To Samuel McDowell, Sr.

Philadelphia October 20th 1792


Your letter of the 6th of April, inclosing a copy of the Constitution formed for the State of Kentucky, did not get to my hands ‘till I was about leaving this place to go to Mount Vernon, and I embrace the earliest opportunity, after my return to the seat of Government, to acknowledge the receipt of it, and to thank you for the transmission.1 I am Sir, with esteem Your most Obedt Servt.

Df, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW. The draft is docketed: “To Colo. Saml McDowell.”

Samuel McDowell, Sr. (1735–1817), a veteran of Braddock’s expedition in 1755 and Dunmore’s War in 1774, served two terms in the Virginia House of Burgesses and was colonel of a regiment from Augusta County, Va., during the Revolutionary War. After the war he moved to present-day Mercer County, Ky., and he subsequently served as a surveyor of public lands in the District of Kentucky, a judge of the first district court in Kentucky, and a judge in the first county court of Kentucky. An active proponent of Kentucky’s independence from Virginia, he presided at the April 1792 convention that produced Kentucky’s first state constitution, a copy of which he was instructed to deliver to the president. GW had appointed his son Samuel McDowell, Jr. (1764–1834), the federal marshal for Kentucky in 1789 and renewed the appointment in 1793 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 24 Sept. 1789, 27 Dec. 1793).

1McDowell’s letter to GW of 6 April 1792 has not been found. GW had his secretary Tobias Lear send a copy of Kentucky’s constitution to Thomas Jefferson on 1 Nov. 1792. “The President thinks,” Lear wrote, “it would be proper for him to cause a Copy of this Consititution to be laid before each branch of the Legislature, and requests that the Secretary of State will have them prepared in his Office, unless something should occur to him to render the laying them before the Legislature improper or unnecessary.

“The President wishes that all papers which are to be laid before Congress by him may be ready to go in as soon as he has made his general communication to that body” (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

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