George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 3 February 1793

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

[Philadelphia] Evening of the 3d Feby 1793

Dear Sir

Of the numerous petitions referred by Congress to me, very few on the first blush, have the appearance of equity so strongly as the enclosed.1

If the President would have the goodness to look at it, as his name is mentioned, he may perchance recollect something, which may be of service to a man, who states, that he did upon the strength of faith, perform good works for the United States, when they were in a weak and low condition.2 I am Yours affectionately

H. Knox

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1The petition, which has not been identified, involved Gilbert Dean, who, in 1781 as captain of the Westchester County militia in New York, had gathered intelligence for GW in Long Island and New York (GW to David Waterbury, 29 April 1781, LB, DLC:GW, and Sprague transcript, with original docket, DLC:GW; Dean and William Scudder to GW, 14 May 1781, DLC:GW; Alexander McDougall to George Clinton, 24 Mar., Clinton to McDougall, 27 Mar. 1779, in Hastings, Clinton Papers, description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends 4:665, 672). The Senate had referred the petition to Knox in February 1792, but neither the House nor the Senate approved compensation for Dean (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 7:107, 9:56; Journal of the Senate description begins The Journal of the Senate including The Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 4:137, 7:32).

2On 4 Feb., GW returned the petition to Knox, informing him that he could recall no more about Dean, other than what was contained in the petition. However, the president noted that while he had sent “250 Guineas” to General McDougall to fund espionage in New York, he did not know if Dean ever received part of the payment (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 42).

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