George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Kilty, 13 August 1793

From John Kilty

Baltimore, August 13th 1793


I beg leave respectfully to offer myself to your Excellency as a candidate for the vacant surveyorship of the port of Baltimore.1

Respect for the station I hold in the government of this State, will not permit me to ask a recommendation from any but gentlemen of the highest character—I therefore content myself with presenting to your Excellency, herewith enclosed a letter from Mr Carroll of Carroltn and one from Coll Howard;2 Governor Lee’s favourable testimony might perhaps have been joined to that of these two gentlemen, but he is absent on a visit to the Berkeley Springs.3

Convinced that the most laboured solicitations would have no effect on your Excellency’s mind, I shall add nothing to what may have been said of me in these letters, but that the respectable writers of them have had the fullest opportunity to form a just opinion of me. I am with the truest respect Sir Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

John Kilty


John Kilty (1756–1811) arrived in the American colonies by 1771. A Roman Catholic who was born in London, England, he received part of his education in France. During the Revolutionary War he served as an ensign in the 3d Maryland Battalion of the Flying Camp, a lieutenant in the 4th Maryland Line, and a captain in the 3d Continental Dragoons. He married Catherine (Kitty) Quynn (c.1774–1838) in May 1792 and eventually had seven children. He served numerous terms on Maryland’s executive council, 1785–93, and was the clerk of the council, 1793–95. He was the mayor of Annapolis, Md., 1807–8, and the state’s adjutant general, 1810–11. In 1795, GW appointed him supervisor of the revenue and inspector of the revenue for survey 1 in the District of Maryland (Senate Executive Journal description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends , 179, 189).

1On the competition for an appointment as the surveyor of customs at Baltimore, see David Plunket to GW, 7 Aug. 1793, n.1.

2In his letter to GW of 13 Aug. 1793, Charles Carroll of Carrollton wrote: “I have long known Captain Kilty; I believe him to be a man of integrity and firmness; he is also a man of business, and understands french which may be useful in the discharge of the duties of that office. Captain Kilty served his country during the war; his circumstances are circumscribed; he has a wife & child, and probably will soon have more children to support.

“I would not, Sir, undertake to recommend to office any person, whom I did not really think deserving of the appointment: I shall never, I hope, suffer my private friendships, to prevail over a proper & just sense of public duty” (DLC:GW).

John Eager Howard recommended Kilty in a letter to GW that was written on 13 Aug. at Belvedere, his estate near Baltimore. Howard explained that his earlier letter to GW of 8 Aug., in which he recommended Martin Eichelberger, was composed before he knew Kilty “intended making application.” Howard then wrote, “I now take the liberty of recommending Capt. Kilty as a person highly deserving that office, and in every respect qualified to discharge the duties thereof.” Having “married lately,” Kilty sought “something more eligible with respect to his family.” Howard continued, “From my long acquaintance with Capt. Kilty, in publick as well as private life, I feel confident, should he meet with your Excellencys approbation, that he will discharge the duties of the office with great integrity, zeal, and satisfaction to the publick” (DLC:GW). For GW’s offer to Kilty of the position of collector of customs at Annapolis, see GW’s letters to Carroll and Howard of 25 Aug. 1793. On GW’s appointment of Daniel Delozier to the surveyor’s position, see Delozier to GW, 8 Aug. 1793, n.3.

3Thomas Sim Lee was the current governor of Maryland.

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