George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander McCaskey, 19 August 1793

From Alexander McCaskey

Baltimore Town Augt 19th 1793


Having been on business in York County Pennsylvania at the time of Coll Ballards Death, & being Just return’d I found myself Anticipated in my intention by a Number of Respectable Applicants for the Surveyors Office.1 But Presuming on your Excellency’s Candour & goodness I have ventured tho’ Late to remind you of my former Application by letter with the Recommendations accompanying it, to which I wou’d beg leave to refer,2 tho’ from the early & uncommon Industry us’d to secure to some of the Applicants, & my Absence having precluded me from the Mercantile favour, it is nevertheless with confidence I assure your Excellency, that Recommendations from other respectable Citizens not less Uniform in their Attachment to the Independance & Present Government of America can be procured.3

Mr James Burn who now does the business of Surveyor & Inspector & has acted as Coll Ballards Deputy & Clerk, is my Son inlaw,4 Your Appointing me wou’d be a provision for two helpless families, & trust the business wou’d be executed with fidelity & Promptness. All the Applicants I have heard of are all ready in business, Aided by Powerfull & Rich Connexions, or in some place of Proffit under Government.

I am now of an Infirm Period of Life, having spent my best Days in the Army as your Excellency will recollect. I was a Deputy Commissary Genl of Forage under Coll Biddle, & was taken & kept a Prisoner on Long Island two Years,5 till I had Exhausted what little substance I had, & my Pay has been unfortunately Sacrifised by the treachery & Speculative View of a Pretended friend, & if it was not for the Filial Protection of Doctor Coulter who Married one of my Daughters I know not what Mr Burns family & my own might have suffered these last two Years6—there are facts which I have taken the liberty to submit to your Excellencys Consideration & beg you to excuse the solicitude with which I urge my Claim to your Protection—& am with cincere respect & Attachment Your Obedient servant

Alexr McCaskey

ALS, DLC:GW. The post office stamps on the cover read “BALT AUG 20” and “FREE.”

1The death of Robert Ballard produced at least nineteen applicants for the position of surveyor of customs at Baltimore (David Plunket to GW, 7 Aug. 1793, and note 1). For GW’s decision to appoint Daniel Delozier to the vacant position, see GW to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 25 Aug. 1793.

2On McCaskey’s previous application and recommendations, see his letter to GW of 4 July 1789, and note 1.

3In a letter to GW of 20 Aug., written at Baltimore, McCaskey enclosed “a Certificate sign’d by a few, but respectable Citizens.” He noted that “most of these Gentlemen have been conspicious Characters during the Revolution, three of them at this time in the Commission of the Peace, perhaps Personally known to your Excellency” (DLC:GW). The enclosed recommendation of 19 Aug., written at Baltimore, reads: “We the Subscribers are well acquainted with Mr Alexander McCaskey of Baltimore Town, and being inform’d that he is about to make Application for the Office of Surveyor of this Port Do, hereby Recommend him worthy of Publick Trust and well Qualified to Execute the Duties of that Office.” It was signed by George Gould Presbury, Thomas Elliot, John Coulter, Jesse Hollingsworth, and Isaac Griest (DLC:GW).

4For James Burn’s application for the surveyor’s position, see his letter to GW of 14 Aug. 1793.

5On McCaskey’s service as deputy forage master under Clement Biddle and his subsequent imprisonment, see his letter to GW of 4 July 1789, and source note.

6McCaskey had apparently lost his previous employment in the customs office at Baltimore in the winter of 1792–93 because of his temporary imprisonment for debt (Otho Holland Williams Papers description begins Maryland Historical Records Survey Project. Calendar of the General Otho Holland Williams Papers in the Maryland Historical Society. Baltimore, 1940. description ends , 240, 286). Baltimore physician John Coulter married Mary (Polly) McCaskey in 1788.

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