George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Fitzgerald, 23 October 1793

From John Fitzgerald

Alexandria [Va.] Octor 23d 1793


Hearing this Morning that the Surveyor of this District was about to resign,1 I could not in justice to the Individual, or my own sense of propriety in the Office which I have the honor to hold, forbear solliciting your attention to Mr Vincent Gray; who was Mr Lee’s Deputy & continues to be mine[.]2 his constant & Vigilant attention, his strict impartiallity, & his knowledge of the business, entitle him in my estimation to a decided preference to any who may claim this appointment, & I will venture to say that in the performance of the duties of his office, he has constantly had the most minute regard to the public good, whilst in the other hand his Deportment has been such as to give the highest possible satisfaction to the Mercantile Interest with which of course the business was transacted[.]3 Added to this the business will in future be under the same Roof, which is the Mode in every large Seaport to the Northward, & will prevent an amazing delay to Owners & Masters of Ships, who often have, after their business with the Collector is done, to seek for a length of time after the Surveyor from whom they have nothing to get but a Certificate of admeasurement, & the fees of the Surveyor at this Port are inadequate to a constant attention to that duty.

If any doubts should remain on your mind respecting this application, I have only to request that you would lay it before the immediate Head of the department who is soon to meet you, & I am persuaded is well acquainted with the merits of this Gentleman, & will by his observations strengthen the subject of my request.4 With most perfect Esteem I have the honor to be Sir your mo. Obedt Servant

John Fitzgerald


2Fitzgerald was collector for the port of Alexandria. Gray wrote GW on this date: “Being informed that Colo. Hanson intends to resign his office as Surveyor of this District, I take the liberty, from my knowledge of the duties of that Department, to offer my self as his Successor, should you think me qualified to execute the duties of that office” (ALS, DLC:GW).

3A letter of this date signed by thirty-three Alexandria citizens and mercantile firms informed GW: “We the Subscribers beg leave to mention that Mr Vincent Gray (who since the commencement of the Fœderal Government has acted as Deputy Collector) is by his knowledge in that Line of Business, as well as by his good Conduct in every Respect, well qualified to fill that office, and that we humbly conceive the Appointment of him thereto, will greatly conduce to the Ease & Facility with which mercantile Business may be conducted in this place” (LS, DLC:GW).

4Fitzgerald wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton on 20 Nov. to announce that he had given a temporary appointment as surveyor to Gray. He added, “The President will of course have some conversation with you on the subject of filling up this vacancy. Mr. Gray has been strongly recommended for that purpose; as you must have a knowledge of his talents and assiduity for some years past, I shall only assure you, that, in my opinion, the appointment of him will not only tend to give general mercantile satisfaction here, but also to the stability and perhaps the increase of Revenue” (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:403).

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