George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 5 December 1793

From Richard Peters

Philada Decr 5. 1793

Dear sir

The Office of Comr of Loans for Pennsilvania is vacant by the Decease of Mr Smith who married my Sister & has left little or Nothing behind him but a good Name, many Friends & a Wife & seven Children several of whom are in their Minority.1 On hearing of his Death I thought of Nothing on the Subject but lending my Assistance from my own Resources towards the Support of that Part of the Family with whom I am connected. But it has been suggested to me that the Public may be well served, & some Provision ensured to the Family, if the Office were bestowed on Jonathan Smith the Son of the late Comissioner who will be assisted by a younger Brother. Both these have been in the Office many Years & are perfectly acquainted with the Business. They are both well known in the Treasury Department, Jonathan is near 30 years of Age & every Way qualified as to Abilities & Intigrity.2 The one who would assist him is equalled by very few young Men in a Multitude of Acquirements & excellent Qualities. I know that the Appointment would give great Pleasure to very many of the Citizens of this State who valued Mr Smith & deem him the Father of the Loan Office here, having brought it from small Beginnings, to extensive Usefulness, by his Address & great Attention—Private or compassionate Considerations I am well aware are only secondary in Affairs of public Duty. But they do not fail to have an Effect on the public Mind where the public Interest is also served. They have had their Influence on me, who have indeed only private Feelings as immediate Motives for giving you this Trouble. But no such Considerations would bias me if I were not firmly convinced that the Office would be better executed by J. S. assisted as he will be, than by any other Person; as he has Capacity equal to any other & in Addition much Experience in the Bussiness. Having stated to you the Circumstances I leave to you, without Anxiety, the Result. I know that altho’ you do not neglect such Considerations as I have mentioned, you are the best Judge of their Coincidence or Disagreement with your public Duties. I am sir with the most respectful Esteem your obedt Servt

Richard Peters


1Mary Peters (d. 1797) married Thomas Smith before 1776. One son, Richard Peters Smith (d. 1797), became a merchant and an officer of the American Philosophical Society. The chemist Thomas Peters Smith (c.1777– 1802) may have been another son.

2Jonathan Smith may be the man who appears in the 1796 Philadelphia directory as a scrivener at 100 Union Street, a few doors down from the family home at 110 Union Street.

Index Entries