George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Cyrus Griffin, 7 February 1794

From Cyrus Griffin

Williamsburg [Va.] February 7th 1794

I hope, sir, you will pardon me for transgressing upon a Single moment of your very precious time; I avoid it to the utmost.

my Son John Griffin now in London and having Some years Studied the General and Common Law, is extremely anxious to be employed in Some inferior character abroad. he is twenty three years of age, of good Talents, of firm Integrity, a proper degree of Spirit, and I think of considerable Industry.1

I do not presume to ask any particular employment for him, indeed I am ignorant of any vacancy as Secretary to an Embassy or any other; neither Sir do I Send forward any recommendations in his favor, because I am not humble enough with Gentlemen to ask those unwilling kindnesses; because I have long been convinced that the man who relies upon himself is the man who will always best discharge the duties of his office, he has no pillar to lean upon in his deficiency; and because I never made use of them in my own Case either under the old or the present Government, but only once in a letter to Mr Jefferson when it was Supposed he would act as Secretary of State, from our former Intimacy & the nature of his office I wrote him a request—if he Saw no impropriety in the Thing, to mention me to the President as a minister to Some foreign Court, being the most Suited to my abilities and general Course of reading and acting for Some years past.2

I offer this young Gentleman to you Sir if you should find it convenient to notice him, at any future period, and I am Sure his Gratitude to be employed under the present Administration would be evinced by the acknowlegement and chearfulness of his heart.

with lady Christina may I beg to present our best respects To mrs Washington and yourself,3 and permit me Sir to remain with truest consideration Your most obedient Servant

Cyrus Griffin


1Although John Griffin (1771–1849) did not receive an appointment from GW, President John Adams appointed him one of the three judges of the newly established Indiana Territory in 1800. Griffin remained in this position until 1805, when Thomas Jefferson appointed him a judge of the Michigan Territory. He retired in 1824 and settled in Philadelphia, where he remained until his death (“Judge John Griffin,” Indiana Magazine of History [March 1924], 20:59–61).

2Cyrus Griffin served as the U.S. district judge for Virginia from 1789 until his death in 1810 (Griffin to GW, 10 July 1789, and source note). In his letter to Jefferson of 11 Dec. 1789, Griffin asked Jefferson to recommend him to GW as Jefferson’s replacement if Jefferson decided to relinquish his position as the U.S. minister to France in order to become secretary of state (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 16:14–15).

3Lady Christina Stuart, of Scotland, was Griffin’s wife and the eldest daughter of John Stuart, the sixth earl of Traquair.

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