George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Howell, Jr., 10 April 1795

From Joseph Howell, Jr.

Department of War Accountant’s Office
April 10th 1795.


On the 12th Ulto compleated nin⟨e⟩teen years Service for the public,1 in which I flatter myself of having done my duty with some degree of Honor, but finding from the disposition of a majority in the last Congress that an addition to the present compensation which has not been equal to my necessary expences would not be granted.2 I feel myself compelled—and indeed my old Army complaints require3—that I should dispose of the rest of my days to the support of my family, under these impressions I am induced to resign the appointment of Accountant to this department, and now do myself the Honor to enclose the Commission.4 I am with the highest respect sire Your obedt Servt

Joseph Howell

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1For a summary of Howell’s public service, see his letter to GW of 25 Aug. 1789.

2On 2 Jan. the House of Representatives approved “An Act making appropriations for the support of Government for the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five,” in which it approved $6,450 for compensation to the accountant of the war department and all clerks and individuals employed by him as well as $600 for contingent expenses (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 406). Howell petitioned the house on 26 Jan. and asked that his compensation “be increased, and rendered more adequate to his services.” The petition was referred to a committee, and no further action was taken (Journal of the House, description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends 7:178–79).

3In March 1776, Howell was appointed captain of the Pennsylvania Musket Battalion. He was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776 and held aboard the notorious prison ship Jersey until exchanged that December.

4On 1 April, Timothy Pickering informed GW: “I have spoken to Mr Howell. He prays for the indulgence of about a week; in which time he expects to finish and sign the accounts of his office for the last quarter; and then he will resign. The completion of his accounts for a quarter, he says have usually taken up that time, after its expiration. I do not know of any particular inconvenience to result from this indulgence; and if it be your pleasure to grant it, I shall take care that it be not extended” (ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW). One day later Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., notified Pickering of GW’s consent (ADf, DLC:GW).

On 2 April, Benjamin Mifflin applied to GW for the accountant’s position and described his qualifications: “I entered the service of the United States, on the 1st January 1785, in the Office of the late Mr Pierce Paymaster general & Commissioner of Army accounts. … I have continued under the different arrangements of the business of that office to the present moment. To the hope of preferment I have sacrificed pecuniary objects, and from a conciousness of having with integrity discharged the duties of my employment, I am prompted to this application” (ALS, DLC:GW). William Simmons received the appointment.

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