George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Tayloe, 5 May 1799

To John Tayloe

Mount Vernon 5th May 1799

Dear Sir,

I received, yesterday, your favour of the 29th Ult.; and by tomorrow’s Post for Baltimore, the enclosed will be dispatched, to meet you at Annapolis.

I hope the contents of it will meet your ideas—I have given these, as nearly as I could recollect them, in my communication to the Secretary of War.1

With sincere pleasure I received the information of Generals Lee & Marshall’s Elections. Had the Majorities in their favor been greater, it would have added gout2 to the result. But they are Elected, and that alone is pleasing. With Mrs Washington’s compliments united with mine to Mrs Tayloe—and with my best respects to Govr Ogle—I am—Dear Sir—with esteem & regard Your Obedient Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1GW’s letter of 5 May to McHenry reads: “Sir, This letter will be presented to you by John Tayloe Esqr. whom the President of the United States was pleased to nominate and appoint to a Majority in the Regiment of Light Dragoons.

“Mr Tayloe waits upon you to explain his motives for declining that honor, at present; the propriety of which, I persuade myself you will not only acquiesce in, but applaud, as the result of laudable and Patriotic principles.

“This Gentleman is a Senator in the Legislature of this State. The Politics of which you are not to be informed of—a part however of which is, to suffer no person to remain in either house thereof—nor to enjoy any office under Its government, who holds any Commission, or appointment of whatsoever nature or kind, under that of the General Government. The consequence then of his accepting the Military appointment would be, the vacating of his Senatorial office, and as he informs me, the probable introduction of an opposition Member in his place.

“Mr Tayloe’s patriotism leads him to serve his country in any capacity wherein he can be most useful; either in the Civil or Military line; and having been pleased to ask my advice on this occasion, I have frankly given it as my opinion, that under his statement, and in the present aspect of our public affairs, I thought his services in the first—that is—in the Senate—were more immediately necessary and important than they would be in the latter—because they are now actively employed in the one case, and may lye dormant in the other, unless hostilities on Land should be the result of French politics.

“To this opinion he has yielded, or seems inclined to yield; with a hope however (as there may be an impropriety in keeping the vacancy open) that if the exigency of the times should render it expedient to raise more Cavalry—the service to which he is most attached—that his motives for declining his present appointment may not be forgotten—but aid his pretensions to, and solicitude to obtain a new one. Having requested me to relate these circumstances, it was but just I should do so; and to add, that with great respect I am Sir Your Most Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS [photocopy], DLC: James McHenry Papers; letterpress copy, DLC:GW). The ALS was offered for sale by Parke-Bernet Galleries, 30–31 Oct. 1944, as item 342 in catalog 596. See John Tayloe to GW, 10 Feb., 29 April, and GW to Tayloe, 12 Feb. 1799.

2GW probably means goût, a flavor, or zest.

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