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Barrett, Samuel (1739-1798) to George Washington

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.04247 Author/Creator: Barrett, Samuel (1739-1798) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 18 June 1789 Pagination: 2 p. ; 30.6 x 19.5 cm.

Summary of Content: Marked "copy." Apologizes for being a stranger and having the nerve to write directly to such a superior as the President. Discusses his business misfortunes during and after the war, and asks for his help finding a position with the federal government. Outlines his strengths and virtues, and provides several names, including Henry Knox and General Benjamin Lincoln, as references.

Full Transcript: [draft]
(Copy)
Boston 18 June 1789.
May it please your Excellency,
When a Person who is an intire Stranger introduces himself to another who is in every Respect his equal, there is ...an Awkwardness in the Business, which it is extremely difficult to get over; but when he does it to one in every Respect incomparably his Superior, the Embarrassment is proportionably encreased & higher Reasons are necessary in his Justification: Of my Apology your Excellency will [inserted: judge,] as it will appear in the following Detail.
Having lost all my little Capital, with the extensive Capital & Business of the mercantile House, into which, on leaving the University, I was, on Prospects very flattering in Point of Property, tho very reluctantly in every other View, introduced by my Father, & of which I was a Partner when the late War commenced; in Consequence of our our early & decided Attachment to the Cause of our Country, & Liberal Advances of Money & Credit given to public Paper (to the Amount of many thousand Pounds) previous to any Depretiation, & in Order to prevent it; - also, of the Tender made us in Payment of very large Sums of solid Debts in depretitiated Paper; - of the Failure of some Capital & many small Debtors by the Operation of War; - of a great Part of our Merchandize being carried off by the British Army; & the Residue either sold to Government for the use of our Army, or the Produce of Sales deposited in Government Securities; - & being thus, through the Period of the War, deprived of our Trading Stock, & at the same Time supporting three Families at enhanced Expences, & paying heavy Taxes as Men of Property, while that Property was so rapidly melting in our Hands; we found ourselves, at the Close of the War, in the last Stage of Declension from Affluence & Independence to absolute Poverty.
Thus situated, I made every Effort to recover my Business; when the Peace commenced, but did not Succeed; & indeed such a Series of Misfortunes opposed me, that every Exertion to meliorate my Situation made it worse, untill at length I gave over the Pursuit; & sought my Support (having happily the Confidence of Government & of many respectable Individuals) in public Employments: and now Scantily support, that I may the better educate, a numerous young Family, [inserted: giving them barely necessaries & Schooling,] from the pitiful Fees arising from the Office of a Justice of the Peace & a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Suffolk.
But these Employments not being sufficient thereto, even with the most rigid Å’conomy, I have been advised to make Application for some Appointment under the FÅ“deral Government.
That I might conduct this Application with Propriety & Success, I wrote to several Gentlemen in New York for Advice, & among many respectable Friends, to Major General Knox; whose Letter I now take the Liberty to inclose, with one from his Excellency, Governor Hancock.
When the Judicial Arrangements are formed some Person will be necessary to keep the Records; & it would be, thô a laborious, yet perhaps the most suitable Office for me; as it might be conducted without Interference with my present Employments, & be, thô a moderate Appointment in itself, yet an agreable [2] Addition to my Support: should such Appointment be made permit me to sollicit the Grant of it, or your Excellencys Recommendation to those in whose Gift it may be.
If any Thing more suitable or beneficial presents itself to you, your Patronage & good Offices will lay me under the highest Obligations & it is immaterial to me in what Line I act, if it be but reputable, & I can perform the Part assigned me to Acceptance.
With the Candor inseperable from your Mind, your Excellency will excuse this Application, & Detention from more important Concerns; & if you can consistently confer Such Office as I could sustain with Propriety & to the public Advantage, I shall from Motives of Gratitude, Honor, Patriotism, & even Interest, endeavour to do Credit to your Patronage & the Recommendation of my Friends, by a faithful Discharge of my Duties.
I can with Pleasure refer for such Information as may be necessary to his Excellency the Vice President, & to all the Gentlemen in both Houses of the Federal Government from Massachusetts; and to the honorable Messrs. Johnson, Sherman, Sturges, Wadsworth & Trumbull from Connecticut: and by particular Desire of General Lincoln, I can with perfect Satisfaction refer your Excellency to him.

I have the Honor to be,
may it please your Excellency
Your Excellencys most obedient
& most humble Servant
Samuel Barrett

His Excellency
The President
of The United States
See More

People: Washington, George, 1732-1799
Barrett, Samuel, 1739-1798
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary War GeneralOffice SeekerPresidentGovernment and CivicsRevolutionary WarFinance

Sub Era: The Early Republic

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