WASHINGTON, GEORGE. 1732-1799.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Go: Washington"), 2 pp recto and verso, 4to (with integral blank leaf), Mount Vernon, VA, January 20, 1799, to James Washington, regarding the latter's quest for a military appointment, very mild creasing but otherwise fine. With copy of James Washington's letter.
Provenance: Sotheby Parke Bernet, Highly Important American Historical Documents, Autograph Letters & Manuscripts; the Property of the Elsie O. & Philip D. Sang Foundation, Part Four, June 3, 1978, lot 1038.
"... IT DOES NOT ACCORD WITH THE POLICY OF THIS GOVERNMENT TO BESTOW OFFICESCIVIL OR MILITARYUPON FOREIGNERS TO THE EXCLUSION OF OUR OWN CITIZENS." Washington pens a thoughtful response to a young German citizen, possibly a distant cousin, who has written to inquire whether the connection might help the younger man receive a military appointment. Washington opens by acknowledging the possible connection: "There can be but little doubt, Sir, of our descending from the same stock, as the branches of it proceeded from the same Country.At what time your Ancestors left England is not mentioned. Mine came to America nearly one hundred & fifty years ago."
Washington continues by telling the young man that his application should be directed to the sitting President and his Secretary of War, but warns "it would be deceptious, not to apprise you beforehand, that it does not accord with the policy of this Government to bestow officescivil or militaryupon Foreigners to the exclusion of our own Citizens; first because there is an animated zeal in the latter to serve their Country; and secondly, because the former, seldom content with the rank they sustained in the service of their own Country, look for higher Appointments in this ..." Washington closes by mentioning the exception to this rule: "in those branches of the Military science which relate to Engineering and Gunnery: for in these our Military establishment is defective, and men men [sic] of known and acknowledged abilities with ample testimonials thereof, would be certainly encouraged...." Published in Sparks, ed, The Writings of George Washington.