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    George Washington Autograph Letter Signed "Go: Washington." Three pages, 7.25" x 9", Mount Vernon; January 14, 1784. Letter from Washington to Thomas Mifflin, president of the Continental Congress, commending Colonel David Humphreys, his former aide-de-camp, for a position, either as secretary of foreign affairs or as a minister to another country.

    "Sir,

    The goodness of Congress, in the assurances they were pleased to give me of charging themselves with the interests of those Confidential Officers who had attended me to the resignation of my public employments; and the request of your Excellency to Colonel Humphrys (after I had been honored with my public audience) that, if any thing should occur to him in consequence of what had just been suggested, that he would communicate it to you in a letter; induce me to take the liberty of bringing the wishes of that Officer before Congress.

    Having devoted the last Seven or Eight years to the Service of his Country, he is desirous of continuing in the walk of public life, although he is ignorant-as I also am-of the Offices which Congress have to bestow and may think him competent to-Two things however seem likely to occur: either of which I am persuaded he would fill with as much advantage to the public as reputation to himself. The one is a Regiment; in case a Continental peace establishment should be resolved on. The other, official Secretary to an Embassy abroad; if new appointments should be made, or a vacancy happen in the old ones.

    There is a third thing which I barely hint at with all possible deference, and with a diffidence which proceeds more from a doubt of the propriety of my suggesting it, than from any question which arises in my Mind of his competency to the duties; and that is Secretary of Foreign Affairs, if Congress should think it expedient to make another appointment; and should find all those requisites in him which are necessary to constitute a Minister for that department. For his ability integrity, punctuality, and sobriety I can fully answer.

    If I have gone too far, Congress will please to excuse it; and attribute the error to my wishes to serve a worthy character.

    With great respect I have the honor to be

    Sir,

    Yr Excellys most Obedt & Hble Servant

    Go: Washington"

    As Washington's aide-de-camp, Humphreys (1752-1818) accompanied the general to Annapolis, where he resigned his commission in a public ceremony before Congress on December 23, 1783. In a letter to Washington, dated January 6, 1784, Humphrey's reported that Thomas Mifflin, president of the Continental Congress, pulled him aside and indicated that a position may be available to him, and that Congress would entertain a letter to that effect from Humphreys. In the January 6 letter, Humphrey's expressed his view that a letter from Washington would be more effective to securing him a position. Thus, Washington wrote the letter offered here. Obviously, it worked, for in the summer of 1784 Humphreys was appointed as secretary to the Commission for Negotiating Treaties of Commerce with Foreign Powers, composed of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, that went to France. Later, during Washington's presidency, Humphreys served as a diplomat in various capacities.

    A significant letter that demonstrates Washington's loyalty to his former aide-de-camp, and his willingness to ask Congress for a position for him.

    Condition: Letter has the usual folds, a few minor spots; paper loss has been professionally repaired; otherwise very good.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2020
    12th Thursday
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