Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO JAMES WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO JAMES WASHINGTON.
Mount Vernon, 20 January, 1799.
Through the goodness of Mr. Adams, the American minister at Berlin, I am indebted for the safe conveyance of your letter, dated the 19th of Octr. in that city; and through the same medium I have the honor to present this acknowledgment of it.
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 and fifty years ago.1
The regular course of application for military appointments is to the President of the United States, through the Secretary of War. But it would be deceptious not to apprize you beforehand, that it does not accord with the policy of this government to bestow offices civil or military upon 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 sustain in the service of their own country, look for higher appointments in this; which, when bestowed, unless there is obvious cause to justify the measure, is pregnant with discontent, and therefore it is not often practised, Except in those branches of the Military Science, which relate to Engineering and Gunnery. For in those our Military establishment is defective, and men of known and acknowledged abilities, with ample testimonials thereof, would be certainly encouraged.
Deeming it better to give this candid detail, than to raise hopes that might prove fallacious, is the best apology I can offer for my plain dealing.
At the same time be pleased to accept the assurances of my being, Sir, your most obedient, &c.
[1 ]By the genealogical tables of the Washington family in England, it appears that more than one of that name emigrated to Holland, whose descendants were probably scattered over Germany.