To Benjamin Titcomb, Jr.

    Philadelphia        28 March 1792

    Dear Sir—

    Yours of the 7th instant came to hand last week; and relative to its general contents I will observe—That soon after my arrival at this place last fall I recieved a petition signed by a number of Gentlemen in Portland; also some Letters from individuals, all in behalf of Mr. Greenleaf.1 The petition was addressed to the President of the United States; and was presented to him by the Secretary of Treasury to whom I delivered it; and with whom I conversed very particularly on Mr. Greenleafs situation, and the inadequacy of the compensation allowed him by General Lincoln.2

    The President directed the Secretary to write to General Lincoln, & request him to state, in writing, the reasons that induced him to estimate eighty dollars a year an adequate allowance for keeping the Light; which he accordingly did, and in the month of December or January came himself to this place.3 He stated in his Letter, & observed to me in conversation upon the subject, that he did not think eighty dollars a sufficient support for Mr. Greenleaf, or an adequate compensation to a man who should give up his whole time to the business; but he was clearly of opinion, that a respectable man, and one well recommended, might be procured to take care of the Light for a less sum than he had assigned to Mr. Greenleaf; because his situation would admit of his following his usual occupation at the same time, while the attendance to the Light would only become a sort of by business.

    Nevertheless, the impropriety that the keeper of a Light house should have his time and attention chiefly taken up in looking after his farm, or pursuing any other regular course of Livelyhood, which must be carried on at a considerable distance from the Light house itself, I thought was evident—And altho there might be farmers, Blacksmiths, Shoesmakers, and Weavers (some one of whome General Lincoln seemed to think should have been appointed from the principle of economy) within three quarters of a mile, & who might be induced to undertake the care of the Light for a small sum, I thought it much the safest to give a little more & engage a man who would make it his business to attend to the duties of the appointment. So much depends on a Light house being punctually looked to I was of opinion that we should not stick at the additional sum of one hundred dollars to procure a man acquainted with the business, and one in whom the merchants & seamen of Portland seemed to be generally agreed united—

    But after due examination the President thought he could not allow more than twenty dollars in addition to the eighty allowed by General Lincoln. And on the 23d of January the Secretary wrote to General Lincoln directing him to add twenty dollars a year to Mr. Greenleafs Salary, to commence at the expiration of his first year.

    I do not think it will answer any good purpose to apply, at this time, to the President for a further increase of Mr. Greenleaf Compensation; This is likewise the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury with whom I conversed fully upon Mr. Greenleafs situation. He is sensible the sum of one hundred Dollars is small when applied to the whole support of a family; but he cannot easily get over the opinion of General Lincoln, and thinks it has such weight with the President, as, together with his close attention to a variety of very important subjects, that are now before him, to render an application inefficatious.

    These reasons I hope will appear satisfactory in your mind for my not saying any thing to the President, at this time in behalf of Mr. Greenleaf4

    For myself I do not hesitate to say that one hundred dollars is far short of being an adequate compensation to Mr. Greenleaf; and that it would be an impolitic measure to trust the Light to a man, however good and honest, whose time & attention must be chiefly engaged in his own private occupation, or mode of geting a livelyhood.

    I am, dear Sir, with high Respect your most obedient & humble servant

    * * *

    FC, TFP