Nicholas Eveleigh - First Comptroller of the US Treasury
Nicholas Eveleigh is another Founder whose big contribution to the formation of the United States is overlooked because accounting and administration are not as sexy being a General or Diplomat.
Born in South Carolina, Nicholas Eveleigh spent his formative years in England. From this perspective, he witnessed the developments leading to the American Revolution from the other side of the ocean.
He returned to America and soon after served in the Continental Army. Eveleigh eventually rose to serve as a Deputy Adjutant General for South Carolina and Georgia. In this position he assisted with the administration of the army in the Southern Campaign.
After three years of war, Eveleigh resigned his post to oversee his plantation.
Eventually, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Shortly thereafter, the House sent him to be a delegate at the Continental Congress.
As the U.S. Constitution took effect, George Washington nominated Nicholas Eveleigh as the First Comptroller of the United States Treasury. This is no doubt a reflection on his skills as demonstrated by his time as Deputy Adjutant General.
As Comptroller, Eveleigh was responsible for the accounting and bookkeeping of the Treasury Department.
The importance of this position is hard to understate. This was a new government, whose books needed to be created from scratch. They were instituting new taxes, economic policies and minting coins.
It was Nicholas Eveleigh who was responsible for making sure the numbers added up.
Eveleigh’s acceptance letter to George Washington is interesting to read. It speaks volumes to how important Washington was to the creation of the country. In it, Eveleigh implies that he is not only happy to help create the nation’s new government, but the true honor is that he was chosen by Washington personally:
“…the consideration affords me the most heart-felt satisfaction, as an unequivocal proof, that I am view’d by you in a favourable light. to be thought well of by a man, himself not only universally thought well of, but respected & revered, cannot fail of proving to me a source of the highest gratification; but, Sir, it will have another effect; that of stimulating me to a faithful discharge of the duties connected with the office now intrusted to my charge.”
As humble as he may have been, Nicholas Eveleigh was himself an important Founding Father who deserves some reverence of his own.
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