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Washington, George (1732-1799) to David Humphreys re: defending actions as president, longing for retirement

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06434 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Philadelphia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1796/06/12 Pagination: 3 p. 22.9 x 29 cm

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06434 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Philadelphia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1796/06/12 Pagination: 3 p. 22.9 x 29 cm

Marked private by Washington. Written to his former secretary, towards the end of his second administration, concerning his perseverance despite attacks upon him. "...the Gazette (which I presume will accompany the dispatches) will give you a pretty good idea of the state of Politics, and Parties in this country; and will shew you, at the same time (if Bache's Aurora is among them) in what manner I am attacked for persevering, steadily, in measures which, to me, appear necessary to preserve us (during the conflicts of the Belligerent powers) in a state of tranquillity. But these attacks, unjust, and unpleasant as they are, will occasion no change in my conduct; nor will they produce any other effect in my mind than to increase the solicitude which, long since, has taken fast hold of my breast, to enjoy in the shades of retirement, the consolation of believing that I have rendered my country every service to which my abilities were competent -- not from pecuniary or ambitious motives, nor from a desire to provide for any one farther than their intrinsic merit entitled them to; and surely not with a view to bring any of my own relations into Office." Washington adds "Malignity, therefore, may dart its shafts, but no earthly power can deprive me of the consolation of knowing that I have not, in the whole course of my administration (how ever numerous they may have been) committed an intentional error." In his conclusion, he invites (in an alternately humorous and macabre fashion) Humphreys to Mount Vernon. His postscript mentions the health of his family.

Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Philadelphia 12th June 1796.
(Private)
My dear Humphreys
I could not suffer Capt: OBrian to return without carrying along with him, a testimony of my continued friendship and regard for you in a few lines. In the diction of which, I must be concise: for a long and interesting session of Congress, which only closed on the first inst., and many laws which require immediate attention & execution; added to a preparation for a journey to Mount Vernon (tomorrow) for a little relaxation from the unpleasant scenes which have been, and are continually presenting themselves to my view - will not, however well disposed I might otherwise be, permit me to be profuse in my declaration.
From the Office of State, you will receive everything that relates to public concerns; and the Gazettes (which I presume will accompany the dispatches) will give you a pretty [2] good idea of the state of Politics, and Parties in this country; and will show you, at the same time (if Bache's Aurora is among them) in what manner I am attacked for persevering, steadily, in measures which, to me, appear necessary to preserve us (during the conflicts of the Belligerent powers) in a state of tranquillity. But these attacks, unjust, and as unpleasant as they are, will occasion no change in my conduct; nor will they produce any other effect in my mind than to increase the solicitude which, long service, has taken fast hold of my breast, to enjoy, in the shades of retirement, the consolation of believing that I have rendered my country every service to which my abilities were competent - not from pecuniary or ambitious motives, nor from a desire to provide for any one farther than their intrusive merit entitled them to; and surely not with a view to bring any of my own relations into Office.
Malignity, therefore, may dart its shafts, but no earthly power can deprive me of the consolation of knowing that I have not, in the whole course of my [3] Administration (however numerous they may have been) committed an intentional error.
Wherever you shall think with the Poet, or Philosopher "that the Post of honor is a private station" and may be disposed to enjoy yourself in my shades - I do not mean the shades below - where, if you put it off long, I may be reclining, I can only repeat that you will meet with the same cordial reception at Mount Vernon, that you have always found at that place, and that I am, and always shall be,
Your sincere friend, & affectionate Servt.
Go: Washington
P.S. Mrs. Washington who keeps her health as well as usual presents her best wishes to you. Betsey Custis is married to Mr. Law (who was, I believe in this Country when you were here last) an English gentleman but last from the East Indies, of considerable fortune, and lives in the Federal City. Patey you know was married 'ere you left us, to Mr. Peter's - Nelly has spent the last Winter with her Mother - Washington grows fast - & we have just heard that all Doctr. Stuarts family are well.

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