George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Mifflin, 14 January 1784

To Thomas Mifflin

Mount Vernon 14th jany 1784


I have had the pleasure to receive your Letter of the 28th ulto by Mr Godin, & beg your Excelly to be persuaded, that I shall always be happy in opportunities of shewing every suitable attention to foreigners, & Gentn of such distinction, as those you do me the honor to introduce to my acquaintance.1

I am truly sensible Sir, that the Extract from the instructions of the Executive of Pennsylvania to their Delegates contains another most flattering proof of the favourable opinion they are pleased to entertain of my past services—Every repeated mark of the approbation of my fellow citizens (especially of those invested with so dignified an appointment) demands my particular acknowledgments. Under this impression I cannot but feel the greatest obligations to the supreme executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: But as my sentiments on the subject of their instructions, have been long & well known to the public, I need not repeat them to your Excellency on the present occasion.2I have therefore only to add that Mrs Washington joins me in presenting our best compliments to Mrs Mifflin, & that I have the honor to be, &a &ca.

G: Washington


1Mifflin wrote GW on 28 Dec. 1783: “This Letter will be presented to your Excellency by Mr Godin, Relation of Mr Van Berkel; who is on his Journey to South Carolina, with Mr Backer & Mr Barrow [Baron] Vos” (DLC:GW). Pieter Johan van Berckel (1725–1800) was minister from the Netherlands to the United States from 1783 to 1788. Pieter Anthony Godin later served as governor of St. Eustatius from 1789 to 1792. His companions were Cornelius Backer, Jr., of Amsterdam, and Carel de Vos van Steenwijk, who served as president of the Dutch assembly in 1795.

2In his letter of 28 Dec. 1783, Mifflin reported that “General Hand arrived here [New York] on Thursday and brought with him Instructions to the Delegates of Pennsylvania in Congress, from the Executive of that State—I have copied the first Part of the Instructions, which relate to your Excellency:& now enclose them” (DLC:GW). The copy that Mifflin enclosed to GW (DLC:GW) and the “Extract from the Instructions of the Supreme Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania to their Delegates in Congress,” dated 16 Dec. 1783 and signed by Thomas Mifflin, John Montgomery, and Edward Hand (DNA:PCC, item 19), are virtually identical. The extract reads: “Tho his Excelly Genl Washington proposes in a short time to retire, yet his Illustrious Actions & Virtues render his Character so Splendid & Venerable, that it is highly probable the Admiration & Esteem of the World may make his life in a very Considerable degree public, as numbers will be desirous of seeing the great & Good Man who has so eminently Contributed to the happiness of a Nation—his very services to his Country may therefore Subject him to expences, unless he permits her gratitude to interpose.

“We are perfectly Acquainted with the disinterestedness and generosity of his Soul, he thinks himself amply rewarded for all his labors and Cares by the love and Prosperity of his fellow citizens Tis true no rewards they can bestow can be equal to his Merits, but they ought not to suffer those merits to be burthensome to him—We are convinced the People of Pennsylvania would regret such a consequence.

“We are aware of the delicacy, with which this Subject must be treated: but relying upon the good sense of Congress, we wish it may engage their early attention.”

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