George Washington Papers

From George Washington to David Humphreys, 2 June 1784

To David Humphreys

Mou[n]t Vernon 2d June 1784

My Dr Humphreys.

I very sincerely congratulate you on your late appointment—It is honorable, & I dare say must be agreeable. I did not hear of it until I arrived at Annapolis, where I remained but one day, & that occasioned by the detention of my Carrige & horses on the Eastern shore. Genl Knox not reaching that place before I left it—your letter of the 18th, only got to my hands on Sunday last, by the Post.1

I now send you, under flying Seals, letters to Mr Jefferson, Doctr Franklin & Count de Estaing—the letter to the Chevr Chastellux also mentions you & your appointment. My former corrispondence with England ceased at the commencment of hostilities, & I have opened no new ones since—but I enclose you a letter to Sir Edwd Newenham of Ireland, from whom I have lately received several very polite letters, & a pressing invitation to correspond with him. he has been a warm friend to America during her whole struggle—he is a man of fortune—of excellent (as I am told) character; and may, if you should go to Ireland, be a valuable acquaintance.2

It only remains for me now to wish you a pleasant passage, & that you may realize all the pleasures which you must have in expectation. It cannot be necessary to add how happy I shall be at all times to hear from you—You will have it in your power to contribute much to my amusement and information—& as far as you can do the latter consistently with your duty & public trust, I shall be obliged—further I do not require—and even here,3 mark private what you think not altogether fit for the public ear, and it shall remain with me. Mrs Washington adds her best wishes for you, & you may rest assured that few friendships are warmer, or professions more sincere than mine for you. Adieu &c. &c.

G: Washington

P.S. Just recollecting my old neighbour Colonel (who may now be Lord) Fairfax—I give you a letter to him also, in case you shou’d go to England.4

LB, DLC:GW; ALS, sold by Thomas F. Madigan, item 94, 1921. The printed copy in the catalog was made from the ALS. It contains a few words, a phrase, and a clause not in the letter-book copy; a number of the abbreviations and contractions of the letter-book copy are spelled out in the printed copy as GW usually did. In two cases, which are noted, a difference in wording affects the meaning of the text. The “Certificate” appended to the letter-book copy, and printed here, does not appear in the catalog copy.

1See Henry Knox to GW, 24–28 May 1784. The printed copy has this additional clause at the end of the paragraph, “and I am now writing by its return.”

2See GW’s letters to Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Chastellux, all dated 2 June. In his letter to d’Estaing of 2 June, he writes of Humphreys: “The zeal & intelligence of this Gentleman in the service of his Country; his good sense, prudence & attachment to me, has rendered him dear to me, & must be my best apology for the liberty I take in recommending him to your countenance & civilities, whilst he may remain in France” (LB, DLC:GW). To Edward Newenham he writes, also on 2 June: “This Gentleman is a particular friend of mine, and until I resigned my Military appointments, was one of my Aid de Camps. He has been uniformly a friend to the rights of mankind. He possesses in an eminent degree the social virtues. and is a man of integrity and worth. as such I take the liberty of recommending him to your Civilities if chance, or a visit to Ireland, should throw him in your way” (ALS, owned [1973] by Dr. Gilbert C. Norton, Endicott, N.Y.; LB DLC:GW). And finally on 2 June he wrote about Humphreys to George William Fairfax: “He is a man possessing all the social virtues, & is of very great worth. As such, shou’d he ever come within your walks in England, (for he is lately appointed Secretary to the Commissioners for forming Commercial Treaties in Europe), I beg leave to recommend him to your favorable notice & civilities” (LB, DLC:GW). Humphreys was supposed to join Jefferson in Boston for their passage to France, but they ended up going separately (see Jefferson to Humphreys, 21 June 1784, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 7:311–12).

3The printed version has “never have” instead of “even here.”

4See note 2. Immediately following in the letter book is a “Copy of a Certificate given to Colo. Humphrys,” dated 2 June. It reads: “I do hereby certify, that Colo. Humphrys was among the first who embarked in the service of his Country, & that he continued therein to the end of the war—That from the early part of the year 1780 to the time of my resignation he was in my Family, and acted as one of my aid de camps with the rank of Lieut: Colonel. That during the whole course of his service he was actuated by an ardent zeal to promote the public weal—That his bravery, & spirit for enterprize were conspicuous on all occasions, and his intelligence, & attention to the duties of his office were of singular use to me—obtaining, as they justly merited, my highest regard & confidence.”

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