George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Patrick Henry, 12 June 1784

To Patrick Henry

Mount Vernon 12th June 1784

Dear Sir,

After a long silence, more the effect of great hurry & business, than want of inclination; permit me to recall myself to your mind, by introducing to your recollection Mr Paine, the author of Commonsense, the Crisis &c.1

To say what effect the writings of this Gentleman has had on our public affairs at the epochas at which they were given to the world, would, to a person of your information, be altogether unnecessary; it is more for his interest, & to my present purpose to add, that he stands unrewarded for his exertions in the American cause—is poor, & I believe very much chagrined at the little notice which has been taken of him for his lucubrations.

New York, lately, has testified her sense of his merits by a donation which is very pleasing to him—& from individual States, rather than from Congress (for reasons which seem to have weight in his mind,)—he wishes they might be continued in this line. If his services appear in your eyes to merit reward, I am persuaded you will endeavor to do justice to them.2

I mention this matter to you equally unsollicited by, as unknown to him; for I never have heard that he has it in contemplation to bring himself before any State in the Union.3 Convinced as I am of the efficacy of his publications, & of the little attention shewn him for them, I could not withhold this attempt to serve him, & to assure you of the esteem & regard with which I have the honor to be Dr Sir &c. &c.

G. Washington


1GW on this day wrote similar letters about Thomas Paine to Richard Henry Lee and James Madison.

2On 16 June 1784, by gift from the state, Paine came into possession in Westchester County, N.Y., of “two hundred and seventy-seven acres, more or less, which became forfeited to and vested in the People of this State by the conviction of Frederick Devoe” (indenture, register’s office, vol. T of Grantees, Westchester County, quoted in Conway, Paine, description begins Moncure Daniel Conway. The Life of Thomas Paine with a History of His Literary, Political, and Religious Career in America, France, and England. 2 vols. New York, 1892. description ends 1:203). For an explanation of the failure of Virginia to give financial aid to Paine, see James Madison to GW, 2 July and note 2.

3For the action Pennsylvania took at GW’s urging, see Paine to GW, 28 April 1784, n.4.

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