George Washington Papers

Address by Charles Thomson, 14 April 1789

Address by Charles Thomson

[Mount Vernon, 14 April 1789]


The president of the Senate, chosen for the special occasion1 having opened and counted the votes of the Electors in the presence of the senate & the house of Representatives I am2 honored with the3 commands of the Senate4 to wait upon your Excellency5 with the information of your being elected to the office of President of the United States of America. This commission was entrusted to me on account of my having been long in the Confidence of the late Congress & charged with the duties of one of the principal civil departments of Government.

I have now Sir6 to inform you that the proofs you have given of your patriotism and of your readiness to sacrifice domestic ease and private enjoyments to preserve the liberty & promote7 the happiness of your Country, did not permit the two houses to harbour a doubt of your undertaking this great this8 important Office to which you are called not only9 by the unanimous votes of the Electors but by the voice of America,10 I have it therefore in command to accompany you to New York where the Senate & the house of Representatives of the United States11 are convened for the dispatch of public business.

In executing this part of my commission where personal gratification coincides with duty I shall wait your time & be wholly governed by your convenience.12

ADf, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in Thomson to the president of the Senate, 24 April 1789, DNA: RG 46, General Files, 1789–1942, Senate 1A-J3; LB, DLC:GW.

For the background to this document, see Henry Knox to GW, 23 Mar. 1789, John Langdon to GW, 6 April, GW to Langdon, 14 April 1789, and Address to Charles Thomson, 14 April 1789. Presumably Thomson delivered this address verbally to GW upon his arrival at Mount Vernon and the draft in Thomson’s hand was left with GW as a retained copy. Differences between the draft and the copies are noted below.

In his report to the Senate on his mission, Thomson preceded the text of his address with the following account of his journey: “In pursuance of the orders I received from the Senate, I left New York on Tuesday, the 7th of the present month; and though much impeded by tempestuous weather, bad roads, and the many large rivers I had to cross, yet, by unremitted diligence I reached Mount Vernon, the seat of his excellency General Washington, on Tuesday, the 14th, about 12 o’clock. I found his excellency at home; and after communicating to him the object of my mission and the substance of my instructions, I took an opportunity, on the day of my arrival, to address him as follows” (ASP, Miscellaneous, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:5–6). See also James McHenry to GW, 12 April 1789, n.3.

1In the letter book this word reads “purpose.”

2In both the letter book and the DNA copy this word reads “was.”

3In the draft Thomson originally wrote “this” and changed the word to “the.”

4In the draft the words “of the Senate” are inserted above the line.

5In the draft Thomson originally wrote “upon you and Address you” and altered it to read “upon your Excellency.”

6In the draft “Sir” has been inserted above the line.

7The words “the liberty & promote” are omitted from the letter-book copy.

8In the letter-book copy “and” has been substituted for “this.”

9In the draft the words “not only” are inserted above the line.

10Thomson originally wrote “the Unanimous voice of your country” and altered it to “the unanimous votes of the Electors but by the voice of America.”

11The words “of the United States” are omitted in the letter book and in the DNA copy.

12This paragraph is omitted in the letter book.

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