George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Society of the Cincinnati of Massachusetts, 27 October 1789

To the Society of the Cincinnati of Massachusetts

Boston, October 27th 1789


In reciprocating, with gratitude and sincerity, the multiplied, and affecting gratulations of my fellow-citizens of this commonwealth,1 they will all of them, with justice, allow me to say that none can be dearer to me than the affectionate assurances which you have expressed—dear, indeed, is the occasion, which restores an intercourse with my faithful associates in prosperous and adverse fortune—and inhanced are the triumphs of peace, participated with those, whose virtue and valour so largely contributed to procure them. To that virtue and valour your country has confessed her obligations: Be mine the grateful task to add the testimony of a conviction, which it was my pride to own in the field, and it is now my happiness to acknowledge in the enjoyments of peace and freedom.

Regulating your conduct by those principles, which have heretofore governed your actions as Men, Soldiers, and Citizens, you will repeat the obligations conferred on your country—and you will transmit to posterity an example, which must command their admiration, and obtain their grateful praise.

Long may you continue to enjoy the endearments of fraternal attachment, and the heartfelt happiness of reflecting that you have faithfully done your duty! While I am permitted to possess the consciousness of that worth, which has long bound me to you by every tie of affection and esteem, I will continue to be your sincere and faithful friend.

Go: Washington

LS, owned (1986) by James F. Ruddy; LB, DLC:GW.

1The address of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, dated 27 Oct. and signed by William Eustis, vice-president, reads: “Amidst the various gratulations, which your arrival in this metropolis has occasioned, permit us the members of the Cincinnati in this commonwealth, most respectfully to assure you of that ardor of esteem, and affection, which you have so indelibly fixed in our hearts, as our glorious leader in war, and illustrious exemplar in peace.

“After the solemn and endearing farewell on the banks of the Hudson, which our anxiety presaged as final, most peculiarly pleasing is the present unexpected meeting.

“On this occasion we cannot avoid the recollection of the various scenes of toil and danger through which you conducted us.

“And, while we contemplate the trying periods of the war, and the triumphs of peace, we rejoice to behold you, induced by the unanimous voice of your country, entering upon other trials, and other services, alike important, and in some points of view equally hazardous.

“For the completion of the great purposes which a grateful country has assigned you, long, very long, may your invaluable life be preserved! And, as an admiring World, while considering you as a Soldier, have long wanted a comparison, may your virtues and talents, as a Statesman, again leave them without a parallell.

“It is not in words to express an attachment founded like ours. We can only say, that when Soldiers our greatest pride was a promptitude of obedience to your orders, as Citizens, our supreme ambition is to maintain the character of firm supporters of that noble fabric of Federal Government, over which you preside.

“As members of the Society of Cincinnati, it will be our endeavor to cherish those sacred principles of Charity and fraternal attachment, which our institution inculcates. And while our conduct is thus regulated we can never want the patronage of the first of Patriots, and best of Men” (DLC:GW).

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