George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Citizens of Marblehead, 2 November 1789

To the Citizens of Marblehead

[2 November 1789]


The reception with which you have been pleased to honor my arrival in Marblehead, and the sentiments of approbation and attachment which you have expressed of my conduct, and to my person, are too flattering and grateful not to be acknowledged with sincere thanks, and answered with unfeigned wishes for your prosperity.1

Avoiding to dwell on the diminution of pleasure, which the mention of your impaired circumstances occasions me, I desire to engage your thoughts on the pleasing prospect presented to all our interests, and particularly to our fishery, in the efficiency of our government and the invigorated industry of our citizens.

Protected in the exercise of those means, which the beneficent Parent of mankind has furnished for their sustenance and comfort, the Citizens of America, animated by virtuous enterprize, and actuated by due obedience to the laws and regulations of their government, may expect with confidence, to enjoy every blessing which industry can promise, and national union may ensure.

Your attachment to the Constitution of the United States is worthy of men, who fought and bled for freedom, and who know its value.

Your anxiety for my health, and your prayers for my happiness are replied to with solicitude for your welfare, and an earnest entreaty to the Author of good for your felicity.

G. Washington.


For the background to GW’s tour of the eastern states, see his letter to Betty Lewis, 12 Oct. 1789, n.3.

GW had stopped briefly in Marblehead, “which is 4 Miles out of the way, but I wanted to see it,” on 29 Oct. on his way to Salem. For GW’s description of the town and its hospitality, see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:483–84.

1During his stay in Marblehead, the citizens presented GW with the following address, dated 29 Oct.: “Your presence has inspired the inhabitants of the Town of Marblehead with the most unbounded joy: But they cannot express, as they would wish their grateful sense of the honor done them on this occasion.

“The too visible decay and poverty of this Town must be their excuse, that they have not offered to the illustrious character, who now visits them a reception more becoming his dignity, and more expressive of their own veneration.

“The blessings of Independence and a republican Government must ever excite our gratitude and affection to so eminent a Supporter of the public liberty, whose wisdom and valour have so successfully defended the rights of his country. The establishment by the United States of a secure and efficient government gives us the pleasing expectation of the gradual revival of our Fishery and commerce, objects of the industry and principle means of the subsistence of the Inhabitants of this place for above a century previous to the late Revolution.

“In the commencement of the contest with Great Britain, this Town was early in their exertions in the common-cause, and were not discouraged when they foresaw that reverse of their situation which the war necessarily produced. The return of Peace did not restore to us the former advantages of the fishery, which hath remained under peculiar discouragements; and we have yet patiently to expect that attention of the General-Government, which may remedy these evils, and which the subject may deserve from its extensive importance to the commerce of the United States.

“The present Government of the United States commands our most ready submission and inviolable attachment and we deem it a peculiar felicity, that the highest dignity of that Government is so properly vested in you, in whom all America repose the most entire confidence—in whose administration the world will admire the example of a Patriot-Ruler.

“Sir, Our anxiety for your health and long life is proportionate to our most ardent wishes for the prosperity of our country; and we are well assured that you will ever partake in the happiness of that numerous people over whom you preside. May the Divine Providence continue to favour your care and guidance of their most important public affairs, and reward your virtues, which have shone forth such virtues to Mankind” (DLC:GW). The address is signed by the selectmen of Marblehead.

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