George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College, 14 November 1789

To the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College

[14 November 1789]


In assigning so important an agency to the endeavors of an individual, as is mentioned in your address, you render a tribute to my services, which a sense of propriety forbids me to assume.1

For the flattering terms in which you are pleased to express your sentiments of those services, and for the kind wishes you prefer in my behalf, I thank you with grateful sincerity.

To the animated spirit of freedom, that pervaded our country, and to the firm temper of our citizens, which braved all dangers in defence of their privileges (under the protecting care of divine providence) are we indebted for the blessings of political independence—To the enlightened policy, which has directed our public councils, we owe the reform and establishment of our federal constitution. Under its auspicious influence, aided by the industry and moral conduct of those citizens, who compose the great family of our union, we may hope for the substantial enjoyments of individual happiness and national honor.

From your superintending care, Gentlemen, as the Guardians of a Seminary, and an important source of science, we are to derive great assistance in accomplishing those desiderata.

That your labour may be crowned with success, and render you happy in its consequences is my sincere prayer.

G. Washington.


1This address, dated 23 Aug. 1789, reads: “A Providence that over-rules the affairs of men and of nations has made in every age of the world some extraordinary display of power and goodness in favor of the human race. Greater events have been assigned for the eighteenth century than ever before took place in the annals of time. Among these events the revolution of our day in North America may be recorded as the most important. The discovery of the new world was made by the spirit of enterprize and perseverance; the advancement of it in people, in arts, and in wealth was effected by prudence, oeconomy, and industry: But a revolution from a state of oppression to that of freedom and independency, and a political resurrection from a state without harmony, dispatch and power to that of order, vigor, and glory have been the atchievements of all the combined virtues which can adorn the Statesman and the Hero. Through these most interesting scenes the eyes of mankind were turned on you, and in you they confided. Guarded and directed by the auspices of our divine Parent you have justly merited those sublime and endearing epithets: The Saviour of your Country, and the Founder of a new Empire.

“Influenced by these ideas, and impressed with a sense of that duty and gratitude which are claimed by services for humanity and arts unrivalled in the annals of fame, we embrace the first opportunity as a Corporation to express those feelings of obligation, which can never be erased through the devastations of time. We beg, Sir, of you to accept our sincere wish that the Father of Mercies may protract your life and health to a remote period of time, before you are invited to angelic joys and sublime triumphs.

“We pray that you may uninterruptedly experience all that felicity, which the virtuous, wise, and beloved Chief of millions has reason to expect or desire; and that every blessing may be extended to your illustrious family” (DLC:GW). GW received the address and gave his reply on 14 Nov. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:497).

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