George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charleston, S.C., Officials, 18 March 1790

To Charleston, S.C., Officials

[New York, 18 March 1790]


I receive your congratulations on my unanimous appointment to the first magistracy of a free People with that grateful sensibility which is due to the occasion, and which your flattering expressions of regard could not fail to awaken.1

Persuaded that the candor of my countrymen will do justice to the rectitude of my intentions, I am happy under the assurance that their active support of the constitution and disposition to maintain the dignity of our free and equal government will ensure facility and success to the administration of its laws—and if the result of my anxious endeavors in some measure, to justify the too partial sentiments of my fellow-citizens, should, in any degree approach to the wish which I entertain for their happiness, I shall not regret the domestic enjoyment and personal repose which may have been yielded to this superior consideration.

As Magistrates of a commercial city deeply interested in the measures of the federal government you must have beheld with satisfaction the equal and salutary influence of its regulations on the trade of america—As citizens of a State whose sufferings and services possess a distinguished rank in the history of our revolution, you must rejoice in the completion of our toils and the reward which awaits them, and as members of the great family of the union, connected by the closest ties of interest and endearment, the confidence which you justly cherish of sharing in all the benefits of the national compact, must be strengthened by the experience already received of the justice, wisdom, and prudence of its measures—a candid review of which will establish a conviction of liberal policy, and justify the most favorable anticipation of future advantage.

I desire to assure you, Gentlemen, of my gratitude for the tender interest you are pleased to take in my personal felicity, and I entreat the almighty Ruler of the universe to crown your wishes with deserved prosperity.

G. Washington


1The address “of the Intendant and Wardens of the city of Charleston, South Carolina,” dated 18 Feb. 1790, was formally received by GW on 18 March (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:48). It reads: “Though among the latest, yet not among the least zealous of the Citizens of America, we take the liberty to intrude for a moment on your time, which is so precious to the people over whom you preside, to offer our congratulations on your unanimous appointment to the most honorable station amongst men, the first magistrate of the freest people on the Earth.

“United with our eastern and northern Brethren in our ardent attachment to the principles of a free government, equally remote from tyranny and anarchy, we rejoice with them that you have been prevailed upon by the voice of your country to relinquish your private walks of domestic life, for the toils of an untried Government, where your wisdom, moderation, and firmness would be requisite to the discharge of its various and intricate duties—with grateful hearts we add this to the catalogue of eminent sacrifices and services, by which you have so compleatly endeared yourself to the people of America.

“As Magistrates of a commercial city deeply interested in the measures of the federal government, we feel peculiar pleasure in finding it introduced into action under the auspices of an administration every way qualified to correct those errors or supply those defects, which are alledged by its enemies, or apprehended by its friends; and as in its first operations it will receive from you a tone correspondent to the spirit in which it was framed, we felicitate ourselves in the happy omens of a firm government acting by wholesome laws, through the medium of mild and equal administration.

“Possessing the fullest confidence that our distance from the seat of Government will not deprive us of any of its essential benefits, we beg leave to tender you our assurances of a cheerful submission to, and active support of the constitution—and the laws which may be framed in conformity thereto by the wisdom of Congress.

“We cherish the confidence from whence spring these assurances, because we remember that we were not neglected or deserted during the late glorious struggle for independency, but were substantially aided by the policy of your counsels, the wisdom of your appointments and the vigor of the exertions of our northern friends, who shared and lessened our severest toils.

“It is our earnest prayer to the almighty ruler of the universe that he will take you into his holy keeping, and suffer no incident to arise, which may disturb the felicity of your private life, and that he will make your public administration honorable to yourself, and happy to the people who have so unanimously confided themselves to your care” (DLC:GW). The address is signed by Thomas Jones, intendant of the city of Charleston, “by desire of and for the whole.”

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