George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Freemen of Newport, Rhode Island, 18 August 1790

To the Freemen of Newport, Rhode Island


Gentlemen,[Newport, R.I., 18 August 1790]

I receive with emotions of satisfaction the kind address1 of the Citizens of New Port on my arrival in this State.2

Although I am not ignorant how much the worthy Inhabitants of this Town have been injured in their circumstances by their patriotic sufferings and Services, yet I must be allowed to say, that nothing on their part has been wanting to convince me of their affection to myself, and attachment to the government over which I am appointed to preside.

I request, Gentlemen, you will be persuaded, that I take a due interest in your particular situation; and that I join with you in anticipating the happy period, when, in our Country at large, commerce, arts, manufactures and agriculture shall attain the highest degree of improvement.

My expressions would but faintly communicate my feelings, should I enlarge beyond the proper limits of an answer to your address, in evincing my sensibility of your affectionate wishes for my felicity in the present and future state of existence. It will be a better proof of my zeal for the prosperity of the Inhabitants of this Town, and their fellow citizens of this State, to lose no opportunity of attending to the advancement of their interests, in combination with the general welfare of the Community—This I shall do with unfeigned satisfaction: And may all the happiness be theirs, which can result, in their social character, from the uniform practice of industry, virtue, fraternal kindness, and universal philanthropy.

Go: Washington

ALS (facsimile), The Book Lover, 1 (1889), 37; LB, DLC:GW.

1The address presented to GW on the morning of 18 Aug. 1790 had been approved on 16 Aug. 1790 by a Newport town meeting over which Henry Marchant presided as moderator and for which Peleg Barker, Jr., served as clerk. William Loughton Smith noted in his journal that Marchant began to read the address to GW as chairman of the town committee, “but before he had proceeded far, he was so agitated he had to resign it to Col. Sherbet [Henry Sherburne], who read it very composedly” (Matthews, Journal of William L. Smith, description begins Albert Matthews, ed. Journal of William Loughton Smith, 1790–1791. Cambridge, Mass., 1917. Reprint from Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 51 (1917-18):20-88. description ends 37).

The address reads: “Impressed with the liveliest sentiments of gratitude and affection, the Citizens of Newport salute you on your arrival in this State; and wish to express their joy on this interesting occasion.

“The present circumstances of this Town forbid some of those demonstrations of gratitude and respect which the Citizens of our Sister States have displayed on a similar occasion; yet we rejoice in this opportunity of tendering to your Excellency the richest offering which a free people can make—Hearts sincerely devoted to you, and to the government over which you preside.

“We anticipate, with pleasing expectation, the happy period, when under the auspicious government of the United States, our languishing commerce shall revive, and our losses be repaired; when commerce at large shall expand her wings in every quarter of the globe, and arts, manufactures, and agriculture, be carried to the highest pitch of improvement.

“May kind Providence long continue your invaluable life; and in the progressive advancement of the United States in opulence, order, and felicity may you realize the most glorious prospect, which humanity can exhibit to an enlightened and benevolent Legislator; and when you shall cease to be mortal, may you be associated to the most perfect society in the realms above, and receive that retribution for your disinterested and extensive services, which the Judge of all the earth will bestow on the friends of Piety, Virtue, and Mankind” (Citizens of Newport, R.I., to GW, 16 Aug. 1790, DLC:GW).

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