George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Gordon, 25 February 1791

To William Gordon

Philadelphia February 25. 1791.

Dear Sir,

However highly I might be gratified by attending to my private correspondencies, as I used to do, yet so numerous and important are the public duties which my situation calls upon me to discharge, that to do justice to one I must, in some measure, give up the other—In this case it requires not the consideration of a moment to decide.

I presume, therefore, it will hardly be necessary to offer an apology to you for the want of punctuality in acknowledging the receipt of your letters—I should, however, be deficient in civility and gratitude was I not to return my best thanks for the elegantly bound volumes of your history, which you have been so polite as to send to me—and for the ardent prayers for my health and happiness which are expressed in your letters1—I beg you to be assured that my good wishes attend you, and that I shall always be glad to hear of your prosperity. The forty two sets of your history which you mention to have sent over for the Subscribers have been received, as the within accounts will shew; and you have, enclosed, a bill for [ ] Sterling in full of the balance of the accounts, and closes the business.2 With due regard & esteem, I am &ca

G. Washington.


For the background to this letter, see Gordon to GW, 24 Sept. 1788 and source note, 16 Feb. 1789, and 20 Feb. 1790. Gordon had written to GW on 31 Jan. 1791, but this letter had not yet been received.

1GW’s acknowledgment of his receipt of Gordon’s History was indeed overdue. The work had been published in London in 1788. Gordon had written to GW on 16 Feb. 1789 announcing the publication; this letter was accompanied by a note containing a set for GW and for each of the purchasers GW had solicited. GW apparently had not acknowledged that letter and shipment or Gordon’s letter of 20 Feb. 1790.

2The enclosed documents relating to GW’s distribution of the sets of Gordon’s History have not been found. In his letter to Gordon of 19 July 1791, written shortly after he returned to Philadelphia following the Southern Tour, GW notes that “I . . . refer you to a letter which I wrote on the 9 of March on the subject of the subscriptions to your history, and which contained the accounts of the subscription and a bill of exchange of £29.15/3. Sterling for the ballance of that account.” GW probably was referring to his letter of 25 Feb. 1791. No letter to Gordon of 9 Mar. 1791 has been found.

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