To the Inhabitants of Wilmington, North Carolina
[Wilmington, N.C., 25 April 1791]
Appreciating with due value the sentiments you are pleased to express for my station and character, I should fail in candor and respect not to avow the grateful sensations excited by your address, for which I thank you with unfeigned sincerity1
Reasoning from the rapid progress of improvement throughout the United States, and adverting to the facility which every undertaking must derive from a settled system of government, the obviation of those disadvantages imposed by situation on your town, may, I think, be calculated upon within no very distant period.
The sanction which experience has already given to the salutary influence of the general government on the affairs of the United States, authorises a well founded expectation that every aid which wise and virtuous legislation can render to indivudual industry will be afforded, and creates a pleasing hope that the happiness of her citizens will be commensurate with the growing dignity and importance of our country.
I express a heartfelt sentiment in wishing to your town and its inhabitants a full proportion of general and particular prosperity.
1. The address of the Wilmington inhabitants, signed by James Read, William Campbell, John Bradley, Dr. James Fergus, George Hooper, William Henry Hill, and Edward Jones, probably was presented to the GW before noon on 25 April (Henderson, Washington’s Southern Tour, description begins Archibald Henderson. Washington’s Southern Tour, 1791. Boston and New York, 1923. description ends 108, 113): “We wait on you to offer the tribute of respect, gratitude and esteem, so justly due to your exalted Station, your eminent public services, and the extraordinary virtues that adorn your Character. We thank you for the high honor conferred on us by your visit to this place in your tour through the Southern States, and salute you with the most cordial welcome, to the chief Sea port Town of the extensive State of North Carolina. It may be proper to observe, Sir, that if the progress of Agricultural and Commercial improvement, in the State of which we are a part, has any proportion to the great natural resources it contains, the Town would probably have surmounted some of the obvious disadvantages of its Situation, and become more worthy of the honor it now enjoys by your presence. Truly sensible, that a system of Government at once benign and efficient, is the sure source of safety and prosperity to any Country where it obtains, We Anticipate with great pleasure the effectual Operation of the New Constitution, persuading ourselves that the same wisdom, liberality and genuine Patriotism, of which there is so illustrious an example in the conduct of our beloved Chief Magistrate, have hitherto influenced and will continue to temper the council of the Nation. We ardently hope, that that admirable political Fabric, reared upon the basis of Public Virtue, may prove a strong Pillar of support to the Union of the States: Improved and strengthened by revolving years, may it be as durable as your Fame, and extend the blessing of civil liberty to the latest Ages. Accept Sir, our humble testimony, in Addition to the innumerable instances you have experienced—in proof that the same sentiment pervades the breasts of the Citizens of the United States universally, that to you principally, under providence, our common Country is indebted for Liberty & Independence. That those invaluable acquisitions are become the means of permanent happiness, is equally an occasion of gratitude to you. May you long continue on Earth your Country’s Glory and human nature’s great ornament, and finally in an immortal State receive from the great protector of Nature the rich reward that awaits the distinguished benefactor of Mankind” (DLC:GW). For GW’s journey from New Bern to Wilmington and his activities at the latter from 24 to 26 April, see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:118–21. GW’s baggage handler, Paris, remained in Wilmington an additional week because of illness, according to Read’s letter of 1 May to William Jackson (DLC:GW).