George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Smith, 1 May 1791

From Benjamin Smith

Belvidere [Brunswick County, N.C.] 1st May 1791


The inclosed letters were handed to me this day1—I very much regret that they did not arrive in time—They are however forwarded, to shew you, that, the common Anxiety, which I believe pervades the Continent, to make your path smooth & your Journey light, was not wanting between this part of the Country & Santee; also in justice to the Parties, who perhaps would be mortified that their very proper Intentions were not made known. At the same time I cannot omit the opportunity of returning You, Sir, the warmest thanks for softening in my favour, the rigour of a Rule, which although adopted upon the soundest principles of propriety & with the very best meaning, must punish all the first Characters of the Country where you travel with great Chagrin.

Had Circumstances permitted; a longer visit would have afforded me the most heartfelt Gratification. An assurance of this however cannot be felt in its full force; without a belief in that Attachment with which I was inspired at New York & Long Island in 1776. An Attachment, which has followed You not less to the peaceful tranquil Shades of Mount Vernon, than your Memorable Entry of New York as first Magistrate of the Union—An Attachment however, that has been attended with a keen regret that will end but with my life, in having been forced from partaking of your Fortunes, amongst the variety of which, I am most pained at my absence in the Retreat through New Jersey & when you changed the Fate of America at Trenton—But whither will my recollection hurry me? Excuse me illustrious Sir, for this Intrusion—I hope it will find you perfectly at leisure, & that your goodness will pardon a fault not likely to be repeated.

Tomorrow, you will probably enter my Native City amidst the applauding Shouts of a grateful People & the welcoming Acclamations of some personal friends—Believe me there is not amongst the whole, one heart more sensibly expanded with offerings to Heaven for the happy prolongation of a life essential to the tranquillity of our Country than that of Virtuous & Great Sir Your sincerely attachd & most devoted

Benja: Smith.

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

North Carolina state legislator and Brunswick County militia colonel Benjamin Smith (1756–1826) lived at Belvidere plantation on the Brunswick River, where GW breakfasted on 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 , 6:121). Smith, who studied law in London before the Revolution, supported adoption of the federal Constitution as a member of the North Carolina ratifying conventions of 1788 and 1789.

1The enclosures were probably letters to Smith from Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Francis Allston (Alston; b. 1753), a Brunswick County planter. Pinckney’s letter, dated “Hampton—Santee—April 15. 1791,” covered an unidentified letter to be delivered to GW “as soon as you see him” (Pinckney to Smith, 15 April 1791, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). The unidentified letter may have been that of John Rutledge, Jr., to GW, 15 April 1791. The letter from Allston to Smith was dated Caulkin’s Neck, N.C., 21 April 1791, and reads in part: “Upon a Reconsideration, with regard to the purpose I last intimetated to you of Entertaining His Excellency General Washington, at the Boundary House . . . from the Letter you will Receive inclosed from Major Mitchell on the subject, I judge it more proper to entertain him at my own House. . . . I shall expect the favor of your introducing the General with his private suit to my House, and should also (in such cace) thank you to give me some previous Notice of his coming” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). The enclosed letter from Ephraim Mitchell to Allston, dated Boundary House, N.C. and S.C., 18 April 1791, reads in part: “I find by the information of Coll B. Smith that it is most probible the President of the United States, will do us the Honour of Calling at the Boundary (where perhaps he may Spend ⟨A⟩ Day or Two). . . . any thing you may have in your power to Assist us in makeing provision to Entertain him will be Greatfully accepted—we have no Other Liquer but Rum we have no wheet flower” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). GW’s route did not take in the Boundary House, built before 1754 squarely on the border of the Carolinas.

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