To the Georgia Society of the Cincinnati
[Savannah, c.13 May 1791]
Your congratulations on my arrival in this State are received with grateful sensibility—your esteem and attachment are replied to with truth and affection.1
Could the praise of an individual confer distinction on men whose merits are recorded in the independence and sovereignty of their country, I would add, with grateful pride, the tribute of my testimony to the public acknowledgement—I would say how much you had atchieved, how much you had endured in the cause of freedom—Nor should my applause be confined to the military virtues of your character—With the endearing epithet of gallant brother soldiers, your civic worth has connected the respectable title of deserving fellow-citizens—Your conduct in war commanded my esteem, your behaviour in peace exacts my approbation.
My opinions will ever do justice to your merits, my heart will reciprocate your affection, and my best wishes implore your happiness.
1. On 13 May 1791, the day after GW arrived at Savannah, he “Dined with the Members of the Cincinnati at a public dinner given” at Brown’s Coffeehouse, where he had dined the previous evening (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:137). It was probably at the dinner that the Georgia Society of the Cincinnati presented to the president its address, signed by Anthony Wayne: “We, the members of the society of Cincinnati, of the State of Georgia, beg leave to offer our most cordial congratulations on your safe arrival in this State. It is more easy for you to imagine, than for us to describe the mingled emotions of gratitude, of respect, and affection your presence inspires. Whether we look back to the interesting scenes of the late War, when three millions of people committed their dearest treasure—their Liberties to your protection—or to the present time, when the same people, become an Independent Empire, have called you with one voice to be the guardian of their Government, and Laws—in either view, we shall find equal motives of admiration for the wisdom of your conduct, and of reverence for your virtues. In these sentiments we are conscious we do but express the feelings of every American Citizen—yet, we flatter ourselves we may justly be supposed to have a more lively degree of sensibility in our Affection for you, from the relation in which we stand, as officers who had the honor to serve under you during the late War, and as president General of our Society—a relation in which it is our highest pride to be considered. This is perhaps the last opportunity we may have of tendering to you in person, the sincere professions of our attachment: be pleased to accept them, Sir, as the genuine effusions of our hearts; and suffer us at the same time to assure you, that it shall be our constant endeavor to pursue the same conduct towards our Country, that formerly procured us the honor of your Esteem, and regard. That you may long—very long live to enjoy the grateful applause of mankind; the noblest reward of virtue—and make your fellow citizens happy, is our ardent wish, and shall be our constant prayer” (DLC:GW).