George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Citizens of Camden, South Carolina, 25 May 1791

To the Citizens of Camden, South Carolina

[Camden, S.C., c.25 May 1791]


The acknowledgements which your respectful and affectionate address demands I offer to you with unfeigned sincerity—I receive your congratulations with pleasure, and, estimating your welcome of me to Camden by a conviction of its cordiality, I render those thanks to your politeness and hospitality, to which they are so justly entitled.1

Your grateful remembrance of that excellent friend and gallant Officer, the Baron de Kalb, does honor to the goodness of your hearts—With your regrets I mingle mine for his loss, and to your praise I join the tribute of my esteem for his memory2

May you largely participate the national advantages, and may your past sufferings, and dangers, endured and braved in the cause of freedom, be long contrasted with future safety and happiness.

G. Washington


1After GW was welcomed to Camden, S.C., by local officials in the afternoon of 25 May 1791, he was given a public reception and dinner, at which an address, “Signed by order of the inhabitants of Camden and its Vicinity” by William Lang, Joseph and James Kershaw, John Chesnut, Adam Fowler Brisbane, Joseph Brevard, Samuel Boykin, Douglas Starke, Dr. Isaac Alexander, and Isaac Dubose, was most likely presented: “Impress’d with every sentiment of Friendship, esteem and Gratitude which can actuate the human Heart, and Amid the Congratulations and Voluntary homage of Freemen and fellow Citizens that Accompany your Progress in the Southern States, the Citizens of Camden—and its Vicinity in whose County the ravages & Distresses of War were once as Severely and Painfully felt, as the blessings of Peace and good government are now gratefully cherished. Yielding to the Universal sentiment, but more to the impulse of our own hearts, beg leave to express the satisfaction and happiness, we feel at seeing among us our great deliverer. The venerated Chief, who heretofore under the Standard of Liberty, defended the invaded rights of America, and led her Troops with success thro’ all the doubtfull changes of a Perilous War—Now our first Civil Magistrate, under whose administration we forget our dangers and sufferings past, and rest in the Perfect enjoyment of those invaluable rights, secured to us by his Labors. We Congratulate you Sir, on your return thus far; and we hail your arrival in this Town, with a Welcome, tho’ less splendid, yet not less sincere than what you have any where received. And now Sir Permit us to bring to your recollection that Noble foreigner the Baron de kalb whose dust with that of many other brave Officers is intombed on the Plains of Camden, to him we owe this grateful mention, who despising ease & inaction, when the liberties of his fellow creatures (however distant) were threatened, entered the lists in our late Contest & fell bravely fighting for the rights of Mankind. May Almighty God, long Preserve a life so Beloved, and make the future as happy, as the Past has been illustrious, and at the close of a life rendered thus illustrious, may you greet on the happy shores of blissful immortality the kindred spirits of those Heroes & Patriots, who have in all past ages been distinguished as the Guardians of Liberty, and the Fathers of their Country” (DLC:GW). For GW’s arrival and activities at Camden, see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:147–48.

2Bavarian native Johann Kalb (baron de Kalb; 1721–1780) received a commission as a major general in the Continental army in 1777 and was mortally wounded on 16 Aug. 1780 at the Battle of Camden. GW visited his grave in the southwestern part of the city on 26 May (ibid., 148; Lipscomb, South Carolina in 1791, description begins Terry W. Lipscomb. South Carolina in 1791: George Washington’s Southern Tour. Columbia, S.C., 1993. description ends 72, 73).

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