George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Martin, 14 November 1791

To Alexander Martin

Philadelphia November 14th 1791.


I have had the pleasure to receive your Excellency’s private letter of the 27th of September, which accompanied your public communication of the cession of certain pieces of land in North Carolina for the purpose of building light-houses thereon.1

I request your Excellency will receive my thanks for the kind Congratulations which you express on my return from my southern tour in perfect health; and at the same time I beg you to be assured, that the reception which I met with among the Citizens of North Carolina, as well as those of the other states which I visited, was in the highest degree pleasing and satisfactory. My object in that journey was not to be received with parade and an ostentatious display of opulence. It was for a nobler purpose—To see with my own eyes the situation of the Country, and to learn on the spot the condition and disposition of our Citizens. In these respects I have been highly gratified—and to a sensible mind the effusions of affection and personal regard which were expressed on so many occasions is no less grateful, than the marks of respect shewn to my official Character were pleasing in a public view. I am, with due consideration & regard Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington


1On 27 Sept. Gov. Alexander Martin of North Carolina wrote privately to GW from his home in Danbury, N.C.: “I beg Leave to congratulate you on your Arrival from your Southern Tour at Philadelphia in perfect Health as the public prints have announced. At the same Time permit me to present you my thanks for your great Condescension, and kind Interposition in having my Horses retaken on their Escape, and returned in the Morning you parted from me at Guilford Court House. I am sorry Sir, from your short Stay in North Carolina that the Council of the state could not have been convened in Time, that the full Body of the Executive might have paid you on this Occasion that Attention and Respect so justly your due, and which it would have been their pride to have done. As the Inhabitants of the Southern States felt themselves highly gratifyed with the great Mark of Respect you were pleased to shew them in your late Visit, and were emulous with each other of paying you in Return the most distinguished Honours; I pray you to be assured that though it was not in our power to make great Shews of parade and ostentatious Displays of Opulence in this State on your Reception among us, yet no persons entertain a higher Since of your eminent Virtues, and exalted Merit, and glow with purer Affection for your person than the Citizens of North Carolina” (PHi: Gratz Collection). Martin apparently enclosed his official letter of 20 July with the documents it covered: an authenticated copy of the act of the North Carolina legislature that ceded lands to the United States for the building of lighthouses and a deed for those lands (Nc-Ar: Governor’s Letterbooks; see also N. C. State Records, description begins Walter Clark, ed. The State Records of North Carolina. 16 vols., numbered 11-26. Winston and Goldsboro, N.C., 1895–1907. description ends 25:65). GWpresented the official documents to Congress on 27 Oct. (second letter; see also GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 26 Oct., n.3).

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