George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Frances Bassett Washington, 24 February 1793

To Frances Bassett Washington

Philadelphia Feby 24th 1793

My dear Fanny,

To you, who so well know the affectionate regard I had for our departed friend, it is unnecessary to describe the sorrow with which I was afflicted at the news of his death;1 although it was an event I had expected many weeks before it happened. To express this sorrow with the force I feel it, would answer no other purpose than to revive, in your breast, that poignancy of anguish, which, by this time, I hope is abated. Reason, and resignation to the Divine Will (which is wise & Just in its dispensations)2 cannot in such a mind as yours, fail to produce this effect.

The object of the present letter is to convey to your mind the warmest assurances of my love, friendship, and disposition to serve you. These also I profess to have, in an eminent degree, for your Children.3

What plan you have contemplated, or whether in so short a time you have thought of4 any, is unknown to me; and therefore I add that, the one which strikes me most favorably (by being best calculated to promote the interest of yourself & Children) is to return to your habitation at Mount Vernon.5 You can go to no place where you will be more welcome—nor to any where you can live at less expence, or trouble; matters at Mount Vernon being now so arranged as to be under the care of responsible persons; and may so continue; which would ease you of that anxiety which the care of so large a family would, otherwise, naturally involve you in. It is unnecessary to observe to you, that House keeping under any6 circumstances and with the greatest7 œconomy, is expensive; and where provision for it is to be made, will be found, I fear, beyond your means.

You might bring my Niece, Harriot Washington with you for a Companion, whose conduct, I learn8 with pleasure, has given much satisfaction to my Sister.9

Under the present view I have of the Subject, I shall10 be at Mount Vernon about the first of April for (perhaps) a fortnight; But your Aunt & family will not, I expect, be there before the middle of July.11 My love to the Children—and with Affectionate Sentiments I am—always Yours12

Go: Washington


The drafts of GW’s letters, whether in his own handwriting or in that of one of his secretaries, quite often accurately reflect the wording and punctuation to be found on the receiver’s copy. In this case, however, there are substantial differences between the draft and the ALS, the most important of which are printed in the notes below. As the large number of revisions attests, GW took great care in crafting this private letter.

1George Augustine Washington, Frances Bassett Washington’s husband and GW’s nephew and former estate manager, died on 5 Feb. 1793 of tuberculosis.

2In the draft this parenthetical phrase reads: “which is just and wise in all its dispensations.”

3The children were Anna Maria, George Fayette, and Charles Augustine.

4On the draft manuscript GW wrote “contemplated” instead of “thought of.”

5Hoping that a climate change would lead to recovery, George Augustine Washington and his family had left Mount Vernon in October 1792 to spend the winter in New Kent County, Va. (Anthony Whitting to GW, 31 Oct. 1792).

6This word is underlined in both the draft and letter-book copy.

7In the draft GW wrote “best,” not “greatest.”

8GW wrote “hear,” not “learn” on the draft manuscript.

9GW is referring to his sister, Betty Lewis Washington, with whom Harriot Washington, the daughter of his deceased brother Samuel, currently resided (Betty Washington Lewis to GW, 29 Jan. 1793).

10On the draft manuscript this phrase reads, “I shall, under my present view of things.”

11GW arrived at Mount Vernon on 2 April and departed on 13 April (GW to D.C. Commissioners, 3 April, to James Keith, 13 April).

12GW’s closing to the draft reads, “My affectionate regards attend you and your Children—and I shall always be your Sincere friend.”

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