George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elias Boudinot, 12 November 1793

From Elias Boudinot

Elizabeth Town [N.J.] Novr 12th 1793

Dear Sir

The troubling you to read the enclosed oration may perhaps need an Apology, undoubtedly the liberty I have taken, to address it to you, without your express permission, renders one absolutely necessary.1

A number of concurring Circumstances, added to the subject & design prompted me to it, and a dependance on your known Candor & Friendship makes me hope, it will not give Offence.

Mrs Boudinot joins me in the most respectful & affectionate Compliments to Mrs Washington. I have the honor to be with every Sentiment of Duty & respect Dr Sir Your most Obedt Hble Servt

Elias Boudinot


1Boudinot enclosed An Oration, Delivered at Elizabeth-Town, New-Jersey, Agreeably to a Resolution of the State Society of Cincinnati, on the Fourth of July, M.DCC.XCIII. Being the Seventeenth Anniversary of the Independence of America (Elizabeth-Town, N.J., 1793). The publication included a dedication in the form of a letter to GW, dated 4 July: “The great respect due to your public character, as the first servant of a Nation of Freemen, greatly heightened by a knowledge of the amiableness of your deportment in private life, have been additional arguments with me to dedicate an Oration to you, which, however inadequate to the purpose, was designed to promote a reverence for that happy revolution, in which divine Providence has been pleased to make you so peculiar an instrument.

“A frequent recurrence to the first principles of our constitution, and from thence to inculcate the necessity of a free, firm, and energetic government, in which Liberty shall rise superior to licentiousness, and obedience to the Laws become the best evidence of attachment to the Independence of our common Country, cannot but meet with your approbation.

“This is the great object designed by instituting the Anniversary of the Fourth of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, as a Festival, to be sacredly observed by every true American. This is the Day, chosen by the Defenders of our Country, your friends and companions in arms, to meet together and rejoice in the recollection of past labors, while they receive the glorious reward of their services, by looking forward to the increasing prosperity of the union, secured by their united exertions.

“It arose from a desire, that this Jubilee might be improved, to continue those principles to posterity, which led them to arm in defence of their most invaluable privileges, that the Society in this State instituted an Oration on this Anniversary, to commemorate the successful result of their sufferings, and to perpetuate a constitution founded on the Rights of Men, as Men and Citizens.

“You, Sir, as their Head, must enjoy, in a very peculiar manner, the contemplation of these blessings, and to you every attempt in this important service will be most properly dedicated.

“Long may you personally experience their benign effects—Long may you live to testify, by a successful practice, the truth of the theory established by your struggles in the cause of universal Liberty” (pp. iii–iv).

The Oration remained in Washington’s library at the time of his death (Griffin, Catalogue of the Washington Collection description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends , 31).

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