George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 28 December 1794

From Henry Knox

Philadelphia 28th December 1794


In pursuance of the verbal communications heretofore submitted, it is with the utmost respect, that I beg leave officially to request, you will please to consider that after the last day of the present Month and year my services as secretary for the department of War will cease.

I have endevored to place the business of the department in such a train that my successor may without much difficulty commence the duties of his station. Any explanations, or assistance which he may require shall be cordially afforded by me.

After having served my Country nearly twenty years, the greatest portion of which under your immediate auspices it is with extreme reluctance I find myself constained to withdraw from so honorable a situation.

But the indispensible claims of a wife and a young and numerous family of children whose sole hopes of comfortable competence rest upon my life and exertions, will no longer permit me to neglect duties so sacred.1

But in whatever situation I shall be, I shall recollect your confidence and kindness with all the fervor and purity of affection of which a grateful heart can be susceptible. I have the honor sir to be with the highest respect Your most obedient Servant

H. Knox

ALS, CSmH; LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The LS was substituted for the ALS in January 1795 (see n.1). The letter-book copy follows the LS.

1On 1 Jan., Knox wrote to GW’s secretary Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.: “Permit me to ask through you the return of my letter to the President of the 28t ultimo, and in lieu thereof to receive the one hereinsent, the present having some little modification of a paragraph respecting my family—at the same time, request the Presidents opinion whether he would have any objections to the publication of his letter to me of the 30th ultimo” (ALS, DLC: GW). As altered, the preceding paragraph reads in the LS: “But the natural and powerful claims of a numerous family will no longer permit me to neglect their essential interests.”

Dandridge replied the same day: “Bw Dandridge presenting his complimts to Genl Knox, encloses the letter requested: & informs him that the President has no objection to his letter of the 30th ulto being published” (ADf, DLC: GW). GW’s reply of 30 Dec. was published with the revised version of Knox’s letter in the Gazette of the United States and Daily Evening Advertiser (Philadelphia), 2 Jan. 1795, and other newspapers.

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