From Washington Academy Trustees
Washington Academy [Lexington]
Ap. 12 1798
It was not earlier than September 1797 that we were officially informed of your liberal donation to Liberty Hall Academy.1 Permit us as its immediate Guardians to perform the pleasing duty of expressing those sentiments of gratitude which so generous an act naturally inspires. We have long been sensible of the inconveniences to which literary institutions are necessarily subjected whilst dependant on precarious funds for their support. Reflecting particularly on the many difficulties thro’ which this seminary has been conducted since the first of its existence, we cannot but be greatly affected by an event which secures to it a permanent and independant establishment. Convinced as we are that public prosperity is intimately connected with the diffusion of Knowledge we look around with the highest satisfaction on its rapid advances in these United States, unfeignedly rejoicing that the Citizen who has long been distinguished as the assertor of the liberties of his Country adds to this illustrious character the no less illustrious one of Patron of the Arts and of Literature: and we trust that no effort will be wanting on our part to encourage whatever branches of Knowledge may be of general utility.
That you may long enjoy, besides the uninterrupted blessings of health and repose, the superior happiness which none but those who deserve it can enjoy and which arises from the reflection of having virtuously and eminently promoted the best Interests of mankind is the fervent prayer of the Trustees of Washington Academy late Liberty Hall.2 By order of the Board
Samuel Houston Clk
L, DLC:GW. On the cover: “Lex. Va. May 30” and “Washington City 11 June.” GW records receiving it on 14 June. Enclosed was “A rude sketch of the Country round Lexington in Virginia” (DLC:GW).
1. GW wrote Gov. Robert Brooke on 15 Sept. 1796 that he had decided to give his one hundred shares in the James River Company to “Liberty-Hall Academy, in Rockbridge County,” and he suggested that “this determination should be promulgated by some official act of the Executive of Virginia.” For the gift of the shares to GW in January 1785 by the Virginia legislature, see Benjamin Harrison to GW, 6 Jan. 1785, n.1.
2. Liberty Hall was incorporated in 1782 and renamed Washington Academy in 1798. See Edward Graham to GW, 9 Mar. 1798, source note. GW replied on 17 June from Mount Vernon: “Gentlemen, Unaccountable as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that the Address with which you were pleased to honor me—dated the 12th of April—never came to my hands until the 14th Instant.
“To promote Literature in this rising Empire, and to encourage the Arts, have ever been amongst the warmest wishes of my heart. And if the donation which the generosity of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia has enabled me to bestow on Liberty-Hall—now by your politeness called, Washington Academy, is likely to prove a mean to accomplish these ends, it will contribute to the gratification of my desires.
“Sentiments like those which have flowed from your Pen, excite my gratitude, whilst I offer my best vows for the prosperity of the Academy, & for the honor & happiness of those under whose auspices it is conducted. Go: Washington” (ALS [photocopy], ViMtvL; letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW). See also Andrew Moore and Samuel L. Campbell to GW, 14 Nov. 1798.