George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Timothy Pickering, 15 February 1799

To Timothy Pickering

Mount Vernon 15th Feby 1799.

Dear Sir

Your favour of the 8th instt conveys very pleasing information, and I feel obliged by the communication.

Although you did not give your letter the stamp of privacy, I did not think myself at liberty to mention the purport of it to some good Federal characters who were dining with me at the time I received it, and who would have thought it the best Desert I could have offered.1

Hence forward, I will consider your letters to me, in three distinct points of view; and I mention it now, that I may commit no error hereafter.

First, such communications as you may conceive proper to make to me, alone, and mark confidential, shall go no farther; those marked private, I may, occasionally, impart their contents to well disposed characters; and those without either, will leave me unrestrained.2 With very great esteem & regard—I am always—Yr Affecte

Go: Washington

ALS, MHi: Pickering Papers; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; copy, MHi: Pickering Papers.

1The only dinner guests at Mount Vernon noted at this time were those of 12 Feb., who included Nicholas Fitzhugh, a brother of Fitzhugh, and Henry Washington (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:334).

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