George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 15 February 1780

To Joseph Reed

Morris-town Feby 15th 1780

Sir,

I am much indebted to your Excellency for announcing my election as a member of the Philosophical Society.1 I feel myself particularly honored by this relation to a society whose successful efforts for promoting2 useful knowledge have already justly acquired them the highest reputation in the literary world.

I entreat you to pres[en]t my warmest acknowledgments, and to assure them that I shall with zeal embrace every oppertunity of seconding their laudable views & manifesting the exalted sense I have of the institution.

The Arts and Sciences essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament and happiness of human life have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and of mankind.3 With the greatest respect & esteem I am Sir, Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

Fig. 3. GW’s certificate of membership in the American Philosophical Society, February 1780. (Library of Congress)

ALS, MB; DfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The dateline and address of the draft are in GW’s writing. GW wrote the word “Patron” after Reed’s name on the internal address of the ALS and the draft, as well as on the docket of the draft.

1No letter from Reed to GW on this subject has been found.

2On the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide Alexander Hamilton, GW wrote this word in place of a word that is rubbed out.

3The American Philosophical Society chose GW as a member at its meeting on 21 Jan. (Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 27 Jan.). GW’s certificate of membership in the Philosophical Society is dated 22 March (see Fig. 3). Among the twenty-one other persons elected members at that meeting were French minister plenipotentiary La Luzerne; François de Barbé-Marbois, secretary to the French embassy; Thomas Jefferson; John Jay; Henry Laurens; John Adams; Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair; Major General Steuben; Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne; GW’s aides-de-camp Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens; and Robert Erskine, geographer and surveyor of roads for the Continental army.

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