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From George Washington to the Inhabitants of Salem, 29 October 1789

To the Inhabitants of Salem

Salem [Mass.] October 29th 1789.


Would words express the feelings of my heart, I should have the happiness to demonstrate to my fellow-citizens of Salem, that their affectionate address is received with gratitude, and returned with sincerity.1

To your goodness I refer myself for a just construction of thoughts which language will not explain.

Honored by the high, yet hazardous, appointment which my Country has conferred upon me, it will be my best ambition to discharge its’ important trusts with fidelity—for the rest I must cast myself upon her candor, and kind indulgence.

Towards you, Gentlemen, permit me to assure you, I entertain every disposition that is due to your virtue—and the promotion of your interests will be among the most grateful of my Employments. From your own industry and enterprize you have every thing to hope that deserving Men, and good citizens can expect.

May your Navigation and commerce flourish—your industry, in all its’ applications, be rewarded—your happiness, here, be as perfect as belongs to the lot of humanity—and your eternal felicity be complete!

Go: Washington


GW left Boston about eight o’clock on the morning of 29 Oct., proceeding to Cambridge, “attended by the Vice President, Mr. Bowdoin, and a great number of Gentlemen.” From Cambridge he passed through Mystic, Maiden, Lynn, and Marblehead on his way to Salem. “At the Bridge, 2 Miles from this Town, we were also met by a Committee—who conducted us by a Brigade of the Militia, & one or two handsome Corps in Uniform, through several of the Streets to the Town or Court House—where an Ode in honor of the President was sung—an address presented to him amidst the acclamations of the People—after which he was conducted to his Lodgings” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:481–83). On 23 Oct. the inhabitants of Salem, “anxious of paying every mark of attention to the President of the United States do by their Committee Messrs John Norris, Joshua Ward, James King, John Saunders Junr, Jona. Waldo John Hathorne & John Derby Junr most respectfully present their Compliments, & earnestly request The Honour of a Visit from him at an Entertainment which they have provided for the Occasion” (DLC:GW). On 29 Oct. the managers of the Salem assembly sent GW an invitation, this date, requesting “the honor of his company at Concert-Hall this eveng” (DLC:GW). In the evening “between 7 and 8 Oclock” GW attended the assembly, “where there were at least an hundred handsome and well dressed Ladies” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:483).

1The address reads: “The inhabitants of the Town of Salem, upon receiving a Visit from a personage the first Object of their esteem, cannot forbear expressing those Sensations which an Occasion so pleasing must naturally excite. While We view it as an high honour done us, a most obliging mark of Condescension & regard shewn us, in making us this Visit; most readily would We manifest the Satisfaction We feel, in being gratified with an Opportunity, of Seeing the Man, whose Deeds have been So illustrious; & of paying our particular respects to the Character, which not only the people of America, but all the World are agreed to admire, & Celebrate. How great Soever, Sir, We had Conceived our Obligations to be, & how Strong Soever the Motives of attachment we were under to you, for those Military Services, & Achievements, from which Such essential benefits have been deriv’d; An Addition to those Obligations we are sensible is Now made; & Still further reasons of attachment Are presented, from your Acceptance of that important trust in our Newly instituted government, which was so earnestly, & universally desir’d. That remarkable Spirit of patriotism, of benevolence towards this people, which has been so Conspicuous in your past Conduct, We doubt not has determined you to this Arduous undertaking. Whatever therefore may Contribute to the ease, & happiness of your administration, whatever returns of respect, & dutiful Submission, it becomes a grateful people to make, We wish you to receive, & enjoy.

“Long may you be Continued, diffusing those blessings of freedom, & good government by which our prosperity shall be further promoted. Long may you be indulged a Series of the best Satisfactions, which the honours & enjoyments of this world can Afford & by that Almighty Being, whose agency & Aid you have ever Acknowledged, in those great events you have been improved to Accomplish, with distinguish’d honours, & felicities, May You finally be rewarded” (NNYSL). The address is signed by Benjamin Goodhue, John Treadwell, Nathan Goodale, John Fisk, and Jacob Ashton.

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