George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 3 April 1773]

3. Colo. Thornton & Son went away after Breakfast. Mr. Custis also returnd to Maryld.

Jacky Custis probably carried with him a letter which GW wrote to Benedict Calvert on this date. Having just been apprised that Jacky had contracted a secret engagement to Calvert’s daughter Eleanor (Nelly), GW wrote Calvert his feelings on the matter: “I am now set down to write to you on a Subject of Importance, & of no small embarrassment to me. My Son in Law [stepson] & Ward, Mr. Custis, has, as I have been informd, paid his Addresses to your Second Daughter, & having made some progress in her Affections required her in Marriage.” He then expressed his approval of Nelly, but added firmly that Jacky was too young and inexperienced for marriage and needed to complete his education. “Delivering my Sentiments thus, will not, I hope, lead you into a belief that I am desirous of breaking of the Match—to postpone it, is all I have in view; for I shall recommend it to the young Gentleman with the warmth that becomes a Man of honour (notwithstanding he did not vouchsafe to consult either his Mother, or me, on the occasion) to consider himself as much engaged to your Daughter as if the indissoluble Knot was tied; and as the surest means of effecting this, to stick close to his Studies (in which I flatter myself you will join me) by which he will, in a great measure, avoid those little Flirtations with other Girls which may, by dividing the Attention, contribute not a little to divide the Affection” (DLC:GW).

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