George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 24 December 1778

To Joseph Reed

Chesnut Street [Philadelphia] 24th December 1778.


I had not the honor of receiving your Excellency’s favor of yesterday till late in the evening.1 I am very sensible of the high mark of esteem and attention intended me by the Supreme Executive Council, and I shall be happy to receive the honor of their visit at 11 o’clock this morning.2

I thank you for the polite manner in which you have been pleased to convey their desire for that purpose, and I beg leave to assure you of the perfect esteem and respect, with which I am Your Excellency’s most obt Servt

Go. Washington

Sparks transcript, MH. A note on the transcript says that the recipient of the letter was not named on the original, but that it “probably” was Reed.

1Reed’s letter of 23 Dec. has not been found.

2Reed and his fellow members of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council presented GW with the following address: “ADDRESSES are, too often, the language of unmeaning compliment and empty ceremony; but we approach you, Sir, with far different sentiments, such as become freemen, in the hour of gratitude and affection, to express, and a patriot General to receive. The present contest is the most important to the liberty of mankind that has ever happened in the world. And while we acknowledge with reverence the favour of Providence in other respects, we cannot overlook its goodness in giving and preserving a life endeared to America by a series of services, virtues and successes, which have yet no parallel in the annals of mankind.

“Pennsylvania, Sir, in particular has had too recent experience of the blessings flowing from those services and virtues, to be silent when her capital is again favoured with your presence. And we express but too imperfectly our own, and the feelings of her virtuous sons, whom we now have the honour to represent, while we offer our most ardent wishes, that, as you have been the great deliverer of our common country, you may long live its first and most illustrious citizen; and at a late, a very late hour, receive the reward which Heaven alone can bestow upon merit so transcendent” (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 5 Jan. 1779).

GW responded: “I FEEL myself at a loss to express the grateful sense I have of the too indulgent testimony of the attention and esteem, with which you have been pleased to honour me in your polite address. If my well meant endeavours in this important contest have been in any degree conducive to the safety of America in general, or the advantage of this state in particular, they are more than repaid by so flattering and honourable a mark of the approbation of its virtuous citizens. My reverence for the Representatives of the people makes me happy in receiving it through that channel, and my first wish is, by fresh proofs of my zeal, to justify a continuance of their confidence. I ardently hope, that a perseverance in the same patriotic dispositions and exertions throughout these states, which have already brought our affairs so far towards a prosperous conclusion, will speedily crown them with final success, and establish the happiness of our common country on the firm basis of peace, freedom and independence” (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 5 Jan. 1779).

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