George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Magistrates of Philadelphia, 25 December 1778

To the Magistrates of Philadelphia

Phila. Decr 25th 1778


I return you my warmest thanks for the honor you do me in your obliging address—Such a distinguished proof of the affection of my fellow citizens manifested by so respectable a body as the Magistrates of the city of Philadelphia cannot but afford me the most sensible pleasure.

I congratulate you Gentlemen that this State is again in possession of its capitol; and I sincerely hope that a persevering exercise of the same national virtues which have hitherto frustrated the designs of the enemy will perpetuate to this city a full enjoyment of all the blessings which have been the objects of the present glorious and important contest.

Go: Washington

ALS, in private hands.

Another ALS from GW to “The Worshipful the Magistrates of the City of Philadelphia,” this one undated, reads: “Gentlemen[,] I return you my thanks for this very polite and affectionate address.

“As I have ever considered a due support of civil authority, essential to the preservation of that liberty for which we are contending, I have from duty as well as from inclination endeavoured, as far as possible, to avoid the least violation of it, and I am happy to find that my conduct has met the approbation of those who are appointed Guardians of the rights of a free People.

“I feel myself highly obliged by your assurance that it will be the pleasing employment of the Citizens to render my residence among them agreeable—It shall be my study to merit so kind a mark of their attention & to approve myself Gentn Yr Most Obedt & Most Hble Servt Go: Washington” (in private hands).

The magistrates addressed GW, according to the Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia; 5 Jan. 1779), on Tuesday, 29 Dec.; which suggests that GW delivered his response on that date. The magistrates’ address reads: “We, the Magistrates of the city of Philadelphia, with hearts warm with affection and veneration, beg leave to address and congratulate your Excellency on your arrival here in health, after the fatigues and dangers of two important campaigns, wherein you have defeated the designs of a cruel invading enemy, sent by the unrelenting King and Parliament of Britain to enslave a FREE PEOPLE.

“By the vigilance and military prowess of your Excellency and the brave Army under your command, we now in this city enjoy PEACE FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE; and we hope, worthy Sir, that you will see the same compleatly established throughout the Thirteen United States, which will redound immortal honour to you, Sir, and to your country for so great and good a man.”

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