George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Duane, 19 February 1781

To James Duane

New Windsor 19th Feby 1781

Dear Sir,

The recpt of your letter of the 29th Ulto, and of a former by the Marqs De la Fayette I have the honor to acknowledge and to return you my thanks for them.1

The contents of that of the 29th are very important. it presents a fair field, capable of yielding an abundant harvest if it is well improved—Skilful labourers are all that are wanting, & much depends upon a judicious choice of them. Men of abilities at the head of the respective departments, will soon introduce system order and œconomy, our affairs, consequently, will put on a different aspect—but not unless Congress is vested with, or will assume greater powers than they exert at present. and will dispense them freely, upon general principles, to the Ministers of State.

But for the assurance you give me of being soon at Hd Quartrs I would go more into detail on the several important points of your letter. I will, under the expectation of it, defer the pleasure of a further converse on these matters till I see you (3)—(2)2 A few days ago I was on the eve of a Journey to Rhode Island—some important matters delayed ⟨it⟩ & now the time of my setting off is precarious.3 (3) I cannot close my letter however, without expressing the joy I feel at the completion of the Federal union, & that Virginia has relinq⟨uish⟩ed her claim to the Lands west of Ohio—The first, I trust, will enable Congress to speak with decision—The other will heal differences & contribute to our funds as there is no finer Country in the known world than is incircled by the Ohio, Mississipi, & Great Lakes. (2) Mrs Washington, and the rest of the family, salute you cordially—with sentiments of the greatest esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Serv⟨t⟩

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Duane to GW, 2 and 29 January.

2GW presumably intended the numerals in parentheses as markings for a reordering of paragraphs on the unfound recipient’s copy.

3GW had delayed his journey to Newport to meet with the French commanders (see his letters to Rochambeau, 15 Feb. and 2 March).

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