George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Stewart, 23 January 1784

From Robert Stewart

London Janry 23d 1784

Dear Sir

As I purpose to do myself the Honour and great pleasure of writing to you soon, by a direct opportunity from hence to Virginia, in answer to the Letter which you did me the honr to write to me the 10th of last August, from the State of New York,1 this only serves to entreat you will pardon the liberty I take in Introducing to Your Excellency, the Bearer Doctor Ross, who after a long residence [in] Turkey, and visiting many other Countries, intends going to America, and ardently wishes for the honr of being known to Your Excellency.2 Docr Ross’s great merit and extensive knowledge will, I hope in some degree, plead my excuse for the freedom I now presume on, at the earnest request of Mr Dempster, a Member of the British Parliament, a great admirer of yours, that has long honoured me with his particular Freindship & whose uncommon goodness of heart, distinguished abilities, and sterling worth render him, all partiallity aside, a valueable Member, and real ornament of Society.3

May I likewise beg you will do me the Honour to present my most respectfull Compliments to Your Lady and be persuaded of the high esteem and sincere attachment with which I have the Honr to be—My Dear General Your ever affectionate & faithful humble Servant

Robert Stewart


1After GW left his Virginia Regiment at the end of 1758, Robert Stewart who had been his companion at arms since 1754 (see Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , vols. 1–5, passim) continued second in command of the regiment. For some years thereafter, the two men corresponded regularly. GW advanced Stewart money and did what he could to promote his military career (ibid., vol. 6). The last of their known pre-Revolutionary letters is a long one from Stewart written from Kingston, Jamaica, on 25 Jan. 1769. The next letter from Stewart was written on 19 April 1783 from London to renew his friendship with GW. In that letter, Stewart fills several pages with obsequious flattery and suggests that GW could make his old friend’s declining years happy by securing for him an appointment from the new American republic to serve it in some capacity in England or France. In a coldly polite and brief reply on 10 Aug.1783, GW expresses his surprise that Stewart is still alive after so many years of silence and informs Stewart that he does not concern himself with civil appointments which in any case should go to GW’s fellow countrymen who had suffered the hardships of a lengthy war.

2David Hartley wrote Benjamin Franklin on 28 Jan. 1784, at the request of Dempster, to introduce “Dr. Ross who . . . proposes with your permission to take your advice with respect to his proposed settlement as a practising Physician in America” (CtY: Franklin Papers). And on 1 Feb. 1784 William Strahan wrote Franklin: “My worthy Friend Dr. Ross is the Bearer of this Letter, has promised to deliver it into your own Hands” (CtY: Franklin Papers).

3George Dempster (1732–1818), a man of great wealth and genuine distinction, was a member of Parliament from Perth and played the part of an independent whig in the House of Commons throughout the 1760s and 1770s.

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