George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Citizens of Fredericksburg, 14 February 1784

From the Citizens of Fredericksburg

[Fredericksburg, Va., c.14 February 1784]


While applauding millions were offering you their warmest congratulations on the blessings of Peace, and your safe return from the hazards of the Field, We The Mayor & Commonalty of the Corporation of Fredericksburg, were not wanting in Attachment and wishes to have joined in public testimonies of our Warmest gratitude & Affection, for your long and Meritorious Services in the Cause of Liberty; A Cause Sir, in which by your examples and exertions with the Aid of your gallant Army, The Virtuous Citizens of this Western World, are secured in freedom and Independance. And altho: you have laid aside your Official Character we cannot Omit, this first Opportunity you have given us,1 of presenting with unfeigned hearts, Our Sincere Congratulations on your safe return from the Noisy Clashing of Arms, to the Calm Walks of Domestic ease; and it affords us great joy, to see you Once more at the place which claims the Honor of your growing infancy,2 the Seat of your venerable and Amiable Parent & Worthy Relations. We want language to express the happiness we feel on this Occasion, and which cannot be surpassed, but by Superior Acts (if possible) of the Divine Favor.

May the great and Omnipotent Ruler of Human events, who in blessing to America hath Conducted you thro: so many dangers, continue his favor and protection, thro: the remainder of your life in the happy society of an Affectionate and gratefull people. I have the Honor to be (in behalf of the Corporation)with every sentiment of esteem & Respect Your Excellencys Most Obt & most Hble Servant

William McWilliams


1This was GW’s first visit to Fredericksburg after his return to Mount Vernon at the end of December. See GW to Jacob Read, 12 Feb. 1784, n.1. The following account of the town’s reception of GW, headed “Fredericksburg,February 15, 1784,” is given in the Virginia Gazette, or American Advertiser (Richmond), 21 Feb. 1784: “On Thursday evening last [12 Feb.], our late illustrious Commander in Chief arrived in this Town from Mount Vernon, on a visit to his ancient and amiable parent—with every mark of heart-felt gladness, the Body Corporate, the next day waited on his Excellency with the following Address, as a public testimony of their grateful acknowledgments for his many services. . . .

“On Saturday at two o’clock, a Committee from the Common Hall, the late Officers of the army, and several Gentlemen of the Town and neighbourhood, waited on and conducted him to the Coffee house, where a public dinner was provided: On his approaching the place of entertainment, he was saluted with a discharge of twenty-one rounds from artillery—Language is too weak to express the heart-felt joy that appeared in the countenances of a numerous and respectable number of Gentlemen, who had assembled on this happy occasion. After Dinner the following toasts were drank, under the discharge of thirteen rounds of artillery to each toast.

1. The Thirteen United and Sovereign States of America.

2. The American Congress.

3. Our great and generous Ally, Louis XVI.

4. Our late virtuous and gallant army.

5. The American Ministers in Europe.

6. May commerce flourish, and the landed interest of America increase.

7. The Seven United Provinces, and other allies in Europe.

8. Unanimity in the Councils of America.

9. May the American revolution induce those oppressed, by tyranny, to imitate them; and may every success attend their virtuous endeavours.

10. The Volunteers of Ireland.

11. The Order of Cincinnati.

12. May the increase of the American navy be equal to the growth of her forests.

13. The memory of all our gallant heroes who have bravely fallen in defence of American liberty.

“The General was then pleased to honor the company with a toast: ‘Fredericksburg; may it encrease and its commerce flourish’; thirteen rounds —— On the evening, an elegant ball was given at the Town-Hall, where a numerous and brilliant company of ladies assembled, who now in turn received the pleasure of beholding their great protector and virtuous defender. Joy sparkled in the eye, and every appearance was expressive of the annimated feelings which warmed the hearts of all present. At twelve o’clock the General withdrew; and the next day left this place for Chatham, on his return to Mount Vernon, where, may he enjoy all the blessings this life can afford, and which his many virtues merit.”

2The text of the signed note by which Mayor William McWilliams sent his address to GW is: “I have made a small alteration in the enclosed address, instead of growing Nativity, I have said growing infancy. I have the Honor to be yr Excellency’s Most Obt Servt” (DLC:GW).

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