George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lafayette, 10 August 1784

From Lafayette

Philadelphia tuesday Evening [10 August 1784]

My dear General

I Have Already Had the pleasure to Acquaint You with My Arrival in America,1 and am Endeavouring to Reach Mount Vernon as soon as possible—My first plan was only to Stay here two days, but the Affectionate Reception I Have met with in this City, and the Returning some Compliments to the Assembly Render it Necessary for me to Stay one day longer—on friday I will Be at the Head of elk—the next day at Baltimore, and By Sunday or Monday I Hope at last to be Blessed with a sight of My dear General—there is no Rest for me Untill I get to Mount vernon—I long for the pleasure to embrace you, My dear General, and the Happiness of Being once more with You will be so great that No words Can Ever Express it—Adieu, my dear General, in a few days I’ll Be at Mount vernon, and I do already feel delighted with so charming a prospect 2—My Best Respects wait Upon Mrs Washington, and not long after You Receive this, I shall tell You Myself How Respectfully and affectionately I Have the Honor to Be My dear General Your Most obedient Humble Servant


in Case Your Affairs Call You to the Spring I Beg leave either to go there after you or to Accompagny You in Your journey.3

ALS, anonymous donor.

1If Lafayette did in fact write GW from New York after his arrival there in early August, the letter has not been found.

2Lafayette wrote his wife on 20 Aug., three days after his arrival at Mount Vernon: “Though I do not know if my letter will reach you, my dear heart, I had to write you that I am at Mount Vernon and that I am reveling in the happiness of finding my dear general again; and you know me too well for me to need to describe to you what I felt. Crossing the countryside very quickly, I arrived here on the seventeenth, and as the general, though he had been anticipating my arrival, did not expect me for several more days, I found him in the routine of his estate, where our meeting was very tender and our satisfaction completely mutual. I am not just turning a phrase when I assure you that in retirement General Washington is even greater than he was during the Revolution. His simplicity is truly sublime, and he is as completely involved with all the details of his lands and house as if he had always lived here. To describe to you the life that we lead here, I shall tell you that after breakfast the general and I chat together for some time. After having thoroughly discussed the past, the present, and the future, he withdraws to take care of his affairs and gives me things to read that have been written during my absence. Then we come down for dinner and find Mrs. Washington with visitors from the neighborhood. The conversation at table turns to the events of the war or to anecdotes that we are fond of recalling. After tea we resume our private conversations and pass the rest of the evening with the family” (Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends 5:237–38).

3Lafayette made only a brief visit to Mount Vernon before GW left for his western trip on 1 Sept. and Lafayette left for Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, and Boston. Lafayette returned to Virginia in November when he accompanied GW from Richmond for a second visit to Mount Vernon.

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