George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Officials of the City of Richmond, 15 November 1784

To Officials of the City of Richmond

[Richmond, Va., 15 November 1784]

To—The Worshipful the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, & Common Council of the City of Richmond.

I derive great honor from your congratulatory address; the language of which, is too flattering not to have excited my utmost gratitude.1

To the Smiles of Heaven—to a virtuous & gallant Army—and to the exertions of my fellow Citizens of the Union—(not to superior talents of mine) are to be ascribed the blessings of that liberty, Independence, & Peace, of wch we are all now in the enjoyment. Whilst these are afforded us, & while the advantages of commerce are not only offered but are solliciting our acceptance, it must be our own fault indeed if we do not make them productive of a rich & plenteous harvest—and of that National honor & glory, which should be characteristic of a young, & rising Empire.

That this growing City may enjoy all the benefits which are to be derived from them, in the fullest extent—that it may improve such as nature has bestowed—and that it may soon be ranked among the first in the Union for population, commerce & wealth is my sincere and fervent wish.

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The differences between GW’s draft copy and letter-book copy are slight. The letter-book copy is dated “15th Novembr 1784.”

1The Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser on 2 Dec. carried the following item from Richmond, dated 20 Nov.: “On Sunday last [14 Nov.] arrived in this city, our worthy and beloved late Commander in Chief. His arrival was announced by the discharge of cannon; and on the evening following, the citizens, wishing to show every mark of respect to so illustrious a character, illuminated their houses in a most elegant manner.

“On the Thursday following, the Marquis la Fayette, attended by two French Gentlemen of distinction, also arrived. His services in the late revolution, and particularly in this State, are too well known to need encomiums.

“Same day, the merchants of the city, entertained them with a sumptuous dinner, at Mr. Trower’s tavern; where also were present, the Members of the General Assembly, the Governor, Members of the Council of State, and the principal Gentlemen of the city.

“And Yesterday evening, a ball at the capital, by the common Hall.”

This is followed by extensive excerpts from the journal of the house of delegates (see GW to House of Delegates, 15 Nov., n.1), ending with GW’s reply to the address from the officials of the city of Richmond. The text of the city’s address, dated 15 Nov. at Richmond, is: “Actuated by every Sentiment which can inspire a grateful People, the Mayor, Recorder, Alderman & Common Council of the City of Richmond, embrace this long wished for Opportunity of congratulating you on your Return to the Bosom of Peace and Retirement in your native Country, after so many years honourably spent amidst the Toils and Tumults of a War, which, thro’ the Smiles of Heaven on your Exertions, has been productive of Liberty, Glory, & Independence to an extensive Empire.

“On seeing you Sir, in this City, we feel all that Men can feel, who are indebted to you for every social Enjoyment, and who are deeply impressed with a Conviction, that, if the late illustrious Leader of the Armies of America, had not possessed and exercised, every Talent, and every Virtue, which can dignify the Hero and the Patriot, we might not at this Day have dared to speak the Language of free born Citizens, nor would we have seen Commerce & Navigation with their fruitful Train, liberated from their Shackles, inviting the Inhabitants of distant Nations to seek an Asylum and a Residence Among us.

“When in the Review of a few Past years, we behold you not only forming Soldiers, but also teaching them to Conquer, when we contemplate that Prudence, Courage & magnanimity, which surmounting every Difficulty, regardless of every Danger; and Contemning every Reward, excited not only the veneration of your Country, but even commanding the Admiration and Applause of her Enemies, & spread the Fame of America, in the remotest Corners of the world, giving his Rank & Consequence among the Kingdoms of the Earth, and when we think what we might have been if Washington had not existed our Hearts expand with Emotions too strong for utterance, and we can only pray that the supreme giver of all Victory may crown you with his choicest Blessings—here and with never fading glory hereafter. Signed by order of the Common Hall” (DLC:GW).

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