To Virginia House of Delegates
[Richmond, Va., 15 November 1784]
My sensibility is deeply affected by this distinguished mark of the affectionate regard of your honble House. I lament upon this occasion that my powers of utterance will not do justice to my feelings; and shall rely upon your indulgent report to supply the defect; at the sametime I pray you to present for me the strongest assurances of unalterable affection & gratitude for this last pleasing & flattering attention of my Country.1
ADf, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The differences between the draft and letter-book copies are minimal; for the difference in wording of the version printed in the journals of the house for 16 Nov. 1784, see note 1.
1. There is the following entry in the journal of the house of delegates for 15 Nov.: “The House being informed of the arrival of Gen. Washington, in this city;
“Resolved, nemine contra dicente, That as a mark of their reverence for his character, and affection of his person, a committee of five members be appointed to wait upon him, with the respectful regards of this House, to express to him the satisfaction they feel in the opportunity afforded, by his presence, of offering this tribute to his merits; and to assure him, that, as they not only retain the most lasting impressions of the transcendent services rendered in his late public character, but have, since his return to private life, experienced proofs, that no change of situation can turn his thoughts from the welfare of his country, so his happiness can never cease to be an object of their most devout wishes and fervent supplications.
“And a committee was appointed, of Messrs. [Patrick] Henry, [Joseph] Jones of King George, [James] Madison, Carter Henry Harrison, and [Edward] Carrington” (House of Delegates Journal, 1781–1785). description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico, on Monday, the Seventh Day of May, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-One. Richmond, 1828. description ends
Later in the day (“Monday”), Patrick Henry wrote GW: “Having the Honour to be one of a Committee who are charged with the inclosed Resolution of the House of Delegates, I beg to know when it will be agreable for the Committee to wait on you? Some of the Gentlemen have mentioned tomorrow 10’O’clock, but I am very sure they will take the greatest pleasure in conforming to your Wishes as to Time & Place. I beg Leave to assure you I am with the greatest possible Regards Dear sir your most obedient Servant” (DLC:GW).
On 16 Nov. “Mr. Henry reported, from the committee appointed to wait upon General Washington, with the resolution of this House, of yesterday, that the committee had, according to order, waited upon the General, and presented him with the said resolution, to which he was pleased to return the following answer.” The text of GW s response in the journal of the house has wording different from the draft and the letter-book version in the first clause of the second sentence, which in the journal reads: “I lament, upon this occasion, the want of those powers, which would enable me to do justice to my feelings” (House of Delegates Journal, 1781–1785). description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico, on Monday, the Seventh Day of May, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-One. Richmond, 1828. description ends