George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Chapman, 15 December 1784

To George Chapman

Mount Vernon 15th Decr 1784.


Not until within a few days have I been honor’d with your favor of the 27th of Septr 1783 accompanying your treatise on Education.

My sentiments are perfectly in unison with yours sir, that the best means of forming a manly, virtuous and happy people, will be found in the right education of youth. Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail; & it gives me pleasure to find that Gentlemen of your abilities are devoting their time & attention in pointing out the way. For your lucubrations on this subject which you have been so obliging as to send me, I pray you to accept my thanks, & an expression of the pleasure I felt at the declaration of your intention to devote a further portion of your time in so useful a study.

Of the importance of education our Assemblies, happily, seem fully impressed; they establishing new, & giving further endowments to the old Seminaries of learning, and I persuade myself will leave nothing unessayed to cultivate literature & useful knowledge, for the purpose of qualifying the rising generation for patrons of good government, virtue & happiness. I have the honor to be &c.

G: Washington


George Chapman (1723–1806) in 1774 gave up the position of headmaster of the grammar school in Dumfries in his native Scotland because of ill health. At this time, in 1784, he had a small school in his house near Banff. Chapman wrote GW from there on 27 Sept. 1783 and sent a copy of the second edition of his A Treatise on Education with a Sketch of the Author’s Method of Instruction While He Taught the School of Dumfries and a View of Other Books on Education, first printed in 1773. GW was sufficiently impressed that, more than two years after Chapman sent the pamphlet and a year after having received it, he sent George William Fairfax a letter for Chapman in which he asked Chapman to recommend someone to be tutor to Martha Washington’s two grandchildren at Mount Vernon, Eleanor Parke (“Nelly”) Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, ages 5 and 3 (see GW to George William Fairfax, 11 Nov. 1785, n.2).

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