George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., 1 September 1785

From Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 1st of Septemr 1785

Dear Sir

A painfull task is fallen to my Lot—I depend on your goodness to form for me an excuse, should I, by indulging the relation of a melancholly Tale, be the means of producing to your mind a saddening tho’t of grief, or wetting your Cheek with a sympathizing Tear of momentary distress: for be assured Sir! I wish you nothing but the uninterrupted enjoyment of perpetual & unceasing felicity.

I have to inform you, That my Father—my Mind scarcely realizes the Tale, while my pen is writing it—My Father—the aged parent—the venerable patriot—the benevolent friend to his Country & to Mankind, is now no more—that heart which was once warmed with sentiments of high regard for your person, & deep veneration for your character, has ceased to beat—and his earthy remains, secluded from the World, are now resting in gloomy silence, waiting the solemnities of a future all important & eventful Day.

The 17th of last Month produced this melancholly Event. The 4th he was siezed with a violent fever, of the putrid kind, which continuing to rage with unabating fury for 13 Days, terminated the unequal Contest—For some time before I had been able to observe a gradual decline of vigor & activity, altho an unusual Share of both, as well as of his mental faculties, had been indulged him, considering his advanced Age. Highly favored as he had been, through a long Life, in point of bodily pains & distress, the common Lot of humanity having never been exercised with any hard sickness—he was equally so in his last illness—Altho parched with a fever, he experienced at this closing period, scarcely any pain or distress whatever—but an unusual Weakness & Lassitude seized him at the first Attack & continued: so that he breathed his last in seeming Ease & quiet, like one gently yielding to the Influence of a sweet & pleasant sleep—Thus has this venerable patriot paid the Debt which he owed to Nature, and exchanged a Life of Care, of labour & Toil for, I trust, a State of greater Ease & peace, with more durable felicity than this could afford. Our Consolation is, that few Men could have left the World, with happier reflections, or more glorious prospects.

I am no preacher my Dear General! but solemn reflections & useful Admontions, arising in your own Mind on this Occasion, will be the result of this serious Event.

You will pardon me Sir! while I indulge the pleasing tho’t, that your regard to our dear deceased parent will lead you to mingle a sympathizing Tear with our solemn Grief—Be assured that I feel the Want of this Consolation—for however expected this Event ought to have been ⟨mutilated⟩ yet the Stroke which severs forever, that intima⟨mutilated⟩ connects near & dear relations, is sen[s]iblly ⟨mutilated⟩tandg all the Aids I can derive from reas⟨on⟩ & religion.

My tenderest respects & Regard await Mrs Washington—which I beg Your Excelly to be so good as to present for me—while I beg you to believe that I am, with every sentiment of respectful Attachment Dear Sir Your faithfull friend & Most Obedient Servant

Jona. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, advertised in Stan V. Henkel’s catalog no. 778, 1897.

Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (1740–1809), was GW’s secretary from 1781 until the end of the war. Trumbull’s father, who was governor of Connecticut from 1769 to 1784, died at the age of 74.

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