George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Carter, 12 January 1788

To Charles Carter

Mount Vernon January 12th 1788

Dear Sir,

I find that an extract of my letter to you, is running through all the news papers; and published in that of Baltimore with the addition of my name.

Altho’ I have no dis-inclination to the promulgation of my Sentiments on the proposed Constitution (not having concealed them on any occasion) yet I must nevertheless confess, that it gives me pain to see the hasty, and indigested production of a private letter, handed to the public, to be animadverted upon by the adversaries of the new Government. Could I have supposed that the contents of a private letter (marked with evident haste) would have composed a news paper paragraph, I certainly should have taken some pains to dress the Sentiments (to whom know is indifferent to me) in less exceptionable language, and would have assigned some reasons in support of my opinion, and the charges against others.1

I am persuaded your intentions were good, but I am not less persuaded, that you have provided food for strictures and criticisms. be this however as it may, it shall pass of unnoticed by me, as I have no inclination, and still less abilities for scribling. With very great esteem and regard I am Sir yr most Obed. and Affe. Sert

G. Washington


1GW’s letter to Charles Carter of Ludlow in which he expressed support for the new Constitution is dated 14 Dec. 1787. Carter had written GW on 21 Dec. 1787 about the publication of the excerpt, but GW had not yet received Carter’s letter, which has not been found. See GW to Carter, 20, 22 January. Apparently the excerpt of GW’s letter was first printed in the Virginia Herald (Fredericksburg) in the missing issue of 27 Dec. 1787. Before the end of March it had been printed in at least forty-nine newpapers (Kaminski and Saladino, Documentary History of the Ratifaction of the Constitution, description begins John P. Kaminski et al., eds. The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. 26 vols. to date. Madison, Wis., 1976–. description ends 8:276–81). Kaminski and Saladino compare the extract printed in the Maryland Journal (Baltimore), 1 Jan. 1788, with the passage in GW’s letter-book copy.

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