George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Pennsylvania Legislature, 21 April 1789

To the Pennsylvania Legislature

[Philadelphia, 21 April 1789]


I receive with great satisfaction the affectionate congratulations of the President and Supreme Executive council of Pennsylvania on my appointment to the Presidency of the United States.1

If under favor of the divine Providence, and with the assistance of my fellow-citizens it was my fortune to have been in any degree instrumental in vindicating the liberty and confirming the independence of my country, I now find a full compensation for my services in a belief that those blessings will be permanently secured by the establishment of a free and efficient government. And you will permit me to say on this occasion, that as nothing could add to the evidence I have formerly received of the invariable attachment of your commonwealth to the interests and honor of the Union, so nothing could have been more agreeable to me at this time, than the assurances you have given me of the zealous cooperation of it’s Executive Authority, in facilitating the accomplishment of the great objects which are committed to my charge.

While I feel my sensibility strongly excited by the expressions of affection and promises of support, which I every where meet with from my Countrymen, I entertain a consolatory hope that the purity of my intentions, and the perseverance of my endeavors to promote the happiness of my country will atone for any of the slighter defects which may be discovered in my administration— For whatever may be the issue of our public measures, or however I may err in opinion, I trust it will be believed that I could not have been actuated by any interests separate from those of my country.

Suffer me, Gentlemen, to conclude by assuring you that I am well pleased with the justice you have done to the motives from which I have acted, and by thanking you for the tender concern you have been pleased to manifest for my personal felicity.

G: Washington


1The address reads: “The President and Supreme executive Council of Pennsylvania cheerfully embrace this interesting occasion to congratulate you upon the establishment of the federal-constitution; and to felicitate ourselves and our country upon your unanimous appointment to the Presidency of the United States.

“In reflecting upon the vicissitudes of the late War, in tracing it’s difficulties, and in contemplating it’s success, we are uniformly impressed with the extent and magnitude of the services which you have rendered to your country; and by that impression we are taught to expect that the exercise of the same virtues and abilities, which have been thus happily employed in obtaining the prize of Liberty and Independence, must be effectually instrumental in securing to your fellow-Citizens and their posterity the permanent blessings of a free and efficient government. And although the history of the Revolution will furnish the best evidence of the invariable attachment of this commonwealth to the interests and honor of the Union, yet we cannot resist this favorable opportunity of personally assuring you that, in every measure which tends to advance the national character, you may rely on the zealous cooperation of the executive authority of Pennsylvania.

“In discharging the duties of your present important station, it must, Sir, be a never failing source of consolation and support, that the unbounded love and confidence of the People, will produce a favorable construction of all your actions, and will contribute to the harmony and success of your administration—For we know, that eventually your happiness must depend upon the happiness of your Country, and we believe that in wishing an adequate execution of your intentions and designs we comprehend all that is necessary to both.

“Uniting with our Sister States in the admiration of those motives, which at this interesting era of our affairs, have induced you again to relinquish the enjoyment of domestic peace for a conspicuous and laborious participation in the cares and toils of public life, we fervently pray for the preservation of your health, and we confidently hope that the consummation of a Patriot’s wishes, the glory and felicity of your country, will crown the period of a long and illustrious existence; and prepare you for the enjoyment of an everlasting reward” (DLC:GW). Two drafts of an unused address from the executive council, in Tench Coxe’s writing, are in PHi: Coxe Papers.

After leaving Philadelphia on the rainy morning of 21 April the presidential party proceeded toward Trenton, probably reaching Colvin’s Ferry on the right bank of the Delaware by late afternoon. After crossing the river at the ferry, GW was greeted by a large body of citizens, a troop of horse, and a company of infantry from Trenton who were to escort him into the city.

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