George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the German Lutherans of Philadelphia, April–May 1789

To the German Lutherans of Philadelphia

[New York, April-May 1789]


While I request you to accept my thanks for your kind address,1 I must profess myself highly gratified by the sentiments of esteem and consideration contained in it. The approbation my past conduct has received from so worthy a body of citizens as that whose joy for my appointmt you announce, is a proof of the indulgence with which my future transactions will be judged by them.

I could not however avoid apprehending that the partiality of my Countrymen in favor of the measures now pursued has led them to expect too much from the present Government; did not the same Providence which has been visible in every stage of our progress to this interesting crisis, from a combination of circumstances, give us cause to hope for the accomplishment of all our reasonable desires.

Thus partaking with you in the pleasing anticipation of the blessings of a wise and efficient government; I flatter myself that opportunities will not be wanting for me to shew my disposition to encourage the domestic and public virtues of Industry, Œconomy, Patriotism, Philanthropy, and that Righteousness which exalteth a Nation.

I rejoice in having so suitable an occasion to testify the reciprocity of my esteem for the numerous People whom you represent. From the excellent character for diligence, sobriety and virtue, which the Germans in general, who are settled in America, have ever mantained; I cannot forbear felicitating myself on receiving from so respectable a number of them such strong assurances of their affection for my person, confidence in my integrity, and zeal to support me in my endeavours for promoting the welfare of our common Country.

So long as my Conduct shall merit the approbation of the Wise and the Good, I hope to hold the same place in your affections, which your friendly declarations induce me to beleive I possess at present: and, amidst all the vicisitudes that may await me in this mutable existance, I shall earnestly desire the continuation of an interest in your intercessions at the Throne of Grace.

Go: Washington

LS, owned (1995) by a descendant of one of the members of the Philadelphia German Lutheran Society; LB, DLC:GW. This document is addressed “To the Ministers, Church-Wardens, and Vestrymen of the German Lutheran Congregation in and near Philadelphia.”

1The address of the German Lutherans, dated 27 April 1789, reads: “It is with inexpressible satisfaction that we the Ministers, Church wardens, and Vestrymen of the German Lutheran Congregation in and near the City of Philadelphia address Your Excellency on the present great occasion. The entire esteem, the exalted consideration with which we view your character delightfully combine with the duty which we owe to this our country, and the love we bear to every fellow-citizen throughout these States in exciting to announce the joy we entertain in your appointment to the station of President in chief.

“The affairs of America in which Your Excellency bore so illustrious a part from the very beginning of a most arduous Contest, all along exhibited more than the symptoms of a great and general prosperity to be at length completed. The most clouded portions of our time were not without some rays of hope, and numerous occurrences, through the blessings of divine providence, were brilliant and eminently fortunate—The present happy crisis sheds a lustre on the past events of our union, and it seems to be the presage of every thing desireable to come.

“Pleasingly do we anticipate the blessings of a wise and efficient government—equal freedom—perfect safety—a sweet contentment spreading through the whole land—irreproachable manners with pure religion, and that righteousness which exalteth a Nation.

“Though as Individuals we can be but little known to you, yet as Representatives in some respect of a numerous people in this city; and being so situated as to know well the minds of our German Brethren nearly thro’ this State, we can with some propriety come forward in this manner. It is therefore with assurance and pleasure we affirm, that there is no body of People whatsoever than can or ever shall exceed those with whom we are connected, in affection for your Person, and confidence in your abilities, patriotism, and distinguished goodness.

“You are the Man of their bosom and veneration. On this ground may we be entitled to some excuse for what might seem to be an intrusion in the midst of your numerous weighty engagements” (DLC:GW). The address is signed by Justus Henry Christian Helmuth and John Frederick Schmidt, ministers, and Frederick Kuhl, president of the corporation.

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