George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lucy Paradise, 12 May 1789

From Lucy Paradise

London May the 12th 1789


Give me leave as a Fellow Citizen to congratulate you on the Honour you have done Us, in accepting to be our President for this, our New Federal Constitution—Long may your Excellency be Blessed with every happiness that this World can give, and that you may live, to see our Country flourish from your Wise and Good Councils. Is the Sincere Prayer of Sir Your Excellencies Most Obedient and Most Grateful Humble Servant

Lucy Paradise


Lucy Ludwell Paradise (1751–1814) was the daughter and heiress of Philip Ludwell III (1716–1767) of Green Spring, near Williamsburg. In 1760 she accompanied her father to England and, except for brief visits to the United States, remained in Europe until 1805. Her family background and her own interests gave her entré to the fashionable and intellectual world of London and Paris, and for the rest of her life she numbered among her correspondents many of the great and near-great of both continents. In 1769 she married John Paradise (1743–1795), who was born in Salonica, the son of an English father and a Greek and English mother. The marriage, largely one of convenience for both families, was never happy, and the gentle and often ineffectual John Paradise was overshadowed by his strong-willed, imperious, and sometimes brilliant wife. They numbered among their friends John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, the latter of whom they involved in their attempt to recover Lucy Paradise’s Virginia estates. On one of the Paradises’ trips to America, in December 1787, they stayed for four days at Mount Vernon (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:236, 260). Lucy probably overestimated the degree of intimacy she and her husband enjoyed with the Washingtons. In May 1789 she received a letter from “my friend Mrs. Washington, in it, she tells me, that the Constitution, is likely to be received, without tumult or disorder. The General, his Lady and Family, present their Compliments to Mr. P.” (Lucy Paradise to Jefferson, 5 May 1789, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 15:94–97). In September 1790, hearing of GW’s recent illness, she wrote to Jefferson expressing her relief that GW’s life had been spared, “but should any Accident happen to him I will Mourn as deep as for My Father, which is Six Months in Bombasin, Three Months in Black Silk and love Ribbons and the other Three in Black Silk and white Ribbons” (ibid., 17:519–20). On 23 Nov. 1789, GW acknowledged Mrs. Paradise’s letter: “Your letter of the 12th of May has reached my hands, and I beg you to accept my sincere thanks for the congratulation which you offer upon my election to the office of President of the United States—and your good wishes for my personal happiness” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). This austere reply apparently encouraged her in the vain hope that she could secure for her husband a diplomatic post representing the United States at one of the foreign courts.

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