George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati, 14 September 1789

To the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati

United-States September 14th 1789


In returning my grateful thanks for the flattering and affectionate sentiments, expressed in your address of the 3rd instant, I beg you will do justice to the sincerity of my regard, which reciprocates, with great pleasure, the warmest wishes for your happiness, political and personal.1

Under a persuasion of the candor and support of my fellow-citizens, I yielded obedience to the voice of my country—and, impressed by a sense of duty, I forsook the pleasures of domestic retirement to promote, if my best exertions can have such tendency, the objects of a dearer interest. Those expectations of support have been amply fulfilled, and my fondest hope of their candor has been gratified by a kind and partial country.

I am much pleased, Gentlemen, with the hope which you entertain that mistaken zeal will give way to enlightened policy—and I desire to repeat to your Society assurances of the most affectionate esteem.

G. Washington


1The address from the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati, signed by Isaac Senter, president, and Robert Rogers, secretary, stated that “Expressions of respect and attachment are a tribute, which the Citizens of America owe to your prudence, your patriotism and valour; to the successful display of which they are already indebted for their freedom; and from a continuance of the exercise of those qualities, they may anticipate a permanent enjoyment of the highest state of political happiness.

“Under these impressions, Sir, we the Society of the Cincinnati of the State of Rhode Island, most sincerely congratulate you upon your appointment to the Chief Magistracy of the union by the unanimous suffrage of more than three millions of free-citizens: an appointment rendered the more dignified by the manner in which it was conferred, and the more pleasing to your fellow-citizens from a conviction that they could no where place the sacred deposit, for which they have so long and arduously contended, with equal safety to themselves and honor to their country. We cannot help expressing, at the same time, the strong obligations we feel for the sacrifice of domestic ease and retirement, to which we are sensible the love of your country alone could have prompted you—And although we are not admitted to a participation of the good effects of the government over which you so deservedly preside, yet we fondly flatter ourselves that the period is not far distant, when the mistaken zeal, which has lately prevailed in this State, will give way to a more enlightened policy.

“We can only add, Sir, our ardent wishes for your health and happiness—Long may the United States be blessed with a life to which they are so highly indebted! and may the close of your days be as peaceful and happy to yourself as the meridian of them has been useful and glorious to your Country” (DLC:GW). See also the Providence Gazette and Country Journal, 26 Sept. 1789.

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