George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Paine, 16 October 1789

From Thomas Paine

London Octr 16th 1789

My Dear Sir

I need not tell you how much I rejoice at the prosperous accounts from America, or how happy I feel that you have relinquished the temptations of quiet retirement for the busy scenes of Public Good. Had the opportunity of your coming once more forward not have offered itself you might have injoyed retirement with serenity; but retirement would have lost its felicity, had it been haunted, as would have been the case, with the impression of having declined, for the sake of ease, a station in which you could be so publicly useful. I am certain you will feel the happier for this sacrifice, because to be perfectly so the mind must justify itself in every thing.

Mr Mappa the Gentleman who will present you this is an exiled Hollander, and, as I am informed, very capital in his line which is that of a letter-founder1—I have given him a letter to Dr Franklin, the proper Patron of his Art, and as it is a branch in which improvement is wanted in America, I hope his coming will benifit both the Country and himself.

Mr Jefferson who, I expect, will arrive as soon as this letter, will inform you of my proceedings here—I am constructing a Bridge of one Arch in Partnership with the Walkers2 of Rotherham Yorkshire—The Arch is 110 feet Span and five feet high from the Cord line—We began it in July and I expect it in London about the Middle of Novr—In the mean time I am going over to France—A Share in two revolutions is living to some purpose—I shall be exceedingly happy to see a line from you, which if addressed to the Care of Benjn Vaughn Esqr.—Jeffries Square London will find me any where. With every Wish for your happiness and Mrs Washington’s—I am—my Dear Sir your most affectiona. obedient Humble Servant

Thomas Paine
Please to remember me among the Circle of my friends.


After the Revolution Thomas Paine (1737–1809) settled on a confiscated Loyalist farm at New Rochelle, N.Y., given to him by the state. He lived there and in Bordentown, N.J., until 1787 when he went to England to promote his new invention, an iron bridge (see Seitz, “Thomas Paine, Bridge Builder,” description begins Don C. Seitz. “Thomas Paine, Bridge Builder.” Virginia Quarterly Review 3 (1927): 571–84. description ends 571–84). For the next two years he divided his time between England and France, proselytizing his ideas on liberty and revolution in both countries.

1Adam Gerard Mappa (d. 1828), a native of Delft in Holland, after service in the Dutch army turned to typefounding and an active interest in Dutch politics. His involvement with the Patriot party led to his banishment from Delft. After several years spent in France, Mappa sailed for the United States, bringing with him his family and almost the entire apparatus of his foundry. He arrived in New York in December 1789 and set up a typefoundry on Greenwich Street, specializing in producing Dutch and German type. His foundry proved less than successful, and in 1793 he became an agent for the Holland Land Company (Thomas, History of Printing in America, description begins Isaiah Thomas. The History of Printing in America, With a Biography of Printers & an Account of Newspapers. Edited by Marcus A. McCorison. New York, 1970. description ends 33; Fairchild, Francis Van Der Kemp, description begins Helen Lincklaen Fairchild, ed. Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 1752–1829: An Autobiography Together with Extracts from His Correspondence. New York and London, 1903. description ends 140–52; Evans, Holland Land Company, description begins Paul Demund Evans. The Holland Land Company. Buffalo, 1924. In Buffalo Historical Society Publications, vol. 28. description ends 75).

2Walker is probably used here in the sense of an officer or agent who had charge of a certain section of the river bank.

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