George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Maryland Legislature, 20 January 1790

To the Maryland Legislature

[New York, 20 January 1790]


I receive with the liveliest emotions of satisfaction, your expressions of gratitude for my having accepted the Office of President of the United States, and your congratulations on that event.1

From the enlightened policy of the Legislature of the Union, in conjunction with the patriotic measures of the State Assemblies, I anticipate the Blessings in reserve for these United States: and so far as my Administration may be conducive to their attainment, I dare pledge myself to co-operate with those distinguished Bodies, by constantly respecting and cherishing the rights of my fellow-Citizens.

Your mention of the place from whence you address me awakens a succession of uncommon reflections. In noticing the eventful period, since the resignation of my military command; I trace, with infinite gratitude, the agency of a Providence, which induced the People of America to substitute in the place of an inadequate confederacy, a general Government, eminently calculated to secure the safety and welfare of their Country.

The good dispositions of this People, and their increasing attachment to a Government of their own institution, with the aid of wisdom and firmness in their common Councils, afford a well founded hope, that the dangers of civil discord may be averted, and the Union established on so solid a basis that it may endure to the latest ages.

When I reflect on the critical situations to which this Country has been more than once reduced, I feel a kind of exultation in the character of my Countrymen, who have rescued it from threatened ruin by their virtue, fortitude, intelligence, and unanimity.

I thank you for the favorable sentiments which you are pleased to express of my public conduct, and for the affectionate interest which you have the goodness to take in the success of my measures and the preservation of my health. I pray for the Divine Benedictions on you, Gentlemen and on your State.

Go: Washington


1The undated address, signed by John Smith, president of the Maryland senate, and George Dent, speaker of the house of delegates, probably originated in the November 1789 session of the Maryland legislature, which adjourned on 23 December. Maryland’s U.S. senator John Henry and congressmen Daniel Carroll, Joshua Seney, and William Smith presented it to GW on 12 Jan. 1790 and forwarded his reply to Annapolis on 20 January.

The address reads: “We the General Assembly of Maryland avail ourselves of the first occasion, afforded us, since your election to the office of President of the United States, of expressing to you our gratitude for accepting that truly honorable, yet arduous station, and of mingling our gratulations with those of our country, on this auspicious event.

“With pleasure we anticipate the blessings which these States will derive from the firmness and wisdom of your administration: The past proofs of your respect for the rights of your fellow-citizens amidst the din of arms and rage of war, are a sure pledge, that these rights will be equally respected and cherished by you in peace.

“In this place, from which we now address you, our Predecessors lately saw the affecting scene of their Patriot-Chief resigning his military command having fully accomplished its glorious ends.

“The lapse of a few years having proved the inadequacy of the late confederacy to the attainment of its objects, it affords subject of the most pleasing reflection that in the change which became necessary to the safety and welfare of the People of America, the President of the United States should be the same Person to whom they were indebted for a long series of the most important, glorious, and disinterested services.

“This People have unanimously called upon you to preside over their common Councils, under a well founded hope that, having asserted their Independence by your skill in war, your wisdom and firmness in peace, will avert the dangers of civil discord, and establish their union on so firm a basis that it will endure to the latest ages.

“We reflect on these things with gratitude, and that for you the singular happiness was reserved of being twice the Saviour of your country.

“May that kind Providence, whose protection you have frequently experienced in the midst of many and great dangers, direct your measures, and long preserve a life, in the preservation of which such numbers feel themselves so deeply interested” (LB, DLC:GW).

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