George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Governor and Council of North Carolina, 26 August 1790

To the Governor and Council of North Carolina

United States [New York] August 26th 1790.


I entreat you to be persuaded that nothing could have been more agreeable to me than the proofs contained in your affectionate address of the friendly sentiments entertained by you for my person as well as for the government which I have been appointed by my Countrymen to administer1—And I reciprocate with heartfelt satisfaction your congratulations on the completion of the union of all the States; an event, in my judgment, pregnant with more salutary consequences than can easily be expressed or conceived.2

It will ever be my first wish and most strenuous endeavour to justify, so far as may be in my power, the confidence which my fellow-citizens have thought proper to repose in me, by exerting every power vested in the President of the United States by the Constitution, for the happiness and prosperity of our country; and by giving efficacy to such as system as will enspire the general welfare and conciliate the public mind.

I desire, Gentlemen, to make acceptable to you my acknowledgements for the kind concern you take in the restoration of my health and preservation of my life,3 and in the retribution I may receive after the conclusion of this mortal existence. May you and the State in whose government you have the principal agency, be also the peculiar care of divine providence.

G. Washington


The North Carolina council of state was a seven-member board that had the power to advise the governor in the execution of his office. Each member of the council was elected by the joint ballot of the state senate and house of commons and served for a one-year term.

1The address of the North Carolina Council sitting at Rockingham Springs, 25 June 1790, was written by clerk Thomas Henderson and signed by Gov. Alexander Martin and council president Wyatt Hawkins. It reads: “The Governor and Councel of the State of North Carolina embrace the earliest opportunity afforded them since the accession of this State to the Constitution, and the completion of the Union by all the States, of congratulating you on this most auspicious event: By which all causes of future dissensions among the States will be obviated: the impost, that great branch of revenue and support of Public credit, collected with more facilility, and our finances more perfectly arranged.

“We congratulate ourselves with equal sincerity, in beholding you Sir in the high department which your Virtues merited, and to which your Country unanimously and gratefully appointed you.

“The importance of your situation receives additional dignity by the veneration your Country possesses for your character, and from a confidence, that every power vested in you by the Constitution will be exerted for the happiness and prosperity of our Country by giving efficacy to such a system as will ensure the general welfare and conciliate the public mind—a confidence felt by all—by none more powerfully than the Citizens of this State.

“We have just received the happy information of your recovery from a disorder which threatened your life; a life we may truly say, as necessary as dear to us—With grateful Hearts we return thanks to the great disposer of events for this beneficent mark of his attention in preserving you—May it long be shewn in continuing you among us. And when the awful day comes which is to seperate you from us, may you receive the reward of those virtues which He only can give” (DLC:GW).

2Rhode Island ratified the federal Constitution on 29 May 1790, six months after the penultimate holdout, North Carolina, which ratified it on 21 Nov. 1789.

3For GW’s near-fatal illness of May 1790 and his recovery, see William Jackson to Clement Biddle, 12 May 1790, editorial note.

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