George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edward Rutledge, 16 January 1791

To Edward Rutledge

Philadelphia Jany 16th 1791.

My Dear Sir,

I can but love & thank you, and I do it sincerely, for your polite & friendly letter of the 11th of November, which came to my hands only the day before yesterday. The sentiments contained in it are such as have uniformly flowed from your pen and are not more pleasing than they are flattering to me.

The present Congress can sit no longer than the 3d of March; and should it not be found expedient to convene the new one immediately upon the rising of it; and should not the old one by Acts of the present Session, prepare work for the Executive which may render my absence from the Seat of Government (soon after the adjournment) incompatible with my public duties; I shall, most assuredly, endulge myself in a tour through the Southern States in the Spring. But it will readily be perceived that this event must depend upon the time I shall be able to commence the journey, for I do not hesitate to acknowledge that I am not inclined to be in the Southernmost States after the Month of May—and my journey, on several Accts, must be made slow and easy.

It was among my first determinations when I entered upon the duties on my present Office, to visit every part of the United States in the course of my Administration of the Government, provided my health, and other circumstances would admit of it: and this determination was accompanied by another—viz.—not by making my head1 quarters in private families to become troublesome to them in any of these tours. The first I have accomplished in part only, without departing in a single instance from the second, although pressed to it by the most civil & cordial invitations. After having made this communication to you, you will readily perceive, my dear Sir, that it is not in my power (however it might comport with my inclinations) to change my plan without incurring the charge of inconsistency if not something more exceptionable; especially too, as it is not more than ten days since I declined a similar invitation to yours from my namesake & kinsman Colo. Willm Washington of your ⟨state to⟩ lodge at his house when I should visit Charleston. With affectionate esteem & regard I am—My dear Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, ScCMu; LB, DLC:GW. The words in angle brackets are taken from the letter-book copy.

For the background to this letter, see GW to William Washington, 8 Jan. 1791. Rutledge wrote to GW on 11 Nov. 1790: “I have lately received Letters, from some of my Friends in Congress, which give me Reason to hope that, the time is not far distant, when we shall have the Happiness of seeing you in this State: and as there is no Citizen in this Country who feels a stronger Attachment to you than I do, or would be more rejoiced at your coming, I hope you will permit me to request that, you would make my House your Head Quarters, whilst you remain in this City. I know there are many Persons who would prize the Honor which I seek, as justly as they ought; but the great, & never failing hazard that I have cherished towards you, from the first moments of my Political Life, thro’ all the Chances of War, & the Turns of Fortune, gives me I should hope at least an equal, if not a superior Claim to you; & entitles me, to lodge under my own Roof, the President, in the Friend. As another Inducement, I must assure you my dear Sir, that we have not, one Public House, in the whole State, which is fit for your Reception; and that to be accommodated, with even a moderate Degree of Convenience, you must receive it in a private House. If therefore you will not take up Residence in mine, I must provide you with one, from among some of my particular Friends who may be in the County. It is your only alternative & as I know full well, how your own Inclination would direct you, I hope that no Consideration may intervene to prevent it” (DLC:GW).

Although he was forced to accept accommodation in private homes during his Southern Tour, while in Charleston GW resided at the home of the absent Thomas Heyward, Jr., which was rented for his use by the city council.

1GW inadvertently repeated the word “head.”

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