From N. G.
Philadelphia February 22d 1791
While you receive the Congratulations of your fellow Citizens on the Anniversary of your Birth permit one who has long Admired both your Public and private Virtues to address you as a Character under God who has been a principal Instrument of bringing about the late Glorious and Happy revolution which is justly acknowledged to exceed any thing of the kind ever recorded in the Annals of time.
my Situation in Life forbids my appearing in Person but from my Humble Cot beg leave to present you with the inclosed performance upon the greatest and most Sublime Mystery of our Holy Religion being a short Scriptural Comment on the ever Blessed Trinity a work which engaged my attention at a time when to all Human appearance I was near the Gates of Death, if the Contents were calculated to damp your Joy or render your Happiness less complete it would be both base and ungrateful in me to exhibit it to your view on this Auspicious Day but this I am convinced is not the case for Religion never was designed to make our pleasures less.1
This is proved in an Eminent manner by your Life and Conversation and by your Attachment and regard to that Church of which you are a Member, while you shew the most shining proofs of Charity and Philanthropy towards them that Differ.
The Lord preserve your valuable Life make you happy in his Love and ever have you in his Divine keeping is the prayer of Sir your most Obedient most humble and Devoted Citizen and Servant
1. The enclosed birthday gift was A Scriptural Comment on the Athanasian Creed, printed by Thomas Lang (Philadelphia, 1791), a pamphlet of sixteen pages; it was among GW’s books inventoried at the time of his death and is now in the collection of the Boston Athenæum (Griffin, Boston Athenæum Washington Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 83–84, 132).
No other reference to GW’s fifty-ninth birthday appears in his papers. The Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia] reported on 23 Feb. 1791 that the event had been celebrated the previous day “with every demonstration of public joy. The Artillery and Light-Infantry corps of the city were paraded, and at 12 O’clock a federal Salute was fired. The congratulatory Compliments of the Members of the Legislature of the Union—the Heads of the Departments of State—Foreign Ministers—Officers, civil and military of the State—the Reverend Clergy—and Strangers and Citizens of Distinction, were presented to the President on this auspicious occasion.”