George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Inhabitants of Georgetown, South Carolina, 30 April 1791

To the Inhabitants of Georgetown, South Carolina

[Georgetown, S.C., 30 April 1791]1


I receive your congratulations on my arrival in South Carolina with real pleasure, and I confess my obligation to your affectionate regard with sincere gratitude.2

While the calamities, to which you were exposed during the war, excited all my sympathy, the gallantry and firmness, with which they were encountered, obtained my entire esteem.3 To your fortitude in those trying scenes our country is much indebted for the happy and honorable issue of the contest—From the milder virtues, that characterise your conduct in peace our equal government will derive those aids, which may render its operations extensively beneficial.

That your participation of every national advantage, and your prosperity in private life, may be amply proportioned to your past services and sufferings is my sincere and fervent wish.

Go: Washington

DS (facsimile), in Henderson, Washington’s Southern Tour, description begins Archibald Henderson. Washington’s Southern Tour, 1791. Boston and New York, 1923. description ends facing 134 (from original owned [1923] by Winyah Indigo Society, Georgetown, S.C.); LB, DLC:GW.

1GW entered South Carolina on 27 April and was met at Capt. William Alston’s Clifton plantation on 29 April by William Moultrie, William Washington, and John Rutledge, Jr., who served as GW’s official escort to Charleston. For GW’s journey from Wilmington, N.C., and his arrival and activities at Georgetown, see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:121–25.

2The undated address, signed by Hugh Horry, George Heriot, Robert Brownfield, Joseph Blyth, Erasmus Rothmahler, Matthew Irvine, and Samuel Smith, was presented to GW at two o’clock: “We, the Inhabitants of George Town and of it’s vicinity, beg leave to congratulate you upon your safe arrival in South Carolina, and to assure you that having ever entertained a high sense of the obligations which you have conferred upon your Fellow Citizens in general, We are happy to embrace this opportunity of testifying to you, our particular sentiments of Gratitude, and of affection: We are no less happy, Sir, at being called upon by the Laws to obey and to respect as first Magistrate of the Fœderal Republic, that person whom of all men we were most disposed to revere as our Benefactor and to love as the Father of his Country. Having shared in the distresses of the War and been exposed to those calamities, and to that loss of property which were the consequences of it, we have been taught to set a proper value upon the exertions which were made in our behalf; we have experienced the happy influence of your counsels Sir, and have distinguished you as the Guardian of our laws, and of our liberties; as an instrument in the hands of Providence, to protect our dearest rights & to save us from oppression. The breath of popular applause is fleeting, but the merit of such illustrious actions, can never be effaced: they carry with them their best reward, & we trust Sir, that in pursuing your progress through this State, you will have the satisfaction to perceive a Spirit of Freedom, which your Services during the War enabled us to maintain, a degree of order and tranquillity which your administration has diffused, and a growing prosperity, than which no better proof could exist of the goodness and efficacy of that government over which you preside. Such Sir are the sentiments with which we approach you upon this occasion, and such the sentiments, which we shall in honour and in gratitude transmit to our latest posterity” (DLC:GW).

3Georgetown was occupied by the British army from July 1780 to May 1781, and many of its buildings were burned in August 1781 by a Loyalist privateer.

Index Entries