George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Officials of Charleston, 3 May 1791

To the Officials of Charleston

[Charleston, 3 May 1791]


The gratification you are pleased to express, at my arrival in your metropolis, is replied to with sincerity, in a grateful acknowledgement of the pleasing sensations which your affectionate urbanity has excited—Highly sensible of your attachment and favorable opinions, I entreat you to be persuaded of the lasting gratitude which they impress, and of the cordial regard with which they are returned.1

It is the peculiar boast of our country that her happiness is alone dependent on the collective wisdom and virtue of her citizens, and rests not on the exertions of any individual. While a just sense is entertained of our natural and political advantages we cannot fail to improve them; and with the progress of our national importance to combine the freedom and felicity of individuals.

I shall be particularly gratified in observing the happy influence of public measures on the prosperity of your city, which is so entitled to the regard and esteem of the american Union.

G. Washington

LB, DLC:GW; Df, DLC:GW. The letter-book copy, in William Jackson’s hand, is used as the source text, as it was apparently made on the scene.

1On the day of GW’s arrival, 2 May 1791, the Charleston city council ordered the city recorder to ask GW when he could receive an official welcoming address; GW specified 3:00 P.M. the following day. The address of the intendant and wardens of the city of Charleston, signed by Arnoldus Vanderhorst, was presented to the president at that time: “The Intendant and Wardens, representatives of the Citizens of Charleston, find themselves particularly gratified by your arrival in the metropolis of this State. It is an event, the expectation of which, they have for some time, with great pleasure indulged. When, in the person of the Supreme Magistrate of the United States, they recognise the Father of the People, and the Defender of the liberties of America, they feel a peculiar satisfaction in declaring their firm persuasion that they speak the language of their constituents, in asserting that no body of men throughout this extensive Continent, can exceed them in attachment to his Public Character, or in revering his private Virtues: And they do not hesitate in anticipating those blessings which must ultimately be diffused amongst the inhabitants of these States, from his exertions for their general welfare, aided by those in whom they have also rested a share of their confidence. Go on, Sir, as you have done. Continue to possess, as well as To deserve, the love and esteem of all your fellow citizens; while millions in other parts of the Globe, though strangers to your person, shall venerate your name. May you long be spared to receive those marks of respect, which you so entirely merit from a grateful people; and may all who live under your auspices, continue to experience that freedom and happiness which is so universally acknowledged to have proceeded from your wise, judicious and prudent administration” (DLC:GW).

The city council also presented to GW a copy of its unanimous resolution requesting him to sit for a portrait by John Trumbull for the city hall (DLC:GW). See GW to William Moultrie, 5 May 1792.

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