George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Corporation and Inhabitants of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 4 July 1791

To the Corporation and Inhabitants of Lancaster, Pennsylvania

[Lancaster, Pa., 4 July 1791]


Your congratulations on my arrival in Lancaster are received with pleasure, and the flattering expressions of your esteem are replied to with sincere regard.1

While I confess my gratitude for the distinguished estimation in which you are pleased to hold my public services, a sense of justice to my fellow-citizens ascribes to other causes the peace and prosperity of our highly favored country—her freedom and happiness are founded in their patriotic exertions, and will, I trust, be transmitted to distant ages through the same medium of wisdom and virtue. With sincere wishes for your social, I offer an earnest prayer for your individual welfare.

Go: Washington

DS, PHi: William Smith Papers; LB, DLC:GW. A later hand noted at the bottom of the receiver’s copy: “Preserved by Charles Smith Esqr. of Lancaster.”

1The address, signed “on behalf of themselves & the Inhabitants of the Borough of Lancaster” by burgesses Edward Hand and Paul Zantzinger, and assistants John Hubley, Adam Reigart, Jacob Krug, Casper Shaffner, and Jacob Frey, reads: “On behalf of the Inhabitants of the Borough of Lancaster, the Members of the Corporation beg leave to congratulate you on your Arrival at this place. On this joyful Occasion, they approach the first Magistrate of the Union, with hearts impressed with no less grateful Respect than their fellow Citizens of the East and of the South. With them they have admired those Talents, and that firm Prudence in the field, which finally ensured Success to the American Arms. But, at this time, Reverence forbids the Language which would naturally flow from the Recapitulation of the Events of the late glorious Revolution. The faithful page of History will record your illustrious Actions for Posterity. Yet we cannot forbear to mention what we, in our Day, have beheld & witnessed. We have seen you, at the awful Period when the Storm of War was bursting around us, and our fertile plains were deluged with the richest blood of America, rising above Adversity, and exerting all the Talents of the Patriot & the Hero, to save our Country from the threatened Ruin: And when, by the Will of Heaven, those Exertions had restored peace and prosperity to the United States, and the great Object for which you drew the Sword was accomplished, we have beheld you, adorned with every private social Virtue, mingling with your fellow-Citizens. Yet that transcendent Love of Country, by which you have always been actuated, did not suffer you to rest here; but when the united voice of Myriads of Freemen (your fellow Citizens) called you from the repose of domestic life, actuated solely by the principles of true Glory, not seeking your own Aggrandizement, but sacrificeing the sweets of retired Life to the Wishes and happiness of your Country, we have beheld you, possessed of the Confidence of a great people, presiding over their Councils, and, by your happy Administration, uniting them together by the great political Bond of one common Interest. It is therefore the Inhabitants of this Borough seize with Joy the only Opportunity which has offered to them to testify their Approbation of, and their Gratitude for, your Services. Long, very long, Sir, may you enjoy the Affections of your Fellow-Citizens. We pray for a long Continuance of your health & Happiness, and the choicest Blessings of Heaven on our beloved Country, and on You, its Father & its Friend” (DLC:GW). The last entry in GW’s 1791 diary ends on 4 July: “At half passed 2 oclock I received, and answered an address from the Corporation [of Lancaster] and the complimts. of the Clergy of different denominations” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:169). No entries have been found between 5 July 1791 and 30 Sept. 1794 (see ibid., 1:xli, xlvi, and JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends xi; see also Tobias Lear to John Marshall, 13 Aug. 1803, and “The Missing George Washington Diary,” editorial note, Marshall Papers, description begins Herbert A. Johnson et al., eds. The Papers of John Marshall. 12 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1974–2006. description ends 6:192–97).

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