George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Lee, 7 December 1791

To Henry Lee

Philadelphia Decr 7th 1791.

Dear Sir,

At the sametime that I address the letter which accompanies this to you, officially, permit me to offer my sincere congratulations on your Appointment to the Government of Virginia, and to add my best wishes for the prosperous Administration of the important Office which you now fill, as well as for your personal happiness.1

An anxiety to do well, which is inseperable from high Offices, generally increases with the importance of the trust committed to our charge—and to that drawback you must lay your Account. But that you may experience as few troubles and difficulties as the nature of your situation will permit, is the sincere wish of Dear Sir Your Affecte & Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, ICU; LB, DLC:GW. The addressed cover, bearing GW’s frank, a 9 Dec. postmark, and a docket is in PHi: Washington MSS.

1Henry Lee replied to GW from Richmond, on 16 Dec.: “The affectionate attention & regard with which you have invariably honored me has been a source of the highest satisfaction to my mind. To be told in the manner (in which you have been pleased to convey to me by your letr of the 7th) of the continuation of the same impressions affects me most sensibly, and would enhance the feelings of attachment & devotion which govern my heart were it possible for any event to enlarge or enliven them. But indeed sir such an effect is not in the power of human vicissitude so fixed & so full is my affection & respect to you & to your character. I accepted my late appointment with reluctance & diffidence, but there was no withdrawing from it without offending a respectable number of my friends whose estimation I highly valued. My own judgement would have led me into very different scenes; scenes more congenial to my genius & to my habits & which would have connected me again with you which circumstance itself would have magnified prosperity & softened adversity. I am aware of the encrease of care which is attendant on the encrease of power, & ambitions that my official services may be useful to my country. Your history illustrates the first of these truth, & your example shall be my guide in my endeavors to accomplish the last object. For sir yourself has first proved to the world that affectionately to love & diligently to promote the common weal in our respective stations is the surest road to content of mind to honor & to glory. With such light to aid my humble exertions I hope for success the issue time only can shew. I wish the duty of my office occasionally drew me to you for I really want much to visit you & intended to have done so this winter” (DLC:GW).

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