George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Jackson, 26 December 1791

To William Jackson

Philadelphia Decr 26th 1791

Dear Sir,

At the sametime that I acknowledge the receipt of your letter, notifying me of your intention to enter upon a professional pursuit1—and, during the ensuing term propose yourself for admittance as a practitioner of law in the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania—I beg you to be persuaded that my best wishes will accompany you in that, or in any other walk into which your interest or inclination may lead you.

That your determination is the result of the best view you have of your circumstances and expectations, I take for granted, and therefore shall say nothing which might embarrass the decision; but with pleasure equal to the justice of it, shall declare to you that your deportment so far as it has come under my observation, has been regulated by principles of integrity and honor, and that the duties of your station have been executed with abilities—and I embrace the occasion your address has afforded me, to thank you for all your attentions, and for the Services which you have rendered me since you have been a member of my family.

Let your departure from it be made perfectly convenient to yourself and believe me to be with sincere esteem and regard Dear Sir Your Affecte Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Washington MSS; LB, DLC:GW.

1William Jackson wrote GW on 25 Dec. 1791: “As an act of respectful duty, I pray permission to inform you that a consideration of my circumstances and expectations have determined me to enter upon a private and professional pursuit. With this view I shall, during the ensuing term, in the next month, propose myself for admittance as a practitioner of law in the supreme court of this State. As your approbation of my conduct, through life, will be the most honorable, so it will be the testimonial, which I shall be most ambitious to obtain. If my past services have any claim to public consideration, I presume to assure you, Sir, that claim will not be weakened, by my future deportment—no narrowness of circumstance can ever, for one moment, occasion me to forget what is due to the laws of honor, and the obligations of morality. A stranger to unmeaning courtesey, I will only add, Sir, that, in an humble, I shall bid you a most affectionate farewell! No lapse of time will lessen the sincere and grateful attachment, with which I am, Your much obliged, and most obedient Servant” (DLC:GW).

Jackson left GW’s service early in 1792 but abandoned his plans to pursue a legal career. He declined GW’s offer later that year of appointment as adjutant general of the U.S. Army, and in 1793 he went to Europe as William Bingham’s agent (see Jackson to GW, 5 Nov. 1792).

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