George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Philip Schuyler, 20 November 1798

From Philip Schuyler

Albany [N.Y.] November 20th 1798

My Dear Sir

Amongst the regrets experienced from a series of ill health for some years past, and a partial deprivation of eye sight, it is not the least that Mrs Schuyler & myself were deprived of the pleasure of fulfilling the intention we had formed of paying our respects to you and your Amiable Lady at Mount Vernon, that peaceful retreat from which the nefarious conduct of the Government of France has drawn you, and again obliged you to embark on the busy scene of public life, a second time to save your country.

My Grandson Philip Church will have the honor to deliver this, he has determined on the pursuits of a military life in the Service of his native country, If adhereing to the principles inculcated by his parents, by his uncle Hamilton and myself, he shall render himself worthy of your countenance and Attention, permit me respectfully to solicit it for him.1

Mrs Schuyler Joins me in all those affectionate wishes for the health & felicity of you and Your Lady, which flow from the purest sources of the Human Heart. I am My Dear Sir Most unfeignedly and respectfully Your Obedient Servant

Ph: Schuyler


Philip John Schuyler (1733–1804), who in 1775 was one of the four major generals under GW, had resigned from the U.S. Senate in January 1798 because of ill health. He was married to Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. One of their daughters, Elizabeth (1757–1854), was the wife of Alexander Hamilton and another, Angelica (1756–1815), was married to John B. Church (1748–1818). Philip (b. 1778), the son of Angelica and John B. Church, attended Eton for six years and then studied law at the Middle Temple in London. In January 1799 he was made a captain in the 12th Regiment of Infantry in the New Army and became aide-de-camp to his uncle Alexander Hamilton on 12 January.

1Both of Philip Church’s parents also wrote to GW, from New York on 14 November. Angelica Church wrote: “Let me request you to excuse a mother for giving to her son, an opportunity to gratify his admiration and to offer his respectful, Homege to the ‘Father of his Country.’ May he live Sir to merit your notice and the fondest wishes of his parents will then be realised” (DLC:GW). John B. Church’s letter reads: “My Son Philip Church will have the Honor of presenting this Letter to your Excellency, he enters the Army under the Auspices of his Uncle who receives him in his Family; will you permit me to reccommend him to your Protection; I can safely vouch for his Integrity, Honor and Love of Truth, and I flatter myself that should an Opportunity offer under your Excellency’s Command, he will conduct himself in a Manner to merit your Approbation and Esteem” (ViMtvL).

GW sent to Philip Church on 4 Dec. the letters of that date which he had written in response to those from Philip’s grandfather and parents. GW wrote Philip Church: “Sir, I beg leave to commit the enclosed letters to your care. If business, duty or inclination should ever call you into the State of Virginia, I shall be very happy to see you at Mount Vernon—the place of my retreat, being with esteem Sir Your most Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS, NjMoHP). GW’s letter to John B. Church reads: “Sir Mr Church, your Son, did me the honor to present your favor of the 14th Ulto. His genteel & handsome appearance makes a favorable impression—and his constituting a part of General Hamilton’s Military establishment is strongly indicative of his worth. These circumstances, with your recommendation of him, will ensure him every attention from me, that I can bestow with consistency. I have the honor to be Sir Your most Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ADfS, DLC:GW). He wrote a similar letter to Angelica Church: “Madam, For the honor I have received, in the very obliging and flattering sentiments transmitted in your letter of the 14th Ult., I pray you to accept all my gratitude and thanks.

“From the genteel, & handsome exterior of Mr Church (your Son) and the favorable report of his merits by Genl Hamilton, you have the most pleasing presages of his future usefulness & consequence; and as far as I can contribute thereto—consistently with my other duties, he may freely command me.

“Mrs Washington, was she here, would thank you herself, as I do in her behalf, for your kind remembrance of her, and family. The good wishes you are pleased to offer on my account, I reciprocate with the most respectful consideration; and have the honor to be Madam Your Most Obedient and Very Humble Servant Go: Washington” (ViU: Angelica Church Collection; ADfS DLC:GW). GW’s response to Philip Schuyler’s letter reads: “My dear Sir, I have been honored with your letter of the 20th Ulto and congratulate you, very sincerely, on the favorable change you have lately experienced (as I have been informed) in your health.

“I wish it may be perfectly restored. I persuade myself, that it is unnecessary for me to add that, if health and other circumstances had enabled you & Mrs Schuyler to have visited Mrs Washington & myself at Mount Vernon, that it would have been considered as a most pleasing & flattering evidence of your regard. And the more so, as neither she nor I, ever expected to be more than 25 Miles from that retreat, during the remnant of our lives.

“But, strange to relate, here I am! Busied in scenes far removed, & foreign from any I had contemplated when I quitted the Chair of Government.

“Your Grandson, Mr Church, has all the exterior of a fine young man, and from what I have heard of his Intellects and Principles will do justice to, and reward the precepts he has received from yourself, his Parents and uncle Hamilton. So far then as my attentions to him will go—consistent with my other duties—he may assuredly count upon.

“I pray you to present me (and I am sure Mrs Washington would unite in them if she was here) to Mrs Schuyler in the most respectful terms, and let me pray you to be assured of the sincere esteem, regard & wishes of the most affectionate kind of Dear Sir Your most Obedient and Very Humble Servant Go: Washington” (ALS, CSmH; ADfS DLC:GW).

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