George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Betty Washington Lewis, 7 April 1796

Philadelphia 7th April 1796.

My dear Sister,

Your letter of the 27th Ulto was enclosed to me by Mr Parks, in one from himself, dated the 1st insttt on the same subject.

Harriot having very little fortune herself, has no right to expect a great one in the man she marry‘s; but if he has not a competency to support her in the way she has lived, in the circle of her friends, she will not find the matrimonial state so comfortable as she may have expected when a family is looking up to her & but scanty means to support it.

Altho’ she has no right to expect a man of fortune, she certainly has just pretensions to expect one whose connexions are respectable, & whose relations she could have no objection to associate with. How far this is, or is not the case with Mr Parks, I know not for neither his own letter, or yours give any acct of his family nor whether he is a native or a foreigner—& we have his own word only for his possessing any property at all altho’ he estimates his fortune at £3000. A precarious dependance this when applied to a man in Trade.

I do not wish to thwart Harriots inclination if her affectns are placed on Mr Park and if upon the enquiries I shall mak[e] or cause to be made into his family & connexions, there shall be found nothing exceptionable in them; that he is, as you say "very much respected by all his acquaintance, sober, sedate, & attentive to business;" and is moreover in good business; I shall throw no impedimts in the way of their Marriage, altho’ I should have preferred, if a good match had not offer’d in the meanwhile that she sh‘d have remained single until I was once more settled at Mt Vernon & she a resident there which, if life is spared to us, will certainly happen to me in ten or eleven months—because then she would have been in the way of seeing much company, and would have had a much fairer prospect of matching respectably than with one who is little known—and of whose circumstances few or none can know much about.

Having had no business to write to you upon—and being very much occupied by my public duties, are the only reasons why I have been silent. I am persuaded you will enjoy more ease & quiet, & meet with fewer vexations where you now are, than where you did live—It is my sincere wish that you should do so and that your days may be happy—in these Mrs Washington joins with Your most Affecte Brother

G. Washington


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