George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lewis Nicola, 24 May 1782

Fishkill 24 May 1782


Greatly oppressed in mind & distressed at having been the means of giving your Excellency one moments uneasiness, I find myself under the necessity of relying on your goodness to pardon my further troubling you by endeavouring, if possible, to remove every unfavourable impression that lies in your breast to my prejudice. Alway anxious to stand fair in the opinion of good men the idea of your thinking me capable of acting or abetting any villainy must make me very unhappy.

I solemnly assure your Excellency I have neither been the broacher, or in any shape the encourager of the design not to separate at the peace ’till all grievances are redressed, but have often heard it mentioned either directly or by hints.

From sundry resolves of Congress favourable to the army, but which that Honbe Body has not been able to execute, persons who only see what swims on the surface have laid the blame at their door & therefore lost all confidence in promises, how far this bad impression may affect the larger part of the army I cannot say, but should it operate considerably at the conclusion of the war, it may be expected that all obligations shall be immediately discharged, the possibility of which I much doubt, therefore I took the liberty of mentioning what I thought would be a compromise, bidding fair to be satisfactory to one side and not disadvantageous to the other.

Deprived by misfortunes of that patrimony I was born to, and, with a numerous family, depending entirely on my military appointments, when these have failed the tender feelings of a husband and father, seeing his family often destitute of the common necessaries of life, have pierced my soul, these feelings often repeated & fraught with anxiety for the future may have sowered my mind & warped my judgment, but in the most sacred manner I protest that had I influence & abilities equal to the task, the idea of occasioning any commotions in a country I lived in would be daggers in my breast, and I should think myself accountable at the grand tribunal for all the mischiefs that might ensue. Was it my fate to live under a government I thought unsupportable I would look on retiring to some other as the only justifiable means I could pursue.

As to my opinion on different forms of government, if it be erroneous, I assure you the fault is owing to a defect in judgment not a willful shutting my eyes to the light of reason.

However wrong the sentiments I have disclosed to your Excellency may be, they cannot have done any mischief, as they have always remained locked up in my breast.

My mind was so disturbed at the perusal of your Excellencies letter that I do not well know what answer I returned, if there was anything improper in it I must trust to your humanity for pardon, & request you will believe me with unfeigned respect. Sr Your Excellencies Most obedt Servant

Lewis Nicola Col. Inv.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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