Asylum, Lambeth, April 2, 1783
Will your Excellency condescend to accept of a few Lines from one, who ever was, and wishes still to be your sincere Friend, who never intentionally—sought to give you a Moment’s Pain, who entertains for you the highest Personal Respect, and would be happy to be assured under your own Hand, that he does not labour under your Displeasure, but that you freely forgive, what a weak Judgment, but a very affectionate Heart once presumed to advise.
Many Circumstances, at present unknown to you, conspired to make me deem it my Duty to write to you. Ignorance & Simplicity saw not the Necessity of your divulging the Letter. I am convinced, however, that you could not, in your Public Station, do otherwise. I cannot say a Word in Vindication of my Conduct but this, that I had been for Months before, distressed with continual Apprehensions for you and all my Friends without the British Lines—I looked upon All as gone; or that nothing could save you, but a rescinding the Declaration of Independency.
Upon this Ground alone, I presumed to speak—not to advise an Act of base Treachery—My Soul would have recoiled from the Thought—not to surrender your Army, or betray the righteous Cause of your Country—but at the Head of that Army, supporting & supported by them, to negociate with Britain for our Constitutional Rights.
Can you, then, join with my Country in pardoning this Error of Judgment? Will you yet honour me with your great Interest & Influence, by recommending, at least expressing your Approbation of, the Repeal of an Act, that keeps me in a State of Banishment from my Native Country, from the Arms of a dear aged Father, and the Embraces of a numerous Circle of valuable & long-loved Friends.
Your liberal, generous Mind, I am persuaded, will never exclude me wholly from your Regard for a mere Political Error; especially, as you must have heard, that since the Date of that Letter, I have led a Life of perfect Retirement, and since my Arrival in England have devoted myself wholly to the Duties of my Profession, and confined my Acquaintance to an happy Circle of literary & religious Friends.
I have written to my Father & to many of my Friends largely on this Subject, requesting them to make such Application to the State of Pennsylvania in my Behalf, as may be judged necessary & expedient. Should this application be honoured with Success, I know of nothing, that would more effectually satisfy my Desires in a Matter of such Importance to myself & my Family as a Line or two from your Excellency, expressive of your Approbation of my Return.
Temporal Emoluments are not wanting to induce me to remain for Life on this Side the Atlantic. I have been most hospitably received & kindly treated by all Ranks of People. And I should be ungrateful not to acknowledge in the strongest Terms my Obligations to those, who have placed me in the easy & comfortable Situation I now enjoy. It is not Necessity, therefore, but unalterable Affection to my Native Country, that urges me to seek a Return.
With every good Wish & Prayer for your best Felicity, & my most hearty Congratulations on the happy Event of Peace, I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Most obedt & humble Servant
DLC: Papers of George Washington.