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Letter to Henry Knox, February 20, 1784


George Washington.  Autograph letter signed:  Mount Vernon, to Henry Knox, 1784 February 20.  3 p.


Mount Vernon Feby. 20th. 1784.


My dear Sir,


The bad weather, and great care which the Post Riders take of themselves, prevented your letters of the 3d. & 9th. of last month from getting to my hands 'till the 10th. of this. - Setting of next morning for Fredericksburgh to pay my duty to an aged mother, and not returning 'till yesterday, will be admitted I hope, as a sufficient apology for my silence 'till now.


I am much obliged by the trouble you have taken to report the state of the Garrison & stores, together with the disposition of the Troops at West-Point, to me. - and think the allowance of Rations, or subsistence money to such Officers as could not retire at that inclement season, was not only perfectly humane, but perfectly just. - and that it must appear so to Congress.


It would seem to me, without having recourse to calculation, that the allowance of a Majr. General in a separate department, to the person who shall discharge the duties of Secretary at War, Master of Ordnance, & Commanding Officer of the Forces which may be retained or Raised for a Peace Establishment is [strike-out] [inserted:  as then as it well can be]. - I expect the President & some members of Congress here in a day or two, & will tell them so. -


It was amongst my first acts after I got home, to write to the President of each state Society, appointing Philadelphia (& the first Monday in May) for the general meeting of the Cincinnati. -  Colo. Walker took with him, all the Letters for those Eastward of this; before New Years day; the others for the Southward, I dispatched by the [2] Post [strike-out] about the sametime -  I have even sent duplicates for fear of miscarriage; -  yet, 'though it is the most eligable method, it is to be feared it will not prove so effectual a communication, as [strike-out] a general notification in the public Gazettes [inserted: would have been] -  And, in case of failure, I shall be exceedingly concerned for not having adopted the most certain as it would give me pleasure to have the first general meeting, a very  full one. -


I have named Philadelphia (contrary to my own judgment, as it is not central) to comply with the wishes of South Carolina, who, being the most Southern State, have desired it. -  North Carolina I have not heard a tikle from, nor any thing official from New Hampshire. -  all the other States have aceeded very unanimously to the propositions which were sent from the army. -


I am just beginning to experience that ease, and freedom from public cares which, however desirable, takes some time to realize; for strange as it may tell, it is nevertheless true, that it was not 'till lately I could get the better of my usual custom of ruminating as soon as I waked in the morning, on the business of the ensuing day; - and of my surprize, after having revolved many things in my mind, to find that I was no longer a public man, or had anything to do with public transactions. - I feel now, however, as I conceive a  wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step, with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the Goal to which all the former were directed - & from his House top is looking back, & tracing with a [strike-out] [inserted: grateful] eye the meanders by which he escaped the quicks and [3] and mires which lay in his way, and into which none but the All-powerful guide, & great disposer of human Events could have prevented his falling. -


I shall be very happy, and I hope shall not be disappointed, in seeing you at the proposed meeting in Philadelphia. - The friendship I have conceived for you will not be impaired by absence, but it may be no unpleasing circumstance to brighten the Chain, by a renewal of the Covenant. - My best wishes attend Mrs. Knox & the little folks, in which Mrs. Washington most heartily joins me. - With every sentiment of the purest esteem, regard and affection


I am, My dear Sir,

Yr. Most Obed. & obliged

Hble Servant,

Go:  Washington



I hope Genl Greene will be in the Delegation from Rhode Island - and that we shall see him at the Genl. Meeting of the Cincinnati - will you intimate this to him


Majr. Genl Knox.



Notes: Published in Fitzpatrick, John C.  The Writings of George Washington. v 27, p. 339-341