TRANSCRIPT GLC 745
George Washington. Autograph letter signed: Mount Vernon,
to Samuel Griffith, 1788 Feb. 20. 3 p.
Mount Vernon Feb[ruar]y 20th. 1788
I have been duly honored & gratefully affected with the
receipt of the Resolution of the Visitors & Governors
of William & Mary College, appointing me Chancellor of
the same; and have to thank you for your polite attention
in the transmission.
Not knowing particularly what duties, or whether any active
Services are immediately expected from the person holding
the Office of Chancellor; I have been greatly embarrassed
in deciding upon the public answer proper to be given. It
is for that reason I have chosen to explain in this private
communication my situation & feelings; and to defer an
ultimate decision until I shall have been favored with farther
information on this subject.
My difficulties are briefly these. On the one hand, nothing
in this world could be farther from my heart than a want of
 respect for the worthy Gentlemen in question or a refusal
of the appointment with which they have honored me –
provided its duties are not incompatible with the mode of
life to which I have entirely addicted myself. And on the
other hand, I would not for any consideration disappoint the
just expectations of the Convocation; by accepting an Office,
whose functions I previously knew (from my pre-engagements
& occupations) I should be absolutely unable to perform.
Although, as I observed before, I know not specifically what
these functions are, yet, Sir, I have conceived that a principal
duty required of the Chancellor might be a regular & indispensable
Visitation once or perhaps twice a year. Should this be expected,
I must decline accepting the Office. For, notwithstanding
I most sincerely & ardently wish to afford whatever little
influence I may possess, in patronising the cause of Science,
I cannot, at my time of life & in my actual state of retirement,
persuade myself to engage in new and extensive avocations.
Such being the sentiment of a  heart unaccustomed to disguise;
I flatter myself the candid manner in which I have explained
it, could not be displeasing to the Convocation; and that
the intervening delay, between the present and the moment
in which I shall have the pleasure of receiving such ulterior
explanations as may enable me to give a definitive answer
will not prove very detrimental to the Collegiate interests.
With great esteem and regard
I am – Dear Sir
Y[ou]r Obed[ien]t H[onora]ble Serv[an]t
Sam[ue]l Griffin Esqr.