Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Rediscovering George Washington
Washington: Father of His Country The Washington Collection
Washington in the Classroom About the Program
Timeline: George Washington's Life Milestones
Multimedia Room Search the Site
Gilder Lehrman Collection Documents
Gilder Lehrman Collection Images
Other Documents
Gilder Lehrman Collection Documents
Letter to Samuel Powell, February 5, 1789

George Washington. Autograph letter signed: Mount Vernon, to Samuel Powell, 1789 Feb. 5. 3 p. + address leaf.

Mount Vernon Feby. 5 1789

Dear Sir,

The letters which you did me the honor of writing to me on the 6th. & 26th. of last month, came duly to hand, and their enclosures were safely delivered to my Nephew, Bushrod Washington, who has lately become a resident of Alexandria - where, and at the Courts in its vicinity, he means to establish himself in the practice of the Law. No apology, my dear Sir, on this or any other occasion was, or will be necessary for putting any letter you may wish to have safely conveyed to a friend in these parts, under cover to me.

All the political manoeuvres which were calculated to impede, if not to prevent the operation of the new government, are now brought to a close until the meeting of the new Congress; and although the issue of all the Elections are not yet known, they are sufficiently displayed to authorize a belief that the opposers of the government have been defeated in almost every instance. Although [2] the elections in this State are over, it will be sometime [inserted: (from the extent of it)] before the Representatives to Congress can be finally announced. From conjecture, however, it is supposed the majority will be federalists – some are so sanguine as to believe that seven out of the ten will be so – but this, as I have already said, is altogether conjecture – and vague conjecture – for much pains has [sic] been taken, and no art left unessayed to poison the mind and alarm the fears of the people into opposition. In the list of the Electors which has been published by the Executive authority of this State, there appears (as far as I am acquainted with the characters of the gentleman) eight decided friends to the New Constitution.

Be the cause of the British Kings insanity what it may, his situation (if alive), merits commiseration. Better; perhaps, would it have been for his nation, though not for ours (under present prospects) if this event had happened at the time Doctr. Franklin you say, supposes his Majesty's constitution was [inserted: first] tinged with the malady under which he is now labouring.

Mrs. Washington, the Major & Fanny, [3] and others under this roof, unite in best wishes & affectionate regard for Mrs. Powell and yourself - and I am

Dear Sir
Your Most Obed. and
very humble Servant
Go: Washington

Notes: Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 30:195-196. Written to Samuel Powell Esq., the mayor of Philadelphia, the day after the electorial college elected Washington President. The results of the election would not be officially announced until Congress met on 14 April 1789. George III suffered from a bout with insanity that kept him confined in a straight jacket.