Front Page Titles (by Subject) FORGED LETTER. TO MRS. WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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FORGED LETTER. TO MRS. WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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24 June, 1776.
My Dearest Life and Love,
You have hurt me, I know not how much, by the insinuation in your last, that my letters to you have lately been less frequent, because I have felt less concern for you. The suspicion is most unjust;—may I not add, it is most unkind? Have we lived, now almost a score of years, in the closest and dearest conjugal intimacy to so little purpose, that, on an appearance only of inattention to you, and which you might have accounted for in a thousand ways more natural and more probable, you should pitch upon that single motive which alone is injurious to me? I have not, I own, wrote so often to you as I wished and as I ought. But think of my situation, and then ask your heart, if I be without excuse. We are not my dearest, in circumstances the most favorable to our happiness: but let us not, I beseech you, idly make them worse, by indulging suspicions and apprehensions which minds in distress are but apt to give way to. I never was, as you have often told me, even in my better and more disengaged days, so attentive to the little punctilios of friendship, as, it may be, became me: but my heart tells me, there never was a moment in my life, since I first knew you, in which it did not cleave and cling to you with the warmest affection; and it must cease to beat, ere it can cease to wish for your happiness, above any thing on earth.
I congratulate you most cordially on the fair prospect of recovery of your amiable daughter-in-law; nor can I wonder, that this second loss of a little one should affect you, I fear the fatigues of the journey, and the perpetual agitations of a camp, were too much for her. They are, however, both young and healthy; so that there can be little doubt of their soon repairing the loss.
And now will my dearest love permit me, a little more earnestly than I have ever yet done, to press you to consent to that so necessary, so safe and so easy, though so dreadful a thing—The being innoculated. It was always advisable; but at this juncture it seems to be almost absolutely necessary.
I am far from sure, that, that restless madman, our quondam Governor, from the mere lust of doing mischief, will not soon betake himself to the carrying on a predatory war in our rivers. And as Potomack will certainly be thought most favorable for his purposes, as affording him scope to keep without the reach of annoyance. I have little reason, to flatter myself that it would not be particularly pleasing to him, to vent his spite at my house. Let him; it would affect me only as it might affect you; and, for this reason, among others, I wish you out of his reach. Yet I think I would not have you quit your house, professedly, from an apprehension of a visit from him. An appearance of fearfulness and timidity, even in a woman of my family, might have a bad effect; but, I must be something more or less than man, not to wish you out of the way of a danger, which to say the least, must be disagreeable to you, and could do good to no one. All this makes for your going to Philadelphia, a place of perfect security; and it would almost be worth while to be innoculated, if it were only for the fair pretence it furnishes you with of quitting Virginia, at a time when I could not but be exceedingly uneasy at your remaining in it. But I flatter myself, any further argument will be unnecessary, when I shall add, as I now do, that till you have had the smallpox, anxiously as else I should wish for it, I never can think of consenting to your passing the winter here in quarters with me.
I would have Lund Washington immediately remove all the unmarried and suspicious of the slaves to the quarters in Frederick. The Harvesting must be got in by hirelings. Let him not keep any large stock of grain trod out, especially at the mill, or within the reach of water carriage; in particular, let as little as may be, be left at Clifton’s quarters. It will not be too late, even in the first week of July, to sow the additional supply of hemp and flax-seed, which Mr. Mifflin has procured for me in Philadelphia; and which I hope will be with you before this letter. For obvious reasons, you will not sow it on the island, nor by the water side. But I hope you will have a good account of your crop on the Ohio. If Bridgey continues refractory and riotous, though I know you can ill spare him, let him by all means be sent off, as I hope Jack Custis’s boy Joe already is, for his sauciness at Cambridge.
My attention is this moment called off to the discovery, or pretended discovery, of a plot. It is impossible, as yet, to develope the mystery in which it either is, or is supposed to be involved. Thus much only I can find out with certainty, that it will be a fine field for a war of lies on both sides. No doubt it will make a good deal of noise in the country; and there are who think it useful to have the minds of the people kept constantly on the fret by rumors of this sort. For my part, I who am said to be the object principally aimed at in it, find myself perfectly at my ease; and I have mentioned it to you only from an apprehension that, hearing it from others and not from me, you might imagine that I was in the midst of danger that I knew not of.
The perpetual solicitude of your poor heart about me, is certainly highly flattering to me; yet I should be happy to be able to quiet your fears. Why do you complain of my reserve? Or, how could you imagine that I distrusted either your prudence or your fidelity? I have the highest opinion of them both. But why should I teaze you with tedious details of schemes and views which are perpetually varying? and which therefore might not improbably mislead, where I meant to inform you? Suffice it that I say, what I have often before told you, that, as far as I have the control of them, all our preparations of war, aim only at peace. Neither do I, at this moment, see the least likelihood of there being any considerable military operations this season; and, if not in this season certainly in no other. It is impossible to suppose, that, in the leisure, and quiet of winter quarters, men will not have virtue to listen to the dictates of plain common sense and sober reason. The only true interest of both sides is reconciliation; nor can there be a point in the world clearer, than that both sides must be losers by war, in a manner which even peace will not compensate for. We must, at last, agree and be friends; for we cannot live without them, and they will not without us: and a byestander might well be puzzled to find out, why as good terms cannot be given and taken now, as when we shall have well nigh ruined each other by the mutual madness of cutting one another’s throats. For all these reasons, which cannot but be as obvious to the English commissioners, and ours, as they are to me, I am at a loss to imagine how any thing can arise to obstruct a negotiation, and, of consequence, a pacification. You, who know my heart, know that there is not a wish nearer to it than this is; but I am prepared for every event, one only excepted—I mean a dishonorable peace. Rather than that, let me, though with the loss of every thing else I hold dear, continue this horrid trade, and by the most unlikely means, be the unworthy instrument of preserving political security and happiness to them, as well as to ourselves.—Pity this cannot be accomplished without fixing on me that sad name, Rebel. I love my king; you know I do: a soldier, a good man cannot but love him. How peculiarly hard then is our fortune to be deemed traitors to so good a king! But I am not without hopes, that even he will yet see cause to do me justice; posterity I am sure will. Mean while I comfort myself with the reflection that this has been the fate of the best and bravest men, even of the Barons who obtained Magna Charta, whilst the dispute was pending. This, however, anxiously as I wish for it, it is not mine to command; I see my duty; that of standing up for the liberties of my country; and whatever difficulties and discouragements lie in my way, I dare not shrink from it; and I rely on that Being, who has not left to us the choice of duties, that, whilst I conscientiously discharge mine, I shall not finally lose my reward. If I really am not a bad man, I shall not long be so set down.
Assure yourself, I will pay all possible attention to your recommendations. But happy as I am in an opportunity of obliging you, even in the smallest things, take it not amiss, that I use the freedom with you to whisper in your ear, to be sparing of them. You know how I am circumstanced: hardly the promotion of a subaltern is left me. And, free and independent as I am, I resolve to remain so. I owe the Congress no obligations for any personal favors done to myself; nor will I run in debt to them for favors to others. Besides, I am mortified to have to ask of them, what, in sound policy (if other motives had been wanting) they ought to have granted to me, unasked. I cannot describe to you the inconveniences this army suffers for want of this consequence being given to its commander in chief. But, as these might be increased, were my peculiar situation in this respect generally known, I forbear; only enjoining you a cautious silence on this head.—In a regular army, our Virginia young men, would certainly, in general, make the best officers; but I regret that they have not now put it in my power justly to pay them this compliment. They dislike their northern allies; and this dislike is the source of infinite mischiefs and vexations to me. In the many disputes and quarrels of this sort which we have had, one thing has particularly struck me. My countrymen are not inferior in understanding; and are certainly superior in that distinguished spirit and high sense of honor which should form the character of an officer. Yet, somehow or other, it forever happens, that in every altercation, they are proved to be in the wrong; and they expect of me attentions and partialities which it is not in my power to shew them.
Let me rely that your answer to this will be dated in Philadelphia. If I am not very busily engaged, (which I hope may not be the case,) perhaps I may find ways and means to pay you a visit of a day or two; but this I rather hint as what I wish, than what I dare bid you expect. If you still think the fragments of the set of greys I bought of Lord Botetourt unequal to the journey, let Lund Washington sell them, singly, or otherwise as he can, to the best advantage, and purchase a new set of bays. I could, as you desire, get them here, and perhaps on better terms; but, I have a notion, whether well or ill founded I know not, that they never answer well in Virginia. I beg to be affectionately remembered to all our friends and relations; and that you will continue to believe me to be Your most faithful and tender Husband.1
[1 ]“The letter said to be the General’s, is partly genuine and partly spurious. Those who metamorphosed the intercepted original committed an error in point of time, for Mrs. Washington was with the General in New York at the date of it.”—John Laurens to his father, 23 January, 1778.