Front Page Titles (by Subject) FORGED LETTER. TO LUND WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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FORGED LETTER. TO LUND 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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New York, July 22, 1776.
I wish I could say I thoroughly approved of all the new regulations in the new institution of government in my native state. It could, however, hardly have been expected that a reformation so capital and comprehensive should be perfect at first; the wonder is, it is not still more exceptionable. My heart glows with unusual warmth when I advert, as I often do, to that pure and disinterested ardor which must have animated the bulk of my countrymen throughout the whole of this controversy. There may be exceptions amongst us, and no doubt, there are; but it is not fair to infer this from our uncommon impetuosity and violence. This one would wish restrained, but, by no means extirpated; for is it not the effect of a highly agitated spirit; the mere effervescence of good principles thrown into a state of strong fermentation? And, surely, even, precipitency is preferable to the spirit-breaking cautions of chill despondency. Yet I am no advocate, in general, either for rash measures, or rash men; but at such a conjuncture as this, men had need to be stimulated by some more active principle than cool and sober reason. They must be enthusiasts, or they will continue to be slaves.
I give this in answer to my friend Mr. Carter’s objections to the first procedures of the new government. No doubt, Henry is, in many respects, the unfittest man in the State for Governor of Virginia. He has no property, no learning, but little good sense, and still less virtue or public spirit; but he is the idol of the people; and as it is by their means only that you can hope to effect the grand schemes which you have meditated you must humor them, and indulge them with their rattle. They will soon tire of him; and the opportunity must then be watched gently to lead them to a better choice; for they may be led, though they cannot be driven. And though it be alas! but too true, that they often mistake their real interests, I am of opinion they never mistake them long. Sooner or later, they will judge and act from their settled feelings, and these I take it are generally founded in their settled interests. When great enterprises are to be performed, we may well dispense with some errors in judgment; when without that, we have, in its stead, that which perhaps we could not have with it; I mean, that undisciplined ardor which is infinitely better adapted to our purposes.
There cannot be a more striking instance that the judgment of the people may, in general, be safely trusted, in the long run, than is to be met with in Virginia. Very few countries have to boast of more men of respectable understandings; I know of none that can produce a family, all of them distinguished as clever men, like our Lees. They are all of them the very men one would wish for to take the lead of a willing multitude; for they are certainly men of shining talents, and their talents are of that particular kind which usually render men popular. No men are more so, than the men in question once were. It is obvious, this is no longer the case; and the reason must be that they are no longer worthy of it with all their cleverness, they are selfish in the extreme. The people, at length, found this out; or, no doubt, R. H. Lee would have now been governor, the grand object of all his aims.
You would be mortified to hear the criticisms which are common here on Henry’s inauguration speech. It is, indeed, a poor and pitiful performance; and yet I can believe that set off by his smooth and oily delivery, it would appear clever when he spoke it. Why did he not ask Mr. Page to prepare it for him? There is not a man in America more capable. The Counsellors of State are certainly irreproachable, and will do honor to those who appointed them. I am particularly pleased with the success of my honest brother-in-law Bat Dandridge; and the pleasure is not lessened by the assurance he makes me, that my letters were serviceable to him, there being but few men whom I love more than I do him. As you are soon to go down the country, you will see him; and therefore spare me the trouble of writing particularly to him. My friends must now be be so indulgent to me, as to wave the matter of compliment: I think myself happy, whenever I can write, as I should on urgent business. You know how ticklish my situation is; little as one would think there is to be envied in it, I yet am envied. And though, in all good reason, their fears should take a direct contrary course, there are who are for ever suggesting suspicions and jealousies of the army and its commander. My own heart assures me I mean them no ill: however if I really have the influence and ascendency which they suppose, I will for their sakes as well as my own, hereafter maintain it at some little cost. A thousand considerations determine me to strain every nerve to prevent the army’s being under any other controul whilst I live. Let a persuasion of the necessity of this, if occasion should arise, be seasonably urged in my native state; and in the mean while, let some more than ordinary pains be taken to make me popular. Their own honor and interest are both concerned in my being so. Shew this to Mr. Dandridge; and, as you both can enter into my meaning, even from the most distant hints, I can rest satisfied that you will do every thing I wish you.
We have lately had a general review; and I have much pleasure in informing you, that we made a better appearance, and went through our exercises more like soldiers than I had expected. The Southern states are rash and blamable in the judgment they generally form of their brethren of the four New England states; I do assure you, with all my partiality for my own countrymen, and prejudices against them, I cannot but consider them as the flower of the American Army. They are a strong, vigorous, and hardy people, inured to labor and toil; which our people seldom are. And though our hot and eager spirits may, perhaps, suit better in a sudden and desperate enterprise; yet in the way in which wars are now carried on, you must look for permanent advantages only from that patient and persevering temper, which is the result of a life of labor. The New Englanders are cool, considerate, and sensible; whilst we are all fire and fury: like their climate, they maintain an equal temperature, where as we cannot shine, but we burn. They have a uniformity and stability of character, to which the people of no other states have any pretension; hence they must, and will always preserve their influence in this great Empire. Were it not for the drawbacks and the disadvantages, which the influence of their popular opinions, on the subject of government, have over their army, they soon might, and probably would, give law to it. If General Putnam had the talents of Mr. S. Adams, or Mr. Adams had his, perhaps, even at this moment, this had not been matter of conjecture. But Putnam is a plain, blunt, undesigning old fellow, whose views reach no further than the duties of his profession, he is, indeed, very ignorant; yet, I find him a useful officer; and chiefly because he neither plagues me nor others, with wrangling claims of privileges. I owe him too no small acknowledgments, for the fairness of his accounts. I could open to you some strange scenes in this way. Some people seem to have gotten such a habit of cheating government, that, though sufficiently conscientious in other respects, they really are far less scrupulous in their manner of charging than, I think, becomes them.—But, as I have often told you, General Mercer is the man, on whom these states must rest their hopes. The character that one of his countrymen gave to the Pretender, fits him exactly; “He is the most cautious man I ever saw, not to be a coward; and the bravest not to be rash.” In my judgment, he is not inferior to General Lee, in military knowledge; and in almost every thing else, he is, infinitely, his superior. Yet the overbearing virtues of this last named gentleman are useful to us, especially at our setting out: we wanted not the sober and slow deductions of argument and reason; and Lee, like the author of Common Sense, has talents perfectly formed to dazzle and confound.
I thank you for your care in making the remittances you mention to Messrs. Carey & Co. I sincerely wish they may arrive safe; as I certainly owe it to them, to take every step in my power to make them easy. There is a pleasure in doing as one ought, in little as well as great affairs; but, in my present circumstances, I should often want this pleasure, were it not for your affectionate assiduity, and truly friendly attention. God bless you, my dear friend, for every instance of your care and concern for me.
I am, &c—