Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XI (1785-1790).
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TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE.
New York, 5 May, 1789.
My dear Sir,
I cannot fail of being much pleased with the friendly part you take in every thing which concerns me; and particularly with the just scale on which you estimate this last great sacrifice, which I consider myself as having made for the good of my country. When I had judged, upon the best appreciation I was able to form of the circumstances which related to myself, that it was my duty to embark again on the tempestuous and uncertain ocean of public life, I gave up all expectations of private happiness in this world. You know, my dear Sir, I had concentered all my schemes, all my views, all my wishes, within the narrow circle of domestic enjoyment. Though I flatter myself the world will do me the justice to believe, that at any time of life and in my circumstances, nothing but a conviction of duty could have induced me to depart from my resolution of remaining in retirement; yet I greatly apprehend that my Countrymen will expect too much from me. I fear, if the issue of public measures should not correspond with their sanguine expectations, they will turn the extravagant (and I may say undue) praises which they are heaping upon me at this moment, into equally extravagant (though I will fondly hope unmerited) censures. So much is expected, so many untoward circumstances may intervene, in such a new and critical situation, that I feel an insuperable diffidence in my own abilities—I feel, in the execution of the duties of my arduous office, how much I shall stand in need of the countenance and aid of every friend to myself, of every friend to the Revolution, and of every lover of good Government. I thank you, my dear Sir, for your affectionate expressions on this point.
I anticipate that one of the most difficult and delicate parts of the duty of my office will be that which relates to nominations for appointments. I receive with the more satisfaction the strong testimonials in behalf of Mr. Hall, because I hope they will tend to supersede the difficulty in this instance. Though, from a system which I have prescribed to myself, I can say nothing decisive on particular appointments; yet I may be allowed to observe in general, that nothing could be more agreeable to me than to have one candidate brought forward for every office with such clear pretensions as to secure him against competition.1
Mrs. W. is not here, but is shortly expected on her arrival.1 I will offer the Complts. of Mrs. R. & yourself to her. In the meantime I pray you to believe that I am, with sentiments of the purest esteem & the highest consideration, &c.
[1 ]Similar sentiments were expressed in a letter to General Wayne. “My greatest apprehension at present is, that more will be expected from me, than I shall be able to perform. All that an honest zeal can dictate for the advancement of the interests of our country will, however, be cheerfully and perseveringly attempted.”—May 4th. And to General Schuyler: “It is only from the assurances of support, which I have received from the respectable and worthy characters in every part of the Union, that I am enabled to overcome the diffidence, which I have in my own abilities to execute my great and important trust to the best interest of our country. An honest zeal, and an unremitting attention to the interests of the United States, are all that I dare promise.”—May 9th. And again to Mr. Jones: “The numerous and friendly congratulations, which I have received from respectable characters in every part of the Union, are truly pleasing to me; not only on account of their discovering a warm attachment to my person, but because they convey the most flattering idea of the good dispositions of the people in the several States, and the strongest assurances of support to the government. It affords me likewise no small satisfaction to find, that my friends have done justice to the motives, which again brought me into public life. Under all these circumstances I shall feel a degree of confidence in discharging the duties of my administration, with which a consciousness alone of the purity of my intentions could not have inspired me.”—May 14th. To Robert R. Livingston, after stating the principles which he had adopted for regulating his conduct in regard to appointments, he wrote: “The delicacy with which your letter was written, and your wishes insinuated, did not require me to be thus explicit on this head with you; but the desire which I have, that those persons whose good opinion I value, should know the principles on which I mean to act in this business, has led me to this full declaration, and I trust, that the truly worthy and respectable characters in this country will do justice to the motives by which I am actuated in all my public transactions.”—May 31st.
[1 ]Mrs. Washington did not arrive in New York till May 27th.