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Best 134 Famous Quotes By George Washington

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Best 134 Famous Quotes By George Washington

Famous Quotes By George Washington in chronological order. George Washington Quotes are from his personal letters, diaries, documents and speeches. Many will prick your conscience. We could all be better people if we would put his beliefs into practice. We have lots of George Washington Quotes here. There are links to more at the bottom of the page as well.

134 famous quotes by george washington

Quotes are wonderful things! They make great tools for uncovering history. Below you will find two categories of quotes related to George Washington.
The famous  quotes by George Washington is Washington words. George Washington’s words tell us how he felt, what he believed, and his personal hopes and goals for the United States. They come from his journals, his prayers, and the letters he wrote to friends, family and colleagues.

you find all these quotes:

  • george washington quotes on freedom
  • george washington freedom quotes
  • george washington quotes political parties
  • quotes by george washington about god and religion
  • george washington quotes on education
  • george washington constitution quotes
  • george washington quotes on government
  • george washington war quotes

1-“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”


2-“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.”


3- “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth”


4-“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”


5-“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.”


6-“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”


7-“I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.”


8-“Be courteous to all, but intimate with a few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence”


9-“Be courteous to all, but intimate with a few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”


10-“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”


11-“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”


12-“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.”


13-“Lenience will operate with greater force, in some instances than rigor. It is therefore my first wish to have all of my conduct distinguished by it.”


14-“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective ways of preserving peace”


15-“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”


16-“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”


17-“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”


18-“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”


19-“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”


20-“Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.”


21- “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation”


22-“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation.”


23-“Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe.”


24-“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”


25-“Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to; and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one.”


26-“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”


27-Washington quote “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the week, and esteem to all”


28-“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the week, and esteem to all.”


29-“Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.”


30-“Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”


31-“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”


32-“A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.”


33-“There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate, upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.”


34- “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble”


35-“Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”


36-“My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty… it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein.”


37-“I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”


38-“I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman’s cares.”


39-“I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe, that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction”


40-“I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe, that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction.”


41-“The Constitution which at any time exists, ’till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all.”


42-“To form a new Government, requires infinite care, and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid the superstructure must be bad.”


43-“The tumultuous populace of large cities are ever to be dreaded. Their indiscriminate violence prostrates for the time all public authority, and its consequences are sometimes extensive and terrible.”


44- “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism”


45-“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”


46-“The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field — the object is attained — and it now remains to be my earnest wish & prayer, that the Citizens of the United States could make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them.”


47-“But if we are to be told by a foreign power what we shall do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little.”


48-“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.”


49- “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one”


50-“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”


51-“Government is not reason and it is not eloquence. It is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”


52-“I do not mean to exclude altogether the idea of patriotism. I know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest. But I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward.”


53-“The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.”


54- “It is better to be alone than in bad company”


 

55-“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”


56-“It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.”


57-“The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”


58- “To contract new debts is not the way to pay for old ones”


59-“To contract new debts is not the way to pay for old ones.”


60-“No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass.”


61-“Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”


62-“Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”


63-“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God”


 

64-“I anticipate with pleasing expectations that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.”


65-“I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world.”


66-“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.”


67-“Jealousy, and local policy mix too much in all our public councils for the good government of the Union. In a words, the confederation appears to me to be little more than a shadow without the substance.”


68- “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all”


69-“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”


70-“I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see the policy of a gradual Abolition of Slavery.”
71-“I go to the chair of government with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.”


72-“The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity.”


73-“Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths?”


74-“Gambling is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief.”


75- “Few people have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder”


76-“Few people have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”


77-“Mankind, when left to themselves, are unfit for their own government.”


78-“We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.”


79-“More permanent and genuine happiness is to be found in the sequestered walks of connubial life than in the giddy rounds of promiscuous pleasure.”


80-“The Army (considering the irritable state it is in, its suffering and composition) is a dangerous instrument to play with.”


81- “When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen”


82-“When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.”


83-“Your love of liberty – your respect for the laws – your habits of industry – and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.”


84-“Democratical States must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last.”


85-“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”


86-“The truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light”


87-“The truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.”


88-“The foundation of a great Empire is laid, and I please myself with a persuasion, that Providence will not leave its work imperfect.”


89-“The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.”


90-“It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the Delegates from so many different States should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well founded objections.”


91-“In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”


92- “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and the distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse”


93-“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and the distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”


94-“‘Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”


95-“No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.”


96-“In our progress toward political happiness my station is new; and if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.”


97-“[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.”


98-“Honesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a nation be just”
“Honesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a nation be just.”


99-“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”


100-“Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.”


101-“A people who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.”


102-“A man’s intentions should be allowed in some respects to plead for his actions.”


103-“I shall make it the most agreeable part of my duty to study merit, and reward the brave and deserving.”


104- “99% of failures come from people who make excuses”


105-“99 Percent of failures come from people who make excuses.”


106-“No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.”


107-“I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.”


108-“Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.”


109-“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated.”


110-“I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.”


111-“We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals”


112-“We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.”


113-“There is a Destiny which has the control of our actions, not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature.”


114-“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”


115-“I shall not be deprived … of a comfort in the worst event, if I retain a consciousness of having acted to the best of my judgment.”


116-“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”


117-“The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations.”


118-“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected”


119-“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” – George Washington

120-“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.”


121-“A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.”


122-“The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved.”


123-“I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.”


124-“To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.”


125-“The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and the true dignity is justice”


126-“The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and the true dignity is justice.”


127-“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”


128-“A bad war is fought with a good mind.”


129-“Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.”


130-“It is much easier at all times to prevent an evil than to rectify mistakes.”


131-“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective ways of preserving peace.”


132-“War – An act of violence whose object is to constrain the enemy, to accomplish our will.”


133-“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”


134-“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.”


George washington famous quotes

1-“When you speak of God, or His attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence. Honor and obey our natural parents although they be poor.” – 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, 1737
“Let your recreations be manful not sinful.” – 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, 1737


2-“Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.” – 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, 1737


3-Most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ, my merciful and loving Father; I acknowledge and confess my guilt in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are become my sin, and they stand in need of pardon. I have sinned against heaven and before Thee in thought, word, and deed. I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against the light, despising Thy mercies and judgment, and broken my vows and promise. I have neglected the better things. My iniquities are multiplied and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing and desire to be vile in my own eyes as I have rendered myself vile in Thine. I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son and only Savior Jesus Christ who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me. Make me to know what is acceptable in Thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith, and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – Authentic handwritten manuscript book, April 23, 1752


4-“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” – Circular to the States, May 9, 1753 “Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.” – Letter to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, May 29, 1754 “I am much concern’d, that your Honour should seem to charge me with ingratitude for your generous, and my undeserved favours; for I assure you, Hon’ble Sir, nothing is a greater stranger to my Breast, or a Sin that my Soul abhors, than that black and detestable one Ingratitude.” – Letter to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, May 29, 175


5-“By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was levelling my companions on every side.” – Letter to John A. Washington, July 18, 1755


6-“Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.” – Address to the Officers of the Virginia Regiment, January 8, 1756
“I shall make it the most agreeable part of my duty to study merit, and reward the brave and deserving.” – Address to the Officers of the Virginia Regiment, January 8, 1756


7-“I have always, so far as it was in my power, endeavored to discourage gaming in the camp; and always shall so long as I have the honor to preside there.” – Letter to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, February 2, 1756
“A man’s intentions should be allowed in some respects to plead for his actions.” – Letter to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, December, 1756


8-“I have diligently sought the public welfare; and have endeavoured to inculcate the same principles in all that are under me. These reflections will be a cordial to my mind as long as I am able to distinguish between Good & Evil.” – Letter to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, December, 1756 “It gave me infinite concern to hear by several letters, that the Assembly are incensed against the Virginia Regiment: and think they have cause to accuse the officers of all inordinate vices: but more especially of drunkenness and profanity! How far any one individual may have subjected himself to such reflections, I will not pretend to determine, but this I am certain of; and can with the highest safety call my conscience, my God! and (what I suppose will still be a more demonstrable proof, at least in the eye of the World) the Orders and Instructions which I have given, to evince the purity of my own intentions and to show on the one hand, that my incessant endeavours have been directed to discountenance Gaming, drinking, swearing, and other vices, with which all camps too much abound: while on the other, I have used every expedient to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers, and an unerring exercise of Duty in the Soldiers.” – Letter to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, December, 1756


9-“My nature is open and honest and free from guile.” – Letter to the Earl of Loudoun, March, 1757 “What can be so proper as the truth?” – Letter to Richard Washington, April 15, 1757


10-“It is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of having committed it.” – Letter to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, August 27, 1757 “Since that happy hour when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been continually going to you as another Self. That an all-powerful Providence may keep us both in safety is the prayer of your ever faithful and affectionate friend.” – Letter to Martha Custis, July 20, 1758


11-“There is a Destiny which has the control of our actions, not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature.” – Letter to Mrs. George William Fairfax, September 12, 1758 “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” – Letter of Instructions to the Captains of the Virginia Regiments, July 29, 1759


12-“At a time, when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question. That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, to use arms in defence of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource, the dernier resort. Addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament, we have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy of. How far, then, their attention to our rights and privileges is to be awakened or alarmed, by starving their trade and manufacturers, remains to be tried.” – Letter to George Mason, April 5, 1769″I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.” – Letter to Jonathan Boucher, July 9, 1771


13-“The ways of Providence being inscrutable, and the justice of it not to be scanned by the shallow eye of humanity, nor to be counteracted by the utmost efforts of human power or wisdom, resignation, and as far as the strength of our reason and religion can carry us, a cheerful acquiescence to the Divine Will, is what we are to aim.” – Letter to Col. Burwell Bassett, April 25, 1773


14-“It is an easier matter to conceive, than to describe the distress of this Family; especially that of the unhappy Parent of our Dear Patsy Custis, when I inform you that yesterday removed the sweet Innocent Girl Entered into a more happy and peaceful abode than any she has met with in the afflicted Path she hitherto has trod.” – Letter to Burwell Bassett, on the death of his stepdaughter Patsy, June 20, 1773 “Went to church and fasted all day.” – Diary Entry, June 1, 1774


15-“Unhappy it is… to reflect that a brother’s sword has been sheathed in a brother’s breast, and that the once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?” – Letter to George William Fairfax, about the Battle of Concord, May 31, 1775


16-“Mr. President, Though I am truly sensible of the high honor done me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust. However, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty and exert every power I possess in the service and for support of the glorious cause. I beg they will accept my most ordeal thanks for this distinguished testimony of their approbation. But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavourable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room, that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with. As to pay, Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress, that as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept this arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those I doubt not they will discharge, and that is all I desire.” – Letter to President of Congress, June 16, 1775


17-“Life is always uncertain, and common prudence dictates to every man the necessity of settling his temporal concerns, while it is in his power, and while the mind is calm and undisturbed.” – Letter to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775


18-“I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safely to you in the fall.” – Letter to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775


19-“It was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment, without exposing my character to such censures, as would have reflected dishonor upon myself, and given pain to my friends.” – Letter to Martha Washington, after accepting position as commander in chief of continental army, June 18, 1775


20-“I shall not be deprived… of a comfort in the worst event, if I retain a consciousness of having acted to the best of my judgment.” – Letter to Col. Burwell Bassett, June 19, 1775


21-“I am now embarked on a tempestuous ocean, from whence perhaps no friendly labor is to be found. I have been called upon by the unanimous voice of the Colonies to the command of the Continental Army. It is an honor I by no means aspired to. It is an honor I wished to avoid, as well as from an unwillingness to quit the peaceful enjoyment of my Family, as from a thorough conviction of my own Incapacity & want of experience in the conduct of so momentous a concern; but the partiallity of the Congress, added to some political motives, left me without a choice. May God grant, therefore, that my acceptance of it, may be attended with some good to the common cause, & without injury (from want of knowledge) to my own reputation. I can answer but for three things: a firm belief of the justice of our cause, close attention in the prosecution of it, and the strictest Integrity. If these cannot supply the place of ability & Experience, the cause will suffer, & more than probable my character along with it, as reputation derives its principal support from success.” – Letter to Col. Burwell Bassett, his brother-in-law, June 19, 1775


22-“I am embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in its prospect, and in which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found. I have been called upon by the unanimous voice of the Colonies to take the command of the continental army; an honor I have neither sought after, nor desired, as I am thoroughly convinced that it requires greater abilities and much more experience, than I am master of, to conduct a business so extensive in its nature and arduous in its execution. But the partiality of the Congress, joined to a political motive, really left me without a choice; and I am now commissioned a General and Commander-in-Chief of all the forces now raised, or to be raised, for the defense of the United Colonies. That I may discharge the trust to the satisfaction of my employers, is my first wish; that I shall aim to do it, there remains as little doubt of. How far I shall succeed, is another point; but this I am sure of, that, in the worst event, I shall have the consolation of knowing, if I act to the best of my judgment, that the blame ought to lodge upon the appointers, not the appointed, as it was by no means a thing of my seeking, or proceeding from any hint of my friends. I shall hope that my friends will visit and endeavor to keep up the spirits of my wife, as much as they can as my departure will, I know, be a cutting stroke upon her.” – Letter to Augustine Washington, June 20, 1775


23-“I go fully trusting in that Providence, which has been more bountiful to me than I deserve and in full confidence of a happy meeting with you sometime in the Fall.” – Letter to Martha Washington, June 22, 1775


24-“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country.” – Address to the New York Legislature, June 26, 1775


25-“The General most earnestly requires and expects a due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the Army which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkenness. And in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers not engaged in actual duty, a punctual attendance of Divine services, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.” – General Orders, July 4, 1775


26-“As the Cause of our common Country, calls us both to an active and dangerous Duty, I trust that Divine Providence, which wisely orders the Affairs of Men, will enable us to discharge it with Fidelity and Success.” – Letter to Jonathan Trumbull, July 18, 1775 “The General orders this day to be religiously observed by the forces under his Command, exactly in manner directed by the Continental Congress. It is therefore strictly enjoined on all officers and soldiers to attend Divine service. And it is expected that all those who go to worship do take their arms, ammunition and accoutrements, and are prepared for immediate action, if called upon.” – General Orders, July 20, 1775


27-“What may have been the ministerial views which have precipitated the present crisis, Lexington, Concord and Charlestown can best declare. May that God to whom you, too, appeal, judge between America and you. Under his providence, those who influence the councils of America, and all the other inhabitants of the united colonies, at the hazard of their lives are determined to hand down to posterity those just and invaluable privileges which they received from their ancestors.” – Letter to General Thomas Gage, August 20, 1775

28-“Any officer, non-commissioned officer, or soldier who shall hereafter be detected playing at toss-up, pitch, and hustle, or any other games of chance, in or near the camp or village bordering on the encampments, shall without delay be confined and punished for disobedience of orders. The General does not mean by the above to discourage sports of exercise or recreation, he only means to discountenance and punish gaming.” – General Orders, October 2, 1775


29-“My ardent desire is, and my aim has been… to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the U States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home.” – Letter to Patrick Henry, October 9, 1775


30-“Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.” – Letter to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775


31-“While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case they are answerable.” – Letter to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775


32-“It gives me real concern to observe… that you should think it Necessary to distinguish between my Personal and Public Character and confine your Esteem to the former.” – Letter to Jonathan Trumbull, September 21, 1775


33-“Require nothing unreasonable of your officers and men, but see that whatever is required be punctually complied with. Reward and punish every man according to his merit, without partiality or prejudice; hear his complaints; if well founded, redress them; if otherwise, discourage them, in order to prevent frivolous ones. Discourage vice in every shape, and impress upon the mind of every man, from the first to the lowest, the importance of the cause, and what it is they are contending for.” – Letter to Col. William Woodford, November 10, 1775


34-“I wish to walk in such a line as will give most general satisfaction.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, December 15, 1775


35-“I can bear to hear of imputed or real errors. The man who wishes to stand well in the opinion of others must do this; because he is thereby enabled to correct his faults, or remove prejudices which are imbibed against him.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, January 14, 1776


36-“I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if, instead of accepting of a command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks, or, if I could have justified the measure to posterity and my own conscience, had retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to these and many other difficulties, which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe, that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies.” – Letter to John Hancock, January 14, 1776


37-“If I shall be able to rise superior to these and many other difficulties, which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe, that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labour under.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, January 14, 1776 “Three things prompt men to a regular discharge of their duty in time of action: natural bravery, hope of reward, and fear of punishment.” – Letter to the President of Congress, February 9, 1776


38-“To expect… the same service from raw and undisciplined recruits, as from veteran soldiers, is to expect what never did and perhaps never will happen. Men, who are familiarized to danger, meet it without shrinking; whereas troops unused to service often apprehend danger where no danger is.” – Letter to the President of Congress, February 9, 1776


39-“All officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers are positively forbid playing at cards, and other games of chance. At this time of public distress, men may find enough to do in the service of their God, and their Country, without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” – General Orders, February 26, 1776


40-“I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you enclosed; and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric [lofty praise], the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your great poetical talents. In honor of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem had I not been apprehensive that, while I only meant to give the world this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me not to give it place in the public prints. If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near Head Quarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the muses and to whom nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations.” – Letter to Phyllis Wheatley (a black poet), February 28, 1776


41-“Thursday the seventh Instant, being set apart by the Honourable the Legislature of this province, as a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation, to implore the Lord, and Giver of all victory, to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness’s, and that it would please him to bless the Continental Arms, with his divine favour and protection’ – All Officers, and Soldiers, are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence, and attention on that day, to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts, for his mercies already received, and for those blessings, which our Holiness and Uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through his mercy to obtain.” – General Orders, March 6, 1776


42-“I believe I may with great truth affirm that no man perhaps since the first institution of armies ever commanded one under more difficult circumstances than I have done. To enumerate the particulars would fill a volume. Many of the difficulties and distresses were of so peculiar a cast that, in order to conceal them from the enemy, I was obliged to conceal them from my friends, and indeed from my own army, thereby subjecting my conduct to interpretations unfavorable to my character, especially by those at a distance who could not in the smallest degree be acquainted with the springs that governed it.” – Letter to John Augustine Washington, March 31, 1776


43-“No person wishes more to save money to the public, than I do; and no person has aimed more at it. But there are some cases in which parsimony may be ill-laced.” – Letter to the President of Congress, April 23, 1776


44-“Pay strict obedience to the Orders of the Continental Congress, and by their unfeigned, and pious observance of their religious duties, incline the Lord, and Giver of Victory, to prosper our arms.” – General Orders, May 15, 1776


45-“To form a new Government, requires infinite care, and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid the superstructure must be bad, too. Much time therefore, cannot be bestowed in weighing and digesting matters well. We have, no doubt, some good parts in our present constitution; many bad ones we know we have, wherefore no time can be misspent that is imployed in seperating the Wheat from the Tares. My fear is, that you will all get tired and homesick, the consequence of which will be, that you will patch up some kind of Constitution as defective as the present; this should be avoided, every Man should consider, that he is lending his aid to frame a Constitution which is to render Million’s happy, or Miserable, and that a matter of such moment cannot be the Work of a day.” – Letter to John Augustine Washington, referring to the making of a new Constitution, May 31, 1776


46-“It is to be hoped, that if our cause is just, as I do most religiously believe it to be, the same Providence which in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid.” – Letter to John Washington, May 31, 1776


47-“Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions – The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” – General Orders, July 2, 1776


48-“Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” – General Orders, July 2, 1776


49-“We have therefore to resolve to conquer or to die. Our own, our country’s honor, calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shameful fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us then rely on the goodness of our cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a freeman contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” – General Orders, July 2, 1776


50-“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.” – General Orders, July 9, 1776


51-“The Hon. Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, with the pay of Thirty-three Dollars and one third pr month–The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives–To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger–The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.” – General Orders, July 9, 1776


52-“Enjoin this upon the Officers, and let them inculcate, and press home to the Soldiery, the Necessity of Order and Harmony among them, who are embark’d in one common Cause, and mutually contending for all that Freeman [sic] hold dear. I am persuaded, if the Officers will but exert themselves, these Animosities, this Disorder, will in a great Measure subside, and nothing being more essential to the Service than that it should, I am hopeful nothing on their Parts will be wanting to effect it.” – Letter to Major General Philip Schuyler, July 17, 1776


53-“The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty – that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.” – General Orders, August 23, 1776


54-“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.” – Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776


55-“I am persuaded, and as fully convinced as I am of any one fact that has happened, that our liberties must of necessity be greatly hazarded, if not entirely lost, if their defence is left to any but a permanent standing army; I mean, one to exist during the war. Nor would the expense, incident to the support of such a body of troops, as would be competent to almost every exigency, far exceed that, which is daily incurred by calling in succor, and new enlistments, which, when effected, are not attended with any good consequences. Men, who have been free and subject to no control, cannot be reduced to order in an instant; and the privileges and exemptions they claim and will have influence the conduct of others; and the aid derived from them is nearly counterbalanced by the disorder, irregularity, and confusion they occasion.” – Letter to the President of Congress, September 2, 1776


56-“There is nothing that gives a man consequence, and renders him fit for command, like a support that renders him independent of everybody but the State he serves.” – Letter to the President of Congress, from Heights of Harlem, September 24, 1776


57-“To place any dependence upon militia is assuredly resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life, unaccustomed to the din of arms, totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill… makes them timid and ready to fly from their own shadows.” – Letter to the President of Congress, from Heights of Harlem, September 24, 1776


58-“An army formed of good officers moves like clockwork; but there is no situation upon earth less enviable, nor more distressing, than that person’s who is at the head of troops which are regardless of order and discipline.” – Letter to the President of Congress, from Heights of Harlem, September 24, 1776


59-“When Men are irritated, and the Passions inflamed, they fly hastely and cheerfully to Arms; but after the first emotions are over, to expect, among such People, as compose the bulk of an Army, that they are influenced by any other principles than those of Interest, is to look for what never did, and I fear never will happen; the Congress will deceive themselves therefore if they expect it. A Soldier reasoned with upon the goodness of the cause he is engaged in, and the inestimable rights he is contending for, hears you with patience, and acknowledges the truth of your observations, but adds, that it is of no more Importance to him than others. The Officer makes you the same reply, with this further remark, that his pay will not support him, and he cannot ruin himself and Family to serve his Country, when every Member of the community is equally Interested and benefitted by his Labours. The few therefore, who act upon Principles of disinterestedness, are, comparatively speaking, no more than a drop in the Ocean. It becomes evidently clear then, that as this Contest is not likely to be the Work of a day; as the War must be carried on systematically, and to do it, you must have good Officers, there are, in my Judgment, no other possible means to obtain them but by establishing your Army upon a permanent footing; and giving your Officers good pay; this will induce Gentlemen, and Men of Character to engage; and till the bulk of your Officers are composed of such persons as are actuated by Principles of honour, and a spirit of enterprize, you have little to expect from them. — They ought to have such allowances as will enable them to live like, and support the Characters of Gentlemen; and not be driven by a scanty pittance to the low, and dirty arts which many of them practice, to filch the Public of more than the difference of pay would amount to upon an ample allowe. Besides, something is due to the Man who puts his life in his hands, hazards his health, and forsakes the Sweets of domestic enjoyments. – Letter to the Continental Congress, September 24, 1776


60-“In short, your imagination can scarce extend to a situation more distressing than mine. Our only dependence now is upon the speedy enlistment of a new army. If this fails, I think the game will be pretty well up, as, from disaffection and want of spirit and fortitude, the inhabitants, instead of resistance, are offering submission.” – Letter to Lund Washington, December 10, 1776 “I have no lust after power but wish with as much fervency as any Man upon this wide extended Continent, for an opportunity of turning the Sword into a plow share.” – Letter to Congress, December 20, 1776


61-“Desperate diseases require desperate remedies.” – Letter to the President of Congress, December 20, 1776


62-“Your friendly, and affectionate wishes for my health and success, has a claim to my thankful acknowledgements; and, that the God of Armies may enable me to bring the present contest to a speedy and happy conclusion, thereby gratifying me in a retirement to the calm and sweet enjoyment of domestick happiness, is the fervent prayer, and most ardent wish of my Soul.” – Letter to Edmund Pendleton, April 12, 1777


63-“That the God of Armies may Incline the Hearts of my American Brethren to support, and bestow sufficient abilities on me to bring the present contest to a speedy and happy conclusion, thereby enabling me to sink into sweet retirement, and the full enjoyment of that Peace and happiness which will accompany a domestick Life is the first wish, and most fervent prayer of my soul.” – Letter to Landon Carter, April 15, 1777


64-“Diffidence in an officer is a good mark because he will always endeavor to bring himself up to what he conceives to be the full line of his duty.” – Letter to Brigadier General Glover, April 26, 1777


65-“As few vices are attended with more pernicious consequences, in civil life; so there are none more fatal in a military one, than that of GAMING; which often brings disgrace and ruin upon officers, and injury and punishment upon the soldiery: And reports prevailing, which, it is to be feared are too well founded, that this destructive vice has spread its baneful influence in the army, and, in a peculiar manner, to the prejudice of the recruiting Service,-The Commander in Chief, in the most pointed and explicit terms, forbids ALL officers and soldiers, playing at cards, dice or at any games, except those of EXERCISE, for diversion; it being impossible, if the practice be allowed, at all, to discriminate between innocent play, for amusement, and criminal gaming, for pecuniary and sordid purposes…The commanding officer of every corps is strictly enjoined to have this order frequently read, and strongly impressed upon the minds those under his command. Any officer, or soldier, or other person belonging to, or following, the army… presuming, under any pretence, to disobey this order, shall be tried by a General Court Martial.” – General Orders, May 8, 1777


66-“Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.” – General Orders, July 6, 1777


67-“We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.” – Letter to Philip Schuyler, July 15, 1777


68-“Soap is another article in great demand–the Continental allowance is too small, and dear, as every necessary of life is now got, a soldier’s pay will not enable him to purchase, by which means his consequent dirtiness adds not a little to the disease of the Army.” – Letter to the Committee of Congress, July 19, 1777


69-“Your favor of the 16th I received Yesterday morning, and was much obliged by the interesting contents. The defeat of Genl. Burgoyne is a most important event, and such as must afford the highest satisfaction to every well affected American breast. Should providence be pleased to crown our Arms in the course of the Campaign, with one more fortunate stroke, I think we shall have no great cause for anxiety respecting the future designs of Britain. I trust all will be well in his good time.” – Letter to Major General Israel Putnam, October 19, 1777


70-“Military arrangement, and movements in consequence, like the mechanism of a clock, will be imperfect and disordered by the want of a part.” – Letter to the President of Congress, December 23, 1777


71-“With my inauguration, I resolved firmly, that no man should ever charge me justly with deception.” – Letter to James McHenry, January 4, 1778


72-“The determinations of Providence are always wise, often inscrutable; and, though its decrees appear to bear hard upon us at times, is nevertheless meant for gracious purposes.” – Letter to Bryan Fairfax, March 1, 1778


73-“America… has ever had, and I trust she ever will have, my honest exertions to promote her interest. I cannot hope that my services have been the best; but my heart tells me they have been the best that I could render.” – Letter to Patrick Henry, March 27, 1778


74-“The wishes of the people, seldom founded in deep disquisitions, or resulting from other reasonings than their present feelings, may not entirely accord with our true policy and interest. If they do not, to observe a proper line of conduct for promoting the one, and avoiding offence to the other, will be a work of great difficulty.” – Letter to John Banister, April 21, 1778


75-“Nothing short of independence, it appears to me, can possibly do. A peace on other terms would, if I may be allowed the expression, be a peace of war. The injuries we have received from the British nation were so unprovoked, and have been so great and so many, that they can never be forgotten. Besides the feuds, the jealousies, the animosities, that would ever attain a union with them; besides the importance, the advantages, we should derive from an unrestricted commerce; our fidelity as a people, our gratitude, our character as men, are opposed to a coalition with them as subjects, but in case of the last extremity. Were we easily to accede to terms of dependence, no nation, upon future occasions, let the oppressions of Britain be never so flagrant and unjust, would interpose for our relief; or, at most, they would do it with a cautious reluctance, and upon conditions most probably that would be hard, if not dishonorable to us. France, by her supplies, has saved us from the yoke thus far; and a wise and virtuous perseverance would, and I trust will, free us entirely.” – Letter to John Banister, April 21, 1778


76-“The most certain way to make a man your enemy is to tell him you esteem him such.” – Letter to John Banister, April 21, 1778


77-“Without arrogance or the smallest deviation from truth it may be said that no history now extant can furnish an instance of an army’s suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude. To see men, without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions as with them, marching through the frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter-quarters within a day’s march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them, till they could be built, and submitting to it without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience, which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled.” – Letter to John Banister, April 21, 1778


78-“I do not mean to exclude altogether the ideas of patriotism. I know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest. But I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest or some reward. For a time, it may, or itself push men to action: to bear much, to encounter difficulties; but it will not endure unassisted by interest.” – Letter to John Banister, April 21, 1778

79-“That no history now extant can furnish an instance of an army’s suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude. To see men, without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions as with them, marching through the frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter-quarters within a day’s march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them, till they could be built, and submitting to it without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience, which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled.” – Letter to John Banister, April 21, 1778


80-“Should we retire to the interior parts of the State, we should find them crowded with virtuous citizens, who, sacrificing their all, have left Philadelphia, and fled thither for protection. To their distresses humanity forbids us to add. This is not all, we should leave a vast extent of fertile country to be despoiled and ravaged by the enemy, from which they would draw vast supplies, and where many of our firm friends would be exposed to all the miseries of the most insulting and wanton depredation. A train of evils might be enumerated, but these will suffice. These considerations make it indispensably necessary for the army to take such a position, as will enable it most effectually to prevent distress and to give the most extensive security; and in that position we must make ourselves the best shelter in our power.” – Letter to John Banister, referring to Valley Forge, April 21, 1778


81-“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian. The signal instances of Providential goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labors with complete success demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of gratitude and piety to the Supreme Author of all good.” – General Orders, May 2, 1778


82-“It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty and independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness, and celebrating the important event, which we owe to His divine interposition.” – General Orders, May 5, 1778


83-“I rejoice most sincerely with you, on the glorious change in our prospects, calmness and serenity, seems likely to succeed in some measure, those dark and tempestuous clouds which at times appeared ready to overwhelm us, The game, whether well or ill played hitherto, seems now to be verging fast to a favourable issue, and cannot I think be lost, unless we throw it away by too much supineness on the one hand, or impetuosity on the other, God for bid that either of these should happen at a time when we seem to be upon the point of reaping the fruits of our toil and labour, A stroke, and reverse, under such circumstances, would be doubly distressing.” – Letter to Robert Morris, after the ordeal at Valley Forge was over, May 25, 1778


84-“My friends therefore may believe me sincere in my professions of attachment to them, whilst Providence has a joint claim to my humble and grateful thanks, for its protection and direction of me, through the many difficult and intricate scenes, which this contest hath produced; and for the constant interposition in our behalf, when the clouds were heaviest and seemed ready to burst upon us. To paint the distresses and perilous situation of this army in the course of last winter, for want of cloaths, provisions, and almost every other necessary, essential to the well-being, I may say existence, of an army, would require more time and an abler pen than mine; nor, since our prospects have so miraculously brightened, shall I attempt it, or even bear it in remembrance, further than as a memento of what is due to the great Author of all the care and good, that have been extended in relieving us in difficulties and distress.” – Letter to Landon Carter, May 30, 1778


85-“The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations; but it will be time enough for me to turn Preacher when my present appointment ceases; and therefore, I shall add no more on the Doctrine of Providence.” – Letter to Brigadier General Thomas Nelson, August 20, 1778


86-“It is a maxim, founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it.” – Letter to Henry Laurens, November 14, 1778


87-“To me, it appears no unjust simile to compare the affairs of this great Continent to the mechanism of a clock, each state representing some one or other of the smaller parts of it which they are endeavoring to put in fine order without considering how useless & unavailing their labor is unless the great Wheel or Spring which is to set the whole in motion is also well attended to & kept in good order.” – Letter to George Mason, March 27, 1779


88-“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” – Letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779


89-“It is most devoutly to be wished that the several States would adopt some vigorous measures for the purpose of giving credit to the paper currency and punishment of speculators, forestallers and others who are preying upon the vitals of this great Country and putting every thing to the utmost hazard. Alas! what is virtue come to; what a miserable change has four years produced in the temper and dispositions of the Sons of America! It really shocks me to think of it!” – Letter to Burwell Bassett, April 22, 1779


90-“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” – Speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779

91-“I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with us. I am sure Congress will open the Arms of love to them, and will look upon them, and will look upon them as their own Children, and will have them educated accordingly. This is a great mark of your confidence and of your desire to preserve friendship between the Two Nations to the end of time, and to become One People with your Brethren of the United States. My ears hear with pleasure the other matters you mention. Congress will be glad to hear them too. You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it.” – To the Chiefs of the Delaware Indian tribe, who had brought three youths to be trained in American schools, May 12, 1779


92-“To please every body is impossible; were I to undertake it I should probably please no body. If I know myself I have no partialities. I have from the beginning, and I will to the end pursue to the best of my judgment and abilities one steady line of conduct for the good of the great whole. This will, under all circumstances administer consolation to myself however short I may fall of the expectations of others.” – Letter to John Armstrong, May 18, 1779


93-“To stand well in the estimation of one’s country is a happiness that no rational creature can be insensible of.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, July 29, 1779


94-“Many and pointed orders have been issued against that unmeaning and abominable custom of Swearing, not withstanding which, with much regret the General observes that it prevails, if possible, more than ever; His feelings are continually wounded by the Oaths and Imprecations of the soldiers whenever he is in hearing of them. The Name of That Being, from whose bountiful goodness we are permitted to exist and enjoy the comforts of life is incessantly imprecated and prophaned in a manner as wanton as it is shocking. For the sake therefore of religion, decency and order, the General hopes and trusts that officers of every rank will use their influence and authority to check a vice, which is as unprofitable as it is wicked and shameful. If officers would make it an invariable rule to reprimand, and if that does not do punish soldiers for offences of this kind it could not fail of having the desired effect.” – General Orders, July 29, 1779


95-“I hate deception, even where the imagination only is concerned.” – Letter to Dr. John Cochran, August 16, 1779


96-“The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice.” – Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779


97-“No distance can keep anxious lovers long asunder.” – Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779


98-“Amidst all the wonders recorded in holy writ no instance can be produced where a young woman from real inclination has preferred an old man.” – Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779


99-“To me, it appears no unjust simile to compare the affairs of this great Continent to the mechanism of a clock, each state representing some one or other of the smaller parts of it which they are endeavoring to put in fine order without considering how useless & unavailing their labor is unless the great Wheel or Spring which is to set the whole in motion is also well attended to & kept in good order.” – Letter to George Mason, March 27, 1779


100-“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” – Letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779


101-“It is most devoutly to be wished that the several States would adopt some vigorous measures for the purpose of giving credit to the paper currency and punishment of speculators, forestallers and others who are preying upon the vitals of this great Country and putting every thing to the utmost hazard. Alas! what is virtue come to; what a miserable change has four years produced in the temper and dispositions of the Sons of America! It really shocks me to think of it!” – Letter to Burwell Bassett, April 22, 1779


102-“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” – Speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779


103-“I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with us. I am sure Congress will open the Arms of love to them, and will look upon them, and will look upon them as their own Children, and will have them educated accordingly. This is a great mark of your confidence and of your desire to preserve friendship between the Two Nations to the end of time, and to become One People with your Brethren of the United States. My ears hear with pleasure the other matters you mention. Congress will be glad to hear them too. You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it.” – To the Chiefs of the Delaware Indian tribe, who had brought three youths to be trained in American schools, May 12, 1779


104-“To please every body is impossible; were I to undertake it I should probably please no body. If I know myself I have no partialities. I have from the beginning, and I will to the end pursue to the best of my judgment and abilities one steady line of conduct for the good of the great whole. This will, under all circumstances administer consolation to myself however short I may fall of the expectations of others.” – Letter to John Armstrong, May 18, 1779


105-“To stand well in the estimation of one’s country is a happiness that no rational creature can be insensible of.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, July 29, 1779


106-“Many and pointed orders have been issued against that unmeaning and abominable custom of Swearing, not withstanding which, with much regret the General observes that it prevails, if possible, more than ever; His feelings are continually wounded by the Oaths and Imprecations of the soldiers whenever he is in hearing of them. The Name of That Being, from whose bountiful goodness we are permitted to exist and enjoy the comforts of life is incessantly imprecated and prophaned in a manner as wanton as it is shocking. For the sake therefore of religion, decency and order, the General hopes and trusts that officers of every rank will use their influence and authority to check a vice, which is as unprofitable as it is wicked and shameful. If officers would make it an invariable rule to reprimand, and if that does not do punish soldiers for offences of this kind it could not fail of having the desired effect.” – General Orders, July 29, 1779


107-“I hate deception, even where the imagination only is concerned.” – Letter to Dr. John Cochran, August 16, 1779


108-“The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice.” – Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779


109-“No distance can keep anxious lovers long asunder.” – Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779


110-“Amidst all the wonders recorded in holy writ no instance can be produced where a young woman from real inclination has preferred an old man.” – Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779


111-“And above all… He hath diffused the glorious light of the gospel, whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer; we may become the heirs of His eternal glory.” – General Orders, quoting a congressional proclamation, November 27, 1779


112-“A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of his friends, and that the most liberal professions of good will are very far from being the surest marks of it.” – Letter to Major General John Sullivan, December 15, 1779


113-“Facts may speak for themselves.” – Letter to Major General Nathaniel Greene, January 22, 1780


114-“There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.” – Letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 29, 1780


115-“Orders, unless they are followed by close attention to the performance of them, are of little avail.” – Letter to Lord Stirling, March 5, 1780


116-“Example, whether it be good or bad, has a powerful influence, and the higher in Rank the officer is, who sets it, the more striking it is.” – Letter to Lord Stirling, March 5, 1780


117-“The best way to preserve the confidence of the people durably is to promote their true interests.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, July 4, 1780 “When any great object is in view, the popular mind is roused into expectation, and prepared to make sacrifices both of ease and property. If those, to whom they confide the management of their affairs, do not call them to make these sacrifices, and the object is not attained, or they are involved in the reproach of not having contributed as much as they ought to have done towards it, they will be mortified at the disappointment, they will feel the censure, and their resentment will rise against those, who, with sufficient authority, have omitted to do what their interest and their honor required.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, July 4, 1780


118-“Extensive powers not exercised as far as was necessary have, I believe, scarcely ever failed to ruin the possessor.” – Letter to Joseph Reed, July 4, 1780


119-“Unless the States will content themselves with a full and well-chosen representation in Congress and vest that body with absolute powers in all matters relative to the great purposes of war, and of general concern … we are attempting an impossibility, and very soon shall become (if it is not already the case) a many-headed monster–a heterogenious mass–that never will or can steer to the same point.” – Letter to Fielding Lewis, July 6, 1780


120-“To rectify past blunders is impossible, but we might profit by the experience of them.” – Letter to Fielding Lewis, July 6, 1780


121-“We shall never have Peace till the enemy are convinced that we are in a condition to carry on the War. It is no new maxim in politics that for a nation to obtain Peace, or insure it, It must be prepared for War.” – Letter to Fielding Lewis, July 6, 1780


“In no instance since the commencement of the war, has the interposition of Providence appeared more remarkably conspicuous than in the rescue of the post and garrison of West point from Arnold’s villainous perfidy.” – Letter to John Laurens, October 13, 1780


“We have, as you very justly observe, abundant reason to thank Providence for its many favorable interpositions in our behalf. It has at times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us.” – Letter to William Gordon, March, 1781


“We ought not to look back, unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear bought experience. To enveigh against things that are past and irremediable, is unpleasing; but to steer clear of the shelves and rocks we have struck upon, is the part of wisdom, equally as incumbent on political as other men, who have their own little bark, or that of others, to navigate through the intricate paths of life, or the trackless ocean, to the haven of security and rest.” – Letter to Major General Armstrong, March 26, 1781


“I bore much for the sake of peace and the public good. My conscience tells me I acted rightly in these transactions, and should they ever come to the knowledge of the world I trust I shall stand acquitted by it.” – Letter to General Nathaniel Greene, October, 1781


“The commander-in-chief earnestly recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interposition of Providence demands of us.” – General Orders, after British surrender at Yorktown, October 19, 1781 “Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive. And with it, everything honorable and glorious.” – Letter to Gilbert du Motier, November 15, 1781


“I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven, in the various instances of our extensive Preparation for this Operation (Yorktown), has been most conspicuous and remarkable.” – Letter to Thomas McKean, November 15, 1781


“I can truly say, that the first wish of my Soul is to return speedily into the bosom of that country, which gave me birth, and, in the sweet enjoyment of domestic happiness and the company of a few friends, to end my days in quiet, when I shall be called from this stage.” – Letter to Archibald Cary, June 15, 1782


“Conscience … seldom comes to a man’s aid while he is in the zenith of health and revelling in pomp and luxury upon illgotten spoils. It is generally the last act of his life, and it comes too late to be of much service to others here, or to himself hereafter.” – Letter to John P. Posey, August 7, 1782


“Painful as the task is to describe the dark side of our affairs, it sometimes becomes a matter of indispensable necessity.” – Letter to the Secretary of War, October 2, 1782


“I have accustomed myself to judge of human actions very differently, and to appreciate them, by the manner in which they are conducted, more than by the Events ; which, it is not in the power of human foresight or prudence to command.” – Letter to Benjamin Tallmadge, December 10, 1782


It is yet to be decided whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.” – Circular to the States, 1783


“And you will, by the dignity of your Conduct, afford occasion for Posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to Mankind, had this day been wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.” – The Newburgh Address, January 2, 1783


“The last thing I shall mention, is first of importance and that is, to avoid gaming. This is a vice which is productive of every possible evil, equally injurious to the morals and health of its votaries. It is the child of avarice, the brother of inequity, and father of mischief. It has been the ruin of many worthy families; the loss of many a man’s honor; and the cause of suicide. To all those who enter the list, it is equally fascinating; the successful gamester pushes his good fortune till it is overtaken by a reverse; the losing gamester, in hopes of retrieving past misfortunes, goes on from bad to worse; till grown desperate, he pushes at everything; and loses his all. In a word, few gain by this abominable practice (the profit, if any, being diffused) while thousands are injured.” – Letter to Lawrence Lewis, January 15, 1783


“It is not the mere study of the Law, but to become eminent in the profession of it, which is to yield honor and profit.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“It is easy to make acquaintances, but very difficult to shake them off, however irksome and unprofitable they are found, after we have once committed ourselves to them.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distresses of every one, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse; remembering always the estimation of the widow’s mite, but, that it is not every one who asketh that deserveth charity; all, however, are worthy of the inquiry, or the deserving may suffer.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“Do not conceive that fine clothes make fine men any more than fine feathers make fine birds.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“Avoid gaming. This is a vice which is productive of every possible evil; equally injurious to the morals and health of its votaries. It is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and father of mischief. It has been the ruin of many worthy families, the loss of many a man’s honor, and the cause of Suicide. To all those who enter the lists, it is equally fascinating. The successful gamester pushes his good fortune, till it is overtaken by a reverse. The losing gamester, in hopes of retrieving past misfortunes, goes on from bad to worse, till grown desperate he pushes at everything and loses his all. In a word, few gain by this abominable practice, (the profit if any being diffused) while thousands are injured.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“Merit rarely goes unrewarded.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.” – Letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783


“Imaginary wants are indefinite; and oftentimes insatiable; because they sometimes are boundless, and always changing.” – Letter to John Augustine Washington, January 16, 1783


“The true distinction… between what is called a fine Regiment, and an indifferent one will ever, upon investigation, be found to originate in, and depend upon the care, or the inattention, of the Officers belonging to them.” – Letter to Major Thomas Lansdale, January 25, 1783


“If Historiographers should be hardy enough to fill the page of History with the advantages that have been gained with unequal numbers, on the part of America, in the course of this contest, and attempt to relate the distressing circumstances under which they have been obtained it is more than probable that Posterity will bestow on their labors the epithet and marks of fiction; for it will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this Country could be baffled in their plan of Subjugating it by numbers infinitely less, composed of Men oftentimes half starved; always in Rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing.” – Letter to Major General Nathaniel Greene, February 6, 1783


“Can you then consent to be the only sufferers by this revolution, and retiring from the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness and contempt? Can you consent to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honor? If you can — GO — and carry with you the jest of tories and scorn of whigs — the ridicule, and what is worse, the pity of the world. Go, starve, and be forgotten!” – Letter to Officers of the Army, March 12, 1783


“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.” – While fumbling for his glasses before delivering the Newburgh Address, March 15, 1783


“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind,reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – Address to Officers of the Army, March 15, 1783


“You will, by the dignity of your Conduct, afford occasion for Posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to Mankind, had this day been wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.” – Response to the First Newburgh Address, March 15, 1783


“For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.” – Address to the Officers of the Army, March 15, 1783


“Nothing is too extravagant to expect from men who conceive they are ungratefully and unjustly dealt by.” – Letter to Joseph Jones, March 18, 1783


“The Commander in chief thinks it a duty to declare the regularity and decorum with which divine service is now performed every Sunday, will reflect great credit on the army in general, tend to improve the morals, and at the same time, to increase the happiness of the soldiery, and must afford the most pure and rational entertainment for every serious and well disposed mind.” – General Orders, March 22, 1783


“The Army (considering the irritable state it is in, its suffering and composition) is a dangerous instrument to play with.” – Letter to Alexander Hamilton, April 4, 1783


“Happy, thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed any thing, who have performed the meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabrick of Freedom and Empire on the broad basis of Independency; who have assisted in protecting the rights of humane nature and establishing an Asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions.” – General Orders, April 18, 1783


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