Special thanks to the following donors, who aided in the acquisition of this letter:
The Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon
Ambassador and Mrs. Nicholas F. Taubman
Mr. and Mrs. James C. Meade
The interior of the Mansion is closed for restoration but we're still open and there's a lot to see and do!
Not until November 25, 1783 did British troops leave New York City. Washington spent much of the intervening time between the news of the peace treaty and the official evacuation exploring northern New York, an area he had not visited much before in his life.
Princeton Oct 12th 1783
My Dear Chevr
I have not had the honor of a line from you since the 4th of March last. - but I will ascribe my disappointment to any cause soever than to a decay of your friendship.
Having the appearances, & indeed the enjoyment of Peace, without a final declaration of it; I, who am only waiting for the ceremonials: or ’till the British Forces shall have taken their leave of New York, am placed in an awkward & disagreeable situation; being anxiously desirous to quit the walks of public life, and under my own vine, & my own Fig-Tree, to seek those enjoyments, and that relaxation, which a mind that has been constantly upon the stretch for more than eight years, stands so much in want of.
I have fixed this epoch to the arrival of the Definitive Treaty—or to the evacuation of my Country by our newly acquired friends. -- In the mean while at the request of Congress, I spend my time with them at this place, where they came in consequence of the Riots at Philadelphia, of , doubtless, you have been fully informed, for it is not a very recent transaction.
They have lately determined to fix the permanent residence of Congress near the Falls of Delaware; but where they will hold their Sessions ’till they can be properly established at that place, is yet undecided.
I have lately made a tour through the Lakes George & Champlain as far as Crown Point—then returning to Schenectady, I proceeded up the Mohawk river to Fort Schuyler (formerly Fort Stanwix), crossed over to the Wood Creek which empties into the Oneida Lake, and affords the water communication with Ontario. I then traversed the Country to the head of the Eastern branch of the Susquehanna & viewed the Lake Otsego, & the Portage between that lake & the Mohawk river at Canajohario
Prompted by these actual observations, I could not help taking a more contemplative & extensive view of the vast inland navigation of these United States, fromMaps & the information of others; and could not but be struck with the immense diffusion and importance of it; and with the goodness of that Providence which has dealt her favors to us with so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to make a good use of them. I shall not rest contented ’till I have explored the Western part of This Country, & traversed those lines (or great part of them) which have given bounds to a New Empire. But when it may, if it ever should happen, I dare not say; as my first attention must be given to the deranged situation of my private concerns which are not a little injured by almost nine years absence and total disregard of them.
With every wish for your health & happiness—and with the most sincere & affectionate regard,
I am, My Dr Chevr
Your most Obt Servt