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Dear Madam,                                                           Mount Vernon January 17th 1788

I have received the little book, called the Children’s Friends, which you had the goodness to send me. I wish it was in my power to make you some return for so valuable a present, but I have nothing worth your acceptance but my best thanks & assurances that I will endeavor to imitate the good characters which I find described in the book - If I do this I know it will be more pleasing to you than any other return I could possibly make.

My sisters & Miss Harriot desire me to send their respects to you.


I am, Dear Madam,

Very respectfully

Y. most Obed.t &

Hmble Serv.t


G. W. P. Custis

When reading the letter, consider the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between Elizabeth Powel and George Washington Parke Custis (Washy)?
  • Why is Washy writing this letter?
  • What might Washy be learning when writing this letter?
  • How does the address on the envelope of this letter compare to addresses on envelopes today? What elements are missing?

Classroom Materials downloads are ZIP files that include, when available: document images (JPEGs), document transcripts (PDF as well as Word and/or Excel files), and ready to use classroom resources (activities, discussion prompts, lesson plans, etc.). These materials are available for educational uses only. If you would like to reproduce them in any other medium, please contact Dawn Bonner, Manager of Visual Resources.



George Washington's grandson - George Washington Parke Custis (Washy) - wrote this letter to Elizabeth Powel, thanking him for a book she had recently sent him. Washy was around six years old at this time. This letter would have been an excellent opportunity for him to practice writing, as well as learning how to write correspondence.