"...it is better to offer no excuse than a bad one."

From George Washington to Harriot Washington | Sunday, October 30, 1791


Editorial Notes

Harriot—or Harriett—Washington (1776-1822) and her two brothers George Steptoe and Lawrence Augustine were among a number of orphaned young relatives who were taken in and raised by George and Martha Washington over the years. The children’s father was George Washington’s younger brother, Samuel (1734-1781), who died during the American Revolution. This quotation was written in response to a very short letter from Harriot at Mount Vernon, dated October 24, 1791. She closed with the words, “I am sorry it is not in my power to write a longer letter as the Major [George Augustine Washington (1759-1793), another nephew] is waiting for it.”  In his response, George Washington chided that she could have written her letter to him in a more timely fashion rather than putting it off, leading to the bit of avuncular wisdom quoted above.

From George Washington to Harriot Washington, 30 October 1791


Login
Buy Tickets Activities Calendar Shop Restaurant Give Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save