Writing from Philadelphia on June 19, 1775, George Washington announces to his wife Martha's brother-in-law Burwell Bassett that he has just been unanimously elected by the colonies as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Washington eloquently expresses, "I am now Imbarkd on a tempestuous Ocean from whence, perhaps, no friendly harbor is to be found." He has humbly accepted this responsibility and states, "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 Integrety." Washington concludes by expressing his concern about his wife's loneliness during his absence.

This letter is published in Philander D. Chase, ed., THE PAPERS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON: REVOLUTIONARY WAR SERIES, vol. 1 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985), 12-14.


ALS (Autograph Letter Signed) One sheet is folded in half to create four pages. The first three pages contain the letter's text. Large watermark, center of sheet. Similar to Gravell, FOREIGN WATERMARKS 476.

Autograph Letter Cover. This is a fragment of the letter cover containing text. Small watermark, below center, perpendicular to document's text. Similar to Gravell, FOREIGN WATERMARKS 413.


June 19, 1775




Ink, laid paper


Other (W-714/A closed): 9 in. x 7 3/8 in. (22.86 cm x 18.73 cm)
Overall (W-714/A open): 9 in. x 14 5/8 in. (22.86 cm x 37.15 cm)
Overall (W-714/B): 3 3/8 in. x 6 in. (8.57 cm x 15.24 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Neville Mitchell Smith, 1935
Conservation courtesy of the Roller-Bottimore Foundation


W-714/A: None

W-714/B: Recto, top of fragment, in brown ink: J [followed by large loss]
Recto, center of fragment, in brown ink: Burwell Bassett Esq / at Eltham in New Kent / Virginia
Recto, lower left, in brown ink, circular stamp containing indecipherable marks


W-714/A: Third page (right side when open), center, in brown ink: Dr Sir / Yr Most Obedt / & Affecte Hble Servt / Go Washington

W-714/B: Recto, bottom left corner, in brown ink: G Washington

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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