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title:“George Washington to George Mason”
authors:George Mason, George Washington
date written:1780-10-22

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:46 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 1, 2023, 10:02 p.m. UTC

Washington, George and George Mason. "Letter to George Mason." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 677-78. Print.
File Copy, Letterbooks, Washington Papers, Library of Congress

George Washington to George Mason (October 22, 1780)

Fairfax County Gunston-Hall, Octor. 13th. 1780.
If there shou'd be a Call of the House, I beg the Favour of you to inform them of the Reason of my Absence; & to assure them of my Attendance, as soon as I am able.
I had some time ago a bilious Fever, & after it repeated Fits of the Convulsive Cholic; which have now left me; but I have still Fevers of Nights, with frequent Threat'nings from a wandering Gout; which makes it very unsafe for me to undertake a Journey, until I recover a little Strength.
I am, with the greatest Respect, Dr. Sir., Yr. most obdt. Hble Sert.
From George Washington DEAR SIR, Head Qrs. Passaic Falls, Oct. 22, 1780.
In consequence of a resolve of Congress directing an enquiry into the conduct of Genl. Gates, and authorising me to appoint some other Officer in his place during this enquiry, I have made choice of Majr. Geni. Greene who will, I expect, have the honor of presenting you with this Letter.
I can venture to introduce this Gentn. to you as a man of abilities bravery and coolness. He has a comprehensive knowledge of our affairs, and is a man of fortitude and resources. I have not the smallest doubt therefore, of his employing all the means which may be put into his hands to the best advantage, nor of his assisting in pointing out the most likely ones to answer the purposes of his command. With this character, I take the liberty of recommending him to your civilities and support for I have no doubt, from the embarrassed situation of Southern affairs—of his standing much in need of the latter from every Gentn. of Influence in the Assemblies of those States.
As General Greene can give you the most perfect information, in detail of our present distresses, and future prospects, I shall content myself with giving the agregate acct. of them—and with respect to the first, they are so great and complicated, that it is scarcely within the powers of description to give an adequate idea of them—with regard to the second, unless there is a material change both in our Military, &civil policy, it will be in vain to contend much longer.
We are without money, & have been so for a great length of time, without provision & forage except what is taken by Impress—without Cloathing—and shortly shall be (in a manner) without Men. In a word, we have lived upon expedients till we can live no longer, & it may truly be said that, the history of this War is a history of false hopes, & temporary devices, instead of System—& œconomy which results from it.
If we mean to continue our struggles (& it is to be hoped we shall not relinquish our c [ause) I we must do it upon an entire new plan. We must have a permanent force, not a force that is constantly fluctuating and sliding from under us as a pedestal of Ice would do from a Statue in a summers day—Involving us in expence that baffles all calculation—an expence which no funds are equal to. We must at the same time contrive ways & means to aid our Taxes by Loans, & put our finance upon a more certain & stable footing than they are at prest. Our Civil government must likewise undergo a reform— ample powers must be lodged in Congress as the head of the Federal Union, adequate to all the purposes of War. Unless these things are done, our efforts will be in vain, & only serve to accumulate expence, add to our perplexities, & dissatisfy the people without a prospect of obtaining the prize in view,1 but these Sentimts. do not appear well in a hasty letter, without digestion or order. I have not time to give them otherwise; & shall only assure you that they are well meant however crude they may appear—With sincere Affectn. & esteem. I am Dr Sir, Yr. most obedt. Servt.
G: W[ashingto]n

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