George Washington, The Romantic
Martha Washington destroyed all of her correspondence with her husband when he died in 1799. Only three letters survived, two of which were found beneath a desk drawer after her death. One of these brief letters, penned by George during the Revolutionary War, is a sweet reminder of the love that Martha and he shared. This letter is archived at Mount Vernon:
Phila. June 23d 1775
As I am within a few Minutes of leaving this City, I could not think of departing from it without dropping you a line; especially as I do not know whether it may be in my power to write again till I get to the Camp at Boston—I go fully trusting in that Providence, which has been more bountiful to me than I deserve, & in full confidence of a happy meeting with you sometime in the Fall—I have not time to add more, as I am surrounded with Company to take leave of me—I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time or distance can change, my best love to Jack & Nelly, & regard for the rest of the Family concludes me with the utmost truth & sincerity.
This letter reveals a side of Washington rarely seen by the public; his public persona was formal, serious and sober. Yet, in this letter, he expresses his care for Martha, as well as Martha’s son Jack and his wife Nelly. George also expresses his thanksgiving to God for the perpetual protection that has been bestowed on him.
Although Washington’s letter was short, he seemed keenly aware that every word might be his last; therefore, he signs the letter “Your entire George Washington”. Washington-like many soldiers-put aside formality and expressed his true feelings. It is through this letter we see more than either George or Martha expected to be revealed: true love. This love letter endures and remains as romantic today as it was in 1775.