“I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time nor distance can change.”
These words come not from Pride and Prejudice or Shakespeare, they come from the heart and hand of President George Washington, written with care to his wife Martha.
Showing another side to the first President, this letter, one of only 5 surviving, from the President to his wife, is truly unique and ever so charming.
Its unfortunate but Martha Washington destroyed 40 years of her correspondence with her husband when he died in 1799. She chose to keep these letters and intimate conversations private, to many historians dismay.
By chance she overlooked five pieces of correspondence between the two of them: two personal letters were found behind a drawer on her desk; one letter was never received; and two short notes from Martha to George, written as additions to letters which were sent from other members of the family.
Of these remaining letters, one written during the Revolutionary War, although brief, is absolutely enchanting. This short letter gives a glimpse at what an eloquent writer, husband and family man George Washington was as he mentions Martha’s son Jack and his wife Nelly, and signs “Your Entire, George Washington” which is not only romantic but shows vulnerability and commitment to his wife.
Phila. June 23d 1775. My dearest, 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. Your entire, Go. Washington
This surviving love letter from the President has become a part of his legacy, it’s hard to believe that these words were written in 1775 and are still preserved today.
Preserving tender moments like these are not only for Presidents, the emotions that come from personal letters can be revisited for years to come and should be cherished and passed down through generations so that a persons true character and legacy can be remembered.