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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Appeal of a Patriot

By George Washington (1732–1799)

[From a Letter to Benjamin Harrison.—Philadelphia, 30 December, 1778.]

DEAR SIR: I have seen nothing since I came here, on the 22d instant, to change my opinion of men or measures; but abundant reason to be convinced, that our affairs are in a more distressed, ruinous, and deplorable condition, than they have been since the commencement of the war. By a faithful laborer, then, in the cause; by a man, who is daily injuring his private estate, without even the smallest earthly advantage, not common to all in case of a favorable issue to the dispute; by one, who wishes the prosperity of America most devoutly, but sees it, or thinks he sees it, on the brink of ruin; you are besought most earnestly, my dear Colonel Harrison, to exert yourself in endeavoring to rescue your country, by sending your best and ablest men to Congress. These characters must not slumber nor sleep at home, in such a time of pressing danger. They must not content themselves with the enjoyment of places of honor or profit in their own State, while the common interests of America are mouldering and sinking into irretrievable ruin, if a remedy is not soon applied, and in which theirs also must ultimately be involved.

If I were to be called upon to draw a picture of the times and of men, from what I have seen, heard, and in part know, I should in one word say, that idleness, dissipation, and extravagance seem to have laid fast hold of most of them; that speculation, peculation, and an insatiable thirst for riches seem to have got the better of every other consideration, and almost of every order of men; that party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day; whilst the momentous concerns of an empire, a great and accumulating debt, ruined finances, depreciated money, and want of credit, which in its consequences is the want of every thing, are but secondary considerations, and postponed from day to day, from week to week, as if our affairs wore the most promising aspect. After drawing this picture, which from my soul I believe to be a true one, I need not repeat to you, that I am alarmed, and wish to see my countrymen roused.