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Washington's entry into New York...

[Detail] Washington's entry into New York...

For Lesson Three:
Letter from George Washington to Henry Lee, August 26, 1794

NOTE: This is an excerpt. The full text version of Letter from George Washington to Henry Lee, August 26, 1794 is in George Washington Papers, 1741-1799.

{excerpt begins}

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 33


German Town, August 26, 1794.


I consider this insurrection as the first formidable fruit of the Democratic Societies; brought forth I believe too prematurely for their own views, which may contribute to the annihilation of them.

That these societies were instituted by the artful and designing members (many of their body I have no doubt mean well, but know little of the real plan,) primarily to sow the seeds of jealousy and distrust among the people, of the government, by destroying all confidence in the Administration of it; and that these doctrines have been budding and blowing ever since, is not new to any one, who is acquainted with the characters of their leaders, and has been attentive to their manoeuvres. I early gave it as my opinion to the confidential characters around me, that, if these Societies were not counteracted (not by prosecutions, the ready way to make them grow stronger) or did not fall into disesteem from the knowledge of their origin, and the views with which they had been instituted by their father, Genet, for purposes well known to the Government; that they would shake the government to its foundation. Time and circumstances have confirmed me in this opinion, and I deeply regret the probable consequences, not as they will affect me personally, (for I have not long to act on this theatre, and sure I am that not a man amongst them can be more anxious to put me aside, than I am to sink into the profoundest retirement) but because I see, under a display of popular and fascinating guises, the most diabolical attempts to destroy the best fabric of human government and happiness, that has ever been presented for the acceptance of mankind.

... {excerpt ends}


  • Why does Washington believe it is important for the government to act?
  • According to Washington, what are the consequences of taking no action?
  • What is Washington referring to when he says "we may bid adieu to all government in this Country, except Mob and Club Govt."?
  • In Washington's view, once a law is passed by the Congress what is the responsibility of citizens?
  • According to Washington, to what extent was Citizen Edmund Genet, the French ambassador, responsible for the discontent in western Pennsylvania?

Go to the complete interview from which this excerpt was taken.