‘I Retain an Unalterable Affection for You’: A Lesson in Love from George Washington

“I should enjoy more real happiness and felicity in one month with you, at home, than I have the most distant prospect of reaping abroad, if my stay was to be Seven times Seven years.”

Men on dating apps take note; an opening line of “hey” just doesn’t cut it anymore

Excerpted from one of only three surviving letters from George Washington to his wife Martha, the soldier-turned-poet expresses a rarely seen side of the seemingly stoic Revolutionary War hero and the nation’s first president.

But it is just a brief glimpse.

Martha Washington destroyed nearly all the letters her husband had written to her over the course of his lifetime shortly before her death in 1802. After years of public scrutiny, it was seemingly the only thing in her private life that the first lady could control.

Two letters survived the purge tucked away in a small desk drawer. The aforementioned letter, written on June 18, 1775, and one dated five days later, were found by “Martha Parke Custis Peter, one of Martha Washington’s granddaughters, in a drawer of a small desk that she inherited from Mrs. Washington,” according to the National Archives.

The second letter, dubbed as an “achingly beautiful missive” by the Mount Vernon organization reveals a man capable of a full breadth of emotions, even when he is in a hurry:

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

Again, if Washington can quickly “drop a line” while orchestrating an entire revolution, there is simply no excuse for a lack of communication. Ladies, put that in your Bumble bios.

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