George Washington’s Love Letter

George Washington

   After a whirlwind courtship,  on January 6, 1759 George Washington—a handsome man who stood 6’3”—married the wealthy widow Martha Custis who was only five feet tall.  She had been widowed about six months when she met George in March, 1758.  George returned to his military post after three weeks but within months Martha ordered her wedding clothes from London.   She wore a yellow brocade dress with royal purple silk slippers trimmed with sparkling sequins and silver metallic lace. 

Martha Washington

     Portraits from their youth challenge the traditional picture of George as a solemn statesman and Martha as a dumpy, gray-haired matron.  The engraving of Martha is from the “Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington by his Adopted Son George Washington Parke Custis,” New York, 1860.  Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait is the earliest known portrait of Washington.  Painted in 1772, George was about 40 years old and a colonel in the Virginia militia.

George & Martha?

  During their courtship, Washington wrote:  “Fort Cumberland, July 20, 1758, We have begun our march to the Ohio. A courier is starting for Williamsburg, and i embrace the opportunity to send a few words to one whose life is now inseparable from mine. Since that happy hour when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been continually going to you as to another Self. That All-powerful Providence may keep us both in safety is the prayer of your faithful and ever affectionate friend, G. Washington.”

     George Washington called Martha “My dearest.” She called him “My love.”  When George died in 1799, Martha said “Tis well …. All is now over. I shall soon follow him! I have no more trials to pass through!”  Martha closed the bedroom they had shared and never entered it or George’s study again. She destroyed their love letters except for the two fallen behind the drawer.  She spent the rest of her life in a room on the third floor of their estate awaiting death which came in 1802.

            The portrait of the couple together is only a whimsical representation copied from the internet with no citation. Any ideas?

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6 responses to “George Washington’s Love Letter

  1. Rita, loved this entry. It gives a different look into their marriage. Thanks for doing the research.

  2. What an interesting post Rita! With all your research you could combine different historical love stories and create an entire book! Thank you for sharing your gift and love of history!

    • Thanks so much, Casey. I’ve completed one Georgian historical (His Obsession) with the Barbary pirates and the North African slave trade as the background -a fascinating and neglected subject. The heroine (Emeliese) is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Rabat, a pirate stronghold. The sequel (His Desire) is a Regency story about Emmy’s son as he returns home from England’s war with France and searches for a wife. Both are risque, neither is appropriate for children. Rita Bay

  3. I loved this post. Wonderful to know that GW had this woman at his side. To close herself off like that after he died says a great deal about their love.
    Which makes me wonder, if she was a widow, what was her first husband like? Any idea?

    • Hi Allison, THanks for dropping by. Martha met George when she’d been widowed for about six months. She was reported to have had a happy marriage with her husband who was about 20 years older than she.
      She was much wealthier than Washington who assumed control of her assets when they married. Her children by her first husband had inherited equal shares and Washington was resposible for those also. She had ably administered the estates but it was the custom for widowed individuals to remarry quickly and Washington was a handsome fellow. Rita Bay

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