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Lawrence Washington’s Deathbed Letter to His Brother George

Dear Beloved George,

I write you from Sea, on my way from Bermuda to the loving arms of family in our beautiful Virginia. Whence once I thought myself a criminal condemned by this disease, though not without hopes of reprieve, evidence has proved those hopes foolhardy.

It is now my hope, dearest brother, to write and encourage you in your place and position in this world whilst I am still in good possession of my faculties. I know since the death of our father early in your childhood, your aspirations of continuing your classical education at Appleby in England like Augustine and I were lost. What a great study you have made yourself during every situation of life. Continue this, and you will stand equal in knowing with the most prominent men in your company.

You had such a different childhood than us, George, owing to being the oldest son of our widowed mother. It seems Mary will never remarry, and in so doing is not likely to relinquish her hold upon the necessity of your service to her. From the moment she disallowed your royal commission in the Navy, I have thought it necessary for you to shirk off some of her advice and requests as you take your place in society as a man.

Again and again, I point you toward the apparent truth that she places her own needs above the well-placed ambitions you have gleaned through the most excellent company of the prestigious Colonel Fairfax. Though I seem soon to pass from this world and will no longer be his son-in-law, I have no doubt his strong admiration and care for you will continue.

Your surveying skills put you in good stead to grow your land claims. I agree that the Shenandoah Valley is one of the most pristine areas and likely to advance your fortune quite nicely, which will also put you in good stead with the lady of your dreams.

Speaking of such things, I hear you are currently utilizing your fine dancing skills in the effort of wooing one Betsy Fauntleroy. While this is a fine choice, her family being equated with a high class, remember, dear George, that you are beloved of that circle as well. Regardless of your Mother’s low expectations, you are capable of great things. Should Miss Betsy make a poor choice in turning away your affections, you will in no time be capable of winning her equal or better.

Follow your pursuit of learning, and do break from your Mother at Ferry Farm into company more frequently. Chase the military appointments you desire. If I am to speak frankly, once I have passed, you should try for my position as General Adjutant of the Northern Neck district. This will give you title as well as position, and you are capable.

With one final note, I admonish you to forsake the melancholy of your mother’s opinion. You are destined for greater things than a merchant of household wares. If she is blind to that, it is a willful blindness. Continue on with your place in high society, gaining those positions you are fitted for, as a service to your land, your country, and our name.

Your loving brother,


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