Martha Washington on life after the Revolution, 1784

by Martha Washington

Martha Washington to Hannah Boudinot, January 15, 1784 (GLC03909)The Revolutionary War disrupted the home life of Americans for eight years. Battles between the British and American armies, as well as tensions between loyalists and patriots, created difficulties that people met with strength and perseverance. As men went into battle, women endured the strains of maintaining households in their absence, traveling long distances to join them at various winter camps, and worrying about them constantly.

This letter from Martha Washington to Hannah Boudinot (whose husband, Elias, had been president under the Articles of Confederation from 1782 to 1783) was written shortly after the end of the war, when the Washingtons had returned to Mount Vernon. Martha’s happiness and relief are apparent as she looked forward to resuming her pre-war life:

The difficulties, and distresses to which we have been exposed during the war must not be forgotten. We must endeavor to let our ways be the ways of pleasantness and all our paths Peace.

A full transcript is available.

Transcript

Martha Washington to Hannah Boudinot, January 15, 1784 (GLC03909)

Mount Vernon 15th Jan 84

My Dear Madam

Your polite and affectionate congratulatry Letter on the termination of our trobles, and the return of the General to domestic life, would, under any circumstances, have been highly pleasing to me; but the value of it was particularly enhanced by the friendly terms in which you have conveyed them to us.

In return, permit me to offer you my sincere compliments on your restoration to your own House, after an exile of seven years – and on Miss Boudenots better state of health; which, with much pleasure I learnt from the General was considerably amended, if he might be allowed to form a judgement of it from her improved looks. – The difficulties, and distresses to which we have been exposed during the war must not be forgotten. We must endeavor to let our ways be the ways of pleasantness and all our paths Peace.

It would give me infinite pleasure to see you Mr and miss Boudenot at this place – without which I almost despair of ever enjoying that happyness, as my frequent long Journeys have not only left me without inclination to undertake another, but almost disqualified me from doing it, as I find the fatiegue is too much for me to bear.

My little family are all with me; and have been very well till with in these few days, that they have been taken with the measles. – The worst I hope is is [sic] over, and that I shall soon have them prattling about me again. – with best respects to Mr Boudenot, and love to miss Susan and your self – in which the General joins – I am my dear Madam with much esteem

Your most affectionate
Friend –
Martha Washington

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