Established in 1968 at the University of Virginia, The Washington Papers is working to publish comprehensive letterpress and digital editions of the Washington family's correspondence.

Contact

Connect with an editor to answer your questions about The Washington Papers.

Donate

Protect the legacy of the Washington family by supporting editorial work.

Purchase Volumes

Expand your library with the addition of a volume or digital edition subscription.

Subscribe

Stay up to date on project discoveries and upcoming publications.

A Peek into George Washington's Mind: A Letter to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, April 18, 1781

by William M. Ferraro, Managing Editor

An unfortunate understanding persists that George Washington achieved greatness through his magnificent character despite a marginal intellect. Contemporaries, such as Timothy Pickering, spread this notion by pointing to how Washington relied on aides and secretaries to write so many of his letters, particularly during the Revolutionary War, and plenty of subsequent biographers and commentators have picked up on the idea.1 It is ridiculous to demean Washington for requiring assistance while acting as commanding general of the Continental army because that position often demanded multiple letters a day, with many involving complex or highly sensitive matters. Moreover, Papers of George Washington editors have discovered documentary evidence that Washington involved himself directly in the drafting of all correspondence and confirmed their final form with his signature.2 Further supporting this evidence are the innumerable textual notes in the Revolutionary War Series where Washington in his own handwriting modified words, phrases, or sentences in drafts prepared initially by aides or secretaries.

Founders Online

Founders Online

Search across the papers of the American founders, including George Washington, with this free-to-use database.

Papers of George Washington Digital Edition - Rotunda

Rotunda

Access all our editorial content and cumulative index with our subscription-based digital edition.

The Financial Papers

Learn more about early American economy and Virginia plantation life with George Washington's financial records.

Multimedia

Explore the world of the Washingtons through videos, visualizations, maps, and more.

Sponsors

Major funding for the Washington Papers is provided by the Packard Humanities Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, as well as by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, the University of Virginia and the Florence Gould Foundation.