George Washington to Burwell Bassett, 23 May 1785

Washington was noncommittal when his nephew George Augustine Washington, eldest son of his brother Charles, decided to marry Frances (“Fanny”) Bassett, daughter of Martha Washington’s sister Anna Maria Dandridge and her husband Burwell Bassett. Washington explained his philosophy to the father of the bride in a letter dated 23 May 1785, a photocopy of which is in the Washington Papers at the Library of Congress.  This letter is part of a series; more information can be found on the “Washington’s Advice on Love and Marriage” page. Please also see related documents below.

bassettaFrances “Fanny” Bassett. Portrait by Robert Edge Pine at Mt. Vernon in 1785.
Courtesy Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association.

The amorous couple, who were already living at Mount Vernon at the time of their engagement, were married there on 15 October 1785. (Diaries, vol. 4, p. 206). Later in December of that same year George Augustine Washington became the manager of Mt. Vernon, a position he held until shortly before his death on 5 February 1793.

Original manuscript images of Washington’s letter to Bassett at the Library of Congress: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3

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