- I live a very dull life here and know nothing that passes in the town — I never go to any public place; indeed I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else. There are certain bounds set for me which I must not depart from; and as I cannot do as I like, I am obstinate, and stay at home a great deal.
- Letter to her niece Fanny Basset Washington (October 1789), as quoted in Memorials of Washington and of Mary, his Mother, and Martha, his Wife (1887) edited by James Walter, Robert Cary, p. 267
Letter to Mercy Warren (1789)
- Letter written to Mercy Otis Warren, wife of James Warren, from New York, (26 December 1789), published in The life of Washington, in the Form of an Autobiography (1840), Vol. 2, p. 181
- I am not apt to forget the feelings that have been inspired by ray former society with good acquaintances, nor to be insensible to their expressions of gratitude to the President of the United States; for you know me well enough, to do me the justice to believe, that I am only fond of what comes from the heart.
- It is owing to this kindness of our numerous friends, in all quarters, that my new and unwished-for situation is not indeed a burden to me. When I was much younger, I should probably have enjoyed the innocent gayeties of life, as much as most of my age. But I had long since placed all the prospects of my future worldly happiness in the still enjoyments of the fireside at Mount Vernon.
- I little thought, when the war was finished, that any circumstances could possibly have happened, which would call the General into public life again. I had anticipated that, from this moment, we should have been left to grow old, in solitude and tranquillity, together. That was, my dear madam, the first and dearest wish of my heart; but in that I have been disappointed. I will not, however, contemplate, with too much regret, disappointments that were inevitable. Though the General's feelings and my own were perfectly in unison, with respect to our predilection for private life, yet I cannot blame him, for having acted according to his ideas of duty, in obeying the voice of his country. The consciousness of having attempted to do all the good in his power, and the pleasure of finding his fellow-citizens so well satisfied with the disinterestedness of his conduct, will doubtless be some compensation for the great sacrifices, which I know he has made.
- Every body and every thing conspire to make me as contented as possible in it; yet I have seen too much of the vanity of human affairs, to expect felicity from the splendid scenes of public life. I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learnt, from experience, that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us, in our minds, wheresoever we go.
Quotes about Washington
- Mrs. Washington who, like myself, had a passionate love of home and domestic life, often complained of the "waste of time" she was compelled to endure. "They call me the first lady in the land and think I must be extremely happy," she would say almost bitterly at times and add "They might more properly call me the chief state prisoner."
- Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, as quoted in Realistic Visionary : A Portrait of George Washington (2008) by Peter R. Henriques, p. 101