About Collecting George Washington Documents
President Washington was a selfless and high-minded man who got the U.S. government up and running, and set innumerable important precedents. He was acutely aware of this aspect of his responsibility and made it his goal, saying “As the first of everything, in our situation, will serve to establish a precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part that these precedents be fixed on true principles.” He was a prolific writer, generally willing to say what he thought, and composed an estimated 18,000-20,000 letters in his lifetime, though a fraction of these survive.
His autograph had two forms. As a young surveyor, it took an unusual form with the W having three strokes rather than two. This soon changed substantially and by the time of his service in the French and Indian War, his handwriting assumed a stability it would retain for the rest of his life. During the war, Washington’s correspondence was substantial, and his good signed letters are replete with details of battle and orders to top generals. Some are handwritten and others in the hand of aides and signed by him. . When the war ended in 1783, Washington personally signed the discharges his soldiers received, as he wanted every man in the army to know his Commander in Chief was personally grateful for his service.