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From George Washington to Benjamin Walker, 12 January 1797

Dear Walker, Philadelphia 12th Jany 1797.

Permit me once more to give you the trouble of forwarding the enclosed letters to their respective addresses.

If you read the Aurora of this City, or those Gazettes which are under the same influence, you cannot but have perceived with what malignant industry, and persevering falsehoods I am assailed, in order to weaken, if not to destroy, the confidence of the Public.

Amongst other attempts to effect this purpose, spurious letters, known at the time of their first publication (I beleive in the year 1777) to be forgeries to answer a similar purpose in the Revolution—are, or extracts from them, brought forward with the highest emblazoning of which they are susceptible, with a view to attach principles to me which every action of my life have given the lie to. But that is no stumbling block with the Editors of these Papers and their supporters. and now, perceiving a disinclination on my part, perhaps knowing, that I had determined not to take notice of such attacks, they are pressing this matter upon the public mind with more avidity than usual: urging, that my silence, is a proof of their genuiness.

Although I never wrote, or ever saw one of these letters until they issued from New York, in Print; yet the Author of them must have been tolerably well acquainted in, or with some person of my family, to have given the names, & some circumstances which are grouped in the mass, of erroneous details. But of all the mistakes which have been committed in this business, none is more palpable, or susceptible of detection than the manner in which it is said they were obtained, by the capture of my Mulatto Billy, with a Portmanteau. All the Army, under my immediate command, could contradict this; and I believe most of them know, that no Attendant of mine, or a particle of my baggage ever fell into the hands of the enemy during the whole course of the War.

It would be a singular satisfaction to me to learn, who was the Author of these letters; and from what source they originated. No person in this country can, I conceive, give this information but Mr Rivington. If, therefore, you are upon terms of familiarity with that Gentleman, & see no impropriety in hinting this desire to him, it would oblige me. He may comply to what extent his own judgment shall dictate, and I pledge my honor that, nothing to his disadvantage, or the disadvantage of any of the actors at that time, shall result from it. I offer the compliments of the Season—and you will do me the justice to believe they are warmer than the weather—to Mrs Walker & yourself, of whose health and happiness we shall always be glad to hear. I am Your Affectionate

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DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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