Love Letters from the Founders


Friday, February 14, 2020

The mythic, American men who fought the Revolutionary War and founded the country are remembered today in museums for their wooden teeth and lightning rods. Off the battle field and outside of Independence Hall, they were husbands devoted to their wives, and even sometimes mistresses.

Reading their surviving love letters paints a very different portrait of these heroes, they talk about how desire to be with their wives keep them going through the revolution. Their dependence on the women they loved highlights the romance of the American revolution, and the new republic they were forming.

Listen below are excerpts from recovered letters.

“I profess myself a Votary to Love….I feel the force of her amiable beauties in the recollection of a thousand tender passages that I could wish to obliterate, till I am bid to revive them.—but experience alas! sadly reminds me how Impossible this is.—and evinces an Opinion which I have long entertained, that there is a Destiny, which has the Sovereign control of our Actions—not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature.” George Washington to Sally Cary Fairfax, September 12, 1758.

“Yours of the 1st. instant, my dearest gives me much happiness, but it can not be compleat till I have you again secure with me. Let me know the moment you can of the time you will set out that I may make arrangements..”  James Madison to Dolley Madison, November 6th, 1805.

“I am, as I ever was and ever shall be, yours, yours, yours.” –John Adams to Abigail Smith, February 16th, 1780.

“By the same Token that the Bearer hereof1 satt up with you last night I hereby order you to give him, as many Kisses, and as many Hours of your Company after 9 O’Clock as he shall please to Demand and charge them to my Account: This Order, or Requisition call it which you will is in Consideration of a similar order Upon Aurelia2 for the like favour, and I presume I have good Right to draw upon you for the Kisses as I have given two or three Millions at least, when one has been received, and of Consequence the Account between us is immensely in favour of yours,” – John Adams to Abigail Smith, October 4th, 1762. 

New York July 8. 6 oClock in the Morng. 1776 “  It is a happiness and the greatest happiness for me to be with you….write me my love as often as lays in Your power and beleive me to have no other Earthly love but you,” – Henry Knox to Lucy Knox, July 8th, 1776. 

“Rejoice that I am able to acquaint you that I Enjoy a good State of Health & god be Praised our Company is harty—the Dangers we are to Encounter I no not but it Shall never be Said to my Children your father was a Coward Let the event be what it will be not troubled make you Self Easy in Due time I hope to Return home in Peace & Enjoy the pleasures of worthy wife & Loving Children.” Roxbury to his wife and children, July 18th, 1775.

“you cannot imagine how uneasy I am about you; I have not heard a word since I left you; do, my dear, write to me; if I, nor my love deserve not a line; pray write out of Charity, & give a little satisfaction; a thousand times more wou’d I do for you, & with pleasure too.” & “I reckon my dearest Nelly that you look upon me as too fond & a foolish fellow, to be so often writing to you, & still telling you the same thing, that I still love you & for ever will. However, pray believe it dear Girle & repay me with love as your sweetness & mildness can, & hope it will, & then I hope we both shall live completely blest . . . I will fly from the mountains down to my Nelly’s arms, as fast as the wind of purest love will carry me.”John Moultrie to Eleanor Austin, November 12th, 1759. 

“I have not time to add more, as I am surrounded with Company to take leave of me—I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time or distance can change, 

Your entire, George Washington.” –George Washington to Martha, June 23rd, 1775.


Patricia is an editor at Lone Conservative. She was born and raised in the Midwest, and is currently attending a private Iowa College and majoring in philosophy. She enjoys figure skating, books, and talking to strangers on the metro.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Patricia Patnode

Patricia is an editor at Lone Conservative. She was born and raised in the Midwest, and is currently attending a private Iowa College and majoring in philosophy. She enjoys figure skating, books, and talking to strangers on the metro.

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