Papers of William Thornton

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  • Papers of William Thornton

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Papers of William Thornton


death of Martha Washington


William Thornton
Charles M. Harris and Daniel Preston, eds.


University of Virginia Press




published primary source



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Thornton, William. Harris Charles M. and Daniel Preston, eds. Papers of William Thornton. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1995.

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From William Thornton to John Marshall, 1/2/1800: “[re: the plan to put George Washington’s body in the Unites States Capitol]…But in fulfilling this duty there is another which will give great comfort to her who enjoyed the felicity of being the partner of his life. She expressed, in her affliction, the hope of soon lying in the same humble vault prepared for his family, and considered it as the last temporal consolation. The body of her beloved friend and companion is now requested and she does not refuse the national wish—but if an intimation could be given that she should partake merely of the same place of deposit it would restore to her mind a calm and repose that this acquiescence in the national wish has in a high degree affected. You, who know her, are not unacquainted with her high virtues, and know that her love for the departed would be the only reason why such a wish could be entertained. She cannot be more honoured than she has been and, were it possible, the nation would give a still further proof of sensibility on this melancholy occasion, by a resolution in favour of her who possessed the heart of the late Friend of Man. I presume not to dictate any mode; but you will with liberality pardon the suggestion of a private individual. If a secret vote of the House were to be taken, and the result only made known to herself or friends, and be publickly [sic] declared after her death, it would appear, in my opinion, to the whole world, not only as a high mark of respect, but peculiarly delicate. That I write this is unknown to any of the family, and I hope you and they will excuse the liberty I take….” (527)

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How to Cite this Item

William Thornton, "Papers of William Thornton," in Martha Washington, Item #175, (accessed March 17, 2018).