02) WASHINGTON AND FAIRFAX: Did George Washington send a letter to Sally Fairfax which some historians claim indicates he was passionately in love with Sally?

Associated locations:

  • Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia: George Washington home


Prophetic Statements

Ezra Taft Benson

“The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers had been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln I say: ‘To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its deathless splendor, leave it shining on.'” [1]

“The Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls of the St. George Temple and had their vicarious work done for them. President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: ‘Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.’

After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that ‘those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits [and] were inspired of the Lord.'” [2] [3]

Supporting Research

Andrew Allison

“We have little to go on, little to tell us of George’s feelings for any woman before he found Martha Custis, the one who was to be his heart’s companion for life. Even the obscure letter quoted above, in which Washington confesses himself a ‘votary of love,’ is difficult to interpret. After carefully reading the letter, all that one can say for certain is that Washington was in love and that he was confiding his secret to his friend, Sally, who knew the ‘lady’Washington had given his heart to. But who was she? We don’t know. That letter holds another problem, every bit as difficult as its internal vagueness. The letter remained undiscovered for more than a hundred years, until March 1877, when it was published in the New York Herald. The next day it was sold at an auction-but in neither case was it subjected by a known authority to the usual authenticating tests. Was the letter a forgery? Was it written by someone else? Was it quoted correctly? None of these questions can be answered, since the letter has long since been lost, never having been subjected to the necessary tests of handwriting, paper, and ink. When scholar John Fitzpatrick was collecting Washington’s writings into a huge and exhaustive thirty-seven-volume set earlier in this century, he seriously considered omitting this letter, since its validity is so questionable. In the end he included it-but only with a warning that one must consider it with caution. If the letter was authentic, if Sally was a flirt with George, if the young colonel was indeed attracted to his friend’s wife-all these combined give us an opportunity to see the depth of George Washington’s character, even at that early age. All evidence suggests that, regardless of his personal feelings, he chose to conduct himself properly, keeping himself entirely free from any immoral or improper encounter with the wife of his neighbor and close friend. As the eminent scholar Douglas Southall Freeman has noted, ‘There survives not one echo of the gossip that would have been audible all along the Potomac had there been anything amiss in their relations.'” [4]



Other Supporting Statements

  1. Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure, p. 18
  2. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1898, p. 89
  3. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1987, Ensign 17 [November 1987]: 6
  4. Andrew Allison, The Real George Washington, p. 68-69
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