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the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, sooner or later, convince my countrymen, that I the pure and benign light of revelation, have had could have no sinister views in delivering, with a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased so little reserve, the opinion contained in this ad. the blessings of society. At this auspicious pe- dress. riod, the United States came into existence as a
“There are four things which, I humbly con. nation; and if their citizens should not be com- ceive, are essential to the well being, I may even pletely free and happy, the fault will be entirely'venture to say, to the existence of the United States, their own.
as an independent power. "Such is our situation, and such are our pros.
“1st. An indissoluble union of the states under pects. But notwithstanding the cup of blessing is
one federal head. thus reached out to us; notwithstanding happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occa.
"2dly. A sacred regard to public justice. sion, and make it our own, yet it appears to me "3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishthere is an option still left to the United States ment. And, of America, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a
“4tbly. The prevalence of that pacific and friend. nation. This is the time of their political proba. ly disposition among the people of the United tion: this is the moment when the eyes of the whole States, which will induce them to forget their local world are turned upon them: this is the time to
prejudices and policies; to make those mutual con
cessions which are requisite to the general prospe. establish or ruin their national character forever: this is the favorable moment to give such a tone to
rity; and, in some instances, to sacrifice their in
dividual advantages to the interest of the comthe federal government, as will enable it to answer
munity. the ends of its institution; or, this may be the ill. fated moment for relaxing the powers of the union, “These are the pillars on which the glorious faannihilating the cement of the confederation, and bric of our independency and national character exposing us to become the sport of European pou must be supported. Liberty is the basis-and litics, which may play one state against another, to whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or over. prevent their growing importance, and to serve turn the structure, under wbatever specious pre. their own interested purposes. For, according to text he may attempt it, will inerit the bitterest the system of policy the states shall adopt at this execration, and the severest punishment, which can moment, they will stand or fall; and, by their con- be indicted by his injured country. firmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the revolution must ultimately be considered
“On the three first articles I will make a fe:v as a blessing or a curse, not to the present age
observations, leaving the last to the good sense alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn and serious consideration of those immediately
concerned. millions be involved. “With this conviction of the importance of the
“Under the first head, although it may not be present crisis, silence in me would be a crime; I necessary or proper for me in this place to enter will therefore speak to your excellency the lan. into a particular disquisition of the principles of guage of freedoin and sincerity, without disguise. the union, and to take up the great question which I am aware, however, those wiso differ from me in has been frequently agitated, whether it be expe. political sentiments may, perhaps, remark, I am dient and requisite for the states to delegate a stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and larger proportion of power to congress, or not; yet they may probably ascribe to arrogance or ostenta. it will be a part of my duty, and that of every truc tion, what I know is alone the result of the purest patriot, to assert, without reserve, and to insist up. intention. But the rectitude of my own heart, on the following positions:-That, unless the states which disdains such unworthy motives; the part I will suffer congress to exercise those prerogatives bave hitherto acted in life; the determination I they are undoubtedly invested with by the con. have formed of not taking any share in public bu- stitution, every thing must very rapidly tend to siness hereafter, the ardent desire I feel, and shall anarchy and confusion: That it is indispensable continue to manifest, of quietly enjoying in private to the happiness of the individual states, that there life, after all the toils of war, the benefits of a wise should be lodged, somewhere, a supreme power and liberal government, will, I flutter myself, to regulate and govern the general concerns of the
confederated republic, without which the union tem referred to, being the result of the collected cannot be of long duration: That there must be wisdom of the continent, must be esteemed, if & faithful and pointed compliance on the part of not perfect, certainly the least objectionable, of every state with the late proposals and demands any that could be devised; and that, if it should of congress, or the most fatal consequences will not be carried into immediate execution, 1 naensue: That whatever measures have a tendency tional bankruptcy, with all its deplorable conseto dissolve the union, or contribute to violate or quences, will take place before any different plan Jessen the sovereign authority, ought to be con can possibly be proposed or adopted; so pressing sidered as hostile to the liberty and independence are the present circumstances, and such is the of America, and the authors of them treated ac- alternative now offered to the states. cordingly. And, lastly, that, unless, we can be enabled by the concurrence of the states to partici
“The ability of the country to discharge the pate of the fruits of the revolution, and enjoy the debts which have been incurred in its defence, is essential benefits of civil society, under a form of not to be doubted; and inclination, 1 fatter my. government so free and uncorrupted, 'so bappily self, will not be wanting. The path of our duty guarded against the danger of oppression, as has is plain before us; honesty will be found, on every been devised and adopted by the articles of con experiment, to be the best and only true policy. federation, it will be a subject of regret, that so Let us then, as a nation, be just; let us fulfil the much blood and treasure have been lavished for public contracts which congress had undoubtedly no purpose; that so many sufferings bave been a right to make for the purpose of carrying on the encountered without a compensation, and that so war, with the same good faith we suppose our many sacrifices bave been made in vain. Many selves bound to perform our private engageother considerations might here be adduced to ments. In the mean time, let an altention to the prove, that, without an entire conformity to the cheerful performance of their proper business, as spirit of the union, we cannot exist as an inde individuals, and as members of society, be earnestly pendent power. It will be sufficient for my pur,
inculcated on the citizens of America; then will pose to mention but one or two, which seem to they strengthen the bands of government, and be me of the greatest importance. It is only in our
happy under its protection. Every one will reap united character as an empire, that our indepen. the fruit of bis labors: every one will enjoy his dence is acknowledged, that our power can be own acquisitions, without molestation and without regarded, or our credit supported among foreign
danger, nations. The treaties of the European powers
“In this state of absolute freedom perfect with the United States of America, .will have no
security, who will grudge to yield a very little of validity on a dissolution of the union. We sball
bis property to support the common interests of be left nearly in a state of nature; or we may find,
society, and ensure the protection of govemment by our own unhappy experience, that there is a who does not remember the frequent declaranatural and necessary progression from the ex. tions at the commencement of the war-that we treme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny; and
should be completely satisfied if, at the expense that arbitrary power is most easily established on of one balf, we could defend the remainder of our the ruins of liberty, abused to licentiousness.
possessions? Where is the man to be found, who “As to the second article, which respects the wishes lo remain in debt, for the defence of his performance of public justice, congress have, in own person and property, to the exertions, the their late address to the United States, almost bravery, and the blood of others, without making exhausted the subject; they have explained their one generous effort to pay the debt of honor and ideas sp fully, and bave enforced the obligations of gratitude? In what part of the continent shall the staies are under to render complete justice to we find any man, or body of men, who would not all the public creditors, with so much dignity and blush to stand up and propose measures purposely energy, that, in my opinion, no real friend to the calculated to rob the soldier of his stipend, and bonor and independency of America can hesitate the public creditor of his due? And were it a single moment respecting the propriety of com. possible that such a flagrant instance of injustice plying with the just and honorable measures pro- could ever happen, would it not excile the geneposed. If their arguments do not produce con ral indignation, and tend to bring down upon viction, I know of nothing that will have greater the authors of such measures the aggravated influence, especially when we reflect that tħe sys.) vengeance of Heaven? If, after all, « spirit of
disunion, or a temper of obstinacy and perverse of their hire, may be allowed to say, it was the dess should manifest itself in any of the states; if price of their blood, and of your independency. It such an ungracious disposition should attempt to is therefore more than a common debt; it is a frustrate all the happy effects that might be ex- debt of honor; it can never be considered as a pected to flow from the union; if there should be pension, or gratuity, nor cancelled until it is fairly a refusal to comply with requisitions for funds to discharged. discharge the annual interest of the public debts; and if that refusalshould revive all those jealousies, and soldiers, it is sufficient that the uniform es
“With regard to the disinction between officers and produce all those evils, which are now happily perience of every nation of the world, combined removed, congress, who bave in all their transác; with our own, proves the utility and propriety of tions shown a great degree of magnanimity and
the discrimination. Rewards, in proportion to the Justice, will stand justified in the sight of God
aid the public draws from them, are unquestionably and man! and that state alone, which puts itself
due to all its servants. In some lines, the soldiers in opposition to the aggregate wisdom of the con
bave, perhaps, generally, had as ample conpensa. tinent, and follows such mistaker. and pernicious tion for their services, by the large bounties which councils, will be responsible for all the conse. have been paid them, as their officers will receive quences.
in the proposed commutation; in others, if, besides "For my own part, conscious of having acted, the donation of land, the payment of arrearages of while a servant of the public, in the manner I con. clothing and wages, (in which articles all the ceived best suited to promote the real interests component parts of the army must be put upon of my country; having, in consequence of my fixed the same footing,) we take into the estimate the belief, in some measure pledged myself to the bounties many of the soldiers bave received, and army, that their couniry would finally do them the gratuity of one year’s full pay, which is procomplete and ample justice, and not wishing to mised to all, possibly their situation, (every circonceal any instance of my official conduct from cumstance being duly considered,) will not be the eyes of the world, I have thought proper to deemed less eligible than that of the officers.transmit to your excellency the enclosed collec. Should a farther reward, however, be judged equit. tion of papers, relative to the half pay and com. able, I will venture to assert, no man will enjoy mutation granted by congress, to the officers of greater satisfaction than myself, in an exemption the army. From these communications my decided from taxes for a limited time, (which has been sentiment will be clearly comprehended, together petitioned for in some instances,) or any other with the conclusive reasons which induced me, at adequate immunity or compensation granted to an early period, to recommend the adoption of this the brave defenders of their country's cause. But measure in the most earnest and serious manner. neittier the adoption or rejection of this proposi. As the proceedings of congress, the army, and tion will, in any manner, affect, much less militate myself, are open to all, and contain, in my opinion, against, the act of congress, by which they have sufficient information to remove the prejudices and offered five years' full.pay, in lieu of the half-pay errors which may have been entertained by any, I for life, which had been before promised to the think it unnecessary to say any thing more than officers of the army. just to observe, that the resolutions of congress,
“Before I conclude the subject on pablic justice, now alluded to, are as undoubtedly and absolutely I cannot omit to mention the obligations this coun: dinding upon the United States, as the most solemn try is under to that meritorious class of veterans, acts of confederation or legislation.
the non-comınissioned officers and privates, wlio "As to the idea which, I am informed, has in have been discharged for inability, in consequence some instances prevailed, that the half pay and of the resolution of congress, of the 23d of April, commutation are to be regarded merely in the 1782, on an annual pension for life. Their peculiar odious light of a pension, it out to be exploded sufferings, their singular merits and claims lo that forever; that provision should be viewed, as it provision, need only to be knor'n, to interest the really was, a reasonable compensation offered by feelings of lumunity in their behalf. Nothing but congress, at a time when they had nothing else to a punctual payment of their annual allowance, can give to officers of the army, for services then to rescue them from the most complicated misery: be performed. It was the only means to prevent and nothing could be a more melancholy and dis. a total dereliction of the service. It was a part !!ressing sight, than to behold those who have
shed their blood, or lost their limbs in the ser., forth; that the distresses and disappointments vice of their country, without a shelter, without which have very often occurred, bave, in too many a friend, and without the means of obtaining any instances, resulted more from a want of energy in of the comforts or necessaries of life, compelled the continental government, than a deficiency of to beg their bread daily from door to door. Suffer means in the particular states; that the inefficacy me to recommend those of this description, belong. of the measures, arising from the want of an ing to your state, to the warmest patronage of your adequate authority in the supreme power, from a excellency and your legislature.
partial compliance with the requisitions of con
gress, in some of the states, and from a failure of "It is necessary to say but a few words on the punctuality in others, while they tended to damp third topic which was proposed, and wbich regards the zeal of those who were more willing to exert particularly the defence of the republic-as there themselves, served also to accumulate the expenses can be little doubt but congress will recommend of the war, and to frustrate the best concerted a proper peace establisbment for the United States, plans; and that the discouragement occasioned by in which a due attention will be paid to the im. the complicated difficulties and embarrassments, , portance of placing the inilitia of the union upon in which our affairs were by this means involved, a regular and respectable footing. If this should would have long ago produced the dissolution of be the case, I should beg leave to urge the great any army, less patient, less virtuous, and less advantage of it in the strongest terms.
persevering, than that which I have had the honor "The militia of this country must be considered
to command. But while I mention those things
which are notorious facts, as the defects of our as the palladium of our security, and the first
federal constitution, particularly in the prosecueffectual resort in case of hostility. It is essential, therefore, that the same system should pervade
tion of a war, I beg it may be understood, that, as the whole; that the formation and discipline of
I have ever taken a pleasure in gratefully acknow. the militia of the continent should be absolutely
ledging the assistance and support I have derived uniform; and that the same species of arms, ac
from every class of citizens, so I shall always be coutrements, and military apparatus, should be
happy to do justice to the unparalleled exertions
of the individual states, on many interesting ocintroduced in every part of the United States. No
casions. one, who has not learned it from experience, can conceive the difficulty, expense, and confusion, "I have thus freely disclosed what I wished to which result from a contrary system, or the vague make known, before I surrendered up my pubarrangements which have bitherto prevailed. lic trust to those who committed it to me. The
task is now accomplished; I now bid adieu to dilf, in treating of political points, a greater your excellency, as the chief nagistrale of your latitude than usual has been taken in the course state; at tbe same time I bid a last farewell to the of the address, the importar.ce of the crisis, and cares of office, and all the employments of public the magnitude of the objects in discussion, must life. be my apology. It is, however, neither my wish nor expectatior., that the preceding observations
"It remains, then, to be my final and only re. should claim any regard, except so far as they quest, that your excellency will communicate these shall appear to be dictated by a good intention,
sentiments to your legislature, at ibeir next meetconsonant to the immutable rules of justice; cal. ing; and that they may be considered as the legacy culated to produce a liberal system of policy, and of one who has ardently wished, on all occasions, founded on whatever experience may have been to be useful to liis country, and who, even in the acquired, by a long and close attention to public shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the business. Here I might speak with more confidence,
Divine benediction upon it, from my actual observations; and if it would not "I now make it my earnest prayer, that God swell this letter, (already too prolis,) beyond the would have you, and the state over which you bounds I liad prescribed myself, I could demon- preside, in his holy protection; that he would strate to every mind open to conviction, that, in incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a less time, and with much less expense than has spirit of subordination and obedience to govern. been incurred, the war might have been brought ment; to entertain a brotherly affection and love to the same happy conclusion, if the resources of for one another; for their fellow-citizens of the the continent could have been properly called United States at large, and particularly for their
brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, mending the interests of our dearest country to that he would most graciously be pleased to dis- the protection of Almighty God, and those who pose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to have the superintendence of them, to his holy keepdemean ourselves with tbat charity, bumility, ing. and pacific temper of the mind, whicb were the
“Having now finished the work assigned me, I characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed retire from the great theatre of action; and, bidding feligion; without an humble imitation of whose an affectionate farewell to this august body, under example, in these things, we can never bope to be whose orders I have long acted, I here offer my a bappy nation.
commission, and take my leave of all the employ. “I have the honor to be, with much esteem and ments of public life.” respect, sir, your excellency's most obedient and
President IVashington's speech to the first congress, most humble servant,”
April 30th, 1789. “GEO. WASHINGTON.”
Fellow-citizens of the senate
and of the house of representatives: General Washington to the president of congress on
Among the vicissiludes incident to life, no resigning his conimission–1783.
event could have filled me with greater anxieties “Mr. President-The great events on which my than that, of which the notification was transmitted resignation depended, baving at length taken place,
by your order, and received on the 4th day of the I have now the honor of offering my sincere con.
present month. On the one hand, I was summoned gratulations to congress, and of presenting myself
by my country, wbose voice I can never hear but before them to surrender into their bands the trust with veneration and love, from a retreat which I committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of
had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in retiring from the service of my country.
my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision "Happy in the confirmation of our independence as the asylum of my declining years; a retreat and sovereignty, and plcased with the opportunity which was rendered every day more necessary as afforded the United States of becoming a respecta. well as more dear to me, by the addition of babit ble nation, I resign, with satisfaction, the appoint. to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my ment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in health to the gradual waste committed on it by my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, time: on the other hand, the magnitude and which, however, was superseded by a confidence difficulty of the irust'to which the voice of my in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the country called me, being sufficient to awaken, in Supreme Power of the union, and the patronage of the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a Heaven.
distrustful scrutiny into bis qualifications, could not
but overwhelm with despondence one, who, inherit“The successful termination of the war bas
ing inferior er dowments from nature, and unpractis. verified the most sanguine expectations; and my ed in the duties of civil administration, ought to gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and be peculiariy conscious of his own deficiences. In the assistance I have received from my country- this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver is, that men, increases with every review of the momentous it has been my faithful study to collect my duty contest.
from a just appreciation of every circumstance by “While I repeat my obligations to the army in which it might be affected. All I dare hope is, general, I should do injustice to my own feelings, that if, in executing this task, I bave been too much not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar swayed by a grateful remembrance of former services and distinguished merits of the persons instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this who bave been attached to my person during the transcendant proof of the coufidence of my fellowwar. It was impossible the choice of confidential citizens, and have thence too little consulted my officers to compose my family could have been incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in and untried cares before me, my error will be particular, those who have continued in the service palliated by the 'motives which misled me, and its to the present moment, worthy of the favorable consequences be judged by my country, with some notice and patronage of congress,
share of the partiality in which they originated. “I consider it as an indispensable duty to close Such being the impressions under which I have, this baat solemn act of my official lifr, by com. lin obedience to the public summons, repared to