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the wisdom and prudence with which they have con. ducted that business; and that a copy of the proceedings of this day, be transmitted by the President to Major General M’Dougal; and that he be requested to continue his solicitations at Congress, until the objects of his mission are accomplished.”
Machinations which threatened the army with dis grace, and the country with ruin, being thus happily suppressed, General WASHINGTON without delay executed his promise to the officers; and in a letter to Congress with feeling and force supported their claims upon their country.
Soon after these proceedings, nine states concurred in a resolution, commuting the half pay into a sum equal to five years' whole pay. Still Congress depended on the states to furnish the funds to enable them to fulfil this engagement.
In April the ratification of the preliminary articles of peace between France and Great Britain was receiv. ed, and on the 19th of that month, a cessation of hostilities was proclaimed in the American camp.
In June General WASHINGTON addressed a' circular letter on the important interests of the Union, to the Governors of the several states.
It began, SIR, “ The great object for which I had the honour to hold an appointment in the service of my country, being accomplished, I am now preparing to resign it into the hands of Congress, and return to that domestick retirement, which it is well known, I left with the greatest reluctance; a retirement for which I have never ceased to sigh through a long and painful absence, in which (remote from the noise and trouble of the world) I meditate to pass the remainder of life in a state of undisturbed repose ; but, before I carry this resolution into effect, I think it a duty incumbent on me to make this my last official communication, to congratulate you on the glorious events which Heaven
has been pleased to produce in our favour; to offer my sentiments respecting some important subjects which appear to me to be intimately connected with the tranquillity of the United States ; to take my leave of your Excellency as a publick character, and to give my final blessing to that country in whose service I have spent the prime of my life ; for whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful nights ; and whose happiness being extremely dear to me, will always constitute no inconsiderable part of my
“Impressed with the liveliest sensibility on this ploasing occasion, I will claim the indulgence of detaiting the more copiously on the subject of our mutual felicitation. When we consider the magnitude of the prizo we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contest, and the favourable manner in which it has terminated, we shall find the greatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoicing : this is a theme that will afford infinito delight to every benevolent and liberal mind, whether the event in contemplation be considered as a sourco of present enjoyment, or the parent of future happiness; and we shall have equal occasion to felicitate ourselves on the lot which Providence has assigned us, whether we view it in a natural, political, or a moral point of view.
“ The citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the world, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now, by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possossed of absolute freedom and independency; they are from this period to be considered as the actors on a most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity : here they are not only surrounded with every thing that can contribute to the
completion of private and domestick enjoyment, but Heaven has crowned all its other blessings, by giving a surer opportunity for political happiness than any other nation has ever been favoured with. Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly than the recol. lection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under which our republick assumed its rank among the nations.
“ The foundation of our empire was not laid in a gloomy age of ignorance and superstition, but at an epocha when the rights of mankind were better under. stood and more clearly defined, than at any former period : researches of the human mind after social happiness have been carried to a great extent: the treasures of knowledge acquired by the labours of phi losophers, sages, and legislators, through a long suc. cession of years, are laid open for use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of government: the free cul tivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, the pure and benign light of revelation, have had a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. At this auspicious period the United States came into existence as a nation, and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.
" Such is our situation, and such are our prospects; but notwithstanding the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us, notwithstanding happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion, and make it our own; yet it appears to me, there is an option still left to the United States of America, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a nation. This is the time of their political probation ; this is the moment, when the eyes of the whole world are turned upon them; this is the
time to establish or ruin their national character for ever; this is the favourable moment to give such a tone to the Federal Government, as will enable it to answer the ends of its institution; or this may be the ill-fated moment for relaxing the powers of the Union, annihilating the cement of the confederation, and ex posing us to become the sport of European politics, which may play one state against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to serve their own in terested purposes. For, according to the system of policy the states shall adopt at this moment, they will stand or fall; and, by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided; whether the revolution must ulti. mately be considered as a blessing or a curse ; a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.
“ With this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence in me would be a crime. I will therefore speak to your Excellency in the language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise. I am aware, however, those who differ from me in political sentiments, may perhaps remark, I am stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and they may possibly ascribe to arrogance or ostentation, what I know is alone the result of the purest intention; but the rectitude of my own heart, which disdains such unworthy motives, the part I have hitherto acted in life, the determination I have formed of not taking any share in publick business hereafter, the ardent desire I feel and shall continue to manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils of war, the benefits of a wise and liboral government, will, I flatter myself, sooner or later, convince my countrymen that I could have no sinister views in delivering with so little reserve, the opinions contained in this address.
“There are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the well being, I may even venture to
say, to the oustence of the United States, as an independent power.
6 1st. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.
“2dly. A sacred regard to publick justice.
“ 3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,
" 4thly. The prevalence of that pacifick and friendly disposition among the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.
“ These are the pillars on which the glorious fabrick of our independency and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will merit the bitterest execration and the severest punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country."
Having dilated on these subjects, the letter was thus concluded :
-“I have thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known before I surrendered up my publick trust to those who committed it to me: the task is now accomplished. I now bid adieu to your Excellency, as the Chief Magistrate of your state ; at the same time I bid a last farewell to the cares of office, and all the employments of publick life.
“ It remains, then, to be my final and only request, that your Excellency will communicate these sentiments to your Legislature, at their next meeting ; and that they may be considered as the Legacy of one who has ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and who even in the shade of retire