Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

He arrived on the 19th, and on the next day informod Congress of his desire to resign into their hands the commission with which they had invested him as Commander in Chief of the American armies ; and he asked in what form he should present his resignation. Congress resolved that it should be at a publick audi ence on the succeeding Tuesday. When the moment of this interesting transaction arrived, the gallery was crowded with spectators; and many of the civil officers of tho' state and of the principal officers of the

Note. 104,364 of the dollars were received after March, 1780, and although credited forty for one, many did not fetch at the rate of a hundred for one, while 27,775 of them are roturned without deducting any thing from the above account (and, therefore, actually made a present of to the publick.) (General WASHINGTON's account) from June, 1775, to the end of June, 1783,

£16,311 17 1 Expenditure from July 1, 1783, to December 13,

1717 66 (Aaded afterwards) from thence to December 28,

213 84 Mrs. Washington's travelling expenses in coming to the General and returning,

1064 1.0

[ocr errors]

£19,306 119 Lawful money of Virginia, the same as the

Massachusetts, or £14,479 18 94, sterling.

« The General entered in his book_"I find, upon the final adjustment of these accounts, that I am a considerable loser -my disbursements falling a good deal short of my receipts, and the money I had upon hand of my own: for besides the sums I carried with me to Cambridge, in 1775. I received inonies afterwards on private account in 1777, and since which (except small sums that I had occasion to apply to private uses) were all expended in the publick service; through hurry I suppose, and the perplexity of business (for I know not how else to account for the deficiency) I have omitted to charge the same, whilst every debit against me is here credits ed. July 1, 1783."

army; the French Consul General, and a large body of respectable citizens were admitted to the floor of the Hall. The members of Congress, representing the sovereignty of the nation, were seated and covered. At twelve o'clock, General WASHINGTON was introduced and conducted to a chair. - After a short interval the Secretary commanded silence. The President then informed the general," that the United States in Congress assembled, were prepared to receive his communications." With dignity of manner suited to the occasion, he arose and addressed them: « Mr. PRESIDENT,

“ The great events, on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honour of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

“Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign, with satisfaction, the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

« The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.

• While I repeat my obligations to the army in gø neral, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impon

sible the choice of confideutial officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favourable notice and patronage of Congress.

“I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping.

“ Having now finished the work assigned me, I tire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of publick life."

Having advanced to the chair and delivered the President his Commission, he received from him the following reply :

re

[ocr errors]

" The United States in Congress assembled, receive, with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success, through a perilous and a doubtful war.

" Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge, before it had formed alliances, and whilst it was without funds or a government to support you.

4 You have conducted the great military contest ** with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power, through all ters and changes. You have by the love and confidence of your fellow citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity, You have persevered, till these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been encbled under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom,

safety, and independence ; on which happy event, we sincerely join you in congratulations.

Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action, with the blessings of your fellow citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military com mand; it will continue to animate reinotést ages.

“We feel, with you, our obligations to the army in general, and will particulary charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers, who have at: tended your person to this affecting moment. " We join you in comm

mmending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens, to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life 80 beloved, may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be as happy as they have been illustriOld; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give.”.

The General immediately retired from the hall of Congress. The minds of the spectators were deeply impressed by the scene. The recollection of the circumstances of the country at the time the commission was accepted, the events that had since taken place, and the glorious issue of the conflict conspired to give the scene the most lively interest.

His country being exalted to the dignity of a sovereign and independent nation, General WASHINGTON with great satisfaction resigned the arduous duties and high responsibility of his military command. He repaired to Mount Vernon, in the delightful prospect of spending the residue of his days in the bosom of domestick life.

With an immaculate character he had passed

through all the complicated transactions of a revolutionary war ; and had established an immortal reputation as a soldier and a patriot, throughout the civilized world. To his retirement he carried the profound veneration and most lively affection of his grateful coun. trymen. In the estimation of his friends, the measure of his honour was full. The extent of their wishes was, that no unpropitious event might take place to tarnish the lustre of his reputation; but that in peace he might descend to the grave, with his laurel crown unfaded on his head.

CHAPTER X.

General Washington in Retirement-His Pursuits-Votes of Con

gress and of the Legislature of Virginia respecting him-His Visitors and Correspondents-His Plans to improve the Navigation of the Potomack and James' Rivers Declines the grant of Virginia-His Advice to the Cincinnati-State of Publick Affairs -National Convention General Washington its PresidentFederal Constitution recommended and adopted-General Washington requested to consent to administer the Government-He is chosen President of the United States-Sets out for the Seat of Government-Attention shown him on his Journey-His Reception at New-York.

[ocr errors]

1784. PEACE being restored to his country upon the broad basis of Independence, General WASHINGTON with supreme delight retired to the pursuits of private life. In a letter to Governour Clinton, written three days after his arrival at Mount Vernon, he thus 4Xpressed the grateful feelings of his heart on being relieved from the weight of his publick station. scene is at length closed. I feel myself eased of a load of publick care, and hope to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and in the practice of the domestick virtues.”

This sentiment was more fully expressed to the Marquis La Fayette. “I have become a private citi. zen on the banks of the Potomack, and under the sha

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »