« ZurückWeiter »
regard, except so far as they shall appear to be dictated by a good intention; consonant to the immutable rules of justice; calculated to produce a liberal system of policy, and founded on whatever experience may have been acquired by a long and close attention to public business. Here I might speak with more confidence, from my actual observations ; and if it would not swell this letter, (already too prolix) beyond the bounds I had prescribed myself, I could demonstrate to every mind, open to conviction, that in less time, and with much less expense than has been incurred, the war might have been brought to the same happy conclusion, if the resources of the continent could have been properly called forth ; that the distresses and disappointments which have very often occurred, have, in too many instances, resulted more from a want of energy in the continental government, than a deficiency of means in the particular states : that the inefficacy of the measures, arising from the want of an adequate authority in the supreme power, from a partial compliance with the requisitions of Congress in some of the states, and from a failure of punctuality in others, while they tended to damp the zeal
of those who were more willing to exert themselves, served also to accumulate the expenses of the war, and to frustrate the best concerted plans; and that the discouragement occasioned by the complicated difficulties and embarrassments, in which our affairs were by this means involved, would have long ago produced the dissolution of any army, less patient, less virtuous, and less persevering than that which I have had the honour to command. But while I mention those things, which are notorious facts, as the defects of our federal constitution, particularly in the prosecution of a war, I beg it may be understood, that as I have ever taken a pleasure in gratefully acknowledging the assistance and support I have derived from every class of citizens ; so shall I always be happy to do justice to the unparalleled exer. tions of the individual states, on many interesting occasions.
I HAVE thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known before I surrendered up my public 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 farewel to the cares of office, and all the employments of public 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 retirement, will not fail to implore the divine benediction upon it.
1 Now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the state over which you preside, in his holy protection ; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government ; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large ; and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field ; and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind, which were the characteristics of the divine
author of our blessed religion ; without an humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.
I HAVE the honour to be, with much esteem and respect, sir, your excellency's most obedient, and most humble servant,
Princeton, Aug. 26, 1783.
GENERAL WASHINGTON BEING INTRODUCED BY TWO MEMBERS, THE PRESIDENT ADDRESSED HIM AS FOLLOWS :
LIONGRESS feel particular pleasure in seeing your excellency, and in congratulating you on the success of a war in which you have acted so conspicuous a part.
It has been the singular happiness of the United States, that during a war so long, so dangerous, and so important, Providence has been graciously pleased to preserve the life of a General, who has merited and possessed the uninterrupted confidence and affection of his fellow-citizens. In other na. tions many have performed services for which they have deserved and received the thanks of the public; but to you, sir, peculiar praise is due, your services have been essential in acquiring and establishing the free. dom and independence of your country ; they deserve the grateful acknowledgments of a free and independent nation : those ac