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who are less acquainted with me) that if I should receive the appointment, and should be prevailed upon to accept it; the acceptance would be attended with more diffidence and reluctance, than ever I experienced before in my life. It would be, however, with a fixed and sole determination of lending whatever assistance might be in my power to promote the publick weal, in hopes that at a convenient and early period, my services might be dispensed with ; and that I might be permitted once more to retire-to pass an uncloud. ed evening after the stormy day of life, in the bosom of domestick tranquillity.”
We have already made copious extracts from the letters of the General on the subject of the Presidency; but as they clearly describe his feelings and views on the near prospect of being again summoned by his country into publick life, they must be interesting to all. We will close them with the following communications made to General Lincoln, who had also communicated to him the expectation of his friends, “I would willingly pass over in silence that part of your letter, in which you mention the persons who are candidates for the two first offices in the executive, if I did not fear the omission might seem to betray a want of confidence. Motives of delicacy have prevented me hitherto from conversing or writing on this subject, whenever I could avoid it with decency. I may, however, with great sincerity, and I believe without of fending against modesty or propriety, say to you, that I most heartily wish the choice to which you allude might not fall upon me; and that if it should, I must reserve to myself the right of making up my final de cision, at the last moment, when it can be brought into one view, and when the expediency or inexpediency of a refusal can be more judiciously determined than at present. But be assured, my dear sir, if from any inducement I shall be persuaded ultimately to ac cept, it will not be (so far as I know my own heart)
from any of a private or personal nature. Every per. sonal consideration conspires to rivet me (if I may use the expression) to retirement. At my time of life, and under my circumstances, nothing in this world can ever draw me from it, unless it be a conviction that the partiality of my countrymen had made my services absolutely necessary, joined to a fear that my refusal might induce a belief that I preferred the conservation of my own reputation and private ease, to the good of my country. After all, if I should conceive myself in a manner constrained to accept, I call heaven to witness, that this very act would be the greatest sacrifice of my personal feelings and wishes that ever I have been called upon to make. It would be to forego repose and domestick enjoyment for trouble, perhaps publick obloquy; for I should consider myself as entering apon an unexplored field, enveloped on every side with clouds and darkness.
“ From this embarrassing situation I had naturally supposed that my declarations at the close of the war would have saved me; and that my sincere intentions, then publickly made known, would have effectually precluded me for ever afterwards from being looked upon as a candidate for any office. This hope, as a last anchor of worldly happiness in old age, I had still carefully preserved ; until the publick papers, and private letters from my correspondents in almost every quarter, taught me to apprehend that I might soon be obliged to answer the question, whether I would go again into publiek life or not.”
In event it appeared, that amidst the discordance of opinion, respecting the merits of the Federal Constitution, there was but one sentiment, through the United States, respecting the man who should administer the government. On counting the votes of the electors of President and Vice President, it was found that General GEORGE WASHINGTON had their unani
mous suffrage, and was chosen President of the United States for four years from the 4th of March 1789.
On the 14th of April, official information reached him of his election. Having already made up his mind to obey the summons of a whole country, on the second day after this notification, he quitted the quiet walks of Mount Vernon for the arduous duties of the supreme magistracy of his nation. Although grateful for this renewed declaration of the favourable opinion of the community, yet his determination to accept the office was accompanied with diffidence and apprehension. “I wish,” he observed," that there may not be reason for regretting the choice, for indeed all I can promise is, to accomplish that which can be done by an honest zeal.” The feelings, with which he entered upon publick life, he left upon his private journal.
“ About ten o'clock, I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestick felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for NewYork, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations."
He was met on the road by the gentlemen of Alex. andria, and conducted to a publick dinner. From the numerous addresses presented to the General on this occasion, we select that of the citizens of Alexandria, because it is a testimonial of the affection and veneration in which his neighbours and friends held his private as well as publick character, and because, in itself, it has peculiar interest. The following is the address :
Again your country commands your care. Obedient to its wishes, unmindful of your ease, we see you again relinquishing the bliss of retirement, and this too at a period of life, when nature itself seems to authorize a preference of
repose ! “ Not to extol your glory as a soldier ; not to pour forth our gratitude for past services ; not to acknow
ledge the justice of the unexampled honour which has been conferred upon you by the spontaneous and unanimous suffrages of three millions of freemen, in your election to the supreme magistracy; nor to admire the patriotism which directs your conduct, do your neighbours and f. iends now address you. Themes less splendid, but more endearing, impress our minds. The first and best of citizens must leave us. Our aged must lose their ornament; our youth their model; our agriculture its improver; our commerce its friend ; our infant academy its protector ; our poor their benefactor, and the interiour navigation of the Potomack (an event replete with the most extensive utility already, by your unremitted exertions, brought into partial use) its institutor and promoter.
« Farewell !-go! and make a grateful people happy, a people, who will be doubly grateful when they contemplate this recent sacrifice for their interest.
“ To that Being, who maketh and unmaketh at his will, we commend you ; and after the accomplishment of the arduous business to which you are called, may he restore to us again, the best of men, and the most beloved fellow citizen !" To which General WASHINGTON replied as follows:
“ GENTLEMEN, " Although I ought not to conceal, yet I cannot describe the painful emotions which I felt in being called upon to determine whether I would accept or refuse the Presidency of the United States. The unanimity in the choice, the opinion of my friends communicated from different parts of Europe as well as from Ameri. ca, the apparent wish of those who were not entirely satisfied with the constitution in its present form; and an ardent desire on my own part to be instrumental in connecting the good will of my countrymen towards each other, have induced an acceptance. Those who know me best (and you, my fellow citizens, are, from your situation, in that number) know better than any
others my love of retirement is so great, that no earthly consideration, short of a conviction of duty, could have prevailed upon me to depart from my resolution never more to take any share in transactions of a publick nature. For at my age, and in my circumstances, what prospects or advantages could I propose to myself, from embarking again on the tempestuous and uncertain ocean of publick life? I do not feel myself under the necessity of making publick declarations, in order to convince you, gentlemen, of my attachment to yourselves, and regard for your interests. The whole tenour of my life has been open to your inspection ; and my past actions, rather than my present declarations, must be the pledge of my future conduct.
" In the mean time I thank you most sincerely for the expressions of kindness contained in your valedic. tory address. It is true, just after having bade adieu to my domestick connexions, this tender proof of your friendships is but too well calculated still farther to awaken my sensibility, and increase my regret at parting from the enjoyments of private life.
“ All that now remains for me is to commit myself and you to the protection of that beneficent Being who, on a former occasion, hath happily brought us together after a long and distressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious Providence will again indulge
Unutterable sensations must then be left to more expressive silence—while from an aching heart, I bid you all, my affectionate friends, and kind neighbours, farewell !"
It was the wish of General WASHINGTON to avoid parade on his journey to the seat of government, but he found it impossible. Numerous bodies of respectable citizens, and detachments from the militia escortod him the whole distance, and at every place through which he passed, he received the most flattering evi. dence of the high estimation, in which his countrymen held his talents and his virtues.