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ought to be exploded forever,—that Provision should be viewed, as it really was, a reasonable compensation offered by Congress, at a time when they had nothing else to give, to the Officers of the Army for Services then to be performed,— It was the only means to prevent a total dereliction of the Service,— It was a part of their hire,— I may be allowed to say,it was the price of their blood and of your Independency,— it is therefore more than a common debt,- it is a debt of honor,
-it can never be considered a pension or gratuity, nor be cancelled untill it is fairly discharged.
With regard to a distinction between Officers and Soldiers, it is sufficient that the uniform experience of every Nation of the World, combined with our own, proves the utility and propriety of the discrimination. Rewards in proportion to the aids the public derives from them, are unquestionably due to all its Servants,— In some Lines, the Soldiers have perhaps generally had as ample a compensation for their Services, by the large Bounties which have been paid to them, as their Officers will receive in the proposed commutation,- In others, if besides the donation of Lands, the payment of arreareges of Cloathing and Wages (in which Articles all the component parts of the Army must be put upon the same footing) we take into the estimate the Bounties many of the Soldiers have received, and the gratuity of one years full pay, which is promised to all, possibly their situation (every circumstance being duly considered) will not be deemed less eligible than that of the officers ;— should a further reward however, be judged equitable, I will venture to assert no one will enjoy greater satisfaction than myself, on seeing an exemption from Taxes for a limited time, (which has been petitioned for in some instances) or any other adequate immunity or compensation granted, to the brave defenders of their country's Cause;— but neither the adoption or rejection of this proposition, will in any manner affect, much less militate against, the Act of Congress by which they have offered five years full pay, in lieu of the half pay for life, which had been be fore promised to the Officers of the Army.
Before I conclude the subject of Public Justice, I cannot omit to mention the obligation this Country is under, to that meritorious Class of veteran Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates who have been discharged for inability, in conse quence of the Resolution of Congress of the 234 of April 1782, on an annual pension for life, — their peculiar sufferings, their singular Merits and claims to that provision, need only be known, to interest all the feelings of humanity in their behalf;— nothing but a punctual payment of their annual allowance, can rescue them from the most complicated misery,—and nothing could be a more melancholy and distressing sight, than to behold those who have shed their blood or lost their limbs in the service of their Country, without a shelter, without a Friend, and without the means of obtaining any of the necessaries or comforts of life, compelled to beg their daily bread from door to door ! — suffer me to recommend those of this discription, belonging to your State, to the warmest patronage of your Excellency and your Legislature.
It is necessary to say but a few words on the third topic which was proposed, and which regards particularly the defence of the Republic,—As there can be little doubt but Congress will recommend a proper Peace Establishment for the United States, in which a due attention will be paid to the importance of placing the Militia of the Union upon a regular and respectable footing, if this should be the case, I would beg leave to urge the great advantage of it in the strongest terms.
The Militia of this Country must be considered as the Palladium of our security, and the first effectual resort in case of hostility; it is essential therefore, that the same System should pervade the whole, — that the formation and dicipline of the Militia of the Continent should be absolutely
uniform, and that the same species of Arms, Accoutrements, and Military Apparatus, should be introduced in every part of the United States ;— No one, who has not learned it from experience, can conceive the difficulty, expence and confusion which result from a contrary System, or the vague Arrange ments which have hitherto prevailed.
If in treating of political points, a greater latitude than usual has been taken in the course of this Address,— the importance of the Crisis, and the magnitude of the objects in discussion, must be my apology,– It is however, neither my wish or expectation that the preceding observations should claim any 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 the most 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 expence 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 brought 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 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 it tended to damp the zeal of those which were more willing to exert themselves, served also to accumulate the expences of the War, and to frustrate the best concerted plans ;— and that the discouragement occasioned by the complicated difficulties and embarasments, 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 honor to Command.- But while I mention these things, which are notorious facts, as the defects of our Federal Government, particularly in the persecution 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 unparallelled exertions 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 farewell 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 usefull to his Country, and who, even in the shade of Retirement, will not fail to implore the divine benediction upon it.
I 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 mind which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of your blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a Happy Nation.
I have the honor to be with the greatest esteem & respect Sir Your Excellency's Most Obedient and very Humble Servant
In Senate June 26th 1783
S Adams Presid'
In the House of Representatives June 26th 1783.
Read & thereupon Ordered that M' Phillips, M' Sedgwick, M' Bacon, M' Rows & M' Hosmer with such as the Hon Senate may join be a Committee to consider this Letter & communications accompanying & report. And that said Committee report particularly a draft of a Letter to Gen' Washington expressing the gratitude of this Commonwealth for the exertions of his zeal, firmness & patriotism & for his attention to the rights of the citizens & the honor of civil government during the course of the war & to congratulate him on the glorious terms of peace. Sent up for concurrence
Tristram Dalton Speaker
In Senate June 27th 1783
Read & Concurred & Eleazer Brooks, Sam' Phillips jun", Charles Turner and Nath' Wells Esq's are joined
S Adams Presid'