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(I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jea. lousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake ; since history and experience prove that foreign influ. ence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial ; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Rea] patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favourite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usury the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
“ The great rule of cuduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.
Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politicks, or the ordinary combinations and col. lisions of her friendships, or enmities.
6 Our detached and distant situation invites end en. ables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may any
time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making ac. quisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving
us provocation; when we may choose peace or war as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
“Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation ? Why quit our own to stand upon forvign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humour, or caprice ?
“ It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world ; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronising infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to publick than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine
But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
“ Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishmerts, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
Harmony, and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences ; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversify. ing, by gentle means, the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them ; conventional rules of inter. course, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate ; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to 1.00} for disin
terested favours from another; that it must pay, with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater errour than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride cught to discard.
“ In offering to you, my countrymen, these coun. sels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish ; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations : but if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur, to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
“ How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the publick records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
“In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me; uninfluenced by any attempts io do ter or divert me from it.
“ After deliberate examination with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.
“ The considerations which respect the right to aold this conduct, it is not necessary, on this occasion, to detail. I will only observe, that according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
“ The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations
“ The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional errour, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errours. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Al mighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indul. gence; and that after forty-five years of my lifo dedi. cated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, ag myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
“Relying on its kindness in this, as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is 80 natural to a man, who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasirg expectation, that retreat, in which I promise myee!f to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government—the ever favourite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours, and dangers.”
This Address to the people of the United States was received with the highest veneration and gratitude Several of the State Legislatures ordered it to be put upon their journals, and every citizen considered it as the legacy of the most distinguished American Patriot.
On the 7th of December, 1796, the President for the last time, met the National Legislature. In his Speech, after taking a view of the situation of the United States, he, regardless of opposition and cen suro, recommended the attention of Congress to those measures which he deemed essential to national independence, honour, and prosperity. The first among these was the creation of a Navy.
" To an active external commerce, the protection of a naval force is indispensable. This is manifest with regard to wars in which a State is itself a party: but besides this, it is in our own experience, that the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the depredations of nations at war. To secure respect to a neutral flag requires a naval force, organized and ready to vindicate it from insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to war, by discouraging belligerent powers from committing such violations of the rights of the neutral party, as may first or last, leave no other option. From the best information I have been able to obtain,