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“ The letters in question have the dates, addresses, and signatures here following."
“ New-York, June 12, 1776. “ To Mr. LUND WASHINGTON, at Mount Vernon, Fairfar County, Virginia.
“ June 18, 1776. “ To John PARK Custis, Esq. at the Hon. BENEDICT Calvert's, Esq. Mount Airy, Maryland. G. W.
“ New-York July 8,1776. “ To Mr. LUND WASHINGTON, Mount Vernon, Fair. fax County, Virginia.
G. W. “ New-York, July 16, 1776. “ To Mr. Lund WASHINGTON.
G. W. “ New-York, July 15, 1776. " To Mr. Lund WASHINGTON.
G. W. “ New-York, July 22, 1776. " To Mr. Lund WASHINGTON.
“ June 24, 1776. " To Mrs. WASHINGTON.
“ At the time when these letters first appeared, it was notorious to the army immediately under my com mand, and particularly to the gentlemen attached to my person, that my mulatto man Billy had never been one moment in the power of the enemy. It is also a fact that no part of my baggage, or any of my attendants, were captured during the whole course of
These well known facts made it unnecessary, during the war, to cal the publick attention to the forgery, by any express declaration of mine ; and a firm reliance on my fellow citizens, and the abundant proofs they gave of their confidence in me, rendered it alike unnecessary to take any formal notice of the rovival of the imposition, during my civil administration. But as I cannot know how soon a more serious event may succeed to that which will this day take place, I have thought it a duty that I owed to myself, to my country, and to truth, now to detail the circumstances above recited, and to add my solemn declaration that
the letters herein described, are a base forgery, and that never saw or heard of them until they appeared in print. The present letter I commit to your care, and desire it may be deposited in the office of the Department of State as a testimony of the truth to the present generation and to posterity.”
On the fourth of March 1797, he attended the Inauguration of his successor in office. Great sensibility was manifested by the members of the Legislature and other distinguished characters, when he entered the Senate Chamber; and much admiration expressed, at the complacence and delight, he manifested at seeing another clothed with the authority, with which he had himself been invested.
Having paid his affectionate compliments to Mr. Adams as President of the United States, he bid adieu, to the seat of government, and hastened to the de lights of domestick life. He intended that his jour ney should have been private, but the attempt was vain ; the same affectionate and respectful attentions were on this occasion paid him, which he had received during his Presidency.
At the adoption of the Federal Constitution, foreign powers refused all negotiation with Congress, publick credit was lost, nor was any function of a living government performed. Under his own auspices, General WASHINGTON saw a National Government firmly established, and the country rise to a state of strength and respectability ; controversies with foreign nations, which had long existed, and which involved the best interests of the United States settled ; the resources of the country explored and brought into action; the debts of the war funded, and credit restored, through all the ramifications of publick and private concerns ; the agriculture and commerce of his country flourish. ing beyond example, and its capital doubled.
One cloud only at this time obscured the political horizon of the United States. France had assumed a
threatening attitude ; but for the peace and safety of the country, the General confided in the patriotism of his fellow citizens, under the providence of Hea.
In the rejection of the American Envoys by the Court of France, in their menaces to the United States, and in the measures adopted under the administration of Mr. Adams, his feelings were deeply interested. When the indignities of the Directory exceeded endurance, and the spirit of the American nation was roused to resistance, every eye was directed to him as the Military leader. He might, withoat jealousy, be placed at the head of a powerful army, and could bring into the field all the military strength and talents of the country.
Colonel Hamilton in May 1798, intimated to him this universal expectation; to whom General WASHINO TON thus replied.
“ You may be assured that my mind is deeply im pressed with the present situation of publick affairs, and not a little agitated by the outrageous conduct of France towards the United States, and at the inimica! conduct of those partisans who aid and abet her mea
You may believe further, from assurances equally sincere, that if there was any thing in my power to be done consistently, to avert or lessen the danger of the crisis, it should be rendered with hand and heart.
“ But, my dear Sir, dark as matters appear at pro sent, and expedient as it is to be prepared for the worst that can happen (and no man is more disposed to this measure than I am) I cannot make up my mind yet, for the expectation of open war; or, in other words, for a formidable invasion by France. I cannot believe, although I think her capable of any thing, that she will attempt to do more than she has done. When she perceives the spirit and policy of this country rising into resistance, and that she has falsely calulated
upon support from a large part of the people to promote her views and influence in it, she will desist even from these practices, unless unexpected events in Eu. rope, or the acquisition of Louisiana and the Floridas should induce her to continue them. And I believe further, that although the leaders of their party in this country will not change their sentiments, they will be obliged to change their plan, or the inode of carrying it on. The effervescence which is appearing in all quarters and the desertion of their followers, will frown them into silence, at least for a while.
“ If I did not view things in this light, my mind would be infinitely more disquieted than it is : for, if a crisis should arrive when a sense of duty, or a call from r..y country should become so imperious as to leave me no choice, I should prepare for relinquishment, and go with as much reluctance from my present peaceful abode, as I should go to the tombs of my ancestors."
In June, President Adarns wrote General WASHINGton a letter in which he thus alluded to his again appearing in a publick character.
“ In forming an army, whenever I must come to that extremity, I am at an immense loss whether to call out all the old Generals, or to appoint a young set. If the French come here, we must learn to march with a quick step, and to attack, for in that way only they are said to be vulnerable. I must tax you sometimes for advice. We must have your name, if
you will, in any case, permit us to use it. There will be more efficacy in it than in many an army.”
Four days after the Secretary of War addressed him in the following manner on the same subject.
May we flatter ourselves that, in a crisis so awful and inportant, you will accept the command of all our armies ? I hope you will, because you alone can unite all hearts and all hands, if it is possible that they can be united.”
To the President he thus replied. “At the epoch of my retirement, an invasion of these states by any European power, or even the probability of such an event in my days, was so far from being contemplated by me, that I had no conception either that or any other occurrence would arise, in so short a period, which could turn my eyes from the shades of Mount Vernon. But this seems to be tha age of wonders. And it is reserved for intoxicated and lawless France (for purposes of providence far beyond the reach of human ken) to slaughter her own citizens, and to disturb the repose of all the world besides. From a view of the past, from the prospect of the present, and of that which seems to be expected, it is not easy for me to decide satisfactorily on the part it might best become me to act. In case of actu al invasion by a formidable force, I certainly should not entrench myself under the cover of age and retirement, if my services should be required by my country to assist in repelling it. And if there be good cause to expect such an event, which certainly must be better known to the government than to private citizens, delay in preparing for it may be dangerous, improper, and not to be justified by prudence. The uncertainty however of the latter, in my mind, creates my embarrassment ; for I cannot bring it to believe, regardless as the French are of treaties, and of the laws of nations, and capable as I conceive theni to be of any species of despotism and injustice, that they woll attempt to invade this country after such an uniform and unequivocal expression of the determination of the people in all parts to oppose them with their lives and fortunes. That they have been led to believe by their agents and partisans among us that we are a divided people, that the latter are opposed to their own government, and that the show of a small force would occasion a revolt, I have no doubt ; and bow far these men (grown desperate) will further at