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has been pleased to produce in our favour; to offer my sentiments respecting some important subjects which appear to me to be intimately connected with the tranquillity of the United States; to take my leave of your Excellency as a publick character, and to give my final blessing to that country in whose service I have spent the prime of my life ; for whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful nights ; and whose happiness being extremely dear to me, wili always constitute no inconsiderable part of my
“? Impressed with the liveliest sensibility on this pluasing occasion, I will claim the indulgence of detant::g the more copiously on the subject of our mutual felicitation. When we consider the magnitude of the prizt we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contesi, .nd the favourable manner in which it has terminateu, we shall find the greatest possible reason for gratiuude and rejoicing : this is a theme that wili afford infiniw delight to every benevolent and lib;ral mind, whether the event in contemplation be considered as a source of present enjoyment, or the parent of future happiuess; and we shall have equal occasion to felicitate ourselves on the lot which Providence has assigned us, whether we view it in a natural, political, or a moral point of view.
“ Tie citizens of America, placed in the most envi. able .condition, as the sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the world, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now, by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possossed of absolute freedom and independency; they are from this period to be considered as the actors on a most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for ‘he display of human greatness and felicity : here they are not only surrounded with every thing that can contribute to the
completion of private and domestick enjoyment, but Heaven has crowned all its other blessings, by giving a surer opportunity for political ha iness than any other nation has ever been favoured with. Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly than the recol. loction of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under which our republick assumed its rank among the nations
“ The foundation of our empire was not laid in a glooiny age of ignorance and superstition, but at an epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period : researches of the human mind after social happiness have been carried to a great extent: the treasures of knowledge acquired by the labours of phi losophers, sages, and legislators, through a long succession of years, are laid open for use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of government: the free cultivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, the pure and benign light of revelation, have had a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. At this auspicious period the United States came into existence as a nation, and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.
“ Such is our situation, and such are our prospects ; but notwithstanding the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us, notwithstanding happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion, and make it our own; yet it appears to me, there is an option still left to the United States of America, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a nation. This is the time of their political probation ; this is the moment, when the eyes of the whole world are turned upon them ; this is the
time to establish or ruin their national character for ever; this is the favourable moment to give such a tone to the Federal Government, as will enable it to answer the ends of its institution; or this may be the fll-fated moment for relaxing the powers of the Union, annihilating the cement of the confederation and ex posing us to become the sport of European politics, which may play one state against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to serve their own'in terested purposes. For, according to the system of policy the states shall adopt at this moment, they will stand or fall; and, by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the revolution must ulti mately be considered as a blessing or a curse ; & blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.
“ With this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence in me would be a crime. I will therefore speak to your Excellency in the language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise.
I am aware, however, those who differ from me in political sentimcnts, may perhaps remark, I am stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and they may possibly ascribe to arrogance or ostentation, what I know is alone the result of the purest intention; but the rectitude of my own heart, which disdains such unworthy motives, tho part I have hitherto acted in life, the determination I have formed of not taking any share in publick busi. ness hereafter, the ardent desire I feel and shall con. tinue to manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils of war, the benefits of a wise and liboral government, will, I flatter myselí sooner or later, convince my countrymen that I could ware no sinister views in delivering with so little reserve, the opinions contained in this address.
“ There are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the well being, I may even venture to
say, to the erstence of the United Sates, as an independent power.
" 1st. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head. “ 2dly. A sacred regard to publick justice.
The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,
“4thly. The prevalence of that pacifick and frien lly disposition among the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make thosc mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.
“ These are the pillars on which the glorious fabrick of our independency and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretext he inay tempt it, will merit the bitterest execration and the severest punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country."
Having dilated on these subjects, the letter was thus concluded:
“I have thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known before I surrendered up my publick 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 oid a last farewell to the cares of office, and all the einployments of publick 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 retire.
ment, will not fail to implore the divine henediction
“ 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 citi. zens 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 pacifick temper of mind, which were the characteristicks of the divine Author of our blessed religion ; without a humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.”
From this time the disbanding the army engrossed the attention of Congress and of the Commander in Chief. No funds were established to discharge the five years commutation. Large arrearages of pay were due to officers and privates, and it was not in the power of government to advance them money even to defray the expenses oi' the journey to their homes To disband the army in a body under these circum stances, was deemed a measure of too great hazard. Congress therefore directed the General not to give discharges to the troops which were enlisted for the war, until the definite articles of peace should be signed; but to grant furloughs to all non-commisioned of. ficers and soldiers of this description, who desired them ; and they were not ordered to rejoin their regiments.
Alarmed at this measure, the Generals, and officers commanding regiments and corps on the Hudson, presen:ed an affectionate and respectful address to the Commander in Chief, in which they expressed a duti. ful attachment to the government, but mentioned that after the late resolution of Congress, they “ confident