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army, the French Consul General, and a large body of respectable citizens were admitted to the floor of the Hall. The members of Congress, representing the sovereignty of the nation, were seated and covered. At twelve o'clock, General Washington was introduced and conducted to a chair. After a short interval the Seuretary commanded silence. The President then informed the general, “ that the United States in Congress assembled, were prepared to receive his communications.” With dignity of manner suited to the occasion, he arose and addressed them : " Mr. PRESIDENT,
“The great events, on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honour of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.
Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign, with satisfaction, the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.
“ The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.
6 While I repeat my obligations to the army in ge neral, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impos
sible the choice of confide..tial officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favourable notice and patronage of Congress.
“I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superinteudence of them to his holy keeping.
Having now finished the work assigned me, I re. tire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commis
on, and take my leave of all the loyments of publick life."
Having advanced to the chair and delivered the President his Commission, he received from him the following reply :
" The United States in Congress assembled, receive, with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success, through a perilous and a doubtful war.
“ Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge, before it had formed alliances, and whilst it was without funds or a government to support you.
“ You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power, through all disasters and changes. You have by the love and confidence of your fellow citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity. You have persevered, till these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom
safety, and independence ; on which happy event, we sincerely join you in congratulations.
Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action, with the blessings of your fellow citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military com mand ; it will continue to animate reinotest ages.
“ We feel, with you, our obligations to the army in general, and will particulary charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers, who have at tended your person to this affecting moment.
“We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to clispose the hearts and minds of its citizens, to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life 80 beloved, may be fostered with all his care ; that your days may be as happy as they have been illustrioud; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give.”
The General immediately retired from the hall of Congress. The minds of the spectators were deeply impressed by the scene. The recollection of the circumstances of the country at the time the conmission was accepted, the events that had since taken place, and the glorious issue of the conflict conspired to give t'ne scene the most lively interest.
His country being exalted to the dignity of a sove. reign and independent nation, General WASHINGTON with great satisfaction rezigned the arduous duties and high responsibility of his military command. He rc. paired to Mount Vernon, in the delightful prospect of spending the residue of his days in the bosom of domestick life.
With an immaculate character he had passed
through all the complicated transactions of a rezolutionary war ; and had established an immortal reputation as a soldier and a patriot, throughout the civilized world. To his retirement he carried the profound veneration and must lively affection of his grateful coun trymen. In the estimation of his friends, the measure of his honour was full. The extent of their wishes was, that no unpropitious event might take place to tarnish the lustre of his reputation ; but that in peaco he might descend to the grave, with his laurel crown unfaded on his head.
General Washington in Retirement-His Pursuits-Votes of Con
gress and of ihe Legislature of Virginia respecting him-His Visitors and Correspondents—His Plans to improve the Navi. gation of the Potomack and James' Rivers—Declines the grant of Virginia-His Advice to the Cincinnati-State of Publick Affairs -National Convention-General Washington its Presider :Federal Constitution recommended and adopted-General Washington requested to consent to administer iho Government-116 is chosen President of the United States-Sets out for the Seal of Government-Attention shown him on his Journey–His Reception at New-York.
1784. PEACE being restored to his country upou the broad basis of Independence, General Washington with supreme delight retired to the pursuits of private life. In a letter to Governour Clinton, written three days after his arrival at Mount Vernon, he thus AXpressed the grateful feelings of his heart on being relieved from the weight of his publick station. scene is ai length closed. I feel myself eased of a load of publick care, and hope to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and in the practice of the domestick virtues.”
This sentiment was more fully expressed to the Marquis La Fayette. “I have become a private citi. zen on the banks of the Potomack, and under the sha
dow of my own vine and own fig tree, free from the pustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of publick life,
am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier who is ever in pursuit of fame, the statesman whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries (as if the globe was insufficient for us all) and the courtier who is always watching the countenance of his Prince in the hope of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception. I have not only retired from all publick employments, but am retiring within myBelf, and shall be able to view the solitary walk and tread the pa
life with heart-felt satisface tion. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all.; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers.”
But delighted as he was with his domestick enjoy. monts, he found it to be the work of time to divest him. self of the feelings and habits formed in his publick station. “I am just beginning,” said he in a letter to a friend, “ to experience the ease and freedom from publick cares, which, however desirable, takes some time to realize ; for strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that it was not until lately I could get the better of my usual custom of ruminating as soon as I awoke in the morning, on the business of the ersuing day; and of my surprise at finding, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was no longer a publick man, or had any thing to do with publick transactions. I feel, now however, as I conceive a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which all the former were directed, and frum his house-top is looking back and tracing with an eager eye, the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which lay