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ing the half pay into a sum in gross equal to five years' full pay, and that either in money, or securities bearing an interest of six per cent. According to the orders of Congress, three months’ pay was advanced to the officers and soldiers in the notes of the treasurer. But this measure was not taken till late, and not until the Pennsylvania militia had broken out into so violent an insurrection, at Philadelphia, that they blockaded, with arms in hands, the very hall of Congress for some hours. The reduction of the continental army became then the principal object of attention, and discharges were granted successively to those soldiers, who during seven campaigns of a most obstinate war, had struggled with an heroic constancy, not only against sword and fire, but also against hunger, nakedness, and even the fury of the elements. Their work completed, their country acknowledged independent, they peaceably returned to their families. The Congress voted them public thanks, in the name of a grateful country. The English were not slow to evacuate New York and its dependencies, in which they had made so long a stay. A little aster, the French departed from Rhode Island for their possessions, carrying with them the benedictions of all the Americans. The Congress, in order to celebrate worthily the establishment of peace and independence, appointed the eleventh of December, to be observed as a day of solemn thanksgiving to the Dispenser of all good. By another decree they ordained, that an equestrian statue of bronze should be erected to general Washington, in the city where the Congress should hold its sessions. The general was to be represented by it in the Roman costume, with the staff of command in the right hand, and the head encircled with a crown of laurel. The pedestal of marble was to be invested with bassi relieri commemorative of the principal events of the war, which had taken place under the immediate command of Washington; such as the deliverance of Boston, the taking of the Hessians at Trenton, the affair of Princeton, the battle of Monmouth, and the surrender of Yorktown. The anterior face of the pedestal was to bear the following inscription. The United States assembled in Congress, voted this statue, in the year of our Lord 1783, in honor of George Washington, captain-general of the armies of the United States of .1merica, during the war which vindicated and secured their liberty, sovereignty, and independence. Such was the issue of a contest which during the course of eight consecutive years, chained the attention of the universe, and drew the most powerful nations of Europe to take a share in it. It is worthy of the observer to investigate the causes which have concurred to the triumph of the Americans, and baffled the efforts of their enemies. In the first place, they had the good fortune not to encounter opposition from foreign nations, and even to find among them benevolence, countenance, and succours. These savorable dispositions, while they inspired them with more confidence in the justice of their cause, redoubled also their spirit and energy. The coalition of several powerful nations, leagued against a single one, on account of some resorm it wishes to establish in the frame of its government, and which theatens not only to defeat its object, but to deprive it of liberty and independence, usually causes its rulers to divost themselves of all moderation and prudence, and to have recourse to the most violent and extraordinary measures, which soon exhaust the resources of the country and excite discontent among its inhabitants; till, oppressed and harassed in every form by the officers of government, they are driven at last into civil convulsions, in which the strength of the community is consumed. And besides, these violent measures so disgust the people with the whole enterprise, that confounding the abuse of a thing with the use of it, they choose rather to retreat to the point from which they set out, or even further back, than to continue their progress towards the object originally proposed. Hence it is, that, if that object were liberty, they afterwards rush into despotism, preferring the tyranny of one to that of many. But to these fatal extremities, the Americans were not reduced, as well for the reason at first stated, the general favor of foreign states, as on account of the geographical position of their country, separated by vast seas from nations which keep on foot great standing armies, and desended on all other points by impenetrable forests, immense deserts and inaccessible mountains, and having in all this part no other enemy to fear except the Indian tribes, more capable of infesting and ravaging the frontiers, than of making any permanent encroachments. One of the most powerful causes of the success of the American revolution, should, doubtless, be sought in the little difference which existed between the form of government which they abandoned, and that which they wished to establish. It was not srom absolute, but from limited monarchy, that they passed to the freedom of an elective government. Moral things, with men, are subject to the same laws as physical ; the laws of all nature. Total and sudden changes cannot take place without causing disasters or death. The royal authority, tempered by the very nature of the government, and still enfeebled by distance, scarcely made itself perceptible in the British colonies. When the Americans had shaken it off entirely, they experienced no considerable change. Royalty alone was effaced ; the administration remained the same, and the republic found itself established without shock. Such was the advantage enjoyed by the American insurgents, whereas the people of other countries, who should undertake to pass all at once from absolute monarchy to the republican scheme, would find themselves constrained to overturn not only monarchical institutions, but all others, in order
to substitute new ones in their stead. But such a subversion, cannot take place without doing violence to the opinions, usages, manners and customs of the greater number, nor even without grievously wounding their interests. Discontent propagates itself; democratic forms serve as the mere mask of royalty; the people discover that they have complained of imaginary evils; they eagerly embrace the first opportunity to measure back their steps, even to the very point which they started from. Another material cause of the happy issue of this grand enterprise, will be seen in the circumspect and moderate conduct invariably pursued by that considerate and persevering people by whom it was achieved. Satisfied with having abolished royalty, they paused there, and discreetly continued to respect the ancient laws, which had survived the change. Thus they escaped the chagrin of having made their condition worse in attempting to improve it. They had the good sense to reflect, that versatility in counsels degrades the noblest cause, chills its partisans, and multiplies its opponents. There will always be more alacrity in a career whose goal is fixed and apparent, than in that where it is concealed in obscurity. The Americans reared the tree, because they suffered it to grow; they gathered its fruit, because they allowed it to ripen. They were not seen to plume themselves on giving every day a new face to the state. Supporting evil with constancy, they never thought of imputing it to the defects of their institutions, nor to the incapacity or treason of those who governed them, but to the empire of circumstances. They were especially indebted for this moderation of character to the simplicity of their hereditary manners; few among them aspired to dignity and power. They presented not the afflicting spectacle of friends dissolving their ancient intimacies, and even declaring a sudden war upon each other, because one was arrived at the helm of state without calling the other to it. With them patriotism triumphed over ambition. There existed royalists and republicans; but not republicans of different sects, rending with their dissentions the bosom of their country. There might be among them a diversity of opinions, but never did they abandon themselves to sanguinary feuds, proscriptions and confiscations. From their union resulted their victory; they immolated their enmities to the public weal, their ambition to the safety of the state, and they reaped the fruit of it; an ever memorable proof that if precipitate resolutions cause the failure of political enterprises, temper and perseverance conduct them to a glorious issue. The army was disbanded; but the supreme command still remained in the hands of Washington; the public mind was intent upon what he was about to do. His prudence reminded him that it was time to put a term to the desire of military glory; his thoughts were now turned exclusively upon leaving to his country a great example WOL. II. 58
of moderation. The Congress was then in session at the city of Annapolis in Maryland. Washington communicated to that body his resolution to resign the command, and requested to know whether it would be their pleasure that he should offer his resignation in writing, or at an audience. The Congress answered, that they appointed the twenty-third of December for that ceremony. When this day arrived, the hall of Congress was crowded with spectators; the legislative and executive characters of the state, several general officers, and the consul-general of France were present. The members of Congress remained seated and covered. The spectators were standing and uncovered. The general was introduced by the secretary, and conducted to a seat near the president. After a decent interval, silence was commanded, and a short pause ensued. The president, general Mifflin, then informed him, that the United States in Congress assembled were prepared to receive his communications. Washington rose, and with an air of inexpressible dignity, delivered the sollowing address. ‘Mr. President; The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honor 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. While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, 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 impossible the choice of confidential 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 favorable notice and patronage of Congress. “I consider it as an indispensable duty, to close this last act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping. Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding
an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I * 've on long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave • 2s all the employments of public life.’ Having spoken thus, he advanced to the chair of the president, ... and deposited the commission in his hands. The president made him, in the name of Congress, the following answer. *Sir ; The United States in Congress assembled, receive with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the Tauthorities under which you have led their troops with success through 3 perilous and a doubtful war. Called upon by your country to efend 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 same to posterity. You have persevered, until the 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 blessing of your sellow-citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate the remotest ages. We feel, with you, - our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers who have attended 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 dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a . ."poy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to Him our earnest prayers that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all his are ; that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give,’ When the president had terminated his discourse, a long and pro
found silence pervaded the whole assembly. All minds appeared
impressed with the grandeur of the scene, the recollections of the past, the felicity of the present, and the hopes of the future. The captain-general and Congress were the objects of universal eulogium. ... A short time after this ceremony, Washington retired to enjoy the ... long desired repose of his seat of Mount Vernon, in Virginia.