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... General Washington's valedictory address to the people
After retiring to private life, general Washington devotes
his time to rural pursuits, to the duties of friendship, and to institutions of public utility.... Resolves of congress and of the legislature of Virginia for erecting statues in honour of him....Recommends the opening and improving the inland navigation of the great rivers in Virginia....He declines accepting a donation made to him by his native state....Establishment of the society of the Cincinnati, of which he is elected president.... The causes which led to a change of the government of the United States....Letters of general Washington to the governors of the several states.
To a mind inflamed by ambition, or corrupted by the love of power, it will appear impossible that the late commander in chief could have descended, without reluctance, from the exalted station which he had filled so long, and with so much glory. But the actions of Washington had never been influenced by selfish motives. To preserve the liberties of his country his sword had been drawn, and to establish her independence he had remained at the head of her armies. These
After retiring to private life, general Washington
CHAP. 1. objects being achieved, he could resign the
1783 supreme command without a sigh, and withdraw
perpetuating his authority created no illegitimate
governor Clinton written three days after his arri. devetes hisa, val at Mount Vernon, “is at length closed. I feel he duties of myself eased of a load of public care, and hope and to insti
. to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating pubiicutility. the affections of good men, and in the practice
of the domestic virtues." His numerous letters
a gracious smile...can have very little conception. Chap. 1. I have not only retired from all public employ. 1783 ments, but am retiring within myself, and shall
1787. be able to view the solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life, with heartfelt satisfaction. 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 gently down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers.”
But a mind accustomed to labour for a nation's welfare, does not immediately divest itself of ancient habits. Though incapable of a wish for personal aggrandizement, that custom of thinking on public affairs, and that solicitude respecting them, which belong to the patriot in office, follow him into his retreat. In a letter to general Knox, written soon after his resignation, general Washington thus expressed the feelings attendant upon this sudden transition from public to private pursuits. “I am just beginning to experience the ease and freedom from public 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 ensuing day; and of my surprise at finding, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was no longer a public man, or had any thing to do with public 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