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them. Instead of undertaking particular re- | parted.* And being still under the impressions commendations on this subject, in which I could which produced it, I must decline, as inapplibe guided by no lights derived from official op- cable to myself, any share in the personal emolportunities, I shall again give way to my entire uments, which may be indispensably included confidence in your discernment and pursuit of in a permanent provision for the executive dethe public good; for I assure myself that whilst partment; and must accordingly pray that the you carefully avoid every alteration which pecuniary estimates for the station in which I might endanger the benefits of an united and am placed, may, during my continuance in it, effective government, or which ought to await be limited to such actual expenditures as the the future lessons of experience; a reverence public good may be thought to require. for the characteristic rights of freemen, and a Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, regard for the public harmony, will sufficiently as they have been awakened by the occasion influence your deliberations on the question which brings us together, I shall take my preshow far the former can be more impregnably ent leave; but not without resorting once more fortified, or the latter be safely and advanta to the benign Parent of the human race, in geously promoted.
humble supplication, that since he has been To the preceding observations I have one to pleased to favor the American people, with opadd, which will be most properly addressed to portunities for deliberating in perfect tranquilthe House of Representatives. It concerns my-lity, and dispositions for deciding with unparself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. alleled unanimity on a form of government, for When I was first honored with a call into the the security of their union, and the advanceservice of my country, then on the eve of an ment of their happiness; so his divine blessing arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged which I contemplated my duty required that I views, the temperate consultations, and the should renounce every pecuniary compensation. wise measures on which the success of this From this resolution I have in no instance de- government must depend.
President Washington having determined to the considerations appertaining to the relation retire from public life, prepared for the occa
red for the ocean which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; sion a valedictory address to the people of the
and that in withdrawing the tender of service United States, which was published on the sev
* On the 15th of June, 1775, Washington was elected by enteenth of September, 1796. This was his the Congress, general and commander-in-chief of the Ameri“last effort to impress upon his countrymen can forces. The following day the president informed him those great political truths which had been the
of his appointment, and requested he would accept it; to
which Colonel Washington, standing in his place, answered: guides of his own administration, and which
MR. PRESIDENT: Though I am truly sensible of the high could alone, in his opinion, form a sure and honor done me, in this appointment, yet I feel great distress, solid basis for the happiness, the independence,
from a consciousness that my abilities and military experi.
ence may not be equal to the extensive and important trust. and the liberty of the United States." *
However, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the
momentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: The period
service, and for the support of the glorious cause. I beg for a new election of a citizen, to administer
they will accept my most cordial thanks for this distinguished the executive government of the United States, testimony of their approbation. being not far distant, and the time actually ar- But lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavorable rived when your thoughts must be employed to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every in designating the person who is to be clothed gentlemen in the room, that I this day declare, with the ut. with that important trust, it appears to me most sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command proper, especially as it may conduce to a more
I am honored with, distinct expression of the public voice, that I As to pay, sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress, that as should now apprise you of the resolution I have no pecuniary consideration could have tempted ine to accept formed, to decline being considered among the this arduous employment, at the expense of my domestie number of those out of whom a choice is to be
ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from made.
it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those, I
doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I desire. I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has
Journals of Congress, 1775. not been taken without a strict regard to all # At the end of the war, Washington presented an account of his er
penser, drawn up by his own hand. A fac-simile of this account ba * See Holz u ls of America.
į ington, D. C.
allsheds bnaisoma volta, b Mr. Frenkli K
which silence, in my situation, might imply, I stances in which the passions, agitated in every am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your direction, were liable to mislead, amidst apfuture interest, no deficiency of grateful respect pearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of for your past kindness, but am supported by a fortune often discouraging, in situations in full conviction that the step is compatible with which not unfrequently want of success has both.
| countenanced the spirit of criticism, the conThe acceptance of, and continuance hitherto, stancy of your support was the essential prop in the office to which your suffrages have twice of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of in- which they were effected. 'Profoundly peneclination to the opinion of duty, and to a defer- trated with this idea, I shall carry it with me ence for what appeared to be your desire. I to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasconstantly hoped that it would have been much ing wishes that heaven may continue to you earlier in my power, consistently with motives the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that which I was not at liberty to disregard, to re- your union and brotherly affection may be perturn to that retirement from which I had been petual; that the free constitution, which is the reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclina- work of your hands, may be sacredly maintion to do this, previous to the last election, tained; that its administration, in every dehad even led to the preparation of an address, partment, may be stamped with wisdom and to declare it to you; but mature reflection on virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people the then perplexed and critical posture of our of these States, under the auspices of liberty, affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous may be made complete by so careful a preseradvice of persons entitled to my confidence, vation and so prudent a use of this blessing as impelled me to abandon the idea.
will acquire to them the glory of recommending I rejoice that the state of your concerns, ex- | it to the applause, the affection, and adoption ternal as well as internal, no longer renders of every nation which is yet a stranger to it. the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicisentiment of duty or propriety, and am per- tude for your welfare, which cannot end but suaded, whatever partiality may be retained with my life, and the apprehension of danger, for my services, that in the present circumstan- natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occaces of our country, you will not disapprove of sion like the present, to offer to your solemn my determination to retire.
contemplation, and to recommend to your freThe impressions with which I first undertook quent review, some sentiments, which are the the arduous trust were explained on the proper result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable occasion. In the discharge of this trust I will observation, and which appear to me all-imonly say, that I have with good intentions con- portant to the permanency of your felicity as a tributed towards the organization and adminis- people. These will be offered to you with the tration of the government, the best exertions more freedom, as you can only see in them the of which a very fallible judgment was capable. disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority can possibly have no personal motive to bias of my qualifications, experience, in my own his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encoureyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, agement to it, your indulgent reception of my has strengthened the motives to diffidence of sentiments on a former and not dissimilar ocmyself; and every day the increasing weight of casion. years admonishes me more and more that the Interwoven as is the love of liberty with shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it every ligament of your hearts, no recommendawill be welcome. Satisfied that if any circum- tion of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm stances have given peculiar value to my ser- the attachment. vices they were temporary, I have the consola- | The unity of government which constitutes tion to believe, that while choice and prudence you one people, is also now dear to you. It is invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of does not forbid it
your real independence, the support of your In looking forward to the moment which is tranquillity at home, your peace abroad, of your intended to terminate the career of my public safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend which you so highly prize. But as it is easy the deep acknowledgment of that debt of grati-to foresee, that from different causes and from tude which I owe to my beloved country for different quarters, much pains will be taken, the many honors it has conferred upon me; many artifices employed, to weaken in you still more for the steadfast confidence with minds the conviction of this truth; as this is which it has supported me; and for the oppor- the point in your political fortress against tunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting which the batteries of internal and external my inviolable attachment, by services, faithful enemies will be most constantly and actively and persevering, though in usefulness unequal (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our it is of infinite moment that you should properly country from these services, let it always be estimate the immense value of your national remembered to your praise, and as an instruc-union, to your collective and individual happitive example in our annals, that under circum-1 ness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; ac- 1 connection with any foreign power, must be incustoming yourselves to think and speak of it trinsically precarious. as of the palladium of your political safety and While, then, every part of our country thus prosperity, watching for its preservation with feels an immediate and partiqular interest in jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever union, all the parts combined cannot fail to may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any find, in the united mass of means and efforts, event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning greater strength, greater resource, proportionaupon the first dawning of every attempt to bly greater security from external danger, a less alienate any portion of our country from the frequent interruption of their peace by foreign rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now nations; and what is of inestimable value, they link together the various parts.
| must derive from union an exemption from For this you have every inducement of sym- those broils and wars between themselves pathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or which so frequently aflict neighboring counchoice, of a common country, that country has tries, not tied together by the same governa right to concentrate your affections. The ment, which their own rivalships alone would name of American, which belongs to you in be sufficient to produce, but which opposite your national capacity, must always exalt the foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues, just pride of patriotism more than any appella- would stimulate and embitter. Hence, liketion derived from local discriminations. With wise, they will avoid the necessity of those slight shades of difference, you have the same overgrown military establishments, which, unreligion, manners, habits, and political princi- der any form of government, are inauspicious ples. You have, in a common cause, fought to liberty, and which are to be regarded as parand triumphed together; the independence and ticularly hostile to republican liberty. In this liberty you possess, are the work of joint coun- sense it is that your union ought to be considcils and joint efforts, of common dangers, suffer-ered as a main prop of your liberty, and that ings, and successes.
the love of the one ought to endear to you thie But these considerations, however powerfully preservation of the other. they address themselves to your sensibility, are These considerations speak a persuasive langreatly outweighed by those which apply more guage to every reflecting and virtuous mind, immediately to your interest. Here every por- and exhibit the continuance of the union as a tion of our country finds the most commanding primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a motives for carefully guarding and preserving doubt whether a common government can emthe union of the whole.
brace so large a sphere? Let experience solve The North, in an unrestrained intercourse it. To listen to mere speculation, in such a with the South, protected by the equal laws of a case, were criminal, We are authorized to common government, finds, in the productions | hope that a proper organization of the whole, of the latter, great additional resources of mari- with the auxiliary agency of governments for time and commercial enterprise, and precious the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy materials of manufacturing industry. The issue to the experiment. 'Tis well worth a fair South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by and full experiment. With such powerful and the agency of the North, sees its agriculture obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of grow and its commerce expand. Turning our country, while experience shall not have partly into its own channels the seamen of the demonstrated its impracticability, there will North, it finds its particular navigation invig- always be reason to distrust the patriotism of orated; and while it contributes, in different those who, in any quarter, may endeavor to ways, to nourish and increase the general mass weaken its bands. of the national navigation, it looks forward to In contemplating the causes which may disthe protection of a maritime strength, to which turb our union, it occurs, as a matter of serious itself is unequally adapted. The East, in like concern, that any ground should have been furintercourse with the West, already finds, and nished for characterizing parties by geographiin the progressive improvement of interior cal discriminations-Northern and Southern, communications, by land and water, will more Atlantic and Western-whence designing men and more find a valuable vent for the commodi- may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a ties which it brings from abroad or manufac real difference of local interests and views. tures at home. The West derives from the One of the expedients of party to acquire infiuEast supplies requisite to its growth and com-ence within particular districts, is to misreprefort, and what is perhaps of still greater conse- sent the opinions and aims of other districts. quence, it must of necessity owe the secure en- | You cannot shield yourselves too much agains. joyment of indispensable outlets for its own the jealousies and heart-burnings which spring productions to the weight, influence, and the from these misrepresentations; they tend to future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of render alien to each other those who ought to the Union, directed by an indissoluble commu- be bound together by fraternal affection. The nity of interest as one nation. Any other ten- | inhabitants of our western country have lately ure, by which the West can hold this essential had a useful lesson on this head. They have advantage, whether derived from its own sepa- seen, in the negotiation by the executive, and rate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural l in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, ut the treaty with Spain, and in the universal sat- wholesome plans, digested by common councils, isfaction of that event throughout the United and modified by mutual interests. States, a decisive proof how unfounded were However combinations or associations of the the suspicions propagated among them, of a above description may now and then answer policy in the general government and in the popular ends, they are likely, in the course of Atlantic States, unfriendly to their interests in time and things, to become potent engines, by regard to the Mississippi; they have been wit- which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled nesses to the formation of two treaties that men will be enabled to subvert the power of the with Great Britain and that with Spain—which people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of secure to them every thing they could desire, government; destroying afterward the very in respect to our foreign relations, towards engines which have lifted them to unjust doconfirming their prosperity. Will it not be minion. their wisdom to rely, for the preservation of Toward the preservation of your government these advantages, on the union by which they and the permanency of your present happy were procured? Will they not henceforth be state, it is requisite, not only that you speedily deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who discountenance irregular opposition to its acwould sever them from their brethren, and con- knowledged authority, but also that you resist nect them with aliens?
with care the spirit of innovation upon its To the efficacy and permanency of your principles, however specious the pretexts. One anion, a government for the whole is indispen- method of assault may be to effect, in the forms sable. No alliances, however strict, between of the constitution, alterations which will im- . the parts, can be an adequate substitute; they pair the energy of the system, and thus to must inevitably experience the infractions and undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. interruptions, which alliances, in all times, In all the changes to which you may be invited, have experienced. Sensible of this momentous remember that time and habit are at least as truth, you have improved upon your first essay necessary to fix the true character of governby the adoption of a constitution of government ments as of other human institutions; that exbetter calculated than your former for an inti- perience is the surest standard by which to test mate union, and for the efficacious management the real tendency of the existing constitution of your common concerns. This government of a country; that facility in changes, upon the the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes and unawed, adopted upon full investigation to perpetual change, from the endless variety and mature deliberation, completely free in its of hypothesis and opinion. And remember, principles, in the distribution of its powers, especially, that for the efficient management of uniting security with energy, and containing your common interests, in a country so extenwithin itself a provision for its own amend- sive as ours, a government of as much vigor as ment, has a just claim to your confidence and is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, your support. Respect for its authority, com- is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in pliance with its laws, acquiescence in its meas- such a government, with powers properly disures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental | tributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It maxims of true liberty. The basis of our po- is, indeed, little else than a name, where the litical systems is, the right of the people to government is too feeble to withstand the enmake and to alter the constitutions of govern- terprises of faction; to confine each member ment. But the constitution, which at any time of society within the limits prescribed by the exists, until changed by an explicit and authen- laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tie act of the whole people, is sacredly obliga- tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and tory upon all. The very idea of the power and property. the right of the people to establish a govern- I have already intimated to you the danger ment, presupposes the duty of every individual of parties in the State, with particular reference to obey the established government.
to the founding of them on geographical disAll obstructions to the execution of the laws, crimination. Let me now take a more compreall combinations and associations, under what hensive view, and warn you, in the most solemn ever plausible character, with the real design manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit to directcontrol, counteract, or awe the of party, generally. regular deliberation and action of the consti- This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from tuted authorities, are destructive of this funda- our nature, having its root in the strongest pasmental principle, and of fatal tendency. They sions of the human mind. It exists under difserve to organize faction, to give it an artificial ferent shapes, in all governments, more or less and extraordinary force, to put in the place stifled, controlled, or repressed. But in those of the delegated will of the nation, the will of of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest a party, often a small, but artful and enterpris- rankness, and is truly their worst enemy. ing minority of the community; and according The alternate domination of one faction over to the alternate triumphs of different parties, another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, to make the public administration the mirror natural to party dissensions, which, in different of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of ages and countries, has perpetrated the most faction, rather than the organ of consistent and I horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.
But this leads, at length, to a more formal and the opinion of the people, the distribution or permanent despotism. The disorders and mise- modification of the constitutional powers, be, ries, which result, gradually incline the minds in any particular, wrong, let it be corrected by of men to seek security and repose in the ab- an amendment in the way which the constitusolute power of an individual; and sooner or tion designates. But let there be no change later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, able or more fortunate than his competitors, may be the instrument of good, it is the custurns this disposition to the purposes of his own tomary weapon by which free governments are elevation on the ruins of public liberty. destroyed. The precedent must always greatly
Without looking forward to an extremity of overbalance, in permanent evil, any partial or this kind, (which, nevertheless, ought not to be transient benefit which the use can at any time entirely out of sight,) the common and continual yield. . mischiefs of the spirit of party, are sufficient to Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead make it the interest and duty of a wise people, to political prosperity, religion and morality are to discourage and restrain it.
indispensable supports. In vain would that It serves always to distract the public coun- man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should cils, and enfeeble the public administration. It labor to subvert these great pillars of human agitates the community with ill-founded jeal- happiness, these firmest props of the destinies ousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of men and citizens. The mere politician, of one part against another; foments occasion- equally with the pious man, ought to respect ally, riot and insurrection. It opens the door and to cherish them. A volume could not trace to foreign influence and corruption, which finds all their connection with private and public fea facilitated access to the government itself, licity. Let it simply be asked, where is the through the channels of party passion. Thus security for property, for reputation, for life, if the policy and the will of one country are sub- the sense of religious obligation desert the jected to the policy and will of another. oaths, which are the instruments of investiga
There is an opinion, that parties, in free tion in courts of justice? And let us with countries, are useful checks upon the adminis- caution indulge the supposition, that morality tration of the government, and serve to keep can be maintained without religion. Whatever alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain may be conceded to the influence of refined limits, is probably true; and, in governments education on minds of peculiar structure, reaof a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with son and experience both forbid us to expect, indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit that national morality can prevail in exclusion of party. But in those of popular character, in of religious principles. governments purely elective, it is a spirit not. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality to be encouraged. From their natural tenden- is a necessary spring of popular government. cy, it is certain there will always be enough of The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force that spirit for every salutary purpose. And to every species of free government. Who, that there being constant danger of excess, the effort is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifferought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitt ence upon attempts to shake the foundation of gate and assuage it A fire not to be quenched, the fabric? it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its Promote, then, as an object of primary imbursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, portance, institutions for the general diffusion it should consume.
of knowledge. In proportion as the structure It is important, likewise, that the habits of of a government gives force to public opinion, thinking, in a free country, should inspire cau- it is essential that public opinion should be ention in those intrusted with its administration, lightened. to confine themselves within their respective As a very important source of strength and constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise security, cherish public credit. One method of the powers of one department, to encroach of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as posupon another. The spirit of encroachment tends sible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultito consolidate the powers of all the departments vating peace, but remembering also that timely in one, and thus to create, whatever the form disbursements to prepare for danger, frequently of government, a real despotism, A just esti- prevent much greater disbursements to repel mate of that love of power, and proneness to it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, abuse it, which predominate in the human not only by shunning occasions of expense, but heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of by vigorous exertions in time of peace to disthis position. The necessity of reciprocal charge the debts which unavoidable wars may checks in the exercise of political power, by have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing dividing and distributing it into different de- upon posterity the burden which we ourselves positaries, and constituting each the guardian ought to bear. The execution of these maxims of the public weal against invasion by the oth- belongs to your representatives, but it is neceser, has been evinced by experiments ancient sary that pablic opinion should co-operate. To and modern: some of them in our country, and facilitate to them the performance of their duty, under our own eyes. To preserve them, must it is essential that you should practically bear be as necessary as to institute them. If, in in mind, that towards the payment of debts