Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

The appointment of general Washington to the presidency of the United States, was peculiarly fortunate; he possessed such a commanding influence in the minds of the great bulk of the people, arising from a sure and well placed confidence in his patriotism and integrity; that they, with cheerfulness, acquiesced in all his measures for the public welfare; and notwithstanding, that during his administration, Great Britain and France were inyolved in a ruindus war, and there were many partizans in America, in favour of the latter, and would gladly have made a common cause swith her against Great Britain; yet his firmness and sagacity, prevented the threatened evil, though they were encouraged by Genet, the ambassador from France, who openly, and in defiance of the government of the United States, attempted to commission Anerican citizens to arm and fit out vessels, to cruise against British subjects. The president's proclamation enjoining a strict neutrality, was sanctioned by the great body of the people; and the insolent ravings of Genet were taken no further notice of, than to furnish the different states with a fresh opportunity of expressing their continued approbation and confidence, in his political measures.

When the term of his appointment as president had expired, he intimated to his friends, his intention to return once more to his loved retirement; he had even contemplated his farewell address, and was preparing to retire from the weight of public cares, when his countrymen, apprehensive for the public safety, in so critical a moment, united to implore him to desist from a resolution so alarming to their fears. Their inte position prevailed, and he again en'ered upon the arduous task, to the manifest satisfaction of every honest American; but what made the task sit more easy upon him, was the assistance of eminent men in the executive department. The names of Adams, Hamiltion, Pickering, Wollcott, and others, are names which will long be remembered with gratitude by posterity, when the envenomed tongue of detraction will be forgotten. In 1796, in the month of September, a new election was to take place, when the public was anxiously desirous, that general Washington would again accept the first office in their gift; but his unalterable resolution was taken, to recede from the toils of state. His farewell address, contains such prudent and sound advice to his fellow-citizens, as shews that his country's welfare was still dear to his heart. 66 Friends and Fellow citizens,

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the kecutive government of the United States, being not far distant, ind the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be emsoyed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that imrtant trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considcred among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my situation might'imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest; no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been an uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that re. tirenient, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you;

but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as in. ternal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and án persuaded whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove iny determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trusi. were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government, with the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of any qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps sült more ir the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of enyself; and every day the encreasing weight of years admonishes mne more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me, as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if

any

circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary: I have the cor solation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to termi: uate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude whichi! awe to my beloved couniry, for the many honors it has conferred

be

upon me; still more for the stedfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to inislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which, not unfrequently, want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected.... Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows, that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may per petual; that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained: that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that in fine, the happiness of the people of these states, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation, and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to then the glory of recommending it to applause, the affection and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop; but a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with iny life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplations, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which ap. pear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedoin, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive tobias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberiy with every ligament of your ħearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad: of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that from different causes, and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in

Blo

your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of four na. tional union, to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even suspicion that it can in an event be abandoned ; and indignantly frou ning upou the first dawning of every attempt to alienale any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfee. ble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you. in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any.appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together: the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our

country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, pro. tected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise, and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefitting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow, and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and while it contributes in different ways. to nourish and inerease the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive in provement of interior communications, by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East, supplies rernisite tu its growth and comfort; and what is perhaps of weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation..... Any other terure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived froin its own separaté strength, or from an apostate and annatural connexion with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

cr consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions, to the

still go

While then every part of our country thus feels an inmediate and particular interest in Union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts, greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and what is of inestimable value! they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afllict neighbouring countries, not tied together by the same government; which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which oposite foreign alliances, attachments and intrigues would stimulate and embitter.....Hence, liikewise, they will avoid the necessity of those over-grown military establishments, which under any form of government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty; in this sense, it is that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire .... Is here a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorised to hope that a proper ors ganization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governinents for the respective sub-divisions, will afförd a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotisin of those, who, in any quarter, may endeavour to weaken its hands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it 0ccurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterising parties by Geographical discriminations, “Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western;" whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interest and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You

cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart į burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations : they tend

« ПредишнаНапред »