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prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations : but, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occsasional good ; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism ; this hope will be a full recompence for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
IN relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the 22d April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives, in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continu.
ally governed me ; uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
AFTER deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case,had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend on me, to maintain it, with moderation.
THE considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occason to detail. I will only observe, that according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
the duty of holding a neutral conduct may
be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
THE inducements of interest for observ. ing that conduct, will be best referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
THOUGH in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am, nevertheless, too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils, to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
RELYING on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I antici. pate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free
government—the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours and dangers.
UNITED STATES, SEPT. 17, 1796.
GEN. WASHINGTON'S LETTER, ON HIS ACCEPTING THE COMMAND OF THE AMERICAN ARMY IN 1798.
Mount Vernon, July 13, 1798. DEAR SIR, I
HAD the honour, on the evening of the 11th instant, to receive from the hand of the secretary of war, your favour of the 7th, announcing that you had, with the advice and consent of the senate, appointed me “ Lieutenant General and Commander in Chief of all the armies raised, or to be raised, for the service of the United States."
I CANNOT express how greatly affected I am at this new proof of public confidence, and the highly flattering manner in which you have been pleased to make the communication ; at the same time, I must not conceal from you my earnest wish, that the choice had fallen upon a man less declined in years, and better qualified to encounter the usual vicissitudes of war.
You know, sir, what calculation I had made relative to the probable course of events, on my retiring from office, and the determination I had consoled myself with, of