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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.

.

(No. I.)

CIRCULAR LETTER, ADDRESSED TO THE GOVERNORS OF THE

SEVERAL STATES, Br HIS EXCELLENCE GEORGE WASHING. TON, ON HIS RESIGNING THE COMMAND OF THE ARMY, AND RETIRING FROM PUBLIC BUSINESS,

TO

HEAD-QUARTERS,
SIR,

NEWBURGH, June 18, 1783.
HE great object, for which I had the honor to hold an ap.

pointment in the service of my country, being accomplished, I am now preparing to resign it into the hands of congress, and return to that domestic retirement, which, it is well known, I left with the greatest reluctance; a retirement for which I have never ceased to sigh through a long and painful absence, in which (remote from the noise and trouble of the world) I meditate to pass the remainder of life, in a state of undisturbed repose ; but, before I carry this resolution into effect, I think it a duty incumbent on me to make this my last official communication, to congratulate you on the glorious events which heaven has been pleased to produce in our favor, to offer my sentiments respecting some important subjects, which appear to me to be intimately connected with the tranquillity of the United States, to take my leave of your excellency as a public character, and to give my final blessing to that country, in whose service I have spent the prime of my life; for whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful nights, and whose happiness, being extremely dear to ine, will always constitute no inconsiderable

part

my own.

of

IMPRESSED with the liveliest sensibility on this pleasing occasion, I will claim the indulgence of dilating the more copiously on the subject of our mutual felicitation. When we consider magnitude of the prize we contended for, the doubtful nature of

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the contest, and the favorable manner in which it has terminated; we shall find the greatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoice ing; this is a theme that will afford infinite delight to every benevolent and liberal mind, whether the event in contemplation be considered as a source of present enjoyment, or the parent of fue ture happiness ; and we shall have equal occasion to felicitate our. selves on the lot which Providence has assigned us, whether we view it in a natural, a political or moral point of light.

The citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condi. tion, as the sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the world, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now, by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be pose sessed of absolute freedom and independency; they are from this period to be considered as the actors on a most conspiêuðus theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity : Here they are tot only surrounded with every thing that can contribute to the completion of private and domestic enjoyment; but heaven has crowned at it's other blessings, by giving a surer opportunity for political hapo piness, than any other nation has ever been favored with. Nothing can illustrate these observationis more forcibly than a récol. lection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under which our republic assumed its rank among the nations. The foundation of our empire was not laid in a gloomy age of ignorance and superstition, but at an epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period : Researches of the hunian mind after social happiness have been carried to a great extent ; the treasures of knowledge acquired by the labors of philosophers, šág’es and legisTators, through a long succession of years, are laid open for us, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the establisha ment of our forms of government. The free cultivátiön of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment; ând, above all, the pure and benign light of revelation, have had a mě. liorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. At this auspicious period the United States came into ex istence as a nation, and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.

Such is our situation, and such are our prospeas: but not. withstanding the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us, notwithstanding happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion, and njake it our own, yet it appears to me, there is an option still left to the United States of America, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a nation ; this is the time of their political probation; this is the moment when the eyes of the whole world are turned upon them; this is the time to establish or ruin their national character for ever; this is the favorable moment to give such a tone to the federal government, as will enable it to answer the ends of its instịtution ; or, this may be the illfated moment for relaxing the powers of the union, annihilat, ing the cement of the confederation, and exposing us to become the sport of European politics, which may play one state against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to serve their own interested purposes, For, according to the system of po. licy the states shall adept at this moment, they will stand or fall; and, by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the revolution must ultimately be considered as a bles, sing or a curse ;-a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved,

WITH this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence in me would be a crime; I will therefore speak to your excellency the language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise. I am aware, however, those who differ from me in political sentiments may, perhaps, remark, I am stepping out of the proper line of my duty ; and they may possibly ascribe to arrogance or ostentation, what I know is alone the result of the purest intention ; but the rectitude of my own heart, which disdains sạch unworthy motives ; the part I have hitherto acted in life, the determination I have formed of not taking any share in public business hereafter ; the ardent desire 1 feel, and shall continue to manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils of war, the benefits of a wise and liberal government, will, I flatter myself, sooner or later, convince my countrymen, that I could have no sinister views in delivering with so little reserve the opinions contained in this address.

THERE are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the well being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power.

1st. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.

2dly. A SACRED regard to public justice.

3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,

4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposi. tion among the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessiòns which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community,

These are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our in. dependency and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will merit the bitterest execration, and the severest punishment, which can be inflicted by his injured country.

On the three first articles I will make a few observations; leaving the last to the good sense and serious consideration of those immediately concerned,

UNDER the first head, although it may not be necessary or proper for me in this place to enter into a particular disquisition of the principles of the union, and to take up the great question which has been frequently agitated, whether it be expedient and requisite for the states to delegate a larger proportion

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