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“ You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power through all disasters and changes. You have, by the love and confidence of your fellow-citizens, enabled them o display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to Posterity; you have persevered, till these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in safety, freedom, and independence, on which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.
Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action with the blessings of your fellow-citizens ; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate - remotest ages. We feel with you our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers who have attended your person to this affecting moment.
“We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation ; and for you we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious, and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give.”
The military services of General Washington which ended with this interesting day, were as great as ever were rendered by any man to any nation. They were at the same time disinterested. How dear would not a mercenary man have sold such toils, such dangers, and above all, such successes? What schemes of grandeur and of power would not an ambitious man have built
the affections of the people and of the army? The gratitude of America was so lively, that any thing asked by her resigning chief, would have been readily granted.--He asked nothing for himself, his family, or relations; but indirectly solicited favours for the confidential officers who were attached to his person. These
were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capacity of aids-de-camp. To have omitted the opportunity which then offered, of recommending them to theis country's notice, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The only privilege distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending and receiving letters free of postage.
The American chief, having, by his own voluntary act, become one of the people, hastened, with ineffable delight, to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac. There, in a short time, the most successful general in the world, became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.
To pass suddenly from the toils of the first commission in the United States to the care of a farm ; to exchange the instruments of war, for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious agriculture; vould, to most men, have been a difficult task. But to the elevated mind of Washington, it was natural and delightful. From this example, let the commanders of armies learn, that the fame which is acquired by the sword, without guilt or ambition, may be preserved without power or splendous in private life.
General Washington, on retiring from public life, devotes
himself to agricultural pursuits. Favours inland navigation. Declines offered emoluments from it. Urges an alteration of the fundamental rules of the society of the Cincinnati. Regrets the defects of the federal system, and recommends a revisal of it. Is appointed a member of the continental convention for that purpose, which, appointment, after hesitation, he accepts. is chosen president thereof. Is solicited to accept the presidency of the United States. Writes sundry letters, expressive of the
. conflict in his mind, between duty and inclination. Answers applications for offices. His reluctance to enter on public life.
The sensations of Washington, on retiring from public business, are thus expressed : “ I feel as a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which all the former were directed, and from his house-top is looking back, and tracing with an eagle eye, the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which lay in his way, and into which none but the All Powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have prevented his falling:
“I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, and, under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig-tree, free from the bustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe was insufficient for us all; and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in the hope of catching a gracious smile; can have very little concep tion.—I have not only retired from all public employments, but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the