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mending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendance of them to his holy keeping. “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewel to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.” Having advanced to the chair and delivered the President his commission, he received from him the following reply: “SIR, “The United States in Congress assembled, receive, with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success, through a perilous and a doubtful war. “Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge, before it had formed alliances, and whilst it was without funds or a government to support you. “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 to 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 freedom, safety, and independ
ence; 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 General immediately retired from the hall of Congress. The minds of the spectators were . deeply impressed by the scene. The recollection of the circumstances of the country at the time the commission was accepted, the events that had since taken place, and the glorious issue of the
conflict conspired to give the scene the most lively interest.
His country being exalted to the dignity of a sovereign and independent nation, General Washington with great satisfaction resigned the arduous duties and high responsibility of his military command. He repaired to Mount Vernon, in the delightful prospect of spending the residue of his days in the bosom of domestic life.
With an immaculate character he had passed through all the complicated transactions of a revolutionary war; and had established an immortal reputation as a soldier and a patriot, throughout the civilized world. To his retirement he carried the profound veneration and most lively affection of his grateful countrymen. In the estimation of his friends, the measure of his honour was full. The extent of their wishes was, that no unpropitious event might take place to tarnish the lustre of his reputation; but that in peace he might descend into the grave, with his laurel crown unfad, ed on his head.
General Washington in Retirement—His Pursuits—Votes of Congress and of the Legislature of Virginia respecting him— His Visitors and Correspondents—His Plans to improve the Navigation of the Potomack and James Rivers—Declines the grant of Virginia—His Advice to the Cincinnati-State of Public Affairs—National Convention—General Washington its President-Federal Constitution recommended and adopted – General Washington requested to consent to administer the Government—He is chosen President of the United States— Sets out for the Seat of Government—Attention shown him on his Journey–His Reception at New York.
1784.] PEACE being restored to his country upon the broad basis of independence, General Washington with supreme delight retired to the pursuits of private life. In a letter to Governor Clinton, written three days after his arrival at Mount Vernon, he thus expressed the grateful feelings of his heart on being relieved from the weight of his public station. “ The scene is at length closed. I feel myself eased of a load of public care, and hope to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and in the practice of the domestic virtues.” This sentiment was more fully expressed to the Marquis La Fayette. “I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomack, and under the shadow of my own vine and 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 the 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 conception. I have not only retired from all public employments, but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk and tread the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my match, I will move down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers.” But delighted as he was with his domestic enjoyments, he found it to be the work of time to divest himself of the feelings and habits formed in his public station. “I am just beginning,” said he in a letter to a friend, “to experience the ease and freedom from public cares, which however desirable, takes some time to realise; for strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that it was not until lately I could get the better of my usual custom of ruminating as soon as I awoke in the morning, on the business of the ensuing day; and of my surprise at finding, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was no longer a public man, or had any thing to do with public trans