« ZurückWeiter »
guided by the principles that 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 twenty-second of 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 continually 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 upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.
The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion 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 obligations 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 nam tions.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct, will best be 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 consiste ency, 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 natural soil of hinself and his progenitors for several generations ; I anticipate with pleasing expectation, that retreat, in which I promise inyself 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 favourite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours and dangers.
He resigned with pleasure, the seat he had filled with so much honour and applause, to his successor, and retired to his farm at Mount Vernon, where he remained tranquilly in possession of those rural delights which were most congenial to his natural in. clination.
While he was thus peacefully enjoying the evening of life, he was again supplicated to assist his country. The insults and aggressions received from France, threatened an appeal to arms. All eyes were open to the late commander in chiet, as the only person that ought to be trusted with the command of the army. He felt himself implicated as an American, in the national honour, and accepted of the important charge.
This was the last official act, of this Father of his country. On the fourteenth of December, 1799, he departed this life, at his seat at Mount Vernon, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, after having reaped a full harvest of glory.
General Washington was about six feet in height, his eyes were grey, but full of animation: his countenance serene and expres sive, not exposed to the frequent indulgence of mirth : his limbs muscular and well proportioned. Majestic and solemn in his deportment. It has been asserted, that he never was seen to smile during the revolutionary war. He generally expressed himself with perspicuity and diffidence, but seldom used more words than were necessary for the elucidating of his opinion. He had the urbanity of a gentleman, without the pageantry of pride; he qualified denials in so kind a manner, that a disappointment carrie ed nosting along with it. Such was the great Washington! Where will America find his equal ?