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TO THE LEGISLATURE OF VERMONT.
December 10, 1807. I received in due season the address of the Legislature of Vermont, bearing date the 5th of November 1806, in which, with their approbation of the general course of my administration, they were so good as to express their desire that I would consent to be proposed again, to the public voice, on the expiration of my present term of office. Entertaining, as I do, for the legislature of Vermont those sentiments of high respect which would have prompted an immediate answer, I was certain, nevertheless, they would approve a delay which had for its object to avoid a premature agitation of the public mind, on a subject so interesting as the election of a chief magistrate.
That I should lay down my charge at a proper period, is as much a duty as to have borne it faithfully. If some termination to the services of the chief magistrate be not fixed by the constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally for years, will, in fact, become for life; and history shows how easily that degenerates into an inheritance. Believing that a representative government, responsible at short periods of election, is that which produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind, I feel it a duty to do no act which shall essentially impair that principle; and I should unwillingly be the person who, disregarding the sound precedent set by an illustrious predecessor, should furnish the first example of prolongation beyond the second term of office.
Truth, also, requires me to add, that I am sensible of that decline which advancing years bring on; and feeling their physical, I ought not to doubt their mental effect. Happy if I am thie first to perceive and to obey this admonition of nature, and to solicit a retreat from cares too great for the wearied faculties
For the approbation which the legislature of Vermont has been pleased to express of the principles and measures pursued in the management of their affairs, I am sincerely thankful ; and should I be so fortunate as to carry into retirement the equal approba
tion and good will of my fellow citizens generally, it will be the comfort of my future days, and will close a service of forty years with the only reward it ever wished.
" Addresses approving the general course of his administration, were also received from Georgia, December 6th, 1806; from Rhode Island, February 27th, 1807 ; from New York, March 13th, 1807 ; from Pennsylvania, March 13th, 1807; and from Maryland, January 30, 1807; to all which answers like that sent to Vermont, were returned.”—Ed.
NEW JERSEY IN
December 10, 1807. The sentiments, fellow citizens, which you are pleased to express in your address of the 4th inst., of attachment and esteem for the general government, and of confidence and approbation of those who direct its councils, cannot but be pleasing to the friends of union generally, and give a new claim on all those who direct the public affairs, for everything which zeal can effect for the good of their country.
It is indeed to be deplored that distant as we are from the storms and convulsions which agitate the European world, the pursuit of an honest neutrality, beyond the reach of reproach, has been insufficient to secure to us the certain enjoyment of peace with those whose interests as well as ours would be promoted by it. What will be the issue of present misunderstandings cannot as yet be foreseen; but the measures adopted for their settlement have been sincerely directed to maintain the rights, the honor, and the peace of our country. Should they fail, the ardor of our citizens to obey the summons of their country, and the offer which you attest, of their lives and fortunes in its support, are worthy of their patriotism, and are pledges of our safety.
The suppression of the late conspiracy by the hand of the people, uplifted to destroy it whenever it reared its head, mani
fests their fitness for self-government, and the power of a nation, of which every individual feels that his own will is a part of the public authority.
The effect of the public contributions in reducing the national debt, and liberating our resources from the canker of interest, has been so far salutary, and encourages us to continue in the same course ; or, if necessarily interrupted, to resume it as soon as practicable.
I perceive with sincere pleasure that my conduct in the chief magistracy has so far met your approbation, that my continuance in that office, after its present term, would be acceptable to you. But that I should lay down my charge at a proper period is as much å duty as to have borne it faithfully. If some termination to the services of the chief magistrate be not fixed by the constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally for years, will, in fact, become for life, and history shows how easily that degenerates into an inheritance. Believing that a representative government, responsible at short periods of election, is that which produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind, I feel it a duty to do no act which shall essentially impair that principle ; and I should unwillingly be the person who, disregarding the sound precedent set by an illustrious predecessor, should furnish the first example of prolongation beyond the second term of office.
Truth also obliges me to add, that I am sensible of that decline which advancing years bring on, and feeling their physical, I ought not to doubt their mental effect. Happy if I am the first to perceive and to obey this admonition of nature, and to solicit a retreat from cares too great for the wearied faculties of age.
Declining a re-election on grounds which cannot but be approved, I am sincerely thankful for the approbation which the Legislature of New Jersey are pleased to manifest of the principles and measures pursued in the management of their affairs; and should I be so fortunate as to carry into retirement the equal approbation and good will of my fellow citizens generally, it will be the comfort of my future days, and will close a service of forty years with the only reward it ever wished.
TO THE TAMMANY SOCIETY OF THE CITY OF WASHINGTON.
December 14, 1807. The appearances for some time past, threatening our peace, fellow citizens, have justly excited a general anxiety; and I have been happy to receive from every quarter of the Union the most satisfactory assurances of fidelity to our country, and of devotion to the support of its rights. Your concurrence in these sentiments, expressed in the address you have been pleased to present me, is a proof of your patriotism, and of that firm spirit which constitutes the ultimate appeal of nations. What will be the issue of present misunderstandings, is, as yet, unknown. But, willing ourselves to do justice to others, we ought to expect it from them. If any among us view erroneously the rights which late events have brought into question, let us hope that they will be corrected by the further investigation of reason; but, at all events, that they will acquiesce in what their country shall authoritatively decide, and arrange themselves faithfully under the banners of the law.
Your approbation of the measures which have been pursued, is a pleasing confirmation of their correctness; and, with particular thankfulness for the kind expressions of your address towards myself personally, I reciprocate sincere wishes for your welfare.
TO MESSRS. ABNER WATKINS AND BERNARD TODD.
December 21st, 1807. I have duly received, fellow citizens, the address of October 21st, which you have been so kind as to forward me on the part of the society of Baptists, of the Appomatox Association, and it is with great satisfaction when I learn from my constituents that the measures pursued in the administration of their atlairs, during the time I have occupied the presidential chair, have met their approbation. Of the wisdom of these measures, it belongs to others to judge; that they have always been dictated by a desire to do what should be most for the public good, I may con
scientiously affirm. Believing that a definite period of retiring from this station will tend materially to secure our elective form of government; and sensible, too, of that decline which advancing years bring on, I have felt it a duty to withdraw at the close of my present term of office; and to strengthen by practice a principle which I deem salutary. That others may be found whose talents and integrity render them proper deposits of the public liberty and interests, and who have made themselves known by their eminent services, we can all affirm, of our personal knowledge. To us it will belong, fellow citizens, when their country shall have called them to its helm, to give them our support while there, to facilitate their honest efforts for the public good, even where other measures might seem to us more direct, to strengthen the arm of our country by union under them, and to reserve ourselves for judging them at the constitutional period of election.
I pray you to tender to your society, of which you are a committee, my thanks for the indulgence with which they have. viewed my conduct, with the assurance of my high respect, and to accept yourselves my friendly and respectful salutations.
TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA.
January 10, 1808. The wrongs our country has suffered, fellow citizens, by violations of those moral rules which the Author of our nature has implanted in man as the law of his nature, to govern him in his associated, as well as individual character, have been such as justly to excite the sensibilities you express, and a deep abhorrence at indications threatening a substitution of power for right in the intercourse between nations. Not less worthy of your indignation have been the machinations of parricides who have endeavored to bring into danger the union of these States, and to subvert, for the purposes of inordinate ambition, a government founded in the will of its citizens, and directed to no object but their happiness.