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I learn, with the liveliest sentiments of gratitude and respect, your approbation of my conduct, in the various charges which my country has been pleased to confide to me at different times ; and especially that the administration of our public affairs, since my accession to the chief magistracy, has been so far satisfactory, 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 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 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 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, it will be the great comfort of my future days, and the satisfactory reward of a service of forty years, to carry into retirement such testimonies as you have been pleased to give, of the approbation and good will of my fellow citizens generally. And I supplicate the Being in whose hands we all are, to preserve our country in freedom and independence, and to bestow on yourselves the blessings of his favor.
TO THE SOCIETY OF TAMMANY, OR COLUMBIAN ORDER, No. 1, OF
THE CITY OF NEW YORK.
Fel ruary 29 1808. I have received your address, fellow citizens, and, thankful for the expressions so personally gratifying to myself, I contemplate with high satisfaction the ardent spirit it breathes of love to our country, and of devotion to its liberty and independ
The crisis in which it is placed, cannot but be unwelcome to those who love peace, yet spurn at a tame submission to wrong. So fortunately remote from the theatre of European contests, and carefully avoiding to implicate ourselves in them, we had a right to hope for an exemption from the calamities which have afflicted the contending nations, and to be permitted unoffendingly to pursue paths of industry and peace.
But the ocean, which, like the air, is the common birth-right of mankind, is arbitrarily wrested from us, and maxims consecrated by time, by usage, and by an universal sense of right, are trampled on by superior force. To give time for this demoralizing tempest to pass over, one measure only remained which might cover our beloved country from its overwhelming fury: an appeal to the deliberate understanding of our fellow citizens in a cessation of all intercourse with the belligerent nations, until it can be resumed under the protection of a returning sense of the moral obligations which constitute a law for nations as well as individuals. There can be no question, in a mind truly American, whether it is best to send our citizens and property into certain captivity, and then wage war for their recovery, or to keep them at home, and to turn seriously to that policy which plants the manufacturer and the husbandman side by side, and establishes at the door of every one that exchange of mutual labors and comforts, which we have hitherto sought in distant regions, and under perpetual risk of broils with them. Between these alternatives your address has soundly decided, and I doubt not your aid, and that of every real and faithful citizen, towards carrying into effect the measures of your country, and enforcing
the sacred principle, that in opposing foreign wrong there must be but one mind.
I receive with sensibility your kind prayers for my future happiness, and I supplicate a protecting providence to watch over your own and our country's freedom and welfare.
TO THE DELEGATES OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICANS OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA IN GENERAL WARD COMMITTEE ASSEMBLED.
May 5. 1808. The epoch, tellow citizens, into which our lot has fallen, has indeed been fruitful of events, which require vigilance, and embarrass deliberation. That during such a period of difficulty, and amidst the perils surrounding us, the public measures which have been pursued should meet your approbation, is a source of great satisfaction. It was not expected in this age, that nations so honorably distinguished by their advances in science and civilization, would suddenly cast away the esteem they had merited from the world, and, revolting from the empire of morality, assume a character in history, which all the tears of their posterity will never wash from its pages. But during this delirium of the warring powers, the ocean having become a field of lawless violence, a suspension of our navigation for a time was equally necessary to avoid contest, or enter it with advantage. This measure will, indeed, produce some temporary inconvenience; but promises lasting good by promoting among ourselves the establishment of manufactures hitherto sought abroad, at the risk of collisions no longer regulated by the laws of reason or morality.
It is to be lamented that any of our citizens, not thinking with the mass of the nation as to the principles of our government, or of its administration, and seeing all its proceedings with a prejudiced
eye, should so misconceive and misrepresent our situation as to encourage aggressions from foreign nations. Our expectation is, that their distempered views will be understood by others as they are by ourselves; but should wars be the consequence of these delusions, and the errors of our dissatisfied citizens find
atonement only in the blood of their sounder brethren, we must meet it as an evil necessarily flowing from that liberty of speaking and writing which guards our other liberties; and I have entire confidence in the assurances that your ardor will be animated, in the conflicts brought on, by considerations of the necessity, honor, and justice of our cause.
I sincerely thank you, fellow citizens, for the concern you so kindly express for my future happiness. It is a high and abumdant reward for endeavors to be useful; and I supplicate the care of Providence over the well-being of yourselves and our beloved country.
TO THE LEGISLATURE, COUNCIL, AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF
THE TERRITORY OF ORLEANS.
WASHINGTON, June 18, 1808. I received, fellow citizens, with a just sensibility, the expressions of esteem and approbation, communicated in your kind address of the 29th of March, and am thankful for them. The motives which have led to my retirement from oslice were dictated by a sense of duty, and will, I trust, be approved by my fellow citizens generally.
It is, indeed, a source of real concern that an impartial neutrality scrupulously observed towards the belligerent nations of Europe, has not been sufficient to protect us against encroachments on our rights; and, although deprecating war, should no alternative be presented us but disgraceful submission to unlawful pretensions, I have entire confidence in your assurances that you will cheerfully submit to whatever sacrifices and privations may be necessary for vindicating the rights, the honor, and independence of our nation.
Far from a disposition to avail ourselves of the peculiar situation of any belligerent nation to ask concessions incompatible with their rights, with justice, or reciprocity, we have never proposed to any the sacrifice of a single right; and in consideration of existing circumstances, we have ever been willing, where our duty to other nations permitted us, to relax for a time, and in
some cases, that strictness of right which the laws of nature, the acknowledgments of the civilized world, and the equality and independence of nations entitle us to. Should, therefore, excessive and continued injury compel at length a resort to the means of self-redress, we are strong in the consciousness that no wrong committed on our part, no precipitancy in repelling the wrongs committed by others, no want of moderation in our exactions of voluntary justice, but undeniable aggressions on us, and the avowed purpose of continuing them, will have produced a recurrence so little consonant with our principles or inclinations.
To carry with me into retirement the approbation and esteem of my fellow citizens, will, indeed, be the highest reward they can confer on me, and certainly the only one I have ever desired. I invoke the favor of heaven, fellow citizens, towards yourselves and our beloved country.
TO THE LEGISLATURE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.
August 2, 1808. In the review, fellow citizens, which, in your address of the 14th of June, you have taken of the measures pursued since I have been charged with their direction, I read with great satisfaction and thankfulness, the approbation you have bestowed on them; and I feel it an ample reward for any services I may have been able to render.
The present moment is certainly eventful, and one which peculiarly requires that the bond of confederation connecting us as a nation should receive all the strength which unanimity between the national councils and the State legislatures can give it.
The depredations committed on our vessels and property on the high seas, the violences to the persons of our citizens enployed on that element, had long been the subject of remonstrance and complaint, when, instead of reparation, new declarations of wrong are issued, subjecting our navigation to general plunder. In this state of things our first duty was to withdraw our sea-faring citizens and property from abroad, and to keep at