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ning the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations; but if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigues, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated.
How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records, and other evidences of my conduct, must witness to you and 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 22d 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, with Jut any thing more, from the obligation which justice and hu manity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
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 consistency 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 native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate, with pleasing expectation, that retreat in which I promise myself 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.
GEORGE WASHINGTON. United States, 17th September, 1796.
QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION.
1. WHEN, and by whom, were John Cabot and his three sons commissioned to set forth on a voyage of discovery? What was done under this commission? 2. What was the origin of the title of England to North America? Upon what did that title depend? What was it called? What principle was adopted by European nations in relation to the discovery of unknown countries?
3. What restrictions were imposed upon the original inhabitants under this title? To whom could the natives grant a title ?
4. What was the probable origin of the Right of Discovery?
5. Are uninhabited countries considered as belonging to any particular nation? What right does a nation acquire in the discovery of uninhabited lands? Under what conditions will its title be regarded as good by other nations? Under what conditions will its title be considered incomplete?
6. Can the titles derived from discovery be easily overthrown? Where have they become vested by successive transfers? Under what title do we hold this country? How has that title descended to us?
7. What laws govern the settlers of an uninhabited country? What laws govern them if the country be inhabited?
8. How did the North-American colonists regard the occupancy and claims of the Indian tribes? What laws did they take with them to the New World? By what body were those laws ratified
9. What did the charters under which the colonies were settled expressly declare? What colony alone was excepted? Did the acts of Parliament always affect the colonies?
10. Name the thirteen original colonies? Into how many classes have these colonies been divided? In reference to what? Name the three divisions or classes.
11. By whom was a governor appointed under the provincial governments? What rank did he hold? How did he rule? Who established courts and raised military forces? What power had the governor with regard to legislative assemblies? What kind of laws did they make? Name the provincial
12. What did the king grant to the proprietary governments? What powers did the proprietaries possess? How many proprietary governments were there at the time of the Revolution? Name them and their proprietors. What proprietary governments became provincial or royal before the Revolution? 13. How and in whom were the rights vested in the charter governments? By whom were the governor, council, and assembly chosen in Connecticut and
Rhode Island? How were they chosen in Massachusetts? By what charter? Name the charter governments existing at the time of the Revolution.
14. In what important particulars was there a similarity in the situation and circumstances of the colonists?
15. What induced many of the settlers of the colonies to emigrate from England? What had this excitement produced? What institutions of learning were founded? What were encouraged? Of what benefit to the colonies was their great distance from the mother country? What is meant by the law of primogeniture? In what colonies was this law abolished? What was the consequence of its abolishment? What the tendency?
16. Had the colonies any political connection with each other? Had they a right to form treaties or alliances with each other? How were they recognised by the law of nations? What rights had each colonist in every other colony?
17. WERE the colonies politically united? Did they ever unite together? For what purpose? Why did the New England colonies unite?
18. What colonies united together for the purpose of protecting themselves against the Dutch and Indians? When was this alliance formed? What was its name?
19. What colonies sent delegates to deliberate together upon the best means of defending themselves in case of a war with France? In what year did they assemble?
20. What led the colonies to form a union for their common protection? In what year did the Congress of nine colonies assemble in New York? What did they assert in their bill of rights?
21. Where did the first Continental Congress assemble? When? Who was its President? Who its secretary? What did the members style themselves? How long did they continue in session? What valuable State paper did this Congress publish?
22. When and where did the second Continental Congress meet? How long did it continue in session? How were the votes taken in these Congresses? If a colony had seven delegates, how many votes would they cast? If the delegates were equally divided, how did they vote?
23. When was the Declaration of Independence declared? What effect did it produce? In the Declaration of Independence, what were the colonies styled for the first time? What then became necessary?
24. What two important committees were appointed on the 11th of June, 1776?
25. When were the Articles of Confederation adopted by Congress? By the delegates of what States were they ratified, and when? By what States were they subsequently signed, and when? When was the ratification completed? When did Congress assemble under the Confederation?
26. For what purpose were the thirteen States formed into a league? 27. Did the States delegate all their powers to the United States? How often were delegates chosen for each State? How many for each State? How were the expenses defrayed? How were questions decided?
28. How were the expenses of the war supplied?
29. How was a committee of the States formed? What were its duties? 30. In what cases was the assent of nine States required? What questions did not require a majority of votes?
31. Was this Confederation intended to be altered?
32. When were the Articles finally ratified? Who directed the war? What were the powers of Congress? the character of the government?