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TO THE FIFTH PART.
In the time of Washington's administration, it was customary for the President, at the opening of each session of Congress, to meet the two houses in person, and deliver a written speech. Each house returned an answer to this speech some days afterwards, by a committee, who waited on him for the purpose; and he at the same time made a brief reply. All his Speeches to Congress are contained in this volume, and all his replies to the answers of the two houses. The answers themselves may be found in the Journals of Congress.
The Messages were written communications on topics, which had not been introduced into the Speech, but which required the attention of Congress. They were sent at different times in the course of the session. Many of them were very short, being accompanied with illustrative and explanatory documents. All those, which are important for the matter or the sentiments they contain, have been selected for this work.
Such of the Proclamations, as have any permanent value, are here collected. The others, which merely announced the ratification of treaties, are brief and unimportant.
The public Addresses, received and answered by Washington, are very numerous. Those included in the period of his Presidency fill three manuscript volumes. A large number of them had an occasional and temporary interest only; and, as the plan of this work would not admit of the publication of the whole, a selection has been made of those, which are thought to have the highest claim. This selection is confined to his answers. Frequently the date is not recorded in the manuscript copy. But the addresses and answers appear to have been arranged in the order of time, and thus the dates have been fixed with considerable accuracy. When the year, month, and day are noted, the exact date is known; but, when the year and month, or the year only, are indicated, nothing more could be ascertained. These particulars it is thought proper to mention, as explaining the reason why the dates of the addresses in some instances are not given with more precision.
SPEECHES TO CONGRESS.
APRIL 30th, 1789.
Fellow-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE
AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties, than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years; a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust, to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature, and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own
so, on another, that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preëminence of a free government be exemplified by all the attributes, which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction, which an ardent love for my country can inspire; since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained ; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people.
Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide, how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself