Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ate me to substitute in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these hanourable qualifications, I behold the surost. pledges, that as on one side, no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests : so, on another, that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence 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 publick 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 entrusted 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 publick good; for I assura myself, that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience; a reverence for the characteristick rights of freemen, and a regard for the publick harmony, will sufficiently influence your de. liberations on the question, how far the former can be more impregnably fortified, or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.

“ To the preceding observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honoured with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty, required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department; and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, may, during my continuation in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the publick good may be thought to require.

“ Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the human race, in humble supplication, that since he has been pleased to favour the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union, and the advancement of their happiness ; 60 his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this government must depend."

The answer of the Senate was highly respectful and affectionate.

“ The unanimous suffrage of the elective body in your favour, is peculiarly expressive of the gratitude, confidence, and affection of the citizens of America, and is the highest testimonial at once of your merit, and their esteem. We are sensible, Sir, that nothing but the voice of your fellow citizens could have called you from a retreat, chosen by the fondest predilection, endeared by habit, and consecrated to the repose of declining years. We rejoice, and with us, all America, that, in obedience to the call of our common country, you have returned once more to publick life. In you all parties confide, in you all interests unite, and we have no doubt that your past services, great as they have been, will be equalled by your future exertions; and that your prudence and sagacity, as a statesman, will tend to avert the dangers to which we were exposed, to give stability to the present government, and dignity and splendour to that country, which your skill and valour as a soldier, so eminently contributed to raise to independence and empire.

“ When we contemplate the coincidence of circumstances, and wonderful combination of causes which gradually prepared the people of this country for independence; when we contemplate the rise, progress, and termination of the late war, which gave them a name among the nations of the earth, we are, with ron, unavoidably led to acknowledge and adore the great Arbiter of the universe, by whom empires rise and fall. A review of the many signal instances of divine interposition in favour of this country, claims our most pious gratitude. And permit us, Sir, to ob serve, that among the great events which have led to the formation and establishment of a federal government, we esteem your acceptance of the office of President, as one of the most propitious and important."

The House, equally affectionate and respectful in their answer, say:

“ The Representatives of the People of the United States, present their congratulations on the event by which your fellow citizens have attested the pre-eminence of your merit. You have long held the first place in their esteem; you have often received tokens of their affection; you now possess the only proof that remained of their gratitude for your services, of their reverence for your wisdom, and of their confidence in your virtues. You enjoy the highest, because the truest honour, of being the First Magistrate, by the unanimous choice of the freest people on the face of the earth.

“ We well know the anxieties with which you must have obeyed the summons, from the repose reserved for your declining years, into publick scenes, of which you had taken your leave for ever; but the obedience was due to the occasion. It is already applauded by the universal joy which welcomes you to your station, and we cannot doubt that it will be rewarded with all . the satisfaction, with which an ardent love for your fellow citizens must review successful efforts to pro-mote their happiness.

« This anticipation is not justified merely by the past experience of your signal services. It is particularly suggested by the pious impressions under which you commence your administration, and the enlightened maxims by which you mean to conduct it. We feel with you the strongest obligations to adore the in->

visible hand which has led the American people through so many difficulties, to cherish a conscious responsibility for the destiny of republican liberty, and to seek the only sure means of preserving and recommending the precious deposite in a system of legislation, founded on the principles of an honest policy, and directed by the spirit of a diffusive patriotism.

The question arising out of the fifth article of the Constitution will receive all the attention demanded by its importance, and will, we trust, be decided under the influence of all the considerations to which you allude.

“ In forming the pecuniary provisions for the executive department, we shall not lose sight of a wish resulting from motives which give it a peculiar claim to our regard. Your resolution, in a moment critical to the liberties of your country, to renounce all per. sonal emolument, was among the many presages of your patriotick services, which have been amply fulfil. led; and your scrupulous adherence now to the law then imposed on yourself, cannot fail to demonstrate the purity, whilst it increases the lustre of a character, which has so many titles to admiration.

" Such are the sentiments with which we have thought fit to address you. They flow from our own hearts, and we verily believe, that

among

the millions we represent, there is not a virtuous citizen whose heart will disown them.

“ All that remains is, that we join in your fervent supplications for the blessings of Heaven on our coun. try; and that we add our own for the choicest of those blessings on the most beloved of her citizens."

While waiting the movements of the Legislature, the President endeavoured fully to acquaint himself with the state of publick affairs, and for this purpose, he called upon those who had been the heads of depart. ments under the confederation, to report to him the situation of their respective concerns. He also, har.

« ForrigeFortsett »