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dered by any
citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command, it will continue to animate remotest ages. We feel with you our obligations to the amy in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interest of those confidential officers who have attended your person to this affecting moment.
“We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation ; and for you we address to Him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all his care ; that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious, and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give."
The military services of Gen. Washington, which ended with this interesting day, were as great as ever were ren
nan to any nation. They were at the same time disinterested. How dear would not a mercenary man have sold such toils, such dangers, and above all, such suc. cesses ? What schemes of grandeur and of power would not an ambitious man have built upon the affections of the people and of the army? The gratitude of America was so lively, that any thing asked by her resigning chief, would bave been readily granted. He asked nothing for himself, his family, or relations; but indirectly solicited favours for the confidential officers who were attached to his person. These were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capacity of Aids de Camp. To have omitted the opportunity when offered, of recommending them to their country's notice, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The only privilege distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending and receiving letters free of postage.
The American chief, having by his own voluntary act, become one of the people, hastened with ineffable delight to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac.There, in a short time, the most successful General.in the world, became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.
To pass suddenly from the toils of the first commission in the United States to the care of a farm; to exchange the
instruments of - war, for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious agriculture, would to most men have been a difficult task. But to the elevated mind of Washington, it was natural and delightful. From his example, let the commanders of armies learn, that the fame which is acquired by the sword, without guilt or ambition, may be preserved without power or splendour in private life.
General Washington, on retiring from public life, devotes himself
to agricultural pursuits... favours inland navigation .... Declines offered emoluments from it ....Urges an alteration of the fundamental rules of the society of the Cincinnati.... Regrets the defects of the Federal system, and recommends a revisal of it
. . Is appointed a member of the continental convention for that purpose, which, after hesitation, he accepts .... Is chosen President thereof.... Is-solicited to accept the Presidency of the United States ... Writes sundry letters expressive of the conflict in his mind, between duty and inclination ....Answers applicants for offices ....His reluctance to enter on public life:
THE sensations of Washington on retiring from public business are thus expressed. « I feel as a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which all the former were directed, and from his house top is looking back and tracing with an eager eye, the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which lay in his way, and into which none but the All Powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events, could have prevented his falling.
“ I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potowmac, and, under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig tree, free from the bustle of a camp, and the busy scenes
of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe was insufficient for us all; and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in the hope of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception. I have not only retired from all public employments but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all ; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move gently down the steam of life, until I sleep with my fathers."
Agriculture, which had always been the favourite employment of Washington, was now resumed with increasing delight. The energies of his active mind were devoted to this first and most useful art. No improvenients in the construction of farming utensils, no valuable experiments in husbandry, escaped his attention. He saw with regret te miserable system of cultivation which prevailed too generally in his native country, and wished to introduce a bet
With this view, he engaged in a correspondence with some of the distinguished agriculturalists in Great Britain, particularlarly the celebrated Arthur Young. He traced the different states of argriculture in the two countries, in a great degree to the following obvious principles. In Great Britain, land was dear, and labour cheap. In America the reverse took place to such a degree, that manuring land was comparatively neglected, on the mistaken, short-sighted idea, that it was cheaper to clear and cultivate new fields, than to improve and repair such as were old. To this radical error, which led to idleness and a vagabond dispersed population, he opposed the whole weight of his influence. His example and recommendations tended to revolutionize the agriculture of his country, as his valour nad revolutionized its government.
The extension of inland navigation occupied much of Washington's attention, at this period of exemption from public cares. Soon after peace was proclaimed, he made a tour as far west as Pittsburgh, and also traversed the western parts of New England and New York, and examin
ed for himself the difficulties of bringing the trade of the west to different points on the Atlantic. Possessed of an accurate knowledge of the subject, he corresponded with the governors of different states, and other influential characters. To them he suggested the propriety of making by public authority, an appointment of commissioners of integrity and ability, whose duty it should be, after accurate examination, to ascertain the nearest and best portages between such of the eastern and western rivers as headed near to each other, though they ran in opposite directions ; and also to trace the rivers west of the Ohio, to their sources and mouths, as they respectively emptied either into the Ohio, or the lakes of Canada, and to make an accurate map of the whole, with observations on the impediments to be overcome, and the advantages to be acquired on the completion of the work.
The views of Washington in advocating the extension of inland navigation were grand and magnificent. He consi. dered it as an effectual mean of cementing the union of the states. In his letter to the Governor of Virginia, he observed, “ I need not remark to you, sir, that the flanks and rear of the United States are possessed by other powers, and formidable ones too; nor need I press the necessity of applying the cement of interest to bind all parts of the union together by indissoluble bonds; especially of binding that part of it which lies immediately west of us, to the middle states. For what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those people ; how entirely unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles
may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on their left, instead of throwing impediments in their way as they do now, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance ? When they get strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive, what will be the consequence of their having formed close commercial connections with both or either of those powers? It needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell.” After stating the same thing to a member of Congress, he proceeds, “ It may be asked, how we are to prevent this ? Happily for us the way is plain. Our immediate interests, as well as remote political advantages, point to it ; whilst a combination of circum. stances render the present time more favourable than
any other to accomplish it. Extend the inland navigation of the eastern waters ; communicate them as near as possible with those which run westward ; open these to the Ohio; open also such as extend from the Ohio toward Lake Erie; and we shall not only draw the produce of the western settlers, but the peltry and fur trade of the lakes also, to our ports; thus adding an immense increase to our exports, and binding those people to us by a chain which never can be broken."
The Virginia legislature acted on the recommendation of General Washington, to the extent of his wishes ; and in consequence thereof, works of the greatest utility have been nearly accomplished. They went one step farther, and by a legislative act vested in him, at the expense of the state, one hundred and fifty shares in the navigation of the rivers Potowmac and James. The act for this purpose was introduced with the following preamble : “ Whereas it is the desire of the representatives of this commonwealth, to embrace every suitable occasion of testifying their sense of the unexampled merits of George Washington, Esq. toward his country; and it is their wish in particular that those great works for its improvement, which, both as springing from the liberty which he has been so instrumental in establishing, and as encouraged by his patronage, will be durable monuments of his glory, may be made monuments also of the gratitude of his country. Be it enacted," &c.
To the friend who conveyed to Washington the first intelligence of this bill, he replied, “ It is not easy for me to decide, by which my mind was most affected upon the receipt of your letter of the sixth instant, surprise or gratitude. Both were greater than I had words to express. The attention and good wishes which the assembly have evidenced by their act for vesting in me one hundred and fifty shares in the navigation of the rivers Potow mac and James, is more than mere compliment. There is an uncquivocal and substantial meaning annexed. But believe me, sir, no circumstance has happened since I left the walks of public life, which has so much embarrassed me. On the one hand, I consider this act as a noble and unequivocal proof of the good opinion, the affection, and disposition of my country to serve me, and I should be hurt, if by declining the acceptance of it, my refusal should be