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for ever; that in any political event, the army has its alters native.--If peace, that nothing shall separate you from your arms but death; if war, that courting the auspices, and inviting the directions of your illustrious leader, you will retire to some unsettled country, smile in your turn, and • mock when their fear cometh on.' But let it represent also, that should they comply with the request of your late memorial, it would make you more happy, and them more respectable; that while the war should continue, you would follow their standard into the field ; and when it came to an end, you would withdraw into the shade of private life, and give the world another subject of wonder and applause; an army victorious over its enemies, victorious over itself.”
This artful address found in almost every bosom, sentiments so congenial, as to prepare the way for its favourable reception. It operated like a torch on combustible materials. The passions of the army quickly caught the flame which it was well calculated to excite. Every appearance threatened that the proposed convention of the officers would produce an explosion which might tarnish the reputation of the army, disturb the peace of the country, and, under certain circumstances, most probably terminate in the subversion of the rea cent liberties of the newly formed states.
Accustomed, as Washington had been, to emergencies of great delicacy and difficulty, yet none had occurred, which called more pressingly than the present, for the utmost ex ertion of all his powers. He knew well, that it was much easier to avoid intemperate measures, than to recede from them, after they had been adopted. He therefore considered it as a matter of the first importance, to prevent the meeting of the officers on the succeeding day, as proposed in the anonymous summons. The sensibilities of the army were too high to admit of this being forbidden by authority, as a violation of discipline, but the end was answered in another way, and without irritation.--The commander-in-chief, in general orders, noticed the anonymous summons, as a dig. orderly proceeding, not to be countenanced; and, the more effectually to divert the officers from paying any attention to it, he requested them to meet for the same nominal purpose, but on a day four days subsequent to the one proposed by the anonymous addresser. The intervening period w29 employed in preparing the officers for the adoption of mode
rate measures.- -General Washington sent for one officer after another, and enlarged, in private, on the fatal consequences; and particularly the loss of character, which would. result from the adoption of intemperate resolutions. His whole personal influence was exerted, to calm the prevailing agitation. When the officers assembled, their venerable chief, exerted, preparing to address them, found his eye-sight to fail him; on which, he observed, " My eyes have grown dim in my country's service, but I never doubted of its justice;" and then proceeded as follows :
66 GENTLEMEN,—By an anonymous summons, an attempt has been made to convene you together. How inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of all order and discipline, let the good sense of the army decide.
"In the moment of this summons, another anonymous production was sent into circulation, addressed more to the feelings and passions, than to the reason and judgment of the army. The author of the piece is entitled to much credit for the goodness of his pen; and I could wish he had as much credit for the rectitude of his heart; for, as men see through different optics, and are induced by the reflecting faculties of the mind, to use different means to attain the same end, the author of the address should have had more charity, than to mark for suspicion, the man who should recommend moderation and longer forbearance; or, in other words, who should not think, as he thinks, and act as he advises. But he had another plan in view, in which candour and liberality of sentiment, regard to justice, and love of country, have no part; and he was right to insinuate the darkest suspicion, to effect the blackest design. That the address is drawn with great art, and is designed to answer the most insidious purposes; that it is calculated to impress the mind with an idea of premeditated injustice in the sovereign power of the United States, and rouse all those resentments, which must unavoida ably flow from such a belief; that the secret mover of this scheme, whoever he may be, intended to take advantage of the passions while they were warmed by the recollection of past distresses, without giving time for cool, deliberate thinko ing, and that coliposure of mind which is so necessary to give dignity and stability to measures, is rendered too obo vious, by the mode of conducting the business, to need other
proof than a reference to the proceeding.–Thus much, genHemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last, and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity consistent with your own honour and the dignity of the army, to make known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you, that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper.-But, as I was amongst the first who embarked in the cause of our common country; as I have never lest your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses, and not amongst the last to feel and acknowledge your merits ; as I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army; as my heart has ever expanded with joy when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it, it can scarcely be supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests.But how are they to be promoted? The way is plain, says the anonymous addresser. If war continues, remove into the unsettled country; there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to defend itself. But who are they to do fend? Our wives, our children, our farms, and other property, which we leave behind us ?. Or, in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two first, the latter cannot be removed, to perish in a wilderness, with hunger, cold, and nakedness? If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords, says he, until you have obtained full and ample justice.This dreadful 'alternative, of either deserting our country in the extremest hour of her distress, or turning our armies against it, which is the apparent object, unless congress can be compelled into instant compliance, has something so shocking in it, that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! what can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures ? Can he be a friend to the
Can he be a friend to this country? Rather is he not an insidious foe? Some emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing the seeds of discord and separation be. tween the civil and military powers of the continent ?-And
what a compliment does he pay to our understandings, when he recommends measures, in either alternative, impracticable in their nature ? But here, gentlemen, I will drop the curtain, because it would be as imprudent in me to assign my reasons for this opinion, as it would be insulting to your conception, to suppose you stood in need of them. A moment's reflection will convince every dispassionate mind of the physical impossibility of carrying either proposal into execution. There might, gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking notice, in this address to you, of an anonymous production ; but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the army, the effect it was intended to have, together with some other circunstances, will amply justify my observations on the tendency of that writing. With respect to the advice given by the author, to suspect the man who shall recommend moderate measures and longer forbearance, I spurn it, as every man, who regards that liberty and reveres that justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must; for, if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us. The freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. I cannot, in justice to my own belief, and what I have great reason to conceive, is the intention of congress, conclude this address, without giving it as my decided opinion, that that honourable body entertain exalted sentiments of the services of the army, and from a full conviction of its merits and sufferings, will do it complete justice; that their endeavours to discover and establish funds for this purpose has been unwearied, and will not cease till they have succeeded, I have not a doubt.-But, like all other large bodies, where there is a variety of different interests to recon. cile, their determinations are slow. Why then should we distrust them ? and in consequence of that distrust, adopt mea. bures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been BO justly acquired, and tarnish the reputation of an army, which is celebrated through all Europe for its fortitude and patriotism ? And, for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No; most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance. For myself, and I take no merit in giving the assurance, being induced to it from principles of
gratitude, veracity, and justice; a grateful sense of the confidence you have ever placed in me; a fecollection of the cheerful assistance, and prompt obedience I have experienced from you,
every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honour to command, will oblige me to declare, in this public and solemn manner, that, in the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the great duty * I owe to my country, and those powers we are bound to respect, you may freely command my services, to the utmost extent of my abilities.-While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever ability I am possessed of in your favour, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any mea sure, which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessed the dignity, and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained; let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your coun. try, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of congress, that, previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in the resolutions which were published to you two days ago; and that they will adopt the most effectueel measures in their power to render ample justice to you, for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common country, as you value your swn sacred honour; as you respect the rights of humanity; und as you regard the military and national character of America; to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretences, to overs turn the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the floodgates of civil discord, and deluge our rising empire in blood.
* By thus determining, and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes, you will defeat the insidious designs of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open force to secret artifice. You will give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings ; and you will, by the dignity of your condnct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorius example you have exhibited to