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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1796
Volume 105, Page 287   View pdf image (33K)
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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 intrigue,
to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will
be a full recompence for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have
been dictated.

    How far is 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 much witness to you and to the world.  To myself, the assurance of
my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by

    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, without any thing
more, from the obligation which justice and humanity 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 may 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 incompetence abilities will be
consigned to oblivion, as myself 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 any 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
                                                                        G.  WASHINGTON.

    UNITED STATES, 17th September, 1796.


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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1796
Volume 105, Page 287   View pdf image (33K)
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