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works, which exceeded every thing of the kind before witnessed in the United States.
The hour now approached when general Washington was to take leave of his officers, who had been endeared to him by a long series of common sufferings and dangers. This was done in a solemn manner; "With an heart full of love and gratitude," said he, "I now take leave of you: I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy, as your former ones have been glorious and honourable." The officers came up successively, and he took an affectionate leave of each of them. When this scene was over, the general left the room, and passed through a corps of light infantry to the place of embarkation. The officers followed in procession. On entering his barge, he turned to the companions of his glory, and by waving his hat bid them a silent adieu.Some of them answered this last signal of respect and affection with tears; and all of them hung upon the barge which conveyed him from their sight, till they could no longer distinguish in it the person of their beloved commander in chief.
He proceeded to Annapolis, then the seat of congress, to resign his commission. On his way thither, he delivered to the comptroller in Philadelphia, an account of the expenditure of all the public money he had ever received. This was in his own hand writing, and every entry was made in a particular manner.
In every town and village through which the general passed, he was met and saluted by public and private demonstrations of joy. His resignation was accepted in a public manner, at which a great number of distinguished persons were pre
sent; and never was there witnessed a more interesting scene*. Immediately on his resignation, Mr. Washington hastened to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potowmac, in Virginia, where
At a proper moment, general Washington addressed Thomas Mifflin, the President, in the following words: Mr. President,
"The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place, I have now the honour of offering my sincere congratulations to congress, and, of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.
Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of
The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.
While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the persons who had been attached to my person during the war: it was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate; permit me, sir, to recommend in particular those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favourable notice and patronage of congress.
I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty
where he earnestly hoped to spend the remainder of his days in an honourable retirement.
God, and those who have the superintendance of them, to his holy keeping.
Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action; and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”
To this the President returned an appropriate answer.
Disputes in different States. General Convention. A System of Federal Government recommended. Constitution ratified. Washington appointed President. His Character. Re-elected. Insurrection in Pennsylvania. Washington resigns. Adams chosen President. United States arm against France. Washington elected Commander in Chief. Dies. Peace between France and America. Jefferson elected President. States added to the Union. Louisiana ceded. Population. Expenditure. Debt of the United States. Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants of the United States.
No sooner was peace restored by the definitive treaty, and the British troops withdrawn from their country, than the United States began to experience the defects of their general government. Whilst an enemy was in the country, fear, which had first impelled the colonists to associate in mutual defence, continued to operate as a band of political union. It gave to the resolutions and recommendations of congress the force of laws, and generally commanded a ready acquiescence on the part of state legislatures. But now each state assumed the right of disputing the propriety of the resolutions of congress, and the interest of an individual state was placed in opposition to the common welfare of the union. In addition to this source of division, a jealousy of the powers of congress began to be excited in the minds of the people. And the war had not long ceased before in
surrection and rebellion reared their head in some of the states. The want of money was generally felt; this, with other calamities in which the coun try seemed to be involved, led the house of deleA. D. gates in Virginia to recommend the formation of a system of commercial regula1785. tions for the United States. Commissioners from several of the provinces were appointed, who met at Annapolis in the ensuing summer, to consult what measures should be taken to unite the states in some general and efficient commercial system. As however the states were not all represented, and the powers of the commissioners were, in their opinion, too limited to propose a system of regulations adequate to the purpose of government, they agreed to recommend a general convention to be held at Philadelphia the next year. This measure appeared to the commissioners absolutely necessary. The old confederation was essentially defective, and it was destitute of almost every principle necessary to give effect to legislation.
In the month of May delegates from all the states except Rhode Island assembled at 1787. Philadelphia, and chose general Washington for their president. After four months deliberation, in which the clashing interests of the several states appeared in all their force, the convention agreed to recommend the plan of a federal govern
As soon as the federal constitution was submitted to the legislatures of the several states, they proceeded to take measures for collecting the sense of the people upon the propriety of adopting it. It would be a tedious and fruitless task to enter