Page images
PDF
EPUB

: "The militia of this country must be con sidered as the palladium of our security, and the first effectual resort in case of hostility. It is essential therefore that the same system should pervade the whole; that the formation and discipline of the militia of the continent should be absolutely uniform, and that the same species of arms, accoutrements, and military apparatus, should be introduced in every part of the United States. No one,

who has not learned it from experience, can conceive the difficulty, expense, and confusion, which result from a contrary system, or the vague arrangements which have hitherto prevailed.

"If in treating of political points a greater latitude than usual has been taken, in the course of the address, the importance of the crisis, and the magnitude of the objects in discussion, must be my apology. It is, however, neither my wish nor expectation that the preceding observations should claim any regard, except so far as they shall appear to be dictated by a good intention, consonant to the immutable rules of justice, calculated to produce a liberal system of policy, and founded on whatever experience may have been acquired by a long and close attention to public business. Here I might speak with more confidence from my actual observations;

18

and,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and, if it would not swell this letter, already too prolix, beyond the bounds I had prescribed myself, I could demonstrate to every mind open to conviction, that in less time and with much less expense than has been incurred, the war might have been brought to the same happy conclusion, if the resources of the continent could have been properly called forth; that the distresses and disappointments which have very often occurred, have in too many instances resulted more from a want of energy in the continental government, than a deficiency of means in the particular states; that the inefficacy of the measures arising from the want of an adequate authority in the supreme power, from a partial compliance with the requisitions of congress in some of the states, and from a failure of punctuality in others, while they tended to damp the zeal of those who were more willing to exert themselves, served also to accumulate the expenses of the war, and to frustrate the best concerted plans; and that the discouragement occasioned by the complicated difficulties and embarrassments in which our affairs were by this means involved, would have long ago produced the dissolution of any army less patient, less virtuous, and less persevering, than that which

R 3

which I have had the honour to command. But while I mention these things, which are notorious facts, as the defects of our federal constitution, particularly in the prosecution of a war, I beg it may be understood, that as I have ever taken a pleasure in gratefully acknowledging the assistance and support I have derived from every class of citizens, so shall I always be happy to do justice to the unparalleled exertions of the individual states on many interesting occasions.

"I have thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known, before I surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. The task is now accomplished; I now bid adieu to your excellency, as the chief magistrate of your state; at the same time, I bid a last farewell to the cares of office, and all the employments of public life.

"It remains then to be my final and only request, that your excellency will communicate these sentiments to your legislature, at their next meeting, and that they may be considered as the legacy of one who has ardently wished on all occasions to be useful to his country, and who, even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the divine benediction upon it.

"I now make it my earnest prayer, that

G

God would have you and the state over which you preside in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren. who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the divine author of our blessed religion; without an humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

"I have the honour to be," &c.

The second of November was fixed for discharging that part of the army which was engaged to serve during the war. On that day, general Washington issued his farewell orders to the armies of the United States, in the following words :

[ocr errors]

Rocky-Hill, near Princeton, "Nov. 2d 1783.

"The United States in congress assembled, after giving the most honourable testimony

to the merits of the federal armies, and presenting them with the thanks of their country, for their long, eminent, and faithful service, having thought proper, by their proclamation bearing date the 18th of October last, to discharge such part of the troops as were engaged for the war, and to permit the officers on furlough to retire from service on and after to-morrow; which proclamation, having been communicated in the public papers, for the information and government of all concerned, it only remains for the commander in chief to address himself once more, and that for the last time, to the armies of the United States, however widely dispersed the individuals who compose them may be, and to bid them an affectionate, a long farewell!

"But before the commander in chief takes his final leave of those he holds most dear, he wishes to indulge himself a few moments in calling to mind a slight view of the past. He will, then, take the liberty of exploring, with his military friends, their future prospects; of advising the general line of conduct, which in his opinion ought to be pursued; and he will conclude the address, by acknowledging the obligations he feels himself under, for the spirited and able assistance he has

experienced

« PreviousContinue »