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closed collection of papers, relative to the half-pay and commutation granted by Congress to the officers of the army : from these communications, my decided sentiment will be clearly comprehended, together with the conclusive reasons, which induced me at an early period, to reccommend the adoption of this measure in the most earnest and serious manner. As the proceedings of Congress, the army, and myself, are open to all, and contain, in my opinion, sufficient information to remove the prejudice and errors which may have been entertained by any, I think it unnecessary to say any thing more, than just to observe, that the resolutions of Congress, now alluded to, are as undoubtedly and absolutely binding upon the United States as the most solemn acts of confederation or legislation.
As to the idea, which I am informed, has in some instances prevailed, that the half-pay and commutation are to be regarded mere ly in the odious light of a pension, it ought to be exploded forever : that provision fhould be viewed, as it really was, a reasonable compensation offered by Congress, at a time when they had nothing else to give to officers of the army, for services then to be performed : it was the only means to prevent a total derilection of the service ; it was a part of their hire. I may be allowed to say, it was the price of their blood, and of your independency; it is therefore more than a common debt, it is a debt of honour; it can never be considered as a pension or gratuity, nor cancelled until it is fairly discharged.
WITH regard to the distinction between officers and soldiers, it is sufficient that the uniform experience of every nation of the world, combined with our own, proves the utility and propriety of the discrimination. Rewards, in proportion to the aid the public draws from them, are unquestionably due to all its servants. In some lines, the sol. diers have perhaps generally had as ample compensation for their services, by the large bounties which have been paid them, as their officers will receive in the proposed commutation ; in others, if besides the donation of land, the payment of arrearages of cloathing and wages (in which articles all the component parts of the army must be put upon the same footing) we take into the estimate,
the bounties many of the soldiers have received, and the gratuity of one year's full pay, which is promised to all, possibly their situation (every circumstance being duly considered) will not be deemed less eligible than that of the officers. Should a farther reward, however, be judged equitable, I will venture to assert, no man will enjoy greater satisfaction than myself, in an exemption from taxes for a limited time (which has been petitioned for in some instances) or any other adequate immunity or compensation granted to the brave defenders of their country's cause : but neither the adoption or rejection of this proposition will, in any manner affect, much less militate against the act of Congress, by which they have offered five years full pay, in lieu of the half-pay for life, which had been before promised to the officers of the army.
· BEFORE I conclude the subject on public justice, I cannot omit to mention the obligations this country is under to that meritorious class of veterans, the non-commissioned officers and privates, who have been discharged for inability, in consequence of the resolution of Congress, of the 23d of April,
1782, on an annual pension for life. Their peculiar sufferings, their singular merits and claims to that provision need only to be known, to interest the feelings of humanitja in their behalf. Nothing but a punctual payment of their annual allowance can rescue them from the most complicated misery ; and nothing could be a more melancholy and distressing sight, than to behold those who have shed their blood, or lost their limbs in the service of their country, without a shelter, without a friend, and without the means of obtaining any of the comforts or necessaries of life, compelled to beg their daily bread from door to door. Suffer me to recommend those of this description, belonging to your state, to the warmest patronage of your excellency and your legislature.
It is necessary to say but a few words on the third topic which was proposed, and which regards particularly the defence of the republic. As there can be little doubt but Congress will recommend a proper peace establishment for the United States, in which a due attention will be paid to the importance of placing the militia of the union up
on a regular and respectable footing ; if this should be the case, I should beg leave to urge the great advantage of it in the strongest terms.
THE militia of this country must be considered 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 this Address,the importance of the crisis, and the magnitude of the objects in discussion, must be my apology: it is, how. ever, neither my wish nor expectation, that the preceding observations should claim any