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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 favor, let me entreát you, gentlenien, on your part, not to take any measures which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained. Let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, 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 effectual 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 own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national cha. racter of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man, who wishes, under any specious pretences, to overturn the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the flood-gates 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 conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind—“ Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining."
Newburgh, March 181b, 1783.
THE result of the proceedings of the grand convention of
the officers, which I have the honor of enclosing to your excellency for the inspection of congress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as the last glorious proof of patriotism which could have been given by men who aspired to the distinction of a patriot army; and will not only confirm their claim to the justice, but will encrease their title to the gratitude of their country, Having seen the proceedings on the part of the army terminate with perfect unanimity, and in a manner entirely consonant to my wishes ; being impressed with the liveliest sentiments of af.. fection for those who have so long, so patiently and so cheerfully suffered and fought under my immediate direction ; having from motives of justice, duty and gratitude, spontaneously offered myself as an advocate for their rights; and having been requested to write to your excellency, earnestly entreating the most speedy decision of congress upon the subjects of the late address from the army to that honorable body ; it now only remains for me to perform the task I have assumed, and to intercede in their behalf, as I now do, that the sovereign power will be pleased to verify the predictions I have pronounced of, and the confidence the army have reposed in the justice of their country. And here I humbly conceive it is altogether unneces. sary (while I am pleading the cause of an army, which have done and suffered more than any other army ever did in the de. fence of the rights and liberties of human nature) to expatiate on their claims to the most ample compensation for their meria torious services, because they are known perfectly to the whole world, and because, (although the topics are inexhaustable) enough has already been said on the subject. To prove these assertions, to evince that my sentiments have ever been uniform, and to shew what my ideas of the rewards in question have al. ways been, I appeal to the archives of congress, and call on those sacred deposites to witness for me. And in order that my observations and arguments in favor of a future adequate provision for the officers of the army may be brought to remem,
brance again, and considered in a single point of view, without : giving congress the trouble of having recourse to their files, I will beg leave to transmit herewith an extract from a representation made by me to a committee of congress, so long ago as the 29th of January 1778, and also the transcript of a letter to the president of congress, dated near Pasaic Falls, October 11th, 1780.
That in the critical and perilous moment when the last mentioned coinmunication was inade, there was the utmost danger a dissolution of the army would have taken place unless measures similar to those recommended had been adopted, will not admit a doubt. That the adoption of the resolution granting half pay for life has been attended with all the happy consequences I had foretold, so far as respected the good of the service, let the astonishing contrast between the state of the army at this instant, and at the former period, determine. And that the establishment of funds, and security of the payment of all the just demands of the army, will be the most certain nieans of preserving the national faith and future tranquillity of this extensive continent, is my decided opinion.
By the preceding remarks it will readily be imagined, that instead of retracting and reprehending (from farther experience and reflection) the mode of compensation so strenuously urged in the enclosures, I am more and more confirmed in the senti. ment, and if in the wrong, suffer me to please myself with the grateful delusion.
For if, besides the simple payment of their wages, a farther compensation is not due to the sufferings and sacrifices of the officers, then have I been mistaken indeed. If the whole army have not merited whatever a grateful people can bestow, then have I been beguiled by prejudice, and built opinion on the basis of error, If this country should not in the event perform every thing which has been requested in the late memorial to congress, then will iy belief become vain, and the hope that has been excited, void of foundation. And if, (as has been suggested for the purpose of infiaming their passions) the officers of the army
are to be the only sufferers by this revolution ; “ if retiring from the field they are to grow old in poverty, wretchedness and contempt--if they are to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honor,” then shall I have learned what ingratitude is, then shall I have realized a tale which will embitter every moment of my future life.
But I am under no such apprehensions : a country rescued by their arms from impending ruin, will never leave unpaid the debt of gratitude.
Should any intemperate or improper warmth have mingled itself amongst the foregoing observations, I must entreat your excellency and congress, it may be attributed to the effusion of an honest zeal in the best of causes, and that my peculiar situation may be my apology, and I hope I need not on this momentous occasion make any new protestations of personal disinterestedness, having ever renounced for myself the idea of pecuniary reward. The consciousness of having attempted faith. fully to discharge my duty, and the approbation of my country, will be a sufficient recompence for my services. I have the honor to be, &c. &c.
Go: WASHINGTON, His excellency the president in congress.
ADDRESS OF GENERAL WASHINGTON TO CONGRESS, ON RE
SIGNING HIS MILITARY COMMISSION.
December 23, 1783. Mr. PRESIDENT, THE great events on which my resignation depended liaving
I at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust con. mitted to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the. service of my country.
Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sove. reignty, 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 superceded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the pa.. tronage of heaven.
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, encreases with every review of the momentous contest.
Wuile 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 gentlemen who have 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 favora. ble notice and patronage of congress.
I CONSIDER it an indispensible duty to close this last act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty 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 fare. wel to this august body, under whose orders I have so long 'acted, I here offe's my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.