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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1796
Volume 105, Page 279   View pdf image (33K)
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PRESIDENT's ADDRESS.

To the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES.

        FRIENDS and FELLOW-CITIZENS,
 

    THE period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government
of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually
arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who
is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as
it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should
now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered
among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

    I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution
has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations
appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and
that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my situation might
imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest; no
deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full
conviction that the step is compatible with both.

    The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your
suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to
the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire.  I
certainly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently
with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that
retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn.  The strength of my inclination
to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation
of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed
and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice
of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

    I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no
longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty,
or propriety; and am persuaded whatever partiality may be retained for my services,
that in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove
my determination to retire.

    The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained
on the proper occasion.  In the discharge of this trust, I will only say,
that I have with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration
of the government, the best exertions of which a very fallible
judgment was capable.  Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of
my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of
others, has strengthened the motives to dissidence of myself; and every day the
increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement
is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.  Satisfied that if any circumstances
have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I
have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to
quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

    In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career
of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment
of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country, for the
many honours it has conferred upon me; still more for the stedfast confidence
with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence
enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering,
though in usefulness unequal to my zeal.  If benefits have resulted to
our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and
as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the
passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances
sometimes dubious,--vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging,--in situations in
which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism--
 

 

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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1796
Volume 105, Page 279   View pdf image (33K)
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