partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur
moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign
to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will
be a full recompence for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they
How far is the discharge of my official duties, I
have been guided by the
principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences
my conduct much witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance
my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided
In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe,
my proclamation of the 22d
of April, 1793 is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving
and by that of your representatives in both houses of congress, the spirit
that measure has continually governed me; uninfluenced by any attempts
or divert me from it.
After deliberate examination with the aid of the
best lights I could obtain, I
was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the
a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest, to take a neutral
Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain
it, with moderation, perseverance and firmness.
The considerations which respect the right to hold
this conduct, it is not
necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that according
understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any
belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred,
without any thing
more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation,
in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations
of peace and
amity towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct
will best be referred
to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive
been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its
institutions, and to progress without interruption, to that degree of strength
consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command
its own fortunes.
Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration,
I am unconscious of
intentional error; I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to
probable that I may have committed may errors. Whatever they may
fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which
tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never
view them with indulgence; and that after forty-five years of my life dedicated
to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetence abilities
consigned to oblivion, as myself soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things,
and actuated by that fervent
love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views in it the native
himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with
that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the
sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of any of my fellow-citizens,
influence of good laws under a free government--the ever favourite object
heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours and
UNITED STATES, 17th September, 1796.