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By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected, beyond all human probability, or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was levelling my companions on every side of me.
Providence has heretofore taken us up, when all other means and hope seemed to be departing from us. In this I will confide.
I commend my friends, and, with them, the interests and happiness of our dear country, to the keeping and protection of Almighty God.
THE SUPREME RULER OF THE UNIVERSE.
The situation in which I now stand, for the last time, in the midst of the representatives of the people of the United States, naturally recalls the period, when the administration of the present form of government commenced. And I cannot omit the occasion, to congratulate you,† and my country, on the success of the
*In Braddock's defeat.
experiment, nor to repeat my fervent supplications to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Sovereign Arbiter of Nations, that his providential care may still be extended to the United States, that the virtue and happiness of the people may be preserved, and that the government which they have instituted for the protection of their liberties, may be perpetual.
THE RULER OF NATIONS.
Let us unite, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of Nations, to spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the machinations of the wicked, to the confirming of our Constitution; to enable us, at all times, to root out internal sedition, and put invasion to flight; to perpetuate to our country that prosperity, which His goodness has already conferred, and to verify the anticipations of this government being a safeguard of human rights.
May we unite, in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties, properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional
laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations, (especially such as have shown kindness to us,) and to bless them with good governments, peace and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science, among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity, as He alone knows to be best.
THE FATE OF NATIONS, SUSPENDED ON GOD'S WILL.
I humbly implore that Being, on whose will the fate of nations depends, to crown with success our endeavors for the general happiness.
THE GOD OF ARMIES.
The vicissitudes of war are in the hands of the Supreme Director, where is no control.
NATIONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THE DIVINE FAVOR.
The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected, on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
REMARKABLE INSTANCES OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
In no instance, since the commencement of the war, has the interposition of Providence appeared more remarkably conspicuous, than in the rescue of the post and garrison of West Point from Arnold's villainous perfidy.
I most devoutly congratulate my country, and every well-wisher to the cause, on this signal stroke of Providence.
General Lee, having command of the van of the army, consisting of full five thousand chosen men, was ordered to begin the attack next morning, so soon as the enemy began to march; to be supported by me; but, strange to tell! when he came up with the enemy, a retreat commenced; whether by his order, or from other causes, is now a subject of inquiry, and consequently improper to be descanted upon, as he is in arrest, and a court-martial is sitting for his trial. A retreat, however, was the fact, be the causes what they may; and the disorder arising from it would have proved fatal to the army, had not that bountiful Providence, which has never failed us in the hour of distress, enabled me to form a regiment or two, (of those that were retreating,) in the face of the enemy, and under their fire; by which means, a stand was made
*The defeat of General Burgoyne.
long enough (the place through which the enemy were pursuing being narrow,) to form the troops, that were advancing, upon an advantageous piece of ground, in the rear. Here our affairs took a favorable turn.
The interposing hand of Heaven, in the various instances of our extensive preparations for this * operation, has been most conspicuous and remarkable.
GOD, OUR BENIGN PARENT.
Having imparted to you† my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting, once more, to the Benign Parent of the human race, in humble supplication, that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating, in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding, with unparalleled unanimity, on a form of government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous, in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures, on which the success of this government must depend.
*The surrender of Yorktown and Gloucester.