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The army do not want gratitude, nor do they misplace it in this instance.
It embellishes the American character with a new trait, by proving, that the love of country is blended with those softer domestic virtues, which have always been allowed to be more peculiarly your own.
You have not acquired admiration, in your own country only; it is paid to you abroad, and, you will learn with pleasure, by a part of your own sex, whose female accomplishments have attained their highest perfection, and who, from the commencement, have been the patronesses of American liberty.
ON HIS ACCEPTING THE PRESIDENCY.
Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties, than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month.
On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years;—a retreat, which was rendered, every day,
more necessary as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time.
On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust, to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken, in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature, and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.
In this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver is, that it has been my faithful study, to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is, that if, in accepting this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof, of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity, as well as disinclination, for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which misled me, and its consequences be judged by my country, with some share of the partiality with which they originated.
I am sensible, that I am embarking, with the voice of the people, and a good name of my own, on
this voyage. What returns may be made for them, Heaven alone can foretell. Integrity and firmness are all I can promise. These, be the voyage long or short, shall never forsake me, though I may be deserted by all men; for, of the consolation to be derived from these the world cannot deprive me.
The delay [in the assembling of Congress] may be compared to a reprieve. In confidence I tell you, (with the world it would obtain little credit,) that my movements to the Chair of Government, will be accompanied by feelings, not unlike those of a culprit, who is going to the place of his execution. So unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode, for an ocean of difficulties, without that competency of political skill, abilities, and inclination, which are necessary to manage the helm.
HIS PROGRESS TO THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT.
The display of boats, which attended and joined on this occasion,† some with vocal, and others with instrumental, music on board; the decorations of the ships, the roar of cannon, and the loud acclamations of the people, which rent the sky as I passed along the wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful,
tilis journey from Mount Vernon to New York.
(contemplating the reverse of this scene, which may be the case, after all our labors to do good,) as they were pleasing.
I require no guard but the affections of the
HIS REFUSAL OF PECUNIARY COMPENSATION.
When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty, required, that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation.
From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline, as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in the permanent provision for the Executive department; and must accordingly pray, that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures, as the public good may be thought to require.
When I was first called to the station, with which I was honored during the late conflict for our liberties, to the diffidence which I had so many reasons to feel
* He declined having a military escort, on his way to Congress.
in accepting it, I thought it my duty, to join a firm resolution to shut my hand against every pecuniary
To this resolution I have invariably adhered; and from it, if I had the inclination, I do not feel at liberty now to depart.
ON RETIRING FROM OFFICE.
Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects, not to think it probable, that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty, to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend.
I shall also carry with me the hope, that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must 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 soil of himself and his progenitors, for several generations; I anticipate, with pleasing expectation, that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fel