Mr. Porter's Eulogy on




By ELIPHALET PORTER, One of the Ministers of said Town.


G. W. Born Feb. 22, 1732. Died, at MOUNT VERNON, Dec. 14, 1799. Aged 68.



WHILE we were yet in affliction, occa­sioned by the death of our late EXCELLENT GOVER­NOR, taken from the head of this Commonwealth, at the meridian of his life, usefulness and honour; we have been called to a fresh occasion of public grief and mourning. It hath pleased Heaven to commission the destroying angel to take the life of that ILLUSTRIOUS MAN, whom we have so long delighted to honour, as the most distinguished friend and benefactor of our nation; and one of the brightest ornaments of the human race.

WHEN the mournful tidings first reached our unwilling ear, what heart did not endeavour to find consolation in the hope, that the painful in­telligence might prove premature? But this con­solation was transient as the hope that inspired it: and we are left to the full impression of the mel­ancholy truth, that the Father of our country is no more.—Yes; a nation involved in undissembled grief; the mourners, who, in slow and sad pro­cession, go about the streets; this solemn assembly; these sable signs of sorrow and of death; the [Page 6] gloomy rites and service to which we devote this day, proclaim, that WASHINGTON has departed, never to return.

HE has, at length, retired beyond the reach of his country's call, at which he so often came to her aid. And the knowledge that he lives is no long­er a source of pleasing reflection to our minds, and of security to our nation. The public has, indeed, sustained a loss, which true patriotism will deeply deplore; and every heart experiences a wound, on its individual peace, which will not be soon healed. But it would be unworthy of the present occasion, to indulge that extravagant and selfish sorrow, which, precluding reflection, gratitude and piety, refuses to be comforted.

IT is true, our WASHINGTON is taken away; but this implies, that he was first given: And we have less reason to grieve at his recal, than to re­joice, that he was so long lent to our country, and to the world. It is consoling also to reflect, that he departed in a manner worthy of himself. He died as he had lived—like a Hero and a Christian. Thus he consummated his character, and acquired fresh glory in death.

THE painful void in our minds, occasioned by his removal from earth, is in some measure sup­plied by the bright image of what he was; and the contemplation of the benefits which have flow­ed, and may still flow, to his country, and to man­kind, [Page 7] from his glorious life and example. Such is the just pride we take in his character; and such the gratitude we feel for his services, that we love to dwell on his great actions; and feel interested in every circumstance of his existence.

TO select with judgment, and relate with impar­tial truth and dignified simplicity, the principal in­cidents, transactions and services of his life, would be pronouncing the best eulogy on his talents and virtues; and thus would be fulfilled, to your en­tire satisfaction, one of the duties of this great oc­casion. But the speaker foresees, with regret, the very imperfect manner, in which, at a short notice and unexpected call, he will perform a service, to which, had he ample time for reflection; for the choice and arrangement of materials; and for seeking out acceptable words, he could not flatter himself, that he would be able to do justice. Nor can he hope to discharge the duty assigned him, in that impressive manner, in which it would have been performed, by another, could entreaty have prevailed with him to have made the attempt.

IN the country, which WASHINGTON was destined gloriously to defend, and essentially serve, he "viewed the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations." He was born in the year 1732, at the parish of Washing­ton, on the banks of the Rappahannock, in Virginia. The 22d of February, according to the present style, has been too long distinguished in our calendars; [Page 8] and its annual return too often celebrated with festivity and joy, not to be known as the day of his birth. Never may it be blotted from the days of the year; nor cease to be numbered in the months. Let the light shine upon it; let no cloud obscure its lustre: And as for the night thereof, let the stars appear, in all their number, magnificence, and beauty.

"HIS education having been principally con­ducted by a private tutor, at fifteen years of age he was entered a midshipman on board a vessel of war." He appears to have possessed a native for­titude of mind, which did not shrink at the pros­pect of toil and danger. But Providence had destined him to other, if not less toilsome and hazardous, scenes, than those he contemplated. Of his father he had been deprived by death, at the age of ten years. The affection of his surviving parent rendered her reluctant at his engaging in the naval profession; in consequence of which, he relinquished his purpose. His regard to filial duty, the obligation of which the wise and good have, in all ages, felt and acknowledged, was re­warded by days not only long, but glorious.

IN the nineteenth year of his age, he received an appointment in the militia, with the rank of major. When he had completed but twenty-one years, such was the opinion entertained of his in­telligence, and address, that he was employed on an important public mission; the objects of which [Page 9] were, to inquire into the state of facts, relative to the encroachments, by the French, on the western frontier; to remonstrate against their hostile pro­cedure; and to treat with the natives of the wil­derness. The surprise occasioned by employing a youth on a mission of such difficulty and magni­tude, was exceeded only by that, which was ex­cited, by his discharging its duties, with a forti­tude, judgment, and precision, that would have reflected honour on the maturest age and expe­rience.

THE following year, we find him the Colonel of a regiment; raised by Virginia, for the pur­pose of resisting the French aggressions. With the troops, intrusted to his command, he hasten­ed to the scene of contest. In an attack, which he made on a considerable party of the enemy, he proved victorious. But assailed, in his turn, by a greatly superior force, he was obliged, after a brave defence, in which were killed and wounded more than one third of his men, to accept an hon­ourable capitulation.

IN the fatal expedition of Braddock, in the year 1755, COLONEL WASHINGTON attended that unfortunate general, in the capacity of an extra aid-de-camp. The wisdom of his advice, and the valour of his conduct, on this occasion, have been universally acknowledged. The first was unhappily rejected; but the last was of signal [Page 10] service, in securing the retreat, and saving the remnant of a surprised and defeated army.

"NOT long after this time, the supreme authori­ty of Virginia, impressed with a due sense of his merits, gave him, in a new commission, the com­mand of all the troops raised, and to be raised, in that Colony. In the year 1758, he commanded the van brigade of General Forbes's army, in the capture of Fort Duquesne."

THE many dangers through which he had pass­ed, and the uniform wisdom and valour of his conduct, excited attention and admiration, on the other side of the Atlantic, as well as in America. As though under the impulse of a prophetic spirit, a respectable writer, of that day, expresses himself in the following manner: "I may point out to the public that heroic youth, Col. WASHING­TON, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved, in so signal a manner, for some important service to his country."

IN the year 1759, hostilities on the frontiers having, in a good measure, subsided, and his health being greatly impaired, by a pulmonary complaint; he was led to a measure, which ex­cited the extreme regret of his troops, the resig­nation of his military command. Happily for his country, his health was gradually restored. Fond of agriculture, which was congenial with the pu­rity of his mind, and the simplicity of his man­ners, he settled as a planter and farmer, on the [Page 11] banks of the Potowmac, at his seat, which, from respect to the gallant Admiral of the name, was called Mount VERNON. About the same time, he formed that tender connexion of human life, that served to alleviate the cares and burdens of his elevated stations, and which was dissolved but by that event, which breaks asunder the dearest ties, and which we this day lament.

HE continued, without any considerable inter­ruption, at his favourite residence; attending to agricultural pursuits; and discharging the duties of a member of the Assembly, a Magistrate of the county, and Judge of the Court; till he appear­ed in the memorable Congress of 1774, as a Del­egate from Virginia. He was also a member of the Congress, in the following year, when the revolutionary war commenced.

A MOST interesting and important crisis, in our public affairs, was now arrived. A scene was opening, which called for great talents and vir­tues; and was adapted to put them to the sever­est trial. In particular, a Commander in Chief, to conduct our military operations, was required; one who had the fortitude and patriotism, the skill and address, to qualify him for the arduous and adventurous undertaking of organizing, re­ducing to order, and successfully directing against a powerful foe, an army, composed of troops, in a great measure, without discipline, with­out habits of subordination, without military [Page 12] stores; and at a time when our country had form­ed no alliances, provided no funds, and established no form of national government.

WHERE was such a character to be found? Heaven, that had decreed the success of our bold, but righteous, appeal to arms, foreseeing the great occasion, had provided THE MAN. He was in the midst of the assembled patriots and sages of the land. His noble person, his nobler mind, his mil­itary achievements, his fair fame, his wonderful combination of great and requisite qualities, point­ed him out to the venerable guardians of the pub­lic safety, as with a sun beam. With one voice, they called him to the arduous employment, and bid him go and SAVE HIS COUNTRY.

"THE HERO comes;" but with that amiable dis­trust of his own abilities, and that reliance on the aid of Divine Providence, which are characteristic of great minds; and which he manifested, on all occasions. The satisfaction and joy, with which he was welcomed to this vicinity, then the scene of war, cannot be easily conceived, by those, whose age and power of recollection do not ena­ble them to recall to their minds that interesting period. When the eye saw him, then it blessed him; and they were thought the happiest, who could first gain a sight of his person. It would not be indulging to fancy, but reciting a fact, should it be said, that such were the dispositions with which he was regarded, as that it was deem­ed [Page 13] an opportunity, too precious to be lost, "to touch the hem of his garment."

THE effects of his personal influence, and of his wise counsels and orders, in the introduction of system; in the adjustment, and prevention of dis­putes relating to rank; in promoting order, dis­cipline, and economy, through the military de­partment, were soon felt; and, during the war, proved of unspeakable advantage.

IT was not long before our enemies, in conse­quence of the judicious and spirited measures, which were adopted under his direction, were obliged to evacuate the adjacent capital. This important event delivered you from the immedi­ate evils and desolating effects of war. The pres­ent increased and prosperous condition of this town, compared with the decayed and ruinous appearance it then exhibited; while it excites your gratitude to Heaven, may well serve to increase your affectionate regard to the memory of him, who was employed as a principal instrument in producing the agreeable change.

NEARLY as the various events and circumstances of the war are connected with WASHINGTON's glory, it will not be expected that I shall attempt to recite them. You have, indeed, seen with your eyes, and heard with your ears, the glorious and successful manner, in which he conducted our mil­itary operations. Innumerable were the difficul­ties and discouragements, that he had to encoun­ter, [Page 14] and astonishing the wisdom, fortitude and perseverance, with which he met and surmount­ed them. The toils and anxieties he endured; the personal dangers he braved; the important victories he won; and the glorious conclusion of his military career, are already recorded in the annals of his country; and will be handed down by the faithful historian, for the instruction and admiration of future ages.

HAVING set the seal to his patriotism, and evinced the moderation and greatness of his soul, by cheerfully resigning his military commission into the hand of the Civil Power that gave it; and withdrawing to the humble scenes and occu­pations of private life, we were ready to imagine, that the measure of his glory was full. Not ade­quately conceiving of the amplitude of his mind, and wonderful diversity of his talents; nor fore­seeing the future exigencies of the public, we thought nothing remained for him to perform, by which he could increase the obligations of his country; and acquire an accession of fame. But how were we deceived in our views! Obedient to the voice of patriotism, he again appeared on the great theatre of action; rendering exalted services to our nation, and reaping a fresh harvest of glory.

HE assisted and presided in the deliberations of the Convention that formed, and recommended to the adoption of the people, that Constitution [Page 15] of national Government, which has proved so rich a blessing to our land. When this Constitu­tion was introduced, in the year 1789, he was call­ed by the unanimous suffrages of his country, to the high station of PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES: and at the expiration of the first presi­dential term, the same signal proof of the public affection and confidence, was repeated.

IN the exertions he contributed towards organ­izing and bringing into operation our new Gov­ernment; in watching over the public peace, or­der, and happiness; in defending our rights, as a free and independent nation, against the dangers, which threatened them, from abroad, and at home; and in the manner of his discharging, for eight years, the multiplied and arduous duties of the Supreme Executive Power, without the aid of precedents, or footsteps, to guide him in the doubtful course, he discovered a vigilance and foresight, integrity and firmness, patriotism and ability, which excited admiration, in foreign coun­tries; and greatly increased that debt of grati­tude, which was before due to him, from his own. But judging it compatible with duty, and the ex­isting state of public affairs, he declined the future suffrages of his country, and indulged his inclina­tion, in relinquishing the power and elevation of office, for the shade of retirement.

HIS country was again in danger; and re­quired his aid. Still animated by the patriotism [Page 16] which had so long been the ruling principle of his conduct, he consented to resume the military char­acter; and accepted the command of our armies. He appears, however, not to have relinquished, on the present occasion, the generous resolution to which, during his former high employments, he had uniformly adhered, of not accepting any pe­cuniary consideration, exceeding the amount of expenses actually incurred, in the public service. His appearance in the field, not becoming necessa­ry, he continued his dignified retirement at Mount Vernon; where, with a fortitude and composure that agreed with the tenour of his life, he has at last fallen in that "war in which there is no dis­charge."

HE displayed a wonderful consistency of charac­ter. In all situations and circumstances, whether prosperous or adverse, he was like himself; col­lected and serene, wise and temperate, firm and dignified. He appeared, in the various scenes of his life, to be under the commanding influence of a principle superior to every other, in forming a consistent, useful, and truly great character; a principle of moral rectitude, or duty. "He put on righteousness, and it clothed him: his judg­ment was as a robe, and a diadem."

PRUDENCE, if not the most splendid, is one of the most useful, virtues; and it belonged to WASH­INGTON, in an eminent degree. His prudent and cautious temper, originating, not in sinister [Page 17] views, but in a solicitude to conduct with propri­ety and usefulness, was always combined, in pro­portion as the path of rectitude was obvious, with decision and firmness.

HE viewed subjects accurately and comprehen­sively, or in their various connexions, tendencies, and remote, as well as immediate, effects: and knew how to wait for the beneficial, though dis­tant, result of wise measures and upright conduct. Such was his excellent judgment of men and things, that it not only indicated a natural strength of mind, and a habit of attentive observation; but implied the possession of those amiable moral qual­ities, which, by precluding prejudice, passion, and all unworthy motives, serve to clear the mental sight, prevent illusions, and cause every object to appear in its true form.

HIS private life, as well as his public, was a mod­el of propriety and greatness. It was distinguished by temperance, self-government, simplicity and purity of manners; by integrity and honour; by industry, perseverance, and the love of order; by the mild virtues of humanity, and pervading in­fluence of rational piety.

THE more we examine and contemplate his character, in the various parts, and in the sublime whole; the more it excites our admiration. It is not every country, nor every age, that produces a WASHINGTON. Might I not, with more pro­priety, [Page 18] ask, what country, or what age, has this honour, but our own? If we compare this great Man with the most distinguished characters of an­cient, or modern, times, will he not appear still greater by the comparison? ALEXANDER has been called the Great; but how contemptible did he appear, in his scenes of intemperance and riot! How deserving of the deepest abhorrence, when he slew his friend, because he would not flatter! But what act of injustice and cruelty; what unmanly vice, or scene of deliberate guilt, injured the private rep­utation; diminished confidence in the public char­acter; and tarnished the bright fame of WASH­INGTON?

MUCH has CAESAR been celebrated, in the an­nals of the world. But he was not great enough to overcome his own ambition and lust of power. Refusing to surrender his military command, he passed the Rubicon, that bounded his province; destroyed the liberties of his country; and seized the government of the Roman empire. But when was WASHINGTON known to pass the line, which bounded his rightful authority? Did he ever invade the liberties of the people? or attempt to establish himself in the possession of despotic power? No. He knew how to use power, when intrusted with it for the public good; and that end being accomplished, how to resign it. Possessing the government of himself, he was greater than the master of Rome, and of the world.

[Page 19]THE retirement of CHARLES the Fifth has been often mentioned. But did the gratitude and bless­ings of a nation follow him in his retreat? It is true he retired; and well he might, for penitence and tears. Considering his persidy and crimes, and the devastations and miseries that were the effects of his ambition, it would not have been strange, if, through shame and remorse, he had sought a refuge in the grave.

THE late FREDERICK, of Prussia, was a great warrior, and renowned monarch. But who, with­out surprise and indignation, can contemplate him scoffing at religion, and endeavouring to under­mine those everlasting truths, which are the great supports of society, order and happiness, in this life; and open to the virtuous, bright prospects of felicity and glory, beyond the grave? So did not WASHINGTON. He venerated religion, ob­served its precepts, and respected its institutions.

BUT, alas! the uniformly great and good Man, whose character we so justly admire and celebrate, now lives, only in the hearts of his grateful coun­trymen; in the admiration of the world; and in our national independence, peace, and prosperity, to which he so essentially contributed, by his mili­tary achievements; and the consummate wisdom of his civil administration. When he had done more than any other man for his country; when time had scattered silver locks over his venerable brow; when he was ripe in virtue; when he [Page 20] was full of glory; he was taken to the skies: and shall one, who has long watched and toiled in the service of others, never enter into rest? Shall the wise and faithful never receive their reward?

WHEN a virtuous and beloved parent dies, how natural and becoming is it for the children of the family, not only to mingle their sorrows, and to­kens of respect to his memory, on the sad occasion; but to regard his faithful counsels and example; and, banishing forever their animosities, feel them­selves more endeared to each other, by their com­mon relation to the deceased! How natural is it for them to honour those whom he regarded, and who were the partners of his cares and toils! And how reasonable, that they should make a wise use of the means and advantages, which they may inherit from him, of promoting their mutual wel­fare, honour and happiness!

WE, my Friends and Brethren, with the citizens of the United States, have, indeed, lost a Father; one, who, in the infancy of our nation, has been pre-eminently useful, in protecting us by his arm, and guiding us by his counsel. In the sincerity of our hearts, we this day offer to his memory the tribute of our tears, gratitude and veneration. Let us never forget his wise maxims and faithful advice, as expressed on various occasions, and espe­cially as communicated, in his last solemn and af­fectionate address, "The Legacy of the Father of his Country."

[Page 21]ANIMATED by his resplendent example, may we lead a virtuous, patriotic, pious, life, which is true glory. Let contention, prejudice, party views and spirit, yield to the love of truth, to kind af­fections, and a pure zeal to perpetuate the free gov­ernment, honour, peace and prosperity of our common country.

LET us manifest our veneration for the deceased, by regarding, with due affection and respect, his patriotic companions in arms, and wise associates in council and government. ADAMS, his wor­thy successor, as President of the United States; a man whose abilities, integrity and patriotism have been long tried and approved, has peculiar claims to the esteem and confidence of his country, not only on account of his own great talents, vir­tues and services; but in consequence of the cor­dial friendship, approbation, and support, which he received from his great Predecessor.

WASHINGTON, like the great Jewish leader and law-giver, "put a portion of his honour on" his successor, perceiving in him "the spirit of wis­dom." In one of his last official communications, he explicitly declared, as his opinion, That the measures of the present administration were "wise and prudent," and "ought to inspire universal confidence."

THERE is a sorrow for the dead, which is injustice to the living; and which will by no means corres­pond with the character of the great and good Man, [Page 22] whose death we deplore; and who so well knew how to appreciate, and acknowledge, the abilities and virtues of others. By an excess of grief, or the affectation of it, on the present occasion, we implicitly reproach surviving patriotism and tal­ents; and departed worth may be emblazoned, with the view of placing living merit in the shade.

AMERICANS! prize the rich inheritance handed down to you from WASHINGTON and your Fa­thers. Unimpaired, let it be transmitted to fu­ture generations. Pour the fervent prayer to HEAVEN, that licentious principles and manners; "the infidious wiles of foreign influence;" domes­tic divisions, contempt of government, and destruc­tive anarchy; established despotism and tyrannic power, may never prevail, and spread their debas­ing influence and desolating effects, in this favour­ed land.

AS an incentive to every thing wise, virtuous, patriotic and great, cherish the memory of the departed HERO, PATRIOT and SAGE. Love and defend the country that gave him birth; was the object of his pure affection; the scene of his glo­rious life; and contains his hallowed dust.




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 clothed 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 [Page 2] 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 constantly 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 [Page 3] 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 dif­fidence 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—the con­stancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans, by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows, that Heaven [Page 4] may continue to you the choicest tokens of its be­neficence —that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual—that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly main­tained —that its administration, in every depart­ment, may be stamped with wisdom and virtue— that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the ap­plause, the affection, and adoption, of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

HERE, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some senti­ments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felici­ty as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attach­ment.

The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly [Page 5] so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But, as it is easy to foresee, that from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point, in your political fortress, against which the batteries of internal and exter­nal enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your National Union, to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual and immove­able attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenan­cing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link to­gether the various parts.

For this, you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to con­centrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discrimi­nations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits and polit­ical principles. You have, in a common cause, [Page 6] fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint coun­cils, and joint efforts, of common dangers, suffer­ings and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly out-weighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest.—Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a com­mon government, finds in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprize, and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular nav­igation invigorated; and while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which it­self is unequally adapted. The East, in a like in­tercourse with the West, already finds, and, in the progressive improvement of interior communica­tions, by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort; and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weighty influence, and the [Page 7] future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure, by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in Union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find, in the united mass of means and efforts, greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from ex­ternal danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of most ines­timable value! they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighbour­ing countries, not tied together by the same gov­ernment; which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments and intrigues would stimu­late and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establish­ments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be re­garded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense it is, that your Union ought to be con­sidered as a main prop of your Liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the pres­ervation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the UNION as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt, whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere [Page 8] speculation, in such a case, were criminal. We are authorised to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of govern­ments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting all parts of our country, while experiment shall not have demon­strated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter may endeavour to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties, by geographical discrimina­tions —Northern and Southern—Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local inter­ests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other dis­tricts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western Country have lately had a useful les­son on this head: They have seen, in the negocia­tion by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratifi­cation by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, through­out the United States, a decisive proof how un­founded were the suspicions, propagated among them, of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States, unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Missisippi: They have been wit­nesses [Page 9] to the formation of two treaties, that with Great-Britain and that with Spain, which secure to them every thing they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely, for the preservation of these advantages, on the UNION by which they were procured? Will they not hence­forth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren, and con­nect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts, can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably expe­rience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances, in all times, have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government, better calculated than your former, for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious man­agement of your common concerns. This Govern­ment, the offspring of your own choice, uninflu­enced and unawed; adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation; completely free in its prin­ciples; in the distribution of its powers, uniting se­curity with energy; and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the funda­mental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government— But, the constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The [Page 10] very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government, presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plau­sible character, with the real design to direct, con­trol, counteract or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tenden­cy. They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small, but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumph of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, di­gested by common councils, and modified by mu­tual interests.

However combinations, or associations, of the above description, may now and then answer popu­lar ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cun­ning, ambitious, and unprincipled men, will be ena­bled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying, afterwards, the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discounte­nance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist, with care, the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may [Page 11] be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alter­ations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of gov­ernments, as of other human institutions; that ex­perience is the surest standard, by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a coun­try; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the ef­ficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigour as is consistent with the perfect secu­rity of liberty, is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the govern­ment is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society with­in the limits prescribed by the laws, and to main­tain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you, the danger of parties in a state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest pas­sions of the human mind. It exists, under different shapes, in all governments, more or less stifled, con­trolled, or repressed; but in those of the popular [Page 12] form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which, in different ages and coun­tries, has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism: But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and re­pose in the absolute power of an individual; and, sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own ele­vation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; and foments, occasionally, riot and insur­rection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself, through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the gov­ernment, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true; and [Page 13] in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favour, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain, there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose: and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and as­suage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of think­ing, in a free country, should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine them­selves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of the powers of one de­partment, to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, what­ever be the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distrib­uting it into different depositories, and constitut­ing each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experi­ments, ancient and modern; some of them in our country, and under our own eyes. To preserve them, must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amend­ment in the way which the Constitution designates. [Page 14] But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instru­ment of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance, in permanent evil, any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indis­pensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labour to sub­vert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with public and private felicity. Let it be simply asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if a sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the sup­position, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influ­ence of refined education, on minds of peculiar structure; reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail, in exclu­sion of religious principle.

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends, with more or less force, to ev­ery species of free government. Who, that is a sin­cere friend to it, can look with indifference upon at­tempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote, then, as an object of primary import­ance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowl­edge. [Page 15] In proportion as the structure of a govern­ment gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and secu­rity, cherish public credit. One method of pre­serving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoid­ing occasions of expense by cultivating peace; but remembering also, that timely disbursements, to pre­pare for danger, frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding, likewise, the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occa­sions of expense, but by vigorous exertions, in time of peace, to discharge the debts which una­voidable wars may have occasioned, not ungener­ously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate.

To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not, more or less, inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the gov­ernment in making it, and for a spirit of acquies­cence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all na­tions; cultivate peace and harmony with all: re­ligion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and (at no [Page 16] distant period) a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a peo­ple always guided by an exalted justice and benev­olence. Who can doubt, that in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the perma­nent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The ex­periment, at least, is recommended by every senti­ment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in the place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its in­terest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collis­ions, obstinate, envenomed and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts, through passion, what reason would re­ject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to the projects of hostility, insti­gated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and per­nicious motives. The peace often, sometimes per­haps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.

[Page 17]So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one na­tion for another, produces a variety of evils. Sym­pathy for the favourite nation, facilitating the illu­sion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the for­mer into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justifi­cation. It leads also to concessions to the favourite nation, of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld: and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favourite nation) facility to betray, or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with pop­ularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliance, of ambition, corrup­tion, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduc­tion, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that [Page 18] foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instru­ment of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favourite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interest.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to for­eign nations, is, in extending our commercial re­lations, to have with them as little political connex­ion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith.—Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our con­cerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordi­nary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary com­binations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we re­main one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy materi­al injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude, as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the im­possibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not [Page 19] lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situ­ation? Why quit our own, to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rival­ship, interest, humour or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it: for let me not be understood as capable of patron­izing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to pri­vate affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be ob­served in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be unwise, to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extra­ordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest. But even our commercial policy, should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consult­ing the natural course of things; diffusing and di­versifying, by gentle means, the streams of com­merce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with the powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conven­tional rules of intercourse, the best that present cir­cumstances [Page 20] and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time aban­doned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favours from another; that it must pay, with a portion of its independence, for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equiv­alents for nominal favours, and yet of being re­proached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favours from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these coun­sels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impres­sion I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations: But if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial bene­fit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriot­ism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records, and other evidences of my conduct, must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

[Page 21]In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the 22d of April, 1795, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me; uninfluenced by any at­tempts to deter 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 case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. 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 to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the 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 be best referred to your own reflec­tions and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institu­tions, and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessa­ry to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

[Page 22]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 fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government—the ever favourite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours and dangers.

G. Washington.

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