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1796.]

mating reflection, that the influence of your example will extend to your successors, and the United States thus continue to enjoy an able, upright, and energetic administration."

REPLY OF THE HOUSE.

The reply of the House, after premising attention to the various subjects recommended to their consideration in the address, concluded by a warm expression of gratitude and admiration, inspired by the virtues and services of the President, by his wisdom, firmness, moderation, and magnanimity; and testifying to the deep regret with which they contemplated his intended retirement from office.

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May you long enjoy that liberty which is so dear to you, and to which your name will ever be so dear," added they. "May your own virtue and a nation's prayers obtain the happiest sunshine for the decline of your days, and the choicest of future blessings. For our country's sake, and for the sake of republican liberty, it is our earnest wish that your example may be the guide of your successors; and thus, after being the ornament and safeguard of the present age, become the patrimony of our descendants.

Objections, however, were made to some parts of the reply by Mr. Giles, of Virginia. He was for expunging such parts as eulogized the present administration, spoke of the wisdom and firmness of Washington, and regretted his retiring from office. He disapproved, he said, of the measures of the administration with respect to foreign relations; he believed its want of wisdom and firmness had conducted the nation to a crisis threatening greater calamity than any that had before occurred. He did not regret the President's re

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tiring from office. He believed the government of the United States was founded on the broad basis of the people, that they were competent to their own government, and the remaining of no man in office was necessary to the success of that government. The people would truly be in a calamitous situation, if one man were essential to the existence of the government. He was convinced that the United States produces a thousand citizens capable of filling the presidential chair, and he would trust to the discernment of the people for a proper choice. Though the voice of all America should declare the President's retiring as a calamity, he could not join in the declaration, because he did not conceive it a misfortune. He hoped the President would be happy in his retirement, and he hoped he would retire.*

Twelve members voted for expunging those parts of the reply to which Mr. Giles had objected. Among the names of these members we find that of Andrew Jackson, a young man, twenty-nine years of age, as yet unknown to fame, and who had recently taken his seat as delegate from the newly admitted State of Tennessee. The vote in favor of the whole reply, however, was overwhelming.

The reverence and affection expressed for him in both Houses of Congress, and their regret at his intended retirement, were in unison with testimonials from various State legislatures and other public bodies, which were continually arriving since the publication of his Farewell Address.

See Mr. Giles' speech, as reported in the Aurora newspaper.

1797.] COMPLAINTS OF THE FRENCH MINISTER. 267

During the actual session of Congress, Washington endeavored to prevent the misunderstandings, which were in danger of being augmented between the United States and the French Government. In the preceding month of November, Mr. Adet, the French Minister, had addressed a letter to the Secretary of State, recapitulating the complaints against the government of the United States made by his predecessors and himself, denouncing the insidious proclamation of neutrality and the wrongs growing out of it, and using language calculated to inflame the partisans of France: a copy of which letter had been sent to the press for publication. One of the immediate objects he had in view in timing the publication was supposed by Washington to be to produce an effect on the presidential election; his ultimate object, to establish such an influence in the country as to sway the government and control its measures. Early in January, 1797, therefore, Washington requested Mr. Pickering, the Secretary of State, to address a letter to Mr. Pinckney, United States minister to France, stating all the complaints alleged by the French minister against the government, examining and reviewing the same, and accompanying the statement with a collection of letters and papers relating to the transactions therein adverted to.

"From a desire," writes he, "that the statements be full, fair, calm, and argumentative, without asperity or any thing more irritating in the comments than the narration of facts, which expose unfounded charges and assertions, does itself produce, I have wished that the letter to Mr. Pinckney may be revised over and over again. Much depends upon it, as it relates to our

selves and in the eyes of the world, whatever may be the effect, as it respects the governing powers of France."

The letter to Mr. Pinckney, with its accompanying documents, was laid before Congress on the 19th of January (1797,) to be transmitted to that minister. "The immediate object of his mission," says Washington in a special message, “was to make that government such explanations of the principles and conduct of our own, as by manifesting our good faith, might remove all jealousy and discontent, and maintain that harmony and good understanding with the French Republic, which it has been my constant solicitude to preserve. A government which required only a knowledge of the truth to justify its measures, could but be anxious to have this fully and frankly displayed."

In the month of February the votes taken at the recent election were opened and counted in Congress ; when Mr. Adams, having the highest number, was declared President, and Mr. Jefferson, having the next number, Vice President; their term of four years to commence on the 4th of March next ensuing.

Washington now began to count the days and hours that intervened between him and his retirement. On the day preceding it, he writes to his old fellow-soldier and political coadjutor, Henry Knox: "To the wearied traveller, who sees a resting place, and is bending his body to lean thereon, I now compare myself; but to be suffered to do this in peace, is too much to be endured by some. To misrepresent my motives, to reprobate my politics, and to weaken the confidence which has been reposed in my administration, are objects which cannot be relinquished by those who will be

1797.] THE SPURIOUS LETTERS DENOUNCED.

satisfied with nothing short of a change in our political system. The consolation, however, which results from conscious rectitude, and the approving voice of my country, unequivocally expressed by its representatives, deprive their sting of its poison, and place in the same point of view, both the weakness and malignity of their efforts.

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Although the prospect of retirement is most grateful to my soul, and I have not a wish to mix again in the great world, or to partake in its politics, yet I am not without my regrets at parting with (perhaps never more to meet) the few intimates whom I love, and among these, be assured, you are one, The remainder of my life, which in the course of nature cannot be long, will be occupied in rural amusements; and though I shall seclude myself as much as possible, from the noisy and bustling world, none would, more than myself, be regaled by the company of those I esteem, at Mount Vernon; more than twenty miles from which, after I arrive there, it is not likely that I shall ever be."

On the morning of the 3d of March, the last day of his official career, Washington addressed a letter to the Secretary of State on the subject of the spurious letters, heretofore mentioned,* first published by the British in 1776, and subsequently republished during his administration, by some of his political enemies. He had suffered every attack on his executive conduct to pass unnoticed while he remained in public life, but conceived it a justice due to his character solemnly to pronounce those letters a base forgery, and he desired that * Life of Washington, vol. iii., 8vo. p. 360, 361.

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