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had a doubt that it would ultimately be adopted; and, in fact, the national decision in its favor was more fully and strongly pronounced than even he had anticipated.

His feelings on learning the result were expressed with that solemn and religious faith in the protection of heaven, manifested by him in all the trials and vicissitudes through which his country had passed. "We may," said he, "with a kind of pious and grateful exultation, trace the finger of Providence through those dark and mysterious events, which first induced the States to appoint a general convention, and then led them, one after another, by such steps as were best calculated to effect the object, into an adoption of the system recommended by the General Convention; thereby, in all human probability, laying a lasting foundation for tranquillity and happiness, when we had but too much reason to fear, that confusion and misery were coming rapidly upon us."1

The testimonials of ratification having been received by Congress from a sufficient number of States, an act was passed by that body on the 13th of September, appointing the first Wednesday in January, 1789, for the people of the United States to choose electors of a President according to the constitution, and the first Wednesday in the month of February following for the electors to meet and make a choice. The meeting of the government was to be on the first Wednesday in March, and in the city of New York.

1 Letter to Jonathan Trumbull, 20th July, 1788.


Washington talked of for the Presidency. His Letters on the Subject expressing his Reluctance. - His Election.His Progress to the Seat of Government. - His Reception at New York. The Inauguration.


HE adoption of the Federal Constitution. was another epoch in the life of Washington. Before the official forms of an election could be carried into operation, a unanimous sentiment throughout the Union pronounced him the nation's choice to fill the presidential chair. He looked forward to the possibility of his election with characteristic modesty and unfeigned reluctance; as his letters to his confidential friends bear witness. "It has no fascinating allurements for me," writes he to Lafayette. "At my time of life and under my circumstances, the increasing infirmities of nature and the growing love of retirement do not permit me to entertain a wish beyond that of living and dying an honest man on my own farm. Let those follow the pursuits

of ambition and fame who have a keener relish for them, or who may have more years in store for the enjoyment."

Colonel Henry Lee had written to him warmly and eloquently on the subject. "My anxiety is extreme that the new government may have an



auspicious beginning. To effect this and to perpetuate a nation formed under your auspices, it is certain that again you will be called forth. The same principles of devotion to the good of mankind which have invariably governed your conduct, will no doubt continue to rule your mind, however opposite their consequences may be to your repose and happiness. If the same success should attend your efforts on this important occasion which has distinguished you hitherto, then to be sure you will have spent a life which Providence rarely, if ever, gave to the lot of one man. It is my belief, it is my anxious hope, that this will be the case.


"The event to which you allude may never happen," replies Washington. "This consideration alone would supersede the expediency of announcing any definitive and irrevocable resolution. You are among the small number of those who know my invincible attachment to domestic life, and that my sincerest wish is to continue in the enjoyment of it solely until my final hour. But the world would be neither so well instructed, nor so candidly disposed as to believe me uninfluenced by sinister motives, in case any circumstance should render a deviation from the line of conduct I had prescribed to myself indispensable.

"Should my unfeigned reluctance to accept the office be overcome by a deference for the reasons and opinions of my friends; might I not, after the declarations I have made (and Heaven knows they were made in the sincerity of my heart), in

the judgment of the impartial world and of posterity, be chargeable with levity and inconsistency, if not with rashness and ambition? Nay, farther, would there not be some apparent foundation for the two former charges? Now justice to myself, and tranquillity of conscience require, that I should act a part, if not above imputation, at least capable of vindication. Nor will you conceive me to be too solicitous for reputation. Though I prize as I ought the good opinion of my fellowcitizens, yet, if I know myself, I would not seek popularity at the expense of one social duty or moral virtue.

"While doing what my conscience informed me was right, as it respected my God, my country and myself, I should despise all the party clamor and unjust censure, which must be expected from some, whose personal enmity might be occasioned by their hostility to the government. I am conscious, that I fear alone to give any real occasion for obloquy, and that I do not dread to meet with unmerited reproach. And certain I am, whensoever I shall be convinced the good of my country requires my reputation to be put in risk, regard for my own fame will not come in competition with an object of so much magnitude.

"If I declined the task, it would lie upon quite another principle. Notwithstanding my advanced season of life, my increasing fondness for agricultural amusements, and my growing love of retirement, augment and confirm my decided predilection for the character of a private citizen, yet it would be no one of these motives, nor the haz


ard to which my former reputation might be exposed, nor the terror of encountering new fatigues and troubles, that would deter me from an acceptance; but a belief, that some other person, who had less pretense and less inclination to be excused, could execute all the duties full as satisfactorily as myself."

In a letter to Colonel Alexander Hamilton he writes: "In taking a survey of the subject, in whatever point of light I have been able to place it, I have always felt a kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as I have been taught to expect I might, and perhaps must, ere long, be called upon to make a decision. You will, I am well assured, believe the assertion, though I have little expectation it would gain credit from those who are less acquainted with me, that, if I should receive the appointment, and if I should be prevailed upon to accept it, the acceptance would be attended with more diffidence and reluctance than ever I experienced before in my life. It would be, however, with a fixed and sole determination of lending whatever assistance might be in my power to promote the public weal, in hopes that, at a convenient and early period, my services might be dispensed with, and that I might be permitted. once more to retire, to pass an unclouded evening, after the stormy day of life, in the bosom of domestic tranquillity."


To Lafayette he declares that his difficulties increase and multiply as he draws toward the period when, according to common belief, it will be necessary for him to give a definitive answer as to the office in question.

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