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Address of the President of Congress to George Washington, and his reply, 26th August, 1783.
MONDAY, August 25, 1783. Congress being informed of the arrival of the commander-inchief in the neighborhood of Princeton :
Ordered, That he have an audience in Congress to-morrow at twelve o'clock.
TUESDAY, August 26, 1783. According to order, Gen. Washington attended, and being introduced by two members, the President addressed him as follows:
Sır: Congress feel particular pleasure in seeing your excellency, and in congratulating you on the success of a war, in which you have acted so conspicuous a part.
It has been the singular happiness of the United States, that during a war so long, so dangerous, and so important, Providence has been graciously pleased to preserve the life of a general, who has merited and possessed the uninterrupted confidence and affection of his fellow-citizens. In other nations many have performed services, for which they have deserved and received the thanks of the public. . But to you, sir, peculiar praise is due. Your services have been essential in acquiring and establishing the freedom and independence of your country. They deserve the grateful acknowledgments of a free and independent nation. Those acknowledgments Congress have the satisfaction of expressing to your excellency.
Hostilities have now ceased, but your country still needs your services. She wishes to avail herself of your talents in forming the arrangements which will be necessary for her in the time of peace. For this reason your attendance at Congress has been requested. A committee is appointed to confer with your excellency, and to receive your assistance in preparing and digesting plans relative to those important objects.
To which his excellency made the following reply.
Me. PRESIDENT: I am too sensible of the honorable reception I have now experienced, not to be penetrated with the deepest feelings of gratitude.
Notwithstanding Congress appear to estimate the value of my life beyond any services I have been able to render the United States, yet I must be permitted to consider the wisdom and unanimity of our national councils, the firmness of our citizens, and the patience and bravery of our troops, which have produced so happy a termination of the war, as the most conspicuous effect of the divine interposition, and the surest presage of our future happiness.
Highly gratified by the favorable sentiments which Congress are pleased to express of my past conduct, and amply rewarded by the confidence and affection of my fellow-citizens, I cannot hesitate to contribute my best endeavors towards the establishment of the national security in whatever manner the sovereign power may think proper to direct, until the ratification of the definitive treaty of
peace, or the final evacuation of our country by the British forces; after either of which events, I shall ask permission to retire to the peaceful shade of private life.
Perhaps, sir, no occasion may offer more suitable than the present to express my humble thanks to God, and my grateful acknowledgments to my country, for the great and uniform support I have received in every vicissitude of fortune, and for the many distinguished honors which Congress have been pleased to confer upon me in the course of the war.
Resignation, by George Washington, of the office of commander-in-chief to Congress, and answer of the President of Congress, 230 December, 1783.
SATURDAY, December 20, 1783. Congress assembled: Present, New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
A letter, of this day, from the commander-in-chief, was read, informing Congress of his arrival in this city, with the intention of asking leave to resign the commission he has the honor of holding in their service, and desiring to know their pleasure in what manher it will be most proper to offer his resignation; whether in writing or at an audience. Whereupon,
Resolved, That his excellency, the commander-in-chief, be admitted to a public audience, on Tuesday next, at twelve o'clock.
Resolved, That a public entertainment be given to the commanderin-chief on Monday next.
TUESDAY, December 23, 1783. Congress assembled : Present as before.
According to order, his excellency the commander-in-chief was admitted to a public audience, and being seated, the President, after a pause, informed him, that the United States in Congress assembled were prepared to receive his communications: Whereupon he arose, and addressed as follows:
MR. President: The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.
Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States, of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task; which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.
The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.
While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should
have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.
I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping.
Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.
He then advanced and delivered to the President his commission, with a copy of his address, and having resumed his place, the President (Thomas Mifflin) returned him the following answer:
Sir: The United States in Congress assembled receive, with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success through a perilous and a doubtful war. Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge, before it had formed alliances, and whilst it was without funds or a government to support you. You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power through all disasters and changes. You have, by the love and confidence of your fellow-citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity. You have persevered till these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom, safety, and independence; on which happy event we sincerely join you in
congratulations. Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action, with the blessings of your fellow-citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate remotest ages.
We feel with you our obligations to the army in general, and * will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers, who have attended your person to this affecting
We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give.
Election of George Washington as President of the United States, and his Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789.
MONDAY, APRIL 6, 1789. The President of the Senate, elected for the purpose of counting the votes, declared to the Senate, that the Senate and House of Representatives had met, and that he, in their presence, had opened and counted the votes of the Electors for President and Vice President of the United States; whereby it ap
GEORGE WASHINGTON was unanimously elected President.
Whereupon the following certificate and letter, prepared by a committee, consisting of Messrs. Paterson, Johnson, Lee, and Ellsworth, were adopted by the Senate, and signed by their President.