Page images

partial compliance with the requisitions of congress, in some of the states, and from a failure of punctuality in others, while they tended to damp the zeal of those who were more willing to exert themselves, served also to accumulate the expences of the war, and to frustrate the best concerted plans; and that the discouragement occasioned by the complicated difficulties and embarrassments, in which our affairs were by this means involved, would have long ago produced the dissolution of any army, less patient, less virtuous, and less persevering, than that which I have had the honor to command. But while I mention those things, which are notorious facts, as the defects of our federal constitution, particularly in the prosecution of a war, I beg it may be understood, that as I have ever taken a pleasure in gratefully acknowledging the assistance and support I have derived from every class of citizens; so shall I always be happy to do justice to the unparallelled exertions of the individual states, on many interesting occasions.

I HAVE thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known, before I surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. The task is now accomplished; I now bid adieu to your excellency, as the chief magistrate of your state; at the same time, I bid a last farewel to the cares of office, and all the employments of public life.

It remains, then, to be my final and only request, that your excellency will communicate these sentiments to your legislature, at their next meeting; and that they may be considered as the legacy of one who has ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and who, even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the divine benediction upon it.

I Now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the state over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another; for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly

for their brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind, which were the characteristics of the divine author of our blessed religion; without an humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

I have the honor to be,

with much esteem and respect,


your excellency's most obedient,

and most humble servant,


(No. II.)


ROCKY-HILL, near Princeton,
November 2, 1783.

HE United States in congress assembled, after giving


the most honorable testimony to the merits of the federal armies, and presenting them with the thanks of their country, for their long, eminent and faithful service, having thought proper, by their proclamation, bearing date the 18th of October last, to discharge such part of the troops as were engaged for the war, and to permit the officers on furlough to retire from service, from and after to-morrow; which proclamation having been communicated in the public papers, for the information and government of all concerned, it only remains for the commander in chief to address himself once more, and that for the last time, to the armies of the United States (however widely

[ocr errors]

dispersed individuals who compose them may be) and to bid them an affectionate-a long farewel.

BUT before the commander in chief takes his final leave of those he holds most dear, he wishes to indulge himself a few moments in calling to mind a slight view of the past he will then take the liberty of exploring, with his military friends, their future prospects; of advising the general line of conduct which in his opinion ought to be pursued; and he will conclude the address, by expressing the obligations he feels himself under for the spirited and able assistance he has experienced from them, in the performance of an arduous office.

A CONTEMPLATION of the complete attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended, against so formidable a power, cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The signal interpositions of Providence, in our feeble condition, were such as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparallelled perseverance of the armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement, for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.

Ir is not the meaning, nor within the compass of this address, to detail the hardships peculiarly incident to our service, or to describe the distresses which in several instances have resulted from the extremes of hunger and nakedness, combined with the rigors of an inclement season: nor is it necessary to dwell on the dark side of our past affairs.

EVERY American officer and soldier must now console himself for any unpleasant circumstance which may have occurred, by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has been called to act no inglorious part, and the astonishing events of which he has been a witness-events which have seldom if ever before, taken place on the stage of human action, nor can they probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disci

plined army formed at once from such raw materials? Who that was not a witness could imagine that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon, and that men who came from the different parts of the continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education to despise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of brothers? Or who that was not on the spot, can trace the steps by which such a wonderful revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our warlike toils?

It is universally acknowledged, that the enlarged prospects of happiness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, almost exceed the power of description: and shall not the brave men who have contributed so essentially to these inestimable acquisitions, retiring victorious from the field of war to the field of agriculture, participate in all the blessings which have been obtained? In such a republic, who will exclude them from the rights of citizens, and the fruits of their labors? In such a country, so happily circumstanced, the pursuits of commerce, and the cultivation of the soil, will unfold to industry the certain road to competence. To those hardy soldiers who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the fisheries will afford ample and profitable employment; and the extensive and fertile regions of the west, will yield a most happy asylum to those who, fond of domestic enjoyment, are seeking personal independence. Nor is it possible to conceive that any one of the United States will prefer a national bankruptcy, and the dissolution of the union, to a compliance with the requisitions of congress, and the payment of its just debts; so that the officers and soldiers may expect considerable assistance, in re-commencing their civil occupations, from the sums due to them from the public, which must and will most inevitably be paid.

In order to effect this desirable purpose, and remove the prejudices which may have taken possession of the minds of any of the good people of the states, it is earnestly recommended to all the troops, that with strong attachment to the union, they should carry with them into civil society the most concili

ating dispositions, and that they should prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens, than they have been victorious as soldiers. What though there should be some envious individuals, who are unwilling to pay the debt the public has contracted, or to yield the tribute due to merit, yet, let such unworthy treatment produce no invective, or any instance of intemperate conduct. Let it be remembered, that the unbiassed voice of the free citizens of the United States, has promised the just reward, and given the merited applause. Let it be known and remembered, that the reputation of the federal armies is established beyond the reach of malevolence; and let a consciousness of their atchievements and fame, still excite the men who composed them to honorable actions, under the persuasion that the private virtues of economy, prudence and industry, will not be less amiable in civil life, than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance and enterprize were in the field. Every one may rest assured that much, very much of the future happiness of the officers and men, will depend upon the wise and manly conduct which shall be adopted by them, when they are mingled with the great body of the community. And although the general has so frequently given it as his opinion, in the most public and explicit manner, that unless the principles of the federal government were properly supported, and the powers of the union encreased, the honor, dignity and justice of the nation would be lost forever: yet he cannot help repeating on this occasion so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it as his last injunction to every officer and soldier who may view the subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best endeavors to those of his worthy fellow-citizens, towards effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our very existence as a nation so materially depends.


THE Commander in chief conceives little is now wanting to enable the soldier to change the military character into that of the citizen, but that steady, decent tenor of behavior, which has generally distinguished not only the army under his immediate command, but the different detachments and armies through the course of the war. From their good sense and prudence he anticipates the happiest consequences; and while he congratu

« PreviousContinue »