Page images
PDF
EPUB

thor of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowl. edge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

By the article establishing the executive department, it is made the duty of the president "to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer you to the great constitutional charter under which we are assembled ; and which, in defining your pow. ers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me to substitute in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the pattriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honourable qualifications,

I behold the surest pledges, that as on one side, no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehen. sive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests : So, on another, that the foundations of our national poli

. cy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.

I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire; since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there èxists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and hap. piness-between duty and advantage-between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity. Since we ought to be no less persuaded, that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained. And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Instead of undertaking particular recommendations in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good: For I assure myself, that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective govern. ment, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience; a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen, and a regard for the public harmony, will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the ques. tions, how far the former can be more impregnably

fortified, or the latter be safely and more advantageously promoted.

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave ; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the human race, in humble supplication, that since he has been pleased to favour the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union, and the advancement of their happiness ; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this government must depend..

Section X.

SELECT PARAGRAPHS.........FROM WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL ADDRESS, 1796.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people 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; accustom. ing yourselves to think and speak of it as the palladium of your political safety and prosperity ; 'watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspision 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 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 outweighed 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 goyernment, finds in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maratime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing in. dustry. The south in the same intercourse, benefitting by the agency of the north, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly in. to 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 un qually 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 weight, influence, and the future mari. time strength of the Atlantic side of the union, directed by an indissoluble community of interests 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 connection 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 resources, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations ;-and what is of inestiinable 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.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it occurs as a matter of a 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 be

« PreviousContinue »