Category Archives: Washington

Item of the Day: Speech of the President of the United States to Congress (May 16, 1797)

Found In: State Papers and Publick Documents of the United States from the Accession of George Washington to the Presidency, Exhibiting a Complete View of our Foreign Relations since that Time. 1797. Boston: Printed and published by T. B. Wait & Sons, David Hale, agent for the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, 1815.

 

SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CONGRESS. MAY 16, 1797.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The personal inconveniences to the members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives, in leaving their families and private affairs, at this season of the year, are so obvious, that I the more regret the extraordinary occasion which has rendered the convention of Congress indispensable.

It would have afforded me the highest satisfaction to have been able to congratulate you on a restoration of peace to the nations of Europe, whose animosities have endangered our tranquillity: but we have still abundant casue of gratitude to the Supreme Dispenser of national blessings for general health and promising seasons; for domestick and social  happiness; for the rapid progress and ample acquisitions of industry through extensive territories; for civil, political, and religious liberty. While other states are desolated with foreign war, or convulsed with intestine divisions, the United States present the pleasing prospect of a nation governed by mild and equal laws, generally satisfied with the possession of their rights; neither envying the advantages nor fearing the power of other nations; solicitious only for the maintenance of order and justice and the preservation of liberty; increasing daily in their attachment to a system of government, in proportion to their experience of its utility; yielding a ready and general obedience to laws flowing from the reason, and resting on the only solid foundation, the affections of the people.

It is with extreme regret that I shall be obliged to turn your thoughts to other circumstances, which admonish us that some of these felicities may not be lasting; but if the tide of our prosperity is full, and a reflux commencing, a vigilant circumspection becomes us, that we may meet our reverses with fortitude, and extricate ourselves from their consequences, with all the skill we possess, and all the efforts in our power.

In giving to Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommending to their consideration such measures as appear to me to be necessary or expedient, according to my constitutional duty, the cause and the objects of the present extraordinary session will be explained.

After the President of the United States received information that the French government had expressed serious discontents at some proceedings of the government of these states, said to affect the interests of France, he thought it expedient to send to that country a new minister, fully instructed to enter on such amicable discussions, and to give such candid explanations as might happily remove the discontents and suspicions of the French government, and vindicate the conduct of the United States. —For this purpose he selected from among his fellow-citizens a character, whose integrity, talents, experience, and services, had placed him in the rank of the most esteemed and respected in the nation. The direct object of his mission was expressed in his letter of credence to the French Republick; being “to maintain that good understanding, which from the commencement of the alliance had subsisted between the two nations; and to efface unfavourable impressions, banish suspicions, and restore that cordiality which was at once the evidence and pledge of a friendly union:” and his instructions were to the same effect “faithfully to represent the dispositon of the government and people of the United States, (their dispositon being one) to remove jealousies, and obiate complaints, by showing that they were groundless; to restore that mutual confidence which had been so unfortunately and injuriously imparied; and to explain the relative interests of both countries, and the real sentiments of his own.” . . .

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Congress, Early Republic, Foreign Relations, France, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington

Item of the Day: Madison’s Papers (1842)

Full Title: The Papers of James Madison, Purchased by Order of Congress; Being His Correspondence and Reports of Debates During the Congress of the Confederation and his Reports of Debates in The Federal Convention; Now published from the original manuscripts, deposited in the Department of State, By Direction of the Joint Library Committee of Congress, Under the Superintendence of Henry D. Gilpin.  Volume I.  Mobile:  Allston Mygatt.  1842.

Letters Preceding the Debates of 1783.

To Thomas Jefferson.  Philadelphia, March 27, 1780.

Dear Sir,

Nothing under the title of news has occurred since I wrote last week by express, except that the enemy on the first of March remained in the neighbourhood of Charleston, in the same posture as when the preceding account came away.  From the best intelligence from that quarter, there seems to be great encouragement to hope that Clinton’s operations will be again frustrated.  Our great apprehensions at present flow from a very different quarter.  Among the various conjunctures of alarm and distress which have arisen in the course of the Revolution, it is with pain I affirm to you, Sir, that no one can be singled out more truly critical than the present.  Our army threatened with an immediate alternative of disbanding or living on free quarter; the public treasury empty; public credit exhausted, nay, the private credit of purchasing agents employed, I am told, as far as it will bear; Congress complaining of the extortion of the people; the people of the improvidence of Congress; and the army of both; our affairs requiring the most mature and systematic measures, and the urgency of occasions admitting only of temporizing expedients generating new difficulties; Congress recommending plans to the several states for execution, and the States separately rejudging the expediency of such plans, whereby the same distrust of concurrent exertions that has damped the ardor of patriotic individuals must produce the same effect among the States themselves; an old system of finance discarded as incompetent to our necessities, an untried and precarious one substituted, and a total stagnation in prospect between the end of the former and the operation of the latter.  These are the outlines of the picture of our public situation.  I leave it to your own imagination to fill them up.  Believe me, Sir, as things now stand, if the States do not vigorously proceed in collecting the old money, and establishing funds for the credit of the new, that we are undone; and let them be ever so expeditious in doing this, sill the intermediate distress of our army, and hinderance to public affairs, are a subject of melancholy reflection.  General Washington writes that a failure of bread has already commenced in the army; and that, for any thing he sees, it must unavoidably increase.  Meat they have only for a short season, and as the whole dependence is on provisions now to be procured, without a shilling for the purpose, and without credit for a shilling, I look forward with the most pungent apprehensions.  It will be attempted, I believe, to purchase a few supplies with loan-office certificates; but whether they will be received is perhaps far from being certain; and if received will certainly be a more expensive and ruinous expedient.  It is not without some reluctance I trust this information to a conveyance by post, but I know of no better at present, and I ceonceive it to be absolutely necessary to be known to those who are most able and zealous to contribute to the public relief.     

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1780's, American Revolution, Eighteenth century, Letters, Posted by Matthew Williams, Public Debt, Washington

Item of the Day: Dr. Trumbull’s Discourse on the Death of General Washington (1800)

Full Title: The Majesty and Mortality of created Gods Illustrated and Improved. A Funeral Discourse, Delivered at North-Haven, December 29, 1799. On the Death of George Washington; who died December 14, 1799. By Benjamin Trumbull. New Haven: Printed by Read & Morse, 1800.

__________

The MAJESTY and MORTALITY of created GODS.

__________

THAT portion of Scripture which shall lead our meditations, while we most sensibly participate in the general sorrow of our afflicted country, and pay our mournful tribute of respect to the departed Hero and Father of the American States, is written in the

LXXXII PSALM, 6 AND 7th verses.

I have said, Ye are Gods: and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

HOWEVER bright the sun may rise, however useful and cheering he may be in his meridian course, yet, at the appointed hour, he will most certainly set. His cheering light and genial influence will be withdrawn. In like manner men of the greatest eminence, the most distinguished by genius, by mental improvement, by exalted stations and public usefulness, to whatever degree they have illuminated, gladdened and benefited the several ages and nations in which they have flourished, after a short and precarious day, have set in the midnight gloom of death. Their usefulness has soon terminated, and they lie in the dark regions of the dead. Short is the whole term from the morning of life to the sad evening of death. The author of our nature has made our days as an hand breadth and our age as nothing before him. The term of public life and usefulness is still much shorter. How soon is the arm, which, with manly vigor swayed the sceptre, wielded the sword of justice and of war, enervated with years? How soon does the strongest memory fail and the greatest mental powers decline with age? Nay, how often are men of the most distinguished characters arrested by the hand of death, before the approach of old age? In the glory of life, in the midst of usefulness they vanish, like the vapor, and appear no more. They die suddenly, die in every period of life and usefulness, and by all the diseases, casualities and misfortunes by which other men die. They exhibit to thw world the most melancholy and striking evidence, That every man at his best state is altogether vanity.

Of this it is the design of the text to admonish all men, and especially all the great and honorable among them: That notwithstanding the importance and elevation of their character they are mortal. The text indeed concedes, that some men are highly exalted above others. Magistrates are called by the awful name of Gods, and all of them children of the MOST HIGH, on the account of their office; the authority with which they are invested, the work to which they are appointed, and the majesty which GOD hath put upon them. But to check human vanity, make them better men, and more extensively useful, he who maketh them Gods, affirms also, That they shall die like men. His words not only assert their mortality, but imply the great importance and utility of their knowledge of it, and of their frequently and seriously contemplating upon it, and on their responsibility to a tribunal higher than their own. . . .

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1800's, Oratory, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Sermons, Washington

Item of the Day: Timothy Dwight’s Discourse on the Character of George Washington (1800)

Full Title: A Discourse Delivered at New-Haven, Feb. 22, 1800; On the Character of George Washington, Esq. at the Request of the Citizens. By Timothy Dwight . . . New-Haven: Printed by Thomas Green and Son, 1800.

. . . GENERAL WASHINGTON  was great, not be means of that brilliancy of mind, often appropriately termed genius, and usually coveted for ourselves, and our children; and almost as usually attended with qualities, which preclude wisdom, and depreciate or forbid worth; but by a constitutional character more happily formed. His mind was indeed inventive, and full of resources; but his energy appears to have been originally directed to that which is practical and useful, and not to that which is shewy and specious. His judgment was clear and intuitive beyond that of most who have lived, and seemed instinctively to discern the proper answer to the celebrated Roman question: Cui bono erit? To this his incessant attention, and unweared observation, which nothing, whether great or minute, escaped, doubtless contributed in a high degree. What he observed he treasured up, and thus added daily to his stock of useful knowledge. Hence, although his early education was in a degree confined, his mind became possessed of extensive, various, and exact information. Perhaps there never was a mind, on which theoretical speculations had less influence, and the decisions of common sense more.

At the same time, no man ever more earnestly or uniformly sought advice, or regarded it, when given, with more critical attention. The opinions of friends and enemies, of those who abetted, and of those who opposed, his own system, he explored and secured alike. His own opinions, also, he submitted to his proper counsellours, and often to others; with a demand, that they should be sifted, and exposed, without any tenderness to them because they were his; insisting, that they should be considered as opinions merely, and, as such, should be subjected to the freest and most severe investigation.

When any measure of importance was to be acted on, he delayed the formation of his judgment until the last moment; that he might secure to himself, alway [sic], the benefit of every hint, opinion, and circumstance, which might contribute either to confirm, or to change, his decision. Hence, probably, it is a great measure arose, that he was so rarely committed; and that his decisions have so rarely produced regret, and have been so clearly justified both by their consequences and the judgment of mankind.

With this preparation, he formed a judgment finally and wholly his own; and although no man was ever more anxious before a measure was adopted, probably no man was ever less anxious afterward. He had done his duty, and left the issue to Providence . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under 1800's, Oratory, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Sermons, Washington

Item of the Day: New Travels through North-America (1784)

Full Title: New Travels through North-America: In a Series of Letters; Exhibiting the History of the Victorious Campaign of the Allied Armies, under His Excellency General George Washington and the Count de Rochambeau, in the Year 1781. Interspersed with political and philosophical Observations, upon the genius, temper, and customs of the Americans: Also, Narrations of the capture of General Burgoyne, and Lord Cornwallis, with their Armies; and a variety of interesting particulars, which occurred in the course of the War in America. Translated from the Original of the Abbe Robin: One of the Chaplains to the French Army in America. Boston: Printed by E. E. Powars and N. Willis, for F. Battelle, and to be sold by him, at his Book Store, State-Stree, M,DCC,LXXXIV.

[Excerpted from Letter III.]

Camp, at Philipsbourg, August 4, 1781.

. . . Such are the ideas that arise in the mind, at the sight of this great man [George Washington], in examining the events in which he has had a share, or in listening to those whose duty obliges them to be near his person, and consequently can best display his true character. —In all these extensive states, they consider him in the light of a beneficent God, dispensing peace and happiness around him. —Old men, women and children, press about him when he accidentally passes along, and think themselves happy, once in their lives, to have seen him–they follow him through the towns with torches, and celebrate his arrival by public illuminations. —The Americans, that cool and sedate people, who in the midst of their most trying difficulties, have attended only to the directions and impulses of plain method and common reason, are roused, animated and inflamed at the very mention of his name; and the first songs that sentiment or gratitude has dictated, have been to celebrate General Washington.

It is uncertain how many men his army consists of exactly: some say, only four or five thousand, but this General has always found means to conceal the real number, even from those who compose it.  Sometimes with a few troops he forms a spacious camp, and increases the number of tents; at other times with a great number, he contracts it to a narrow compass; then again by detaching them insensibly, the whole camp is nothing more than the mere skeleton and shadow of an army, while the main body is transported to a distant part of the country.

Neither do these troops in general wear regular uniforms; but the officers and corps of artillery are obliged, without exception, to such distinction. Several regiments have small white frocks, with fringes, which look well enough; also linen over-alls, large and full, which are very convenient in hot weather, and do not at all hinder the free use of the limbs in marching: with food less substantial, and a constitution of body less vigorous than our people, they are better able to support fatique, and perhaps for that very reason. This advantage in dress, I believe, has not been sufficiently considered in France. We are apt to consult the gratification of the eye too far, and forget the troops were designed to act, and not merely to show themselves and their finery. The most proper apparel would be that, which being as little burdensome as possible, would cover the soldier best, and incommode him the least. The regiment of Soissonnais has in all this tedious march, had the fewest stragglers and sick of any other; –one of the principal causes was, without doubt, the precautionof the Colonel, who, on purpose for the campaign, had linen breeches made for his whole regiment.

The American military habit, although easy to be soiled, is nevertheless very decent and neat; this neatness is particularly observable among the officers: to see them, you would suppose they were equipped with every necessary in the compleatest manner, and yet upon entering their tents, where perhaps three or four reside together, I have often been astonished to find, that their whole travelling equipage and furniture would not weigh forty pounds; few or none have matrasses; a single rug or blanket, stretched out upon the rough bark of a tree, serves them for a bed; the soldeirs take the same precaution never to sleep on the ground, whilst ours prefer it to any other way.

Their manner of living is very simple, and gives them but little trouble; they content themselves with boiling their meat, and parching their corn, or baking unleavened dough, made of Indian meal, upon the hot embers.

In some regiemnts they have negro companies, but always commanded by the whites. . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under 1780's, American Revolution, Continental Army, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington

Item of the Day: Journal of the House of Representatives (1790)

Full Title: Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States. Anno M,DCC,XC, and of the Independence of the United States the Fourteenth. New-York: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, M,DCC,XC.

FRIDAY, January 8

. . . Mr. Speaker laid before the House a copy of the Speech deliverd by the President of the United States, to both Houses of Congress, in the Senate-chamber, as followeth:

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Reprsentatives,

I EMBRACE with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself, of congratualting you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of North-Carolina to the Constitution of the United States, (of which official information has been received)–the rising credit and respectablity of our country–and the general encreasing good-will towards the Government of the Union–and the concord, peace and plenty, with which we are blessed, are circumstances, auspicious, in an eminent degree, to our national prosperity.

In resuming your consultations for the general good, you cannot but derive encouragement from the reflection, that the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory to your constituents, as the novelty and difficulty of the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize their expectations, and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach, will, in the course of the present important session, call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness and wisdom.

Among the many interesting objects, which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defence, will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end, a uniform and well digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly, for military supplies.

The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable, will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it, it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers, with a due regard to economy.

There was reason to hope, that the pacific measures adopted with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians, would have relieved the inhabitants of our southern and western frontiers from their depredations. But you will perceive, from the information contained in the papers which I shall direct to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the commonwealth of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union; and if necessary, to punish aggessors.

The interest of the United States require, that our intercourse with other nations should be facilitated by such provsions as will enable me to fulfil my duty in that respect, in the manner which circumstances may render most conducive to the public good: And to this end, that the compensations to be made to the persons, who may be employed, should, according to the nature of their appointments, be defined by law; –and a comptetent fund designated for defraying the expences incident to the conduct of our foreign affairs.

Various considerations also render it expedient that the terms on which foreigners may be admitted to the rights of citizens, should be speedily ascertained by a uniform rule of naturalization.

Uniformity in the currency, weights and measures of the United States, is an object of great importance and will, I am persuaded, by duly attended to.

The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, by all proper means, will not, I trust, need recommendation. –But I cannot forbear intimating to you, the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions abroad, as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home; — and of facilitating intercourse betwen the distant parts of our country, by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads.

Nor am I less persuaded, that you will agree with me in opinion, that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the community, as in our’s [sic] , it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways: By convincing those who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people; and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between opression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience, and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness,  cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temprate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.

Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established–by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients, will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the Legislature. . . .

GEORGE WASHINGTON

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Congress, Early Republic, Government, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington

Item of the Day: The Life of George Washington (1807)

Full Title: The Life of George Washington, Comminder in Chief of the Armies of the United States in the War which Established their Independence; and First President of the United States. By David Ramsay. London: Printed by Like Hanfard & Sons, For T. Cadell and W. Davies, in the Strand; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Paternoster-Row, 1807.

 

To EMPERORS,

KINGS,

AND OTHERS,

EXERCISING SOVEREIGN POWER

IN THE  OLD WORLD:

IN HOPES THAT FROM THE EXAMPLE OF

GEORGE WASHINGTON

IN THE NEW,

THEY WILL LEARN TO AVOID

WAR,

TO PROMOTE GOODWILL IN THE

FAMILY OF MANKIND,

AND USE ALL THE POWER THEY POSSESS,

FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD;

THE FOLLOWING PAGES

ARE MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY THE AUTHOR.

 

 

[The following is excerpted from Chapter IX]

 . . . The military services of general Washington, which ended with this interesting day [November 25, 1783], were as great as ever were performed by any man to any nation. They were at the same time disinterested.  How dear would not a mercenary man have sold such toils, such dangers, and, above all, such successes! What schemes of grandeur and of power would not an ambitious man have built upon the affections of the people and of the army! The gratitude of America was so lively, that any thing asked by her resigning chief would have been readily granted. He asked nothing for himself, his family, or relations, but indirectly solicited favours for the confidential officers who were attached to his person. These were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capacity of aides-de-camp. To omit the opportunity which was offered, of recommending them to the notice of congress, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The only privilege, distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending and receiving letters free of postage.

The American chief, having by his own voluntary act become one of the people, hastened with ineffable delight to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potowmac. There, in a short time, the most successful general in the world became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.

To pass suddenly from the toils of the first public commission in the United States, to the care of a farm; to exchange the instruments of war for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious and profitable agriculture; would to most men have been a difficult task; but to the elevated mind of the late commander in chief of the armies of the United States, it was natural and delightful: and should these pages descend to posterity, and war continue ages hence to be the means of establishing national justice, let the commanders of armies learn, from the example of general Washington, that the fame which is acquired by the sword, without guilt of ambition, may be preserved without power or spendor in private life.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1800's, Biography, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington