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in it are conceived to be of great importance to Chap.i. the happiness of this confederated republic, are ns3 necessary to render the fruits of the revolution, a 1787. full reward for the blood, the toils, the cares and the calamities which have purchased it. But the object of which the necessity will be peculiarly felt, and which it is peculiarly the duty of congress to inculcate, is the provision recommended for the national debt. Although this debt is greater than could have been wished, it is still less on the whole than could have been expected; and when referred to the cause in which it has been incurred, and compared with the burdens which wars of ambition and of vain glory have entailed on other nations, ought to be borne not only with cheerfullness but with pride. But the magnitude of the debt makes no part of the question. It is sufficient that the debt has been fairly contracted, and that justice and good faith demand that it should be fully discharged. Congress had no option but between different modes of discharging it. The same option is the only one that can exist with the states. The mode which has, after long and elaborate discussion, been preferred, is, we are persuaded, the least objectionable of any that would have been equal to the purpose. Under this persuasion, we call upon the justice and plighted faith of the several states to give it its proper effect, to reflect on the consequences of rejecting it, and to remember that congress will not be answerable for them."
After^xpatiating on the merits of the several creditors, the report concludes, "let it beremem
Chap, i. bered finally, that it ever has been the pride and 1783 boast of America, that the rights for which she 1787. contended, were the rights of human nature. By the blessing of the Author of these rights, on the means exerted for their defence, they have prevailed against all opposition, and formed the basis of thirteen independent states. No instance has heretofore occurred, nor can any instance be expected hereafter to occur, in which the unadulterated forms of republican government can pretend to so fair an opportunity of justifying themselves by their fruits. In this view, the citizens of the United States are responsible for the greatest trust ever confided to a political society. If justice, good faith, honour, gratitude, and all the other good qualities which ennoble the character of a nation, and fulfil the ends of government, be the fruits of our establishments, the cause of liberty will acquire a dignity and lustre which it has never yet enjoyed; and an example will be set, which cannot but have the most favourable influence on the rights of mankind. If on the other side, our governments should be unfortunately blotted with the reverse of these cardinal and essential virtues, the great cause which we have engaged to vindicate will be dishonoured and betrayed; the last and fairest experiment in favour of the rights of human nature will be turned against them, and their patrons and friends exposed to be insulted and silenced by the votaries of tyranny and usurpation."
For the complete success of the plan recommended by congress, no person felt more anxious solicitude than the commander in chief. Of the Chap.i. vital importance of UNION, no man could be ires more entirely persuaded; and of the obligations 1787. of the government to its creditors, no man could feel a stronger conviction To their claims, his conspicuous station had rendered him peculiarly sensible; and, in the creation of a part of them, he had unavoidably been personally instrumental. For the payment of some of the creditors, all the feelings of his heart were deeply engaged: and for the security of all, that high sense of national honour, of national justice, and of national faith, of which elevated minds endowed with integrity can never be divested, impelled him to take a strong interest. Availing himself of the usage of communicating on national subjects with the state governments, and of the opportunity, which his approaching resignation of the command of the army gave, impressively to convey his sentiments to them, he determined to employ all the influence which the circumstances of his life had created, in a solemn recommendation of measures, on which he believed the happiness and prosperity of his country to depend. On the eighth of June 1783, he addressed to the governors of the several states respectively, the paternal and affectionate letter which follows. "Sir,
"The great object for which I had£S°f the honour to hold an appointment in the service to'S^ST
r * ■ 1 • 1 1 T cmors of the
of my country being accomplished, 1 am noffi«mi
CHaP-1- it is well known, I left with the greatest reluc1783 tance ; a retirement for which I have never ceased 1787. to s'gh through a long and painful absence, and in which (remote from the noise and trouble of the world) I meditate to pass the remainder of life in a state of undisturbed repose. But before I carry this resolution into effect, I think it a duty incumbent upon me, to make this my last official communication; to congratulate you on the glorious events which heaven has been pleased to produce in our favour; to offer my sentiments respecting some important subjects which appear to me to be intimately connected with the tranquillity of the United States: to take my leave of your excellency as a public character: and to give my final blessing to that country in whose service I have spent the prime of my life, for whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful nights, and whose happiness, being extremely dear to me, will always constitute no inconsiderable part of my own.
"Impressed with the liveliest sensibility on this pleasing occasion, I will claim the indulgence of dilating the more copiously on the subjects of our mutual felicitation. When we consider the magnitude of the prize we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contest, and the favourable manner in which it has terminated, we shall find the greatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoicing. This is a theme that will afford infinite delight to every benevolent and liberal mind, whether the event in contemplation be considered as the source of present enjoyment, or the parent of future happiness: and we shall have equal oc- Chap. I. casion to felicitate ourselves on the lot which 1783 Providence has assigned us, whether we view it 1^7. in a natural, a political, or moral point oflight.
"The citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the world, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life, are now, by the late' satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and independency. They are from this period, to be considered as the actors on a most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity. Here they are not only surrounded with every thing which can contribute to the completion of private and domestic enjoyment; but heaven has crowned all its other blessings, by giving a fairer opportunity for political happiness, than any other nation has ever been favoured with. Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly, than a recollection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under which our republic assumed its rank among the nations. The foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of ignorance and superstition, but at an epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood, and more clearly defined, than at any former period. The researches of the human mind after social happiness, have been carried to a great ex