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THE CINCINNATI; WASHINGTON'S LETTER TO THE STATES.
rived, however, the mutiny had sub- dom of the measure and all jealousy sided without bloodshed. The mu- of the society soon afterward distineers were too inconsiderable to appeared.* commit a great amount of mischief, While attending to the disbandbut their conduct greatly aroused the ment of the army, Washington conindignation of Washington, who ex- sulted freely with Congress, and durpressed his contempt for such pro- ing his consultations recommended ceedings in a letter to the President that a well-regulated standing army of Congress.*
be established. To further advance While the army was still encamped the theory he advocated, he issued a on the Hudson, “ The Society of the circular letter to the governors of the Cincinnati” was founded for the pur- States. This was dated from Newpose of perpetuating the friendships burgh, June 8, 1783, and, according to formed during the war. Washington Sparks,“ is remarkable for its abilwas urged to accept the chief office in ity, the deep interest it manifests for the society and finally yielded to the the officers and soldiers, who had wishes of the other officers. Accord- fought the battles of their country, ing to the rules of the society, its hon- the soundness of its principles, and ors were to be hereditary in the
the wisdom of its counsels." | The families of these members, and dis
most important paragraphs were tinguished individuals
individuals might be those relating to what he considered admitted as honorary members for the four things essential to the existlife. This arrangement soon created ence and well-being of the United jealousy and distrust, as it was feared States. In conclusion, he made the that the hereditary proviso of the following remarks: rules would tend to create a sort of “I now make it my earnest prayer, that God nobility. Learning of this feeling of
would have you, and the state over which you
preside, in his holy protection; that he would distrust on the part of the people, incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a Washington exerted all his influence spirit of subordination and obedience to govern
ment; to entertain a brotherly affection and love to have the rules of the society
for one another; for their fellow-citizens of the changed, which was done in May, United States at large; and particularly for their 1784. The result proved all the wis
brethren who have served in the field; and,
* Hildreth, vol. iii., pp. 436-437; Thacher, Military Journal, pp. 337–339. See also the accounts by Madison in Elliot's Debates, vol. i., pp. 92-94, and by Hamilton in Hamilton's Works, vol. i., pp. 374–393.
| Thacher, Military Journal, pp. 319-321; Heath's Memoirs, pp. 349–351; Lossing, FieldBook of the Revolution, vol. i., pp. 693–697; Brooks, Life of Knox, p. 174 et seq.; Fiske, Critical Period of American History, pp. 114-118.
* John B. McMaster, A History of the People of the United States, vol. i., p. 167 et seq. See also Jefferson's letter to Washington regarding this in Ford's ed. of Jefferson's Writings, vol. iii., pp. 464-470.
† Bancroft, vol. vi., pp. 83–86; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iv., p. 456 et seq.
I Life of Washington, p. 366; Marshall, Life of Washington, vol. v., pp. 46–48. See Appendix i., at the end of the present chapter.
finally, that he would be most graciously pleased the success of the plans he had adopted; to the to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and commandants of regiments and corps, and to the to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, officers, for their zeal and attention in carrying and pacific temper of the mind, which were the his orders promptly into execution; to the staff, characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed for their alacrity and exactness, in performing religion; without an humble imitation of whose the duties of their several departments; and to example, in these things, we can never hope to be the non-commissioned officers and private soldiers, a happy nation.” *
for their extraordinary patience in suffering, as
well as their invincible fortitude in action. To On October 18, 1783, Congress is- various branches of the army, the general takes
his last and solemn opportunity of professing his sued a proclamation disbanding the
inviolable attachment and friendship. He wishes army. It was decided to retain a
more than bare profession were in his power, that small force, sufficient for any contin
he was really able to be useful to them all in
future life. He flatters himself, however, they gencies, until a peace establishment
will do him the justice to believe, that whatever might be organized according to the could with propriety be attempted by him, has wishes
been done. And being now to conclude these, his of Congress. Congress
last public orders, to take his ultimate leave, in a thanked the officers and soldiers in short time, of the military character, and to bid behalf of the entire country for their
a final adieu to the armies he has so long had the
honor to command, he can only again offer, in long, arduous and faithful service.
their behalf, his recommendations to their grateAfter November 3, the army was en
ful country, and his prayers to the God of armies.
On tirely discharged from service.
May ample justice be done them here, and may
the choicest of heaven's favor's both here and here. the day preceding the discharge, after, attend those, who, under the divine auspices, Washington issued his farewell
have secured innumerable blessings for others!
With these wishes, and this benediction, the comorders to the army, full of advice,
mander-in-chief is about to retire from service. sound principles and fervent hopes The curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and
the military scene to him will be closed forever." * for the prosperity of the soldiers who he had had the honor to command.
Meanwhile, General Carleton had In conclusion he said:
been ordered to evacuate New York “ The commander-in-chief conceives little is now and during the summer manifested wanting to enable the soldier to change the
his intention of so doing; he was demilitary character into that of a citizen, but that steady and decent tenor of behavior, which has layed by various occurrences, howgenerally distinguished not only the army under
ever, and it was not until November his immediate command, but the different detach. ments and separate armies, through the course of
that the arrangements for the departthe war. From their good sense and prudence, ure of the troops could be completed. he anticipates the happiest consequences: and
On the morning of November 25, while he congratulates them on the glorious occasion which renders their services in the field no Washington, with the American troops longer necessary, he wishes to express the strong under General Knox and Governor obligations he feels himself under, for the assist
Clinton, advanced to the upper part ance he has received from every class, and in every instance. He presents his thanks, in the most of the city, and at noon, as the Britserious and affectionate manner to the general
ish marched out, the Americans officers, as well for their counsel on many interesting occasions, as for their ardor in promoting
* Thacher, Military Journal, pp. 340–341; Irv* Irving, vol. iv., p. 460.
ing, Life of Washington, vol. iv., pp. 465–467.
WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL TO HIS OFFICERS.
slowly entered and took possession, ceeding officer.* The tear of manly the civil authority of the State then sensibility was in every eye; and not being established.* The following a word was articulated, to interrupt Monday, December 1, a magnificent the dignified silence, and the tenderentertainment was given to the ness of the scene. Leaving the room, French minister, Luzerne, at which he passed through the corps of light Washington and a large company infantry, and walked to Whitehall, were present, and in the evening there where a barge waited to convey him were fire-works at Bowling Green. †
to Paulus Hook. The whole company The most trying ordeal through followed in mute and solemn proceswhich Washington had to pass was sion, with dejected countenances, tesbidding adieu to his officers. This
This tifying feelings of delicious melaninterview took place on December 4. choly, which no language can deMarshall describes the scene scribe. Having entered the barge, he follows:
turned to the company, and waving “At noon the principal officers of his hat, bid them a silent adieu. They the army assembled at Frances's paid him the same affectionate comtavern, soon after which their be- pliment; and after the barge had left loved commander entered the room. them, returned in the same solemn His emotions were too strong to be manner to the place where they had concealed. Filling a glass, he turned
assembled." + to them, and said, ' With a heart full To completely sever his connection of love and gratitude, I now take leave with the army, it only remained necof you. I most devoutly wish, that essary that Washington resign his your latter days may be as prosper
commission. In November, Congress ous and happy as your former ones
had adjourned to Annapolis and there have been glorious and honorable.' Washington repaired in order to ter
minate his public career. All along Having drunk, he added, "I cannot
the route of his journey he was come to each of you to take my leave,
greeted with most earnest expresbut shall be obliged, if each of you
sions of gratitude and affection and will come and take me by the hand.'
was presented with many public adGeneral Knox, being nearest, turned
dresses by legislatures, towns, socito him. Washington, incapable of
eties, etc. At Philadelphia he deutterance, grasped his hand, and em
posited an account of the expenses braced him. In the same affectionate manner, he took leave of every suc
* Brooks, p. 179.
† Marshall, Life of Washington (2 ed.), vol. ii.,
p. 57; Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii., p. * Lamb, City of New York, vol. ii.,
377; Bancroft, vol. vi., p. 106; Thacher, Military † Brooks, Life of Knox, p. 178; Irving, Life of Journal, pp. 341-342; Lodge, George Washington, Washington, vol. iv., p. 470.
vol. i., p. 337; Irving, vol. iv., pp. 471-472. Vol. III - 21
WASHINGTON RESIGNS HIS COMMISSION.
incurred by him during the war, which, together with his commission, which he had inscribed with his own he presented to the President of Conhand.* On December 19, 1783, Wash- gress. He then remained standing, ington arrived at Annapolis and sig- awaiting a reply. It was a remarknified to Congress that he was pre- able coincidence that at this time pared to resign his commission. It General Mifflin was President of Conwas determined that this should be gress, having been elected some time done in public session and in the pres- previously. Necessarily the duty of ence of his fellow citizens. On the replying to Washington and thank23d, therefore, Washington appeared ing him for his services fell to the lot before Congress for this purpose. of one who, with others, had tried to The hall was crowded with spectators besmirch his character and usurp his - friends and relatives, the officials place during the Conway Cabal. of Maryland, and the consul-general Nevertheless, Mifflin replied to Washof France. Washington was then in- ington in terms of reverential troduced to the President of Congress courtesy and most earnest regard. and the secretary, and after a short This ceremony having been comsilence, was informed that “ the pleted, Washington retired from the United States in Congress assembled, Hall of Congress and the next day were prepared to receive his commu- reached his home at Mount Vernon, nications." Washington thereupon after eight years of faithful and arose and in a very dignified manner arduous service once again a private delivered his address, a copy of citizen.
From his Excellenoy George Washington, Com.
mander-in-chief of the Armies of the United States of America, to the Governors of the several States.
HEAD-QUARTERS, NEWBURG, June 8, 1783. SIR: The great object for which I had the honor to hold an appointment in the service of my country being accomplished, I am now preparing to resign it into the hands of Congress, and return to that domestic retirement, which it is well known I left with the greatest reluctance;
a retirement for which I never ceased to sigh through a long and painful absence, in which (remote from the noise and trouble of the world) I mediate 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 on me to make this my last official communication, to congratulate you on the glorious events which heaven has been pleased to produce in our favor, to offer my sentiments respecting some
* Washington's account of his expenses will be found in Sparks, Life of Washington, App. iii., pp. 516-518. They amounted to about $65,000.
* See Appendix II., at the end of the present chapter. See also Thacher, Military Journal, pp. 342-343; Johnson, General Washington, chap, xvi.; Lodge, George Washington, vol. i., pp. 339–340; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iv., pp. 474–475. THE CIRCULAR LETTER TO THE STATES.
important subjects, which appear to me to be in. through a long succession of years, are laid open timately connected with the tranquillity of the for use, and their collected wisdom may be hapUnited States, to take my leave of your Excel- pily applied in the establishment of our forms of lency as a public character, and to give my final government: the free cultivation of letters, the blessing to that country in whose service I have unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive spent the prime of my life; for whose sake I have refinement of manners, the growing liberality of consumed so many anxious days and watchful sentiment, and above all, the pure and benign nights, and whose happiness, being extremely light of Revelation, have had a meliorating infludear to me, will always constitute no inconsider. ence on mankind, and increased the blessings of able part of my own.
society. At this auspicious period the United Impressed with the liveliest sensibility on this States came into existence as a nation, and if pleasing occasion, I will claim the indulgence of their citizens should not be completely free and dilating the more copiously on the subject of our happy, the fault will be entirely their own. mutual felicitation. When we consider the mag. Such is our situation, and such are our prog. nitude of the prize we contended for, the doubt- pects; but notwithstanding the cup of blessing is ful nature of the contest, and the favorable man. thus reached out to us; notwithstanding happiness ner in which it has terminated; we shall find the is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the ocgreatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoic. casion, and make it our own; yet it appears to ing; this is a theme that will afford infinite me, there is an option still left to the United delight to every benevolent and liberal mind, States of America, whether they will be respect. whether the event in contemplation be considered able and prosperous, or contemptible and miser. as a source of present enjoyment, or the parent able as a nation. This is the time of their poof future happiness; and we shall have equal oc- litical probation; this is the moment when the casion to felicitate ourselves on the lot which eyes of the world are tu
ed upon them; this is Providence has assigned us, whether we view it the time to establish or ruin their national charin a natural, a political, or moral point of view. acter forever; this is the favorable moment to
The citizens of America, placed in the most en- give such a tone to the Federal Government, as viable condition, as the sole lords and proprietors will enable it to answer the ends of its institu. of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all tion; or this may be the ill-fated moment for rethe various soils and climates of the world, and laxing the powers of the Union, annihilating the abounding with all the necessaries and conven- cement of the Confederation, and exposing us to iences of life, are now by the late satisfactory become the sport of European politics, which may pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of ab- play one State against another, to prevent their solute freedom and independency; they are from growing importance, and to serve their own inthis period to be considered as the actors on a terested purposes. For, according to the system most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be pe- of policy the States shall adopt at this moment, culiarly designed by Providence for the display they will stand or fall; and by their confirmaof human greatness and felicity: here they are tion or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the not only surrounded with every thing that can con- Revolution must ultimately be considered as a tribute to the completion of private and domes- blessing or a curse; a blessing, or a curse, not to tic enjoyment, but Heaven has crowned all its the present age alone; for, with our fate, will the other blessings by giving a surer opportunity for destiny of unborn millions be involved. political happiness than any other nation has ever With this conviction of the importance of the been favored with. Nothing can illustrate thèse present crisis, silence in me would be a crime. I observations more forcibly than the recollection will therefore speak to your Excellency the lan. of the happy conjuncture of these times and cir- guage of freedom and sincerity, without disguise. cumstances under which our Republic assumed I am aware, however, those who differ from me its rank among the nations. The foundation of in political sentiments, may perhaps remark, I am our empire has not been laid in a gloomy age of stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and ignorance and superstition, but at an epoch they may possibly ascribe to arrogance or ostenwhen the rights of mankind were better under. tation, what I know is alone the result of the stood and more clearly defined, than at any purest intention; but the rectitude of my own former period : researches of the human mind heart, which disdains such unworthy motives; the after social happiness have been carried to a great part I have hitherto acted in life; the determinaextent: the treasures of knowledge acquired by tion I have formed, of not taking any share in the labors of philosophers, sages, and legislators, public business hereafter; the ardent desire I feel,