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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 achievements and fame still incite the men who composed them to honourable 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 valour, perseverance, and enter. prise, 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 increased, the honour, dignity, and justice of the nation would be lost for ever: yet he cannot help repeating, on this occasion, so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it, as his last injunction, to every officer, and every soldier, who may view the subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best endeavours, to those of his worthy fellow-citizens, toward 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 want. ing to enable the soldier to change his military character into that of the citizen, but that steady and decent tenour of behaviour, which has generally distinguished, not only the army under his immediate command, but the different detachments and separate armies, through
the course of the war; from their good sense and prudence, he anticipates the happiest consequences, and while he congratulates them on the glorious occasion which renders their services in the field no longer necessary, he wishes to express the strong obligations he feels himself under, for the assistance he has received from every class, and in every instance. He presents his thanks, in the most serious and affectionate manner, to the general officers, as well for their counsel, on many interesting occasions, as for their árdour in promoting the success of the plans he had adopted; to the commandants of regiments and corps, and to the other officers, for their great zeal and attention in carrying his orders promptly into execution; to the staff, for their alacrity and exactness in performing the duties of their several departments; and to the non-commissioned officers and soldiers, for their extraordinary patience in suffering, as well as their invincible fortitude in action; to the various branches of the army, the general takes this last and solemn opportunity of professing his inviolable attachment and friendship. He wishes more than bare professions were in his power, that he was really able to be useful to them all in future life. He flatters himself, however, they will do him the justice to believe, that whatever could, with propriety, be attempted by him, has been done. And being now to conclude these, his last public orders, to take his ultimate leave, in a short time, of the military character, and to bid a final adieu to the armies he has so long had the honour to command, he can only again offer, in their behalf, his recommendations to their grateful country, and his prayers to the God of armies. May ample justice be done them here, and may the choices of Heaven's favours, both here and hereafter, attend those, who, under the Divine auspices, have secured innumerable blessings for others. With these wishes, and this benediction, the commander in chief is about to retire from service. The curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and the military scene, to him, will be closed for ever.
General Washington to the President of Congress on re
signing his commission—December 23, 1883. MR. PRESIDENT
The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honour of offering my sincere congratulations to congress, and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.
Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the union, and the patronage of Heaven.
The successful termination of the war, has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every view of the momentous contest.
While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the persons who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible that the choice of confidential officers to compose my family could have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favourable notice and patronage
congress. I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping:
Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action; and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have long acted, I. here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.
The Answer of General Miflin, the President of Congress,
to the foregoing speech. SIR-The United States in congress assembled, receive with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success, through a perilous and doubtful war.
Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge before it had formed alliances, and whilst it was without friends or a government to support you.
You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power through all disasters and changes : you have, by the love and confidence of your fellow-citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity; you have persevered, till these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in safety, freedom, and independence; on which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.
Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action, with the blessings of your fellow-citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate remotest ages. We feel, with you, our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interest of those confidential officers, who have attended your person to this affecting moment.
We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, be seeching Him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens, to improve the opportunity afforded them, of becoming a happy and respectable nation; and for you, we address to Him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all His care: that your days may be happy, as they have been illustrious, and that He will finally give you that reward which the world cannot give.