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. ADDRESS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TO HIS FELLOW CITIZENS, ON DECLINING BEING CONSIDERED A CANDIDATE FOR THEIR FUTURE SUFFRAGES. i
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS,
THE period for a new election of a Citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of · whom a choice is to be made.
I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful citizen to his country ; and that, in withdrawing the ten
der of service which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest ; no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kind ness : but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.
The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to de clare it to you ; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of affairs, with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons intitled to my confidence, im. pelled me to abandon the idea.
I REJOICE, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer
renders 'the pursuit of inclination incompas tible with the sentiment of duty, or proprie. ty: and am. persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my service, that in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.
The impressions with which I first un. dertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself: and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice
and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it. ii
: In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloy. ed country, for the many honours, it has conferred upon me; still more for the stedfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for thc opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to our praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune, often discouraging in situations, in which not untrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism--the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall car. ry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows, that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of itsbeneficence that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained that it's administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue—that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these states, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.
· HERE, perhaps, I ought to stop. But solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the per