Philadelphia 22nd of February 1797.
While offering to you our congratulations on the return of this auspicious day, we cannot refrain from mingling an expression of extreme regret at the approaching close of your Political Life.
When we beheld you as Commander in Chief of the Armies of America, leading us to Victory and the establishment of National independence, and after having accomplished this grand object, retiring from your exalted Station, and embracing the undistinguished Character of a Private Citizen we beleived the measure of your fame was full.
But when in obedience to the voice of your Country you again relinquished the sweets of domestic retirement; and we beheld the Storms which threaten’d our happiness dispell’d by the Justice, Wisdom, Vigilance and firmness of your Conduct, public Credit maintained, our inestimable Constitution protected, insurrection crushed, and the National Peace preserved.
Language was wanting to express the fullness of our feelings—Under such impressions, great as our confidence is in your Successor, we cannot but lament the resolution you have taken to resign the Helm.
And now, Sir, in our Capacity as Citizens and as Soldiers, ever ready to Obey and support the Laws of our Country—we bid you a tender, an Affectionate Farewell: and while we offer our earnest supplications, that every Hour of your remaining Years may be as peaceful and happy to yourself, as the most splendid period of your public Stations have been beneficial to your Country, we rest with perfect confidence, that the close of a life of Virtue and of Glory will be crowned with an Eternity of Bliss ineffable.
By order of the Officers of the Militia of the City and County of Philadelphia.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.