Philadelphia 3d March 1797
My dear Sir,
Before the curtain drops on my political life, which it will do this evening—I expect for ever—I shall acknowledge, although it be in a few hasty lines only; the receipt of your kind & affectionate letter of the 23d of January last.
When I add, that according to custom, all the Acts of the Session, except two or three very unimportant Bills, have been presented to me within the last four days, you will not be surprised at the pressure under which I write at present; but it must astonish others who know that the Constitution allows the President ten days to deliberate on each Bill that is brought before him that he should be allowed by the Legislature less than half that time to consider all the business of the Session; and in some instances, scarcely an hour to revolve the most important. But as the scene is closing, with me, it is of little avail now to let it be with murmers.
I should be very unhappy if I thought my relinquishing the Reins of government wd produce any of the consequences which your fears forebode. In all free governments, contention in elections will take place; and whilst it is confined to our own citizens it is not to be regreted; but severely indeed ought it to be reprobated when occasioned by foreign machinations. I trust however, that the good sense of our Countrymen will guard the public weal against this, and every other innovation; and that, altho we may be a little wrong, now & then, we shall return to the right path, with more avidity. I can never believe that Providence, which has guided us so long, and through Such a labirinth, will withdraw its protection at this Crisis.
Although I shall resign the chair of government without a Single regret, or any desire to intermeddle in politics again, yet there are many of my compatriots (among whom be assured I place you) from whom I shall part sorrowing; because, unless I meet with them at Mount Vernon it is not likely I shall ever See them more, as I do not expect I shall ever be twenty miles from it after I am tranquilly settled there. To tell you how glad I should be to see you at that place is unnecessary; but this I will add, that it would not only give me pleasure, but pleasure also to Mrs Washington, and others of the family with whom you are acquainted; and who all unite in every good wish for you, and yours, with Dear Sir—Your sincere friend and Affectionate Servant