Washington City, Month of snows 24th.
Year of Discovery 317th. (24 feb. 1809)
The Records of Antiquity exhibit innumerable Instances of wicked Men aided by the Evil Spirit, who, after artfully acquiring public Confidence, trampled upon the Equal Rights of their Species and converted the power with which they were entrusted for the public Good to their own Aggrandizement and Emolument.—Power thus acquired continued to accumulate untill the Rights of the people were contemned and the indignant Nation in attempting their Recovery waded thro’ Seas of Blood in the infliction of dreadful Vengeance on its Oppressors.—
Such has been the Rise, Progress and Termination of Despotism, but the Efforts thus made have too frequently failed of producing the Advantages sought by the Friends of Liberty, for, satisfied with punishing the Oppressors, the people have too generally neglected the Cause of the Evil—The Same Course has again been run.—Confidence in power has begot its abuse and adduced its Ruin.—
Taught by these Truths, those great and excellent men (and permit us to remember with gratitude the high Rank you held among them) who chased the Mercenaries from our Shores, and proclaimed and sustained the Independence of our Country were not content with such heroic Efforts—Whilst the Spirit of Tyranny was unchained they conceived their great work unfinished, They therefore ungirded their Swords and devised a Constitution and form of Government for these Tribes which they fondly believed defin’d the Rights of the People and prescribed Limits to the Depositaries of National power.—
Nothwithstanding the Wisdom and prowess of these men the Evil Spirit was not subdued.—The constitution, our pride and Bulwark, was disregarded and the Eye of every Patriot was fixed on you alone for the safety of the Ark of Government—The will of the Nation was announced—Its Enemies were discomfited, and you, destined to serve it at a most eventful period, placed in the Seat of its chief Majistracy.—
The Hopes Entertain’d by the Nation before your Election have since been realized.—Satisfied with the Station appointed by the Constitution, you have never attempted to extend its Influence; on the contrary, you have Successfully recommended the Abolition of places tending to encrease your power.—Of Standing Armies, when unnecessary to the General Welfare—Of taxes, which harrassed the Citizens without increasing the National Income—Anxious alone for the prosperity of your Country, you have, with an honest Zeal, persued the path of Peace, decreased our national Debt and added the vast and fertile plains bordering on the great River to our Country, thus affording hunting Grounds to our Children’s Children for many Generations—And after the accomplishment of Objects thus beneficial, actuated by that sacred principle which we hope will be for ever respected and imitated by your successors, you voluntarily relinquishd that Chair in which the Gratitude and Affection of the people of these Tribes were again anxious to place you, rather than by your Example afford an Apology for others to retain power too long.—
Such has been your Conduct at Home.—Beyond the Great Water Discord has long extended its Touch and their Cheifs and Warriors have envied our peaceful prosperity.—Influenced by the Spirit of Despotism they strove to immerge us in the Evils they inflicted on each Other and fearfully view’d the rising greatness of a Nation who actuated by the principles of Justice alone woud soon they apprehended be able to say to the contending Tribes war shall cease, and be obeyed.—Thus impressed knowing that the profits of their Trade woud be over was man universally to feel all the Advantages of mutual Affection, they have by every Device attempted to make us Parties in their Quarrels.—Much longer to escape these Evils perhaps is impossible but your Efforts to that purpose have not therefore been the less meritorious, and our Scribes, when they record them for the Benefit of our Children and their Successors will mark your Character as the friend of Peace and the Benefactor of Mankind.—
Impress’d most Solemnly by these Truths, the Tammany Society of Washington City conceive it their Duty on your retiring from Office and entering again the Ranks of your fellow Citizens, to present you this Testimonial of their Affection for your Person and Gratitude for your National Services—They trust this will not be the more unwelcome because it is the spontaneous Effusion of the feelings of men who have lived for many Years in the same City with yourself, and who, profess carefully, nay even jealously, to have examined your Conduct every passing Day, and who now can honestly exclaim “Well done thou good and faithful servant”!
You are now about to return to the Wigwam of your Ancestors, may the Great Spirit there long continue you in Health Peace and Happiness, ‘till full of years and full of honors the Spirit of Peace shall remove you to the mansions of the bless’d, amidst the Affectionate Tears of a great, a free and a happy People.—
Wm. P. Gardner
Father of the Council.
B: Smith, Secy.
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.