I have recd fellow citizens your letter inviting me, in behalf of a number of citizens of Albemarle to partake of a public dinner on the approaching 4th. of july. For this mark of their kind attention I can only offer an expression of my grateful sensibility; the debility of age with a continuance of much indisposition rendering it impossible for me to join them on the occasion.
However conscious of the extent in which the partiality of my friends has over valued my publick career I may be allowed to say that they have done but justice, in supposing that though abstracted from a participation in publick affairs, I have not ceased to feel a deep interest in the purity & permanence of our free Republican institutions; characterized as they are, first by a division of the powers of Govt: between the States in their United & in their Individual capacities; 2d by defined relations between the several Departments & branches of Government—Having witnessed the defects in the first organization of the Union sufficiently evinced during the war of the Revolution, & still further developed in the interval between its termination & the substitution of the present Constitution, having witnessed also, the happy fruits of the latter presenting in so many important respects a contrast to the preceding state of things, no one can be more anxious than I am that its permanent success be ensured by a faithful adherence to its principles and objects.
The committee in making the respectful acknowledgments due from me for the favorable & affectionate sentiments communicated in their letter, will please accept for themselves an assurance of my high esteem & cordial regards—