No. 272 High Street, 23d Novr: 1796
After having devoted the choicest years of your life as a free will offering in the service of your country, the period is now arrived in which you have seen fit to relinquish all your public functions; and to resolve that the remnant of your days shall be occupied among the sweets of domestic retirement. As this determination appears to be the result of deliberate judgment, and not the capricious effect of immature thought, your fellow citizens are constrained to submit, many of them with painful reluctance, to this your final decession from public office.
Among the number of these the author of this letter reckons it an honor to be enroled. And though he does not presume to imagin that the opinions of an obscure individual resideing at the distance of a hundred miles west of Philadelphia, can augment or deminish your fame, he begs leave to tender you his warmest and most explicit thanks, for the many great and precious blessings which, as the chosen instrument of heaven, you have procured for our common country.
The practical influence of these blessings, however seldom it is noticed by some, is nevertheless so substantially enjoyed by all your fellow citizens, that, in his opinion, it is their individual duty explicitly to acknowledge it. He even thinks this duty indispensible; and therefore takes the liberty to assure you, Sir, that, in subordination to the supreme governance of heaven, he considers himself and family your debtors for his little temporal all, and even recognises your name as if it were actually inscribed on all his possessions.
With pleasing assiduity he endeavours to persuade his children to embrace his sentiment; and among the means made use of for this purpose, he has presumed to call his youngest child, a boy of four years of age, Washington, that, by a frequent repetition of the name, the memory of your virtues and services may be kept alive in their bosoms. Suffer him to express a wish that with your name, this child may also inherit your virtues. Your memory shall then be perpetuated in his family, not merely by the reiteration of an empty sound, but by the good effects of those amiable quallities, which, alone, have placed your character so high in the estimation of their father.
Imagin not, Good Sir, that these are the dictates of impertinent adulation; or even the more pardonable effusions of intemperate enthusiasm. They are the irresistible ebullitions of a heart that scorns to give flattering titles to any man; and that would, if it could, teach every citizen of the United States to love you as much, and as sincerely, as does it’s owner.
He laments that any of his fellow citizens have embraced contrary sentiments: especially that they have caused the press to disgorge a torrent of the most indigested, and therefore most offensive abuse, against the purity of your intentions, as well as against the wisdom of your administration. He hopes, however, that this illiberal conduct is not the genuine growth of an american mind; and that however such persons ma[y have] been led astray by selfish motives, or foreign influence, time and cool reflection will correct the error: at least that it wil[l illegible ] with respect to its authors though perhaps the wounds which they have crually inflicted on your feelings, as a man, ma[y not] in every instance, be entirely healed.
Be this as it may he has not a doubt that conscious integrity does, and ever will, shield you against the mortal venom of [such] unprovoked attacks. How comfortable, Worthy Sir, at all times, is the reflection, and especially now you are about to close [the] service of so many useful years, that you are amenable for your conduct to another and a better Judge than a creature [of yes]terday, whose eye is often jaundiced with malevolent passions, and whose opinions, from the very nature of its constituti[on is] necessarily adjusted by the unstable rule of external appearance, a Judge who is incapable of being influenced by any b[ ]ple, and who can, and actually does, look into all the naked recesses of the heart—a Judge in whose benevolent eye, [ ] intentions supply the place of fortunate deeds, and with whom well meant endeavours will ever f[ind] the same acceptance as the most successful actions.
May the presence and approbation of this best of friends and most impartial of Judges, be the constant compan[ion] of your declineing years and when your heart and flesh shall fail may they be the joy of your [heart] and your portion forever. With reitterated gratitude and affection believe me to be Worthy Sir your highly obliged Fellow Citizen
DLC: Papers of George Washington.