December the 16th 1796
To a Citizen whose views were unambitious, who preferred the shade and tranquillity of private life to the splendour and solicitude of elevated stations, and whom the voice of duty and his country could alone have drawn from his chosen retreat, no reward for his public services can be so grateful as public approbation, accompanied by a consciousness that to render those services useful to that Country has been his single aim: and when this approbation is expressed by the Representatives of a free and enlightened Nation, the reward will admit of no addition. Receive, Gentlemen, my sincere and affectionate thanks for this signal testimony that my services have been acceptable and useful to my Country: the strong confidence of my fellow Citizens, while it animated all my actions, ensured their zealous cooperation, which rendered those services successful. The virtue and wisdom of my Successors, joined with the patriotism and intelligence of the Citizens who compose the other Branches of Government, I firmly trust will lead them to the adoption of measures which, by the beneficence of Providence, will give stability to our System of government, add to its success, and secure to ourselves and to posterity that liberty which is to all of us so dear.
While I acknowledge with pleasure the sincere and uniform disposition of the House of Representatives to preserve our neutral relations inviolate, and with them deeply regret any degree of interruption of our good understanding with the French Republic, I beg You, Gentlemen, to rest assured, that my endeavours will be earnest and unceasing, by all honorable means to preserve peace, and to restore that harmony and affection which have heretofore so happily subsisted between our two Nations; and with You I cherish the pleasing hope that a mutual spirit of justice and moderation will crown those endeavours with success.
I shall cheerfully concur in the beneficial measures which Your deliberations shall mature on the various subjects demanding Your attention. And while directing your labours to advance the real interests of our Country you receive its blessings with perfect sincerity my individual wishes will be offered for your present and future felicity.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.