George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Phillips, Jr., 11 February 1797

11-13 February 1797


As you have announced to the People of the United States, your intention to retire from the cares and decline the honors of public life, the Legislature of Massachusetts deem it a becoming duty to express their sentiments and those of their Constituents, on this interesting event.

It is not an opinion, that our public testimony of your merits can be necessary to the lustre of your reputation, or the serenity of your repose, which prompts us to join the general voice of America, in applauding your great and glorious services; but we are excited to this measure, by a wish to exhibit a powerful inducement to the love of our Country, and to transmit to future times a record of the gratitude of our Republic.

As the able and heroic General, who led our armies to victory and our Country to Independence, or as the enlightened and patriotic Magistrate, under whose administration, the United States have enjoyed peace and prosperity, your conduct has furnished a great and brilliant example, of integrity, fortitude and wisdom.

We trust that the Pacific System which you have pursued with regard to the foreign relations of the Country, will be as completely justified by its eventual success, as it is by the maxims of equity and prudence; And we indulge the hope, that this System will be continued, and that its beneficial effects will not be confined to America, but will tend to discredit among the Nations of the world, that false and barbarous policy, which sacrifices the public good, at the shrine of resentment and ambition.

When this effect shall take place, the cause of humanity will have derived a precious advantage from the example you have given, that moderation is the basis of true dignity, and that those laurels which are reared in the sunshine of peace, are beyond comparison fairer than those which are fertilized by the tears and blood of a People.

We receive your address to your fellow citizens, upon the occasion of your intended retirement from your civil station, with the same sentiments of respect and emotions of gratitude, which were inspired by that which terminated your military career; sensible that it discloses an intelligent view of their political interests, and discovers that affectionate zeal for their future welfare, which marks the character of their common friend.

Whilst in behalf of our Country, we lament the necessity that deprives her of your services in public life, we cannot deny that so many years of anxious toil for her interests, give you the best title to that repose, which you have long so ardently wished to enjoy.

You will retire covered with glory, and followed with the blessings of your fellow citizens; whose honor and happiness it will be, that whilst you have deserved well of your Country, that Country has never ceased to cherish a grateful and admiring sense of your worth.

Our fervent prayers for your health and enjoyment will go with you into the retreats of private life. May you live to be full of years and satisfied with beholding the prosperity of your country; and when you shall be called from the present scene, may that Beneficent Being, who has made you the happy instrument of so much good to mankind admit you to those rewards in a future state, which this world cannot bestow.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts In Senate February 11th 1797.

Read and accepted and Ordered that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, transmit the foregoing address to the Senate representing this Commonwealth in Congress, to be by them presented to the President of the United States. sent down for concurrence

Saml Phillips

Prsdt of Senate

In the House of Representatives, February 13th 1797.

Read and Concurred

Edward H. Robbins

Speaker of the House of Representatives

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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