George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 25 September 1796

Philadelphia 25 Sepr 1796.


I thought it best to wait till I could ascertain the full expression of the public sentiment, before I should comply with your request, to tell you all, and conceal nothing from you.

Your address on the first day of its publication, drew from the friends of government, through every part of the City, the strongest expressions of sensibility. I am well assured, that many tears were shed on the occasion, and propositions made in various companies, for soliciting your consent to serve another term; which were afterwards dropped, on reflecting, that nothing short of a very solemn crisis could possibly lead to a change—of your determination. The enemies of the government, upon their part, discovered a sullenness, silence, and uneasiness, that marked a considerable portion of chagreen and alarm, at the impression which it was calculated to make on the public mind.

Such have been the first effects of an address which still continues to be a subject of melancholly conversation and regret. And I think I may safely add, that what has been exhibited here, will be found to be a transcript of the general expression of the people of the United States. I sincerely believe, that no nation ever felt a more ardent attachment to its chief; and ’tis certain, that history cannot furnish an example such as you have given Those men who have relinquished sovereign power, have done it under circumstances which tarnished more or less this glory of the act; but in the present case, there is no circumstance which does not serve to augment it. With the most sincere attachment & affection I am Sir your Ob & hble st

James McHenry

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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