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TO THE INHABITANTS OF CAMDEN AND ORANGEBURG
DISTRICTS, SOUTH CAROLINA; IN A LETTER
SEPTEMBER 14Th, 1795.
SIR, I received the address of a number of citizens, in habitants of Camden and Orangeburg districts, assembled at Columbia on the 4th of August, which you transmitted. They express their disapprobation of the treaty lately negotiated with Great Britain, and their belief that it would not receive my assent.
My sense of the treaty has been manifested by its ratification. The principles on which my sanction was given have been made public. I regret the diversity of opinion. But whatever qualities, manifested in a long and arduous public life, have acquired for me the confidence of my fellow-citizens, let them be assured, that they remain unchanged; and that they “ will continue to be exerted on every occasion, in which the honor, the happiness, and welfare of our common country are immediately involved.” With due respect, I am, Sir, &c.
TO THE INHABITANTS OF GEORGETOWN, SOUTH CAROLINA ; IN A LETTER TO GEORGE HERIOT.
SEPTEMBER 14th, 1795.
SIR, I received your letter of the 31st of July, which covered an address of the inhabitants of Georgetown and its vicinity, expressing their opinion on the treaty lately negotiated with Great Britain, and requesting that it might not receive my assent.
It is now well known, that my assent to the treaty has been given ; and the principles, which governed my determination, have also been made public. *
On a subject so complex, and having such extensive relations, some diversity of opinion might be expected. But those of my fellow-citizens, who believe, that, “in the course of a perilous war and arduous administration,” I have given proofs, that “I loved my country,” will not easily be persuaded, that, at this late period, and in one of the most important acts of a life, which has been devoted to its service, I have ceased to love it.
While I acknowledge the pleasure derived from the confidence of my fellow-citizens, I may assure them of my unalterable attachment to their true interests.
TO THE CITIZENS OF FREDERIC COUNTY, VIRGINIA ;
IN A LETTER TO DANIEL MORGAN, CHARLES M. THURSTON, ROBERT WHITE, CHARLES MAGILL, AND JOSEPH CALDWELL.
DECEMBER 16TH, 1795.
GENTLEMEN, I received with great satisfaction your obliging and affectionate letter, dated the 2d instant, at Winchester, enclosing a resolution of the citizens of Frederic County, who met the preceding day at the county
* See Vol. XI. p. 42.
court-house, expressing their entire approbation of my conduct, in ratifying the treaty lately negotiated between the United States and Great Britain.
Next to the approbation of my own mind, arising from a consciousness of having uniformly, diligently, and sincerely aimed, by doing my duty, to promote the true interests of my country, the approbation of my fellow-citizens is dear to my heart. In a free country, such approbation should be a citizen's best reward; and so it would be, if truth and candor were always to estimate the conduct of public men. But the reverse is so often the case, that he, who, wishing to serve his country, if not influenced by higher motives, runs the risk of being miserably disappointed. Under such discouragements, the good citizen will look beyond the applauses and reproaches of men, and, persevering in his duty, stand firm in conscious rectitude and in the hope of approving Heaven.
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
SEPTEMBER 17th, 1796.
FRIENDS AND Fellow-CitizENS, The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.
I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest; no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.
The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my
inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you ; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.
I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.
The impressions, with which I firsi undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied, that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.
In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently