Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

interests are the same; while the diversities arising from climate, from soil, and from other local and lesser peculiarities, will naturally form a mutual relation of the parts, that may give to the whole a more entire independence, than has perhaps fallen to the lot of any other nation.

“ To confirm these motives to an affectionate and permanent union, and to secure the great objects of it, we have established a common government, which, being free in its principles, being founded in our own choice, being intended as the guardian of our common rights, and the patron of our common interests, and wisely containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, as experience may point out its errors, seems to promise every thing that can be expected from such an institution ; and, if supported by wise counsels, by virtuous conduct, and by mutual and friendly allowances, must approach as near to perfection as any human work can aspire, and nearer than any which the annals of mankind have recorded.

“ With these wishes and hopes I shall make my exit from civil life ; and I have taken the same liberty of expressing them, which I formerly used in offering the sentiments which were suggested by my exit from military life.

"If, in either instance, I have presumed more than I ought, on the indulgence of my fellow-citizens, they will be too generous to ascribe it to any other cause, than the extreme solicitude which I am bound to feel, and which I can never cease to feel, for their liberty, their prosperity, and their happiness."

The state of public affairs, and the loud call of his fellowcitizens from every part of the Union, prevailed on Washington to yield to a second choice, and remain in the presidency another term of four years. Hence no use was made of the above paper. He firmly resolved, however, in any event, to retire from public life at the end of this second period; and, as the time approached, he began to revolve in his mind an address to the people, which should communicate his determination, and convey to them such sentiments or advice, as the occasion might properly call forth, or as his long experience and services authorized him to give. There is proof, that the subject occupied his thoughts nearly a year before his term of office expired. In the mean time, the spirit of party, that bane of the private affections as well as of public concord, caused him to be estranged personally and politically in some degree from Mr. Madison, and to seek other counsellors.

Among these, none possessed a higher place in his confidence than Hamilton ; of the talents, patriotism, honor, and honesty of none had he a more thorough conviction, and for none a more profound respect. A colossal pillar of his administration, Hamilton had stood by him in every hour of trial, equally firm and true in his friendship, and powerful in his support. To whom could Washington more safely apply for the fruits of a wise and disciplined mind? From whom could he hope for better counsel, or a more sacred regard to so confidential a trust?

The following note from Hamilton to Washington was probably the first written communication that passed between them on this subject.

New York, May 10th, 1796. — Sir; When Jast in Philadelphia, you mentioned to me your wish, that I should re-dress a certain paper, which you had prepared. As it is important, that a thing of this kind should be done with great care, and much at leisure, touched and retouched, I submit a wish, that, as soon as you have given it the body you mean it to have, it may be sent to me.”

This note is dated more than four months before the FAREWELL Address was published, and it appears that a draft of some sort had already been “prepared” by Washington. It also appears, that Hamilton had been invited, and was well disposed, to lend his assistance in giving it completeness and finish.

What were the contents of the draft here alluded to, or whether it was the one afterwards sent to Hamilton, there are now no means of ascertaining. It is certain, however, that it was Washington's original idea to embody in the address the substance and the form of Mr. Madison's draft, and to make such additions as events and the change of circumstances seemed to require. A paper of this description has been preserved, in which is first inserted Mr. Madison's draft, and then a series of memoranda, or loose hints, evidently designed to be wrought into the address. These are here printed as transcribed from the original manuscript.

HINTS, OR HEADS OF TOPICS.

“ Had the situation of our public affairs continued to wear the same aspect they assumed at the time the foregoing address was drawn, I should not have taken the liberty of troubling you, my fellow-citizens, with any new sentiment, or with a repetition more in detail of those, which are therein contained ; but considerable changes having taken place, both at home and abroad, I shall ask your indulgence while I express, with more lively sensibility, the following most ardent wishes of my heart.

That party disputes among all the friends and lovers of their country may subside, or, as the wisdom of Providence has ordained that men on the same subjects shall not always think alike, that charity and benevolence, when they happen to differ, may so far shed their benign influence, as to banish those invectives, which proceed from illiberal prejudices and jealousy.

“That, as the All-wise Dispenser of human blessings has fa. vored no nation of the earth with more abundant and substantial means of happiness than United America, we may not be so ungrateful to our Creator, so wanting to ourselves, and so regardless of posterity, as to dash the cup of beneficence, which is thus bountifully offered to our acceptance.

“ That we may fulfil with the greatest exactitude all our engagements, foreign and domestic, to the utmost of our abilities, whensoever and in whatsoever manner they are pledged; for in public, as in private life, I am persuaded that honesty will for ever be found to be the best policy.

That we may avoid connecting ourselves with the politics of any nation, farther than shall be found necessary to regulate our own trade, in order that commerce may be placed upon a stable footing, our merchants know their rights, and the government the ground on which those rights are to be supported.

“ That every citizen would take pride in the name of an American, and act as if he felt the importance of the character, by considering, that we ourselves are now a distinct nation, the dignity of which will be absorbed, if not annihilated, if we enlist ourselves, farther than our obligations may require, under the banners of any other nation whatsoever. And, moreover, that we should guard against the intrigues of any and every foreign nation, who shall endeavour to intermingle, however covertly and indirectly, in the internal concerns of our country, or who shall attempt to prescribe rules for our policy with any other power, if there be no infraction of our engagements with themselves, as one of the greatest evils that can befall us as a people ; for, whatever may be their professions, be assured, fellow-citizens, and the event will, as it always has, invariably prove, that nations as well as individuals act for their own benefit, and not for the benefit of others, unless both interests happen to be assimilated, and when that is the case there requires no contract to bind them together; that all their interferences are calculated to promote the former; and, in proportion as they succeed, will render us less independent. In a word, nothing is more certain, than that, if we receive favors we must grant favors; and it is not easy to decide beforehand under such circumstances as we are, on which side the balance will ultimately preponderate; but easy indeed is it to foresee, that it may involve us in disputes, and finally in war, to fulfil political alliances. Whereas, if there be no engagements on our part, we shall be unembarrassed, and at liberty at all times to act from circumstances, and the dictates of justice, sound policy, and our essential interests.

“ That we may be always prepared for war, but never unsheath the sword except in self-defence, so long as justice, and our essential rights and national respectability, can be preserved without it; for without the gift of prophecy it may safely be pronounced, that, if this country can remain in peace twenty years longer (and I devoutly pray, that it may do so to the end of time), such, in ail probability, will be its population, riches, and resources, when combined with its peculiarly happy and remote situation from the other quarters of the globe, as to bid defiance, in a just cause, to any earthly power whatsoever.

“ That, whensoever and so long as we profess to be neutral, our public conduct, whatever our private affections may be, may accord therewith ; without suffering partialities on one hand, or prejudices on the other, to control our actions. A contrary practice is not only incompatible with our declarations, but is pregnant with mischief, embarrassing to the administration, tending to divide us into parties, and ultimately productive of all those evils and horrors, which proceed from faction.

“ That our Union may be as lasting as time ; for, while we are encircled in one band, we shall possess the strength of a giant, and there will be none who can make us afraid. Divide, and we shall become weak, a prey to foreign intrigues and internal discord, and shall be as miserable and contemptible, as now enviable and happy.

“ That the several departments of government may be preserved in their utmost constitutional purity, without any attempt of one to encroach on the rights or privileges of another; that the general and State governments may move in their proper orbits; and that the authorities of our own constitution may be respected by VOL. XII.

50

we are

ourselves, as the most certain means of having them respected by foreigners.

“In expressing these sentiments it will readily be perceived, that I can have no other view now, whatever malevolence might have ascribed to it before, than such as results from a perfect conviction of the utility of the measure. If public servants, in the exercise of their official duties, are found incompetent, or pursuing wrong courses, discontinue them. If they are guilty of mal-practices in office, let them be more exemplarily punished. In both cases, the constitution and laws have made provision ; but do not withdraw your confidence from them, the best incentive to a faithful discharge of their duty, without just cause ; nor infer, because measures of a complicated nature, which time, opportunity, and close investigation alone can penetrate, for these reasons are not easily comprehended by those, who do not possess the means, that it necessarily follows they must be wrong. This would not only be doing injustice to your trustees, but be counteracting your own essential interests, rendering those trustees, if not contemptible in the eyes of the world, little better at least than ciphers in the administration of the government, and the constitution of your own choosing would reproach you for such conduct.”

Whether these hints were sent to Hamilton, as here written, or to what extent they were previously enlarged and arranged, cannot now be told. It will be seen, however, that they include nearly all the elements of the principal points of the address, as it was finally published. After the draft had been transmitted to Hamilton, he discouraged the idea of incorporating Mr. Madison's draft, in its distinct form, on account of the apparent incongruity of the thing, and because he thought some of its sentiments not suited to the objects proposed in this last address. He accordingly sketched two plans, or drafts, one on the basis of an incorporation, the other on that of an original form, submitting it to the judgment of Washington to decide which was the preferable method. He chose the latter. Several letters passed between them. Suggestions were made on both sides, some of which were approved and adopted, others disapproved and rejected. The drafts were sent back and forth from the one to the other. The work was nearly four months in hand; and was executed with a deliberation and solicitude, which prove the deep sense that each entertained of its importance, and of the advantages to be derived from it to the country.

« AnteriorContinuar »