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ed, to all of which he returned such modest, unassuming answers, as were in every respect suitable to his situation. So great were the honours with which he was loaded, that they could scarcely have failed to produce haughtiness in the mind of any ordinary man; but nothing of the kind was ever discovered in this extraordinary personage. On all occasions he behaved to all men with the affability of one citizen to another. He was truly great in deserving the plaudits of his country, but inuch greater in not being elated by them.
Of the numerous addresses which were presented on this occasion, one subscribed by Dennis Ramsay, the mayor of Alexandria, in the name of the people of that city, who were the neighbours of Mr. Washington, was particularly and universally admired. It was in the following words ;
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON, ESQ. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
Again your country commands your care. Obedient to its wishes, unmindful of your ease, we see you again relinquishing the bliss of retirement, and this too, at a period of life when nature itself seems to authorize a preference of repose.
“ Not to extol your glory as a soldier ; not to pour forth our gratitude for past services; not to acknowledge the justice of the unexampled honour which has been conferred upon you by the spontaneous and unanimous suffrage of three millions of freemen, in your election to the supreme magistracy, nor to admire the patriotism which directs your conduct, do your neighbours and friends now address you. Themes less splendid, but more endearing, impress our minds. The
first and best of citizens must leave us ; our aged must lose their ornament; our youth their model ; our agriculture its improver ; our commerce its friend; our infant academy its protector; our poor their benefactor; and the interior navigation of the Potowmac, an event, replete with the most extensive utility, already by your unremitted exertions brought into partial use, its institutor and promoter.
“ Farewell. Go, and make a grateful people happy; a people who will be doubly grateful when they contemplate this recent sacrifice for their interest.
“ To that Being who maketh and unmaketh at his will, we commend you ; and after the accomplishment of the arduous business to which
you are called, may he restore to us again the best of men, and the most beloved fellowcitizen.'
To this Mr. Washington returned the following answer ;
Although I ought not to conceal, yet I cannot describe the painful emotions which I felt, in being called upon to determine whether I would accept or refuse the Presidency of the United States. The unanimity in the choice; the opinion of my friends communicated from different parts of Europe as well as from America ; the
apparent wish of those who were not entirely satisfied with the constitution in its present form, and an ardent desire on my own part to be instrumental in connecting the good will of my countrymen toward each other, have induced an acceptance.
Those who know me best, and you, my fellowcit. izens, are from your situation, in that number, know better than any others, my love of retirement is so great, that no earthly consideration, short of a conviction of duty, could have prevailed upon me to depart from my resolution never more to take any share in transactions of a public nature;' for at my age, and in my circumstances, what prospects or advantages could I propose to myself from embarking again on the tempestuous and uncertain ocean of public life?
“ I do not feel myself under the necessity of making public declarations in order to convince you, gentlemen, of my attachment to yourselves, and regard for your interests. The whole tenour of my life has been open to your inspection, and my past actions, rather, than my present declarations, must be the pledge of my future conduct.
“ In the mean time, I thank you most sincerely for the expressions of kindness contained in your valedictory address. It is true, just after having bade adieu to my domestic connexions, this tender proof of your friendship is but too well calcu. lated still further to awaken my sensibility, and increase my regret at parting from the enjoyment of private life.
“ All that now remains for me, is to commit myself and you to the protection of that beneficent Being, who on a former occasion hath happily brought us together, after a long and distressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious Provi. dence will again indulge me.
Unutterable sensations must then be left to more expressive si
In a letter to Col. Hamilton, Washington ob-
my person or reputation. Until that period, I may fairly hold my. self open to conviction, though I allow your sentiments to have weight in them ; and I shall not pass by your arguments, without giving them as dispassionate a consideration as I can possibly. bestow upon them.
“ In taking a survey of the subject, in whatever point of light I have been able to place it, I will not suppress the acknowledgment, my dear sir, that I have always felt a kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as I have been taught to expect
I might, and perhaps, must be called upon ere long to make the decision. You will, I am well assured, believe the assertion, though I have little ex. pectation it would gain credit from those who are less acquainted with me, that if I should receive
the appointment, and should be prevailed upon to accept it, the acceptance would be attended with more difficulty and reluctance, than I ever experienced before. It would be, however, with a fixed and sole determination of lending whatever assistance might be in my power to promote the public weal, in hopes that at a convenient and early period, my services might be dispensed with ; and that I might be permitted once more to retire, to pass an unclouded evening, after the stormy day of life, in the bosom of domestic tranquillity.”
In a letter to Gen. Lincoln, Washington observes ; “I may, however, with great sincerity, and I believe without offending against modesty and propriety, say to you, that I most heartily wish the choice to which you allude, might not fall upon me ; and that if it should, I must reserve to myself the right of making up my final decis: ion, at the last moment when it can be brought into one view, and when the expediency or inexpediency of a refusal can be more judiciously determined, than at present. But be assured, my dear sir, if, from any inducement, I shall be persuaded ultimately to accept, it will not be, so far as I know my own heart, from any of a private or personal nature. Every personal consideration conspires to rivet me, if I may use the expression, to retirement. At my time of life, and under
my circumstances, nothing in this world can ever draw me from it, unless it be a conviction that the partiality of my countrymen had made my services absolutely necessary, joined to a fear that my refusal might induce a belief that I pre