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eration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.' The circumstances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into that subject, further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications, I behold the surest pledges, that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views, nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests; so on another, that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.
"I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire. Since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness-between duty and advantage-between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity. Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained. And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people.
"Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide, how far an exercise of the VOL. II.
occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the constitution, is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good. For I assure myself, that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience; a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen, and a regard for the public harmony, will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question, how far the former can be more impregnably fortified, or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.
"To the preceding observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the house of representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty, required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department; and must accordingly pray, that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.
Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the human race, in humble supplication, that since he has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and disposi
tions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government, for the security of their union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this government must depend. GEORGE WASHINGTON.”
Immediately after the address, he, with the members of both houses, attended divine service at St. Paul's chapel. Thus commenced the government under the new constitution.
Both houses of the national legislature were unanimous in their answers to the inaugural speech of the president.
After congratulating him on the complete organization of the federal government, and felicitating themselves and their country, on his elevation to the office of president, the senate say, "the unanimous suffrage of the elective body in your favor, is peculiarly expressive of the gratitude, confidence, and affection of the citizens of America, and it is the highest testimonial at once of your merit and of your esteem. We are sensible, sir, that nothing but the voice of your fellow citizens, could have called you from a retreat, chosen with the fondest predilection, endeared by habit, and consecrated to the repose of declining years: we rejoice, and with us all America, that, in obedience to the call of our common country, you have returned once more to public life. In you all parties confide, in you all interests unite, and we have no doubt, that your past services great as they have been, will be equalled by your future exertions; and that your prudence and sagacity as a statesman will tend to avert the dangers to which we were exposed, to give stability to the present government, and dignity and splendor to that country, which your skill and valor as a soldier, so eminently contributed to raise to independence."
The representatives in their answer, expressed not merely their own feelings of veneration and affection, but those of the whole American people.
"You have long held," they said, "the first place in their esteem-you have often received tokens of their affection-you now possess the only proof that remained of their gratitude for your past services, of their reverence for your wisdom, and of their confidence in your virtues. You enjoy the highest, because the truest, honor of being the first magistrate, by the unanimous choice of the freest people on the face of the earth.
"We well knew the anxieties with which you must have obeyed a summons from a repose reserved for your declining years, into public scenes, of which you had taken your leave forever. It is already applauded by the universal joy which welcomes you to your station. And we cannot doubt that it will be rewarded with all the satisfaction with which an ardent love for your fellow citizens must revive successful efforts to promote their happiness.
"This anticipation is not justified merely by the past experi ence of your signal services. It is particularly suggested by the pious impressions under which you commence your administration, and the enlightened maxims by which you mean to conduct it. We feel with you the strongest obligations to adore the invisible hand which has led the American people through so many difficulties, to cherish a conscious responsibility for the destiny of republican liberty; and to seek the only sure means of preserving and recommending the precious deposit in a system of legislation founded on the principles of an honest policy, and directed by the spirit of diffusive patriotism.
"The question arising out of the fifth article of the constitution, will receive all the attention demanded by its importance; and will we trust, be decided under the influence of all the considerations to which you allude.
"In forming the pecuniary provisions for the executive department, we shall not lose sight of a wish resulting from motives which give it a peculiar claim on our regard. Your resolution, in a moment critical to the liberties of your country, to renounce all personal emolument, was among the many presages of your patriotic services, which have been amply fulfilled; and your scrupulous adherence now to the law then imposed on yourself,
cannot fail to demonstrate the purity, whilst it increases the lustre of a character, which has so many titles to admiration.
"Such are the sentiments which we have thought fit to address you. They flow from our own hearts; and we verily believe that among the millions we represent, there is not a virtuous citizen whose heart will disown them.
"All that remains is, that we join in your fervent supplication for the blessings of heaven on our country; and that we add our own for the choicest of these blessings on the most beloved of her citizens."
The national legislature during its first session, was principally occupied in providing revenues for the long exhausted treasury, in establishing a judiciary, in organizing the executive departments in detail, and in framing amendments to the constitution, agreeably to the suggestion of the president. The members immediately entered upon the exercise of those powers, so long refused under the old system of general government. They imposed a tonnage duty, as well as duties on various imported articles. In the exercise of these powers, they did not lose sight of the navigating interest of their country, which had so long been at the mercy of other nations.
Higher tonnage duties were imposed on foreign than on American bottoms; and goods imported in vessels belonging to citizens of the United States, paid ten per cent. less duty, than the same goods brought in those owned by foreigners. These discriminating duties, were intended to counteract the commercial regulations of foreign nations, and encourage American shipping. It was proposed in the house of representatives, and after long debate carried by a small majority, to make a difference in the duties, in favor of nations having commercial treaties with the United States. This discrimination, however, was negatived in the
To aid in the management of the affairs of the government, three executive departments were established, styled departments of war, of foreign affairs, and of the treasury, with a secretary at the head of each.