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George Washington's Farewell To The Army

( Originally Published 1916 )



Dated at Rocky Hill, near Princeton, New Jersey, November 2, 1783

It is universally acknowledged that the enlarged prospects of happiness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, almost exceed the power of description. And shall not the brave men who have contributed so essentially to these inestimable acquisitions, retiring from the field of war to the field of agriculture, participate in all the blessings which have been obtained? In such a republic, who will exclude them from the rights of citizens and the fruits of their labors?

To those hardy soldiers who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the fisheries will afford ample and profitable employment, and the extensive and fertile regions of the West will yield a most happy asylum to those who, fond of domestic employment, are seeking personal independence.

Little is now wanting to enable the soldier to change the military character into that of a citizen but that steady and decent behavior which has distinguished not only the army under this immediate command, but the different detachments and separate armies through the course of the war. To the various branches of the army the general takes this last and solemn opportunity of professing his inviolable attachment and friendship. He can only again offer in their behalf his recommendations to their grateful country and his prayers to the God of armies. May ample justice be done them here, and may favors, both here and hereafter, attend those who, under the divine auspices, have secured innumerable blessings for others !

With these wishes and this benediction the commander-in-chief is about to retire from service. The curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and the military scene to him will be closed forever !

PRESIDENT WASHINGTON'S RESPONSE TO THE FRENCH AMBASSADOR ON RECEIPT OF THE COLORS OF FRANCE, 1769

Born, sir, in a land of liberty, having early learned its value, having engaged in a perilous conflict to defend it, having, in a word, devoted the best years of my life to secure it a permanent establishment in our own country, my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of free-dom. But above all, the events of the French Revolution have produced the deepest solicitude as well as the highest admiration. To call your nation brave were to pronounce but common praise. Wonderful people ! Ages to come will read with astonishment the history of your brilliant exploits.

I rejoice that the period of your toils and of your immense sacrifices is approaching. I rejoice that the interesting revolutionary movements of so many years have issued in the formation of a constitution designated to give permanency to the great object for which you have contended. I rejoice that liberty, which you have so long embraced with enthusiasm, liberty, of which you have been the invincible defenders, now finds an asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government ; a government which, being formed to secure the happiness of the French people, corresponds with the ardent wishes of my heart, while it gratifies the pride of every citizen of the United States by its resemblance to their own. On these glorious events accept, sir, my sincere congratulations.

In delivering to you these sentiments, I express not my own feelings only, but those of my fellow-citizens, in relation to the commencement, the progress, and the issue of the French Revolution ; and they will cordially join with me in purest wishes to the Supreme Being that the citizens of our sister republic, our magnanimous allies, may soon enjoy, in peace, that liberty which they have purchased at so great a price, and all the happiness which liberty can bestow.

I receive, sir, with lively sensibility, the symbol of the triumphs and of the enfranchisement's of your nation, the colors of France, which you have now presented to the United States. The transaction will be announced to Congress, and the colors will be deposited with those archives of the United States which are at once the evidences and the memorials of their freedom and independence. May these be perpetual; and may the friendship of the two re-publics be commensurate with their existence!



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