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Extract from President Washington's Speech to the
first American Congress, April 30, 1789.*
See Plates 13 and 14.
With the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of na tions, and whose providential aids can supp's every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States, a government instituted by tnemselves and may enablo every instrument employed in its administration, to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your senti” not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have ad
* The small type in this speech, distinguish such words and parts of words, as are represented by particular signs.
vanced to the character of an independent nation, to have been distinguished by some token of provi dential agency. And in the important revolution jus accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the even has resulted, cannot be compared with the mean by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising ou of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly a my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust, in thinking that there are none underthe
influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free govern
can more auspiciously commence. By the article establishing the executive department
, it is made the duty of the president “ to
recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer you to the great constitutional charter which we are assembled and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your atten"
tion is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circum.
rcumstances, 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 honourable 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 communi interests: Soon another, that the foundations of our
policy will be laid in the pure and immutab principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a 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 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 just's considered as deep!, perhaps as finally staked,