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tions. The executive council shall approve, modify, or reject them and shall render an account thereof directly to the Convention.

IX. The provisional administration selected by the people and the functions of the national commissioners shall cease as soon as the inhabitants, after having declared the sovereignty and independence of the people, liberty, and equality, shall have organized a free and popular form of government.

X. There shall be made a list of the expenses which the French Republic shall have incurred for the common defense and of the sums which it may have received, and the French nation shall make arrangements with the government which shall have been established for that which may be due; and in case the common interest should require that the troops of the Republic remain beyond that time upon the foreign territory, it shall take suitable measures to provide for their subsistence.

XI. The French nation declares that it will treat as enemies the people who, refusing liberty and equality, or renouncing them, may wish to preserve, recall, or treat with the prince and the privileged castes; it promises and engages not to subscribe to any treaty, and not to lay down its arms, until after the establishment of the sovereignty and independence of the people whose territory the troops of the Republic have entered upon, and who shall have adopted the principles of equality and established a free and popular government.

XII. The executive council shall dispatch the present decree by extraordinary couriers to all the generals and shall take the necessary measures to assure the execution of it.

The French People to the People Brothers and friends, we have conquered liberty and we shall maintain it. We offer to cause you to enjoy this inestimable blessing, which has always belonged to us and which our oppressors have not been able to take away from us without crime.

We have driven out your tyrants: show yourselves free men and we will guarantee you from their vengeance, their projects, and their return.

From this moment the French nation proclaims the sovereignty of the people, the suppression of all the civil and military authorities which have governed you up to this day, and of all the imposts which you support under whatever form they exist; the abolition of the tithe, of feudalism, of seignioral rights, both feudal and censuel, settled or precarious, of banalités, of real and personal servitude, of the privileges of hunting and fishing, of the corvées, of the gabelle, of the tolls, of the octrois, and generally of every species of taxes with which you have been charged by your usurpers; it also proclaims the abolition among you of every noble corporation, sacerdotal and others, of all prerogatives and privileges contrary to equality. You are from this moment brothers and friends, all citizens, all equal in rights, and all equally called to govern, to serve, and to defend your fatherland.

Form yourselves, immediately, into primary and communal assemblies, make haste to establish your provisional administrations and judiciaries, in conformity with the provisions of Article III of the above decree. The agents of the French Republic will coöperate with

you, in order to assure your welfare and the fraternity which ought to exist henceforth between us.

1 The salt tax.

2 Taxes levied on commodities, especially provisions, when brought into a town.


WASHINGTON planned to retire from public life at the close of his first term of office. As early as 1792, accordingly, he asked James Madison to prepare for him a valedictory address to the American people. His acceptance of a second term led to Madison's draft being set aside for the next four years. Washington then amplified it and sent it to Alexander Hamilton for revision. Hamilton, with the assistance of John Jay, prepared an entirely new draft, of which Washington made extensive use. The address thus embodies the ideas of three American statesmen, besides those of its author. It was not intended for oral delivery, but was first published in a Philadelphia newspaper, the American Daily Advertiser, in its issue of September 19, 1796.


Friends and Fellow Citizens

I. The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my situation might imply -- I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

i George Washington, Writings, vol. xiii, pp. 277–325. Edited by W. C. Ford. New York, 1889-1893. G. P. Putnam's Sons.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that in the present circumstances of our country you will not disapprove my determination to retire..

The impressions, with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed toward the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country, for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and perse

1 In his Inaugural Address of April 30, 1789.

that your

vering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts and a guaranty of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest token of its beneficence union and brotherly affection may be perpetual that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue - that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these states,- under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by số careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it. Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your

welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me on an occasion like the present to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

II. Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

III. The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquillity

1 In his Circular Letter to the governors of the states, June 8, 1783.

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