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our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest, to take a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance and firmness. The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred without any thing more, from the obliga tion which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will be best referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been, to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects, not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they I shall also carry with me the hope that may tend. my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest. Relying on its kindness in this as in other things.
and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views it in the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government; the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours, and dangers. G. WASHINGTON. United States, 17th Sept. 1796.
The compiler has given, in the present edition, several original biographical sketches, written by some of the most eminent men in our country; and he deems it proper to state, that since the present edition has been put to press, he has received other original sketches, which will be reserved for the third edition, to be comprised in an octavo volume, and to contain between four and five
hundred pages.. The very flattering encouragement already received for the third edition, would justify the Editor in putting it to press immediately; but having promised gentlemen in various parts of the Union, to delay it to enable them to collect and prepare sketches of our deceased heroes, sages, and statesmen, of the revolution, it will not be put to press until early next spring.
The compiler tenders his sincere thanks to those gentlemen who have so liberally patronised the work, and who furnished materials for it, and we may with confidence assert, that "as Americans, we bail with delight any attempt to rescue from oblivion the words or actions of those whose names we have been taught to revere."
Easton, Pennsylvania, August 12, 1823.
A Declaration by the representatives of
Proclamation for a day of public thanks-
General Washington's general orders to