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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 ationes 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 ena 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 sentiments 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, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united governarent, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most governme
ments 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 out of the present crisis, have forced themsel
selves too strongly on 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 considerati
ation, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into thạt 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
attenti is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circum.
mstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute in place of a recommendatic
tion 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,
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 Fests: So on another, that the foundations of our
policy will be laid in the pure and immutable 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 liber's and the destiny of the republican model of government are just considered as deep', perhaps as finally staked,
experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Instead of undertaking particular scommendati 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 in pursuit of the public good: for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alterati
tion 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 sufficient
deliberat questions, how far the former can be more impregnably fortified, or the latter be safely and more advantageously promoted.
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 favour the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, , and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity
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
on which the success of this government must depend.