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firm, respectable men who had stood at the helm, during the tempest of the revolution, were held up to view as objects of suspicion. But the more steady and discerning part of the people gave no heed to these democratic jealousies; they represented, in the papers, the true state of facts; that the army had suffered by the depreciation of paper bills; that they endured hunger and cold, for want of their just dues; and that the grant of congress was essential to the very existeuce of an army. Such representations had the desired effect, and before the session of the legislature in May 1784, the towns had become sensible of their error, and dismissed their delegates.
540. Discontents in Massachusetts. In the beginning of 1784, an attempt waa made by some towns in Massachusetts, to collect the sense of the people in an irregular manner, as had been done in Connecticut. In February, a committee of the towns of Wrentham and Medway, with the advice of some other towns, wrote a circular letter, proposing a meeting of delegates from all the towns in Suffolk county, to take into consideration the commutation act, and the proposed general impost. On that occasion the town of Boston held a meeting and agreed to a letter which was sent to the committee in answer to their circular letter; expressing the entire disapprobation of the proposed county meeting, as irregular and unconstitutional. They reprobated the baleful influence of such disorderly proceedings, and manifested an acquiescence in the measures of congress. The spirit of opposition however infected the people and the legislature of that state for some time, until the good sense of wise and moderate men prevailed over the intemperate zeal of popular leaders.
541. General Washington's Circular Letter. In June 1783, the commander of the American army wrote a circular letter to the governors of the several states, congratulating them on the glorious termination of the war, and offering them his sentiments on
some important subjects. In this letter, he represen ted that the republic of the United States was founded in an enlightened period of the world, when the rights of men were well understood; when science, commerce, refinement of manners, liberality of sentiment, and above all the pure and benign light of revelation had meliorated the state of mankind, and increased the blessings of society; for these reasons, if the citizens of the United States should fail to be free and happy, the fault would be entirely their own; that the cup of blessings was offered to them, but it depended on themselves whether to be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable; and whether the revolution should be a blessing or a curse. In this address, he recommended an indissoluble union of the states under one federal head; a sacred regard to public justice; the adoption of a peace establishment, and the cultivation of pacific and friendly dispositions among the people. He declared also his intention of retiring to private life, which he had left with regret, and for which he never ceased to sigh.
542. General Washington's Farewell Address to the Army. The congress, in consequence of the definitive treaty of peace disbanded the army by proclama. tion, dated October 18, 1783. On this occasion, the commander in chief, on the second of November, addressed to the army, his farewell orders, in which he recapitulated the principal events of the war, the disadvantages under which it was conducted, and the perseverance of the troops under the severest sufferings from hunger, nakedness, toils, dangers and inclement seasons. He gave them the strongest assurances that their services would be rewarded, and recommended to them to carry into civil life the most conciliating dispositions, and the virtues of good citi
He expressed his thankfulness to the officers and soldiers for their zeal, bravery, fortitude and patience, and, dropping the curtain of separation, he commended them, in a most affectionate manner, to
the notice of a grateful country, and the protection o heaven.
543. General Washington's Resignation. On the twenty-third day of December 1783, the commander in chief of the American army waited on Congress, then sitting at Annapolis, to resign his commission. On that affecting occasion, the general addressed the president, congratulating Congress on the auspicious issue of the war, and the confirmation of the sovereignty and independence of the United States. He expressed his grateful sense of the assistance and support he had received from the country, his obligations to the army, and to the gentlemen who compos ed his family, whom he commended to the notice of Congress. He then commended the dearest interests of his country to the holy keeping of the Supreme Disposer of events, took an affectionate farewell of the august council of America, under whose orders he had acted, delivered his commission to the president, and took leave of all public employments. The president rose, and with a heart almost too full for utterance, reciprocated the general's congratulations, and with the most ardent expressions of gratitude for his services, and affection for his person, commended his precious life to the fostering care of heaThe tears of spectators evidenced their sensations at the sublime spectacle of the great Washington, resigning his command, and retiring, laden with honors, to the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon.
544. Cincinnati. During the negotiations for peace, the officers of the army formed themselves into a society, to which they gave the name of Cincinnati, after the celebrated Roman, who was summoned from his plow, to take command of the armies of the Republic, and after defeating his enemies and liberating the state from danger, returned to the cultivation of his farm. The objects of this association were declared to be, to perpetuate the memory of the revolution and the friendship of the officers; to preserve
inviolate the exalted rights and liberties of human nature; to promote and cherish union and national honor between the states; and to form a fund for the relief of officers or their families who should come to want. For this purpose, every officer deposited a month's pay, in a common stock, which was put to interest. The honor was made hereditary in the inale issue of the officers, and in default of such issue, might be assigned to collateral heirs. Distinguished men, not belonging to the army, might be elected honorary members. The badge of the order was a gold medal suspended by a blue ribin.
545. Popular jealousy against this Society. The association of the Cincinnati was published at a time when the people of the United States were oppress ed with taxes, and irritated at the grant of extra pay to the army. The universal jealousy of equal rights, which the leaders of the revolution had found it necessary to foster and cultivate, was alarmed at every thing that bore the semblance of distinction. At this time a writer of considerable eminence in Carolina published a pamphlet, in which he labored to prove that the society was intended by some of its artful framers to lay the foundation of an order of nobility; that it contained in it the elements of such an order and would certainly result in the establishment of it. Whatever truth there might have been in these charges, the publication had a considerable effect, in augmenting the flames of popular discontent.
546. Alteration of their Constitution. At a meeting of delegates from the several state societies, [which were composed of the officers of each state,] held at Philadelphia in May 1784, general Washington attended and was appointed president. To obviate objections against this society, and allay the popular uneasiness, it was judged expedient to amend the constitution of the society, and expunge the most objectionable articles, and especially that which rendered the honor hereditary. On this occasion, the
society published an address to the state societies, in which they declared, and appealed to heaven for the sincerity of their declaration, that their intentions were pure that as their views had been misrepresented, they would give another proof that the officers were among the most faithful citizens, and therefore they had agreed to a constitution to which there could be no reasonable objection. By this constitution, the officers are formed into a general society, and the officers of each state into a state society, whose annual meetings for the choice of officers are on the anniversary of independence. By this institution, the friendship contracted in the army, is preserved, and the interest of the funds benevolently applied to the relief of indigent members or their families.
547. Weakness of the Confederation. In 1778, a plan of confederation and perpetual union was formed by congress and proposed to the several states for acceptance. Most of the states acceded to it without great delay; but on account of some advantages, which that plan was calculated to afford to the states possessing unappropriated lands, the state of Maryland, which possessed no such land, at first declined accepting it; and did not ratify it until March 1781. In the mean time, the states were compelled by external danger, to act in concert; and the recommendations of congress were observed by the states, and usually carried into effect by laws enacted by the several legislatures. But no sooner were the states released from the pressure of dangers, than the weakness of the federal compact began to appear. The states were no longer anxious to sustain the authority of congress, whose resolutions were disregarded, or at least not enforced. Congress had no power to lay taxes to supply the treasury of the United States; the sums voted for public service were apportioned upon each state, to be raised in the manner the legislature should prescribe, But the states soon be