Whilst we are confident that no cause of complaint exists that could authorize an interruption of our tranquillity or disengage that Republic from the bonds of amity, cemented by the faith of treaties, we can not but express our deepest regrets that official communications have been made to you indicating a more serious disturbance of our commerce. Although we cherish the expectation that a sense of justice and a consideration of our mutual interests will moderate their councils, we are not unmindful of the situation in which events may place us, nor unprepared to adopt that system of conduct which, compatible with the dignity of a respectable nation, necessity may compel us to pursue.
We cordially acquiesce in the reflection that the United States, under the operation of the Federal Government, have experienced a most rapid aggrandizement and prosperity as well political as commercial.
Whilst contemplating the causes that produce this auspicious result, we must acknowledge the excellence of the constitutional system and the wisdom of the legislative provisions; but we should be deficient in gratitude and justice did we not attribute a great portion of these advantages to the virtue, firmness, and talents of your Administration, which have been conspicuously displayed in the most trying time and on the most critical occasions. It is therefore with the sincerest regret that we now receive an official notification of your intentions to retire from the public employments of your country.
When we review the various scenes of your public life, so long and so successfully devoted to the most arduous services, civil and military, as well during the struggles of the American Revolution as the convulsive periods of a recent date, we can not look forward to your retirement without our warmest affections and most anxious regards accompanying you, and without mingling with our fellow-citizens at large in the sincerest wishes for your personal happiness that sensibility and attachment can express.
The most effectual consolation that can offer for the loss we are about to sustain arises from the animating reflection that the influence of your example will extend to your successors, and the United States thus continue to enjoy an able, upright, and energetic administration.
Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate.
DECEMBER 10, 1796.
REPLY OF THE PRESIDENT.
GENTLEMEN: It affords me great satisfaction to find in your address a concurrence in sentiment with me on the various topics which I presented for your information and deliberation, and that the latter will receive from you an attention proportioned to their respective importance.
For the notice you take of my public services, civil and military, and your kind wishes for my personal happiness, I beg you to accept my cordial thanks. Those services, and greater had I possessed ability to render them, were due to the unanimous calls of my country, and its approbation is my abundant reward.