When contemplating the period of my retirement, I saw virtuous and enlightened men among whom I relied on the discernment and patriotism of my fellow-citizens to make the proper choice of, a successor—men who would require no influential example to insure to the United States “an able, upright, and energetic administration.” To such men I shall cheerfully yield the palm of genius and talents to serve our common country; but at the same time I hope I may be indulged in expressing the consoling reflection (which consciousness suggests), and to bear it with me to my grave, that none can serve it with purer intentions than I have done or with a more disinterested zeal.
DECEMBER 12, 1796.
SIR: The House of Representatives have attended to your communication respecting the state of our country with all the sensibility that the contemplation of the subject and a sense of duty can inspire.
We are gratified by the information that measures calculated to insure a continuance of the friendship of the Indians and to maintain the tranquillity of the Western frontier have been adopted, and we indulge the hope that these, by impressing the Indian tribes with more correct conceptions of the justice as well as power of the United States, will be attended with success.
While we notice with satisfaction the steps that you have taken in pursuance of the late treaties with several foreign nations, the liberation of our citizens who were prisoners at Algiers is a subject of peculiar felicitation. We shall cheerfully cooperate in any further measures that shall appear on consideration to be requisite.
We have ever concurred with you in the most sincere and uniform disposition to preserve our neutral relations inviolate, and it is of course with anxiety and deep regret we hear that any interruption of our harmony with the French Republic has occurred, for we feel with you and with our constituents the cordial and unabated wish to maintain a perfectly friendly understanding with that nation. Your endeavors to fulfill that wish, and by all honorable means to preserve peace, and to restore that harmony and affection which have heretofore so happily subsisted between the French Republic and the United States, can not fail, therefore, to interest our attention. And while we participate in the full reliance you have expressed on the patriotism, self-respect, and fortitude of our countrymen, we cherish the pleasing hope that a mutual spirit of justice and moderation will insure the success of your perseverance.
The various subjects of your communication will respectively meet with the attention that is due to their importance.