I rejoice that the period of your toils and of your immense sacrifices is approaching. I rejoice that the interesting revolutionary movements of so many years have issued in the formation of a constitution designated to give permanency to the great object for which you have contended. I rejoice that liberty, which you have so long embraced with enthusiasm, liberty, of which you have been the invincible defenders, now finds an asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government; a government which, being formed to secure the happiness of the French people, corresponds with the ardent wishes of my heart, while it gratifies the pride of every citizen of the United States by its resemblance to their own. On these glorious events accept, sir, my sincere congratulations.
In delivering to you these sentiments, I express not my own feelings only, but those of my fellow-citizens, in relation to the commencement, the progress, and the issue of the French Revolution; and they will cordially join with me in purest wishes to the Supreme Being that the citizens of our sister republic, our magnanimous allies, may soon enjoy, in peace, that liberty which they have purchased at so great a price, and all the happiness which liberty can bestow.
I receive, sir, with lively sensibility, the symbol of the triumphs and of the enfranchisements of your nation, the colors of France, which you have now presented to the United States. The transaction will be announced to Congress, and the colors will be deposited with those archives of the United States which are at once the evidences and the memorials of their freedom and independence. May these be perpetual; and may the friendship of the two republics be commensurate with their existence!
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To the People of the United States. September 17, 1796
Friends and Fellow-Citizens:
The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive Government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.
I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest; no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.