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DISBANDING THE ARMY.

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by their arms from impending ruin will never leave unpaid the debt of gratitude.

“Should any intemperate and improper warmth have mingled itself among the foregoing observations, I must entreat your excellency and Congress that it may be attributed to the effusions of an honest zeal in the best of causes, and that my peculiar situation may be my apology; and I hope I need not, on this momentous occasion, make any new protestations of disinterestedness, having ever renounced for myself the idea of pecuniary reward. The consciousness of having attempted faithfully to discharge my duty, and the approbation of my country, will be a sufficient recompense for my services."

The consequence of the proceedings of the army, and the exertions of Washington in their behalf, was a resolution of Congress commuting the half-pay into a gross sum equal to five years' full pay.

Soon after these events, a letter was received from Lafayette, announcing a general peace; and in April, official intelligence arrived of the ratification of the preliminary articles between Great Britain and France; and on the 19th of that month, the cessation of hostilities was proclaimed.

The delicate operation of disbanding an unpaid army now claimed the attention of Congress. The treasury was empty. The expenditures of the superintendent of the finances had exceeded his receipts $404,713, and the excess continued to increase rapidly.

In vain Congress urged the states to furnish their respective contingents. The foreign danger seemed passing away, and they were more remiss than ever. The financier was compelled to make further anticipations of the revenue.

While he was preparing to issue his notes for three months' pay to the army, Congress issued orders to Washington to grant unlimited furloughs to the non-commissioned officers and privates who were engaged to serve during the war. This mode of disbanding the army was productive of serious alarm. The officers addressed the commander-inchief, and communicated their views with respect to the recent promises of the government, which they had, of course, expected to be performed before they should be disbanded or dispersed.

Washington felt the whole force of this appeal. In his answer, he declared, " that as no man could possibly be better acquainted than himself with the past merits and services of the army, so no one could possibly be more strongly impressed with their present ineligible situation ; feel a keener sensibility at their distresses ;

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· or more ardently desire to alleviate or remove them.” He added,

« Although the officers of the army very well know my official situation : that I am only a servant of the public, and that it is not for me to dispense with orders which it is my duty to carry into execution, yet, as furloughs, in all services, are considered as a matter of indulgence, and not compulsion; as Congress, I am persuaded, entertains the best disposition towards the army, and as I apprehend, in a very short time the two articles of complaint will be removed, until the further pleasure of Congress can be known, I shall not hesitate to comply with the wishes of the army, under these reservations only, that officers sufficient to conduct the men who receive furloughs, will attend them, either on furlough or by detachment.”

This answer was satisfactory, and the arrangements for retiring on furlough were made without further difficulty. In the course of the summer, the three years' men were also permitted to return to their homes, and in October, Congress issued a proclamation, declaring all those who had engaged for the war, to be discharged on the third of December.

The following eulogium, from the lips of one of our great statesmen, conveys a just idea of the honourable conduct of this band of patriots :

“ The army was to be disbanded; but it was unpaid. It was to lay down its own power ; but there was no government with adequate power to perform what had been promised to it. In this critical moment, what is its conduct? Does it disgrace its high character? Is temptation able to seduce it? Does it speak of righting itself? Does it undertake to redress its own wrongs by its own sword? Does it lose its patriotism in its deep sense of injury and injustice? Does military ambition cause its integrity. to swerve ? Far, far otherwise. It had faithfully served and saved the country, and to that country it now referred, with unhesitating confidence, its claim and its complaints. It laid down its arms with alacrity ; it mingled itself with the mass of the community and it waited till. in better times, and under a new government, its services might be rewarded, and the promises made to it fulfilled. We can hardly recur to this example too often, or dwell on it too much, for the honour of our country and its defenders."*

Thus the difficult problem of disbanding an unpaid army was solved by a seasonable exertion of the influence and address of

Speeches and Forensic Arguments of Daniel Webster.

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TAKES LEAVE OF THE ARMY.

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the commander-in-chief. But this could not be felt in every quarter with equal force. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about eighty men were stationed, who did not hesitate to revolt against their officers, and march to Philadelphia in a body, for the purpose

of obtaining a redress of grievances from the council of state at the bayonet's point.

On arriving in the city others joined them, and the whole marched to the State House, where Congress and the Executive Council of the state were assembled, placed sentinels at the doors, and sent in a written message, threatening the executive of the state with vengeance, if their demands were not granted in twenty minutes. This insult applied hardly less to Congress than to its immediate object, the executive of Pennsylvania. They were all held in durance for three hours, at the end of which period the members of Congress separated, after agreeing to re-assemble at Princeton.

Washington, on receiving intelligence of this outrage, instantly detached fifteen hundred men under General Howe, to suppress the mutiny; but before this detachment could reach the city, the disturbances were quieted. Congress, however, ordered General Howe to pursue and arrest the mutineers who had retired into the country.

During the interval which elapsed between the treaty with Great Britain and his retirement into private life, Washington's attention was anxiously directed to public affairs. In particular, the peace establishment of the country occupied him ; and he communicated to Congress his views respecting a competent system for the regulating and disciplining of the militia, which he justly considered essential to the future tranquillity, dignity, and respectability of the country.

The circumstances attending General Washington's retirement are thus related by Judge Marshall :

« At length.the British troops evacuated New York, and a detachment from the American army took possession of that town. Guards being posted for the security of the citizens, General Washington, accompanied by Governor Clinton, and attended by many civil and military officers, and a large number of respectable inhabitants on horseback, made his public entry into the city; where he was received with every mark of respect and attention. His military course was now on the point of terminating ; and he was about to bid adieu to his comrades in arms. This affecting interview took place on the 4th of December. At noon, the

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principal officers of the army assembled at Frances' tavern, soon after which, their beloved commander entered the room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed. Filling a glass, he turned to them and said, “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you; I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honourable.' Having drunk, he added, "I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.' General Knox, being nearest, turned to him. Washington, incapable of utterance, grasped his hand, and embraced him. In the same affectionate manner he took leave of each succeeding officer. The tear of manly sensibility was in every eye; and not a word was articulated to interrupt the dignified silence, and the tenderness of the scene. Leaving the room, he passed through the corps of light infantry, and walked to White Hall, where a barge waited to convey him to Powles Hook. The whole company followed in mute and silent procession, with dejected countenances, testifying feelings of delicious melancholy, which no language can describe. Having entered the barge, he turned to the company, and, waving his hat, bade them a silent adieu. They paid him the same affectionate compliment; and, after the barge had left them, returned in the same solemn manner to the place where they had assembled.

« Congress was then in session at Annapolis, in Maryland, to which place General Washington repaired, for the purpose of resigning into their hands the authority with which they had invested him. He arrived on the 19th of December. The next day he informed that body of his intention to ask leave to resign the commission he had the honour of holding in their service; and requested to know whether it would be their pleasure that he should offer his resignation in writing or at an audience.

“ To give the more dignity to the act, they determined that it should be offered at a public audience on the following Tuesday, at twelve.

“When the hour arrived for performing a ceremony so well calculated to recall the various interesting scenes which had passed since the commission now to be returned was granted, the gallery was crowded with spectators, and several persons of distinction were admitted on the floor of Congress. The members remained seated, and covered. The spectators were standing, and uncovered. The general was introduced by the secretary, and con

RESIGNS HIS COMMISSION.

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666

ducted to a chair. After a short pause, the president* informed him, that the United States in Congress assembled were prepared to received his communications.' With native dignity, improved by the solemnity of the occasion, the general rose and delivered the following address :

« « Mr. President, The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honour of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

666 The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.

6. While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings, not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend, in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favourable notice and patronage of Congress.

“I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping.

66. Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.'

* General Mifflin.

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