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WASHINGTON’S SPEECH TO CONGRESS 1 - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 8 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 8.
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WASHINGTON’S SPEECH TO CONGRESS1
December 8, 1795.
I trust I do not deceive myself while I indulge the persuasion, that I have never met you at any period, when more than at the present the situation of our public affairs has afforded just cause for mutual congratulation, and for inviting you to join with me in profound gratitude to the Author of all Good for the numerous and distinguished signal blessings we enjoy.
The termination of the long, expensive, and distressing war, in which we have been engaged with certain Indians northwest of the Ohio, is placed in the option of the United States by a treaty which the commander of our army has provisionally concluded with twelve of the most powerful of the hostile tribes in that region. In the adjustment of these terms, the satisfaction of the Indians was deemed an object worthy no less of the policy than of the liberality of the United States, as the necessary basis of permanent tranquillity. This object, it is believed, has been fully attained. The articles agreed upon will be immediately laid before the Senate for their advice and consent.
The Creek and Cherokee Indians, who alone of the Southern tribes had annoyed our frontier, have lately confirmed their pre-existing treaties with us, and have given unequivocal evidence of a sincere disposition to carry them into effect by the surrender of the prisoners and property they had taken. But we have to lament that the fair prospect in this quarter has been momentarily clouded by wanton murders, which some citizens of Georgia have perpetrated on hunting parties of the Creeks, which have again involved that frontier in disquietude and danger, or which will be productive of further expense, and is likely to occasion more effusion of blood. Measures are in train to obviate or mitigate the consequences, and with the reliance of being able at least to prevent general hostility.
A letter from the Emperor of Morocco announces to me the renewal of our treaty, and consequently the restoration of peace, with that power. But the instrument for this purpose, which was to pass through the hands of our minister resident at Lisbon, who was temporarily absent on business of importance, is not yet received. It is with peculiar satisfaction I can add to this intelligence, that an agent, deputed on our part to Algiers, communicates that the preliminaries of a treaty with the regency of that country had been settled, and that he had no doubt of completing the business of his mission, comprehending the redemption of our unfortunate fellow-citizens from a grievous captivity.
The last advices from our envoy to the court of Madrid give, moreover, the pleasing information that he had received positive assurances of a speedy and satisfactory conclusion of his negotiation. While the event, depending on unadjusted particulars, cannot be regarded as ascertained, it is agreeable to cherish the expectation of an issue, which, securing amicably very essential interests of the United States, will, at the same time, establish the foundation of durable harmony with a power whose friendship we have so uniformly and so sincerely endeavored to cultivate.
Though not before officially disclosed to the House of Representatives, you are all apprised that a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation has been negotiated with Great Britain, and that the Senate, by the voice of two thirds, have advised and consented to its ratification, upon a condition which excepts part of one article. Agreeably to this advice and consent, and to the best judgment I was able to form of the public interest, after full and mature deliberation, I have added my sanction. The result on the part of His Britannic Majesty is unknown. When received, the subject will, without delay, be placed before Congress.
This interesting summary of affairs, with regard to the foreign powers between whom and the United States controversies have subsisted, and with regard also to those of our Indian neighbors, with whom we have been in a state of enmity or misunderstanding, opens a wide field for consoling and gratifying reflections. If, by prudence and moderation on every side, the extinguishment of all the causes of external discord, which have heretofore menaced our tranquillity, on terms consistent with our national rights and honor, shall be the happy result, how firm and how precious a foundation will have been laid for establishing, accelerating, and maturing the prosperity of our country!
Contemplating the situation of the United States in their internal as well as external relations, we find equal cause for contentment and satisfaction, while the greater part of the nations of Europe, with their American dependencies, have been, and several of them continue to be, involved in a contest unusually bloody, exhausting, and calamitous; in which the ordinary evils of foreign war are aggravated by domestic convulsion, riot, and insurrection; in which many of the arts most useful to society are exposed to decay or exile; and in which scarcity of subsistence embitters other sufferings, while even the anticipations of the blessings of peace and repose are alloyed by the sense of heavy and accumulating burthens, which press upon all the departments of industry, and threaten to clog the future springs of government;—our favored country, happy in a striking contrast, enjoys universal peace—a peace the more satisfactory because preserved at the expense of no duty. Faithful to ourselves we have not been unmindful of any obligation to others. Our agriculture, our commerce, our manufactures, prosper beyond former examples (the occasional depredations upon our trade, however detrimental to individuals, being greatly overbalanced by the aggregate benefits derived to it from a neutral position). Our population advances with a celerity which exceeds the most sanguine calculations, augmenting fast our strength and resources, and guaranteeing more and more our national security. Every part of the Union gives indications of rapid and various improvement. With burthens so light as scarcely to be perceived, with resources more than adequate to our present exigencies, with a mild Constitution and wholesome laws, is it too much to say that our country affords a spectacle of national happiness never surpassed, if ever before equalled, in the annals of human affairs?
Placed by Providence in a situation so auspicious, motives the most sacred and commanding admonish us, with sincere gratitude to Heaven and pure love of our country, to unite our efforts to preserve, prolong, and improve the immense advantages of our condition. To co-operate with you in this most interesting work is the dearest wish of my heart.
Fellow-citizens:—Amongst the objects which will claim your attention in the course of the session, a review of our military establishment will not be the least important. It is called for by the events which have changed, and are likely still further to change, the relative situation of our interior frontier. In this review you will no doubt allow due weight to the consideration, that the questions between us and certain foreign powers are not yet finally adjusted, that the war in Europe is not yet terminated, and that the evacuation, of Western posts, when it shall happen, will demand a provision for garrisoning and securing them. You will consider this subject with a comprehensiveness equal to the extent and variety of its relations. The Secretary at War will be directed to lay before Congress the present state of the Department of War.
With the review of our army is naturally connected that of our militia establishment. It will merit inquiry what imperfections, in the existing plan, experience may have unfolded; what improvements will comport with the progress of public opinion. The subject is of so much magnitude, in my estimation, as to beget a constant solicitude that the consideration of it will be renewed, till the greatest attainable degree of perfection is accomplished. Time, while it may furnish others, is wearing away some advantages for forwarding the object. None better deserves the persevering attention of our public councils.
In contemplating the actual condition of our Western borders, the pleasure it is calculated to afford ought not to cause us to lose sight of a truth, to the confirmation of which every day’s experience contributes, viz.: That the provisions heretofore made are inadequate to protect the Indians from the violences of the irregular and lawless part of the frontier inhabitants; and that, without some more effectual plan for restraining the murders of those people, by bringing the murderers to condign punishment, all the exertions of the government to prevent or repress the outrages of the Indians, and to preserve peace with them, must prove fruitless—all our present agreeable prospects fugitive and illusory. The frequent destruction of innocent women and children, chiefly the victims of retaliation, must continue to shock humanity, while an expense truly enormous will drain the treasure of the Union.
To enforce the observance of justice upon the Indians, it is indispensable there should be competent means of rendering justice to them. If to these means could be added a provision to facilitate the supply of the articles they want on reasonable terms (a measure the mention of which I the more readily repeat, as in all the conferences with them they urge it with solicitude), I should not hesitate to entertain a strong hope of a permanent good understanding with them. It is agreeable to add that even the probability of their civilization, by perseverance in a proper plan, has not been diminished by the experiments thus far made.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:
The state of the revenue in its several relations, with the sums which have been borrowed and reimbursed, pursuant to different acts of Congress, will be submitted by the proper officer—together with an estimate of the appropriations necessary to be made for the current service of the ensuing year. Reports from the late and present Director of the Mint (which I shall also cause to be laid before you) will show the situation and progress of that institution, and the necessity of some further legislative provisions for carrying the business of it more completely into execution, and for checking abuses which appear to be arising in particular quarters.
Whether measures may not be advisable to reinforce the provision for the redemption of the public debt, will not fail, I am sure, to engage your attention. In this examination, the question will naturally occur, whether the present be not a favorable juncture for the disposal of the vacant lands of the United States northwest of the Ohio. Congress have demonstrated the sense to be, and it were superfluous to repeat more, that whatever will tend to accelerate the honorable extinguishment of our public debt, will accord as much with the true interests of our country as with the general sense of our constituents.
Gentlemen:—The progress in providing materials for the frigates, and in building them, and the state of the fortifications of our harbors, the measures which have been pursued for obtaining proper sites for arsenals, and for furnishing our magazines with military stores, and the steps which have been taken in execution of the law for opening a trade with the Indians, will also be presented for the information of Congress.
Writings of Washington, xii., 56. This draft by Hamilton also was adopted verbatim.