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to marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good ; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance and firmness.
The considerations, which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that servent love towards it which is so natural to a man, who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoy ment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.
GEORGE WASHINGTON. UNITED STATES, September 17th, 1796.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 1809-1865.
His constant thought was his country and how to serve it.
- Charles Sumner.
His career teaches young men that every position of eminence is open before the diligent and worthy.
- Bishop Matthew Simpson.
Such a life and character will be treasured forever as the sacred possession of the American people and of mankind.
- James A. Garfield.
By his fidelity to the True, the Right, the Good, he gained not only favor and applause, but what is better than all, love.
W. D. Howells.
He'was warm-hearted; he was generous; he was magnanimous; he was most truly, as he afterwards said on a memorable occasion, so with malice toward none, with charity for all.”
- Alexander H. Stephens.
Let us build with reverent hands to the type of this simple, but sublime life, in which all types are honored.
- Henry W. Grady.
Lincoln was the purest, the most generous, the most magnanimous of men.
General W. T. Sherman.
He knew no fear except the fear of doing wrong.
- Robert G. Ingersoll.
His chief object, the ideal to which his whole soul was devoted, was the preservation of the Union.
- Alexander H. Stephens.
The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battle field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the angels of our better nature.
From Lincoln's First Inaugural Address.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness to do the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the great work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphans; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
- From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.