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Message in Reply to the House of Representatives

December 07, 1793

Address of the House of Representatives to George Washington, President of the United States.

SIR: The Representatives of the people of the United States, in meeting you for the first time since you have been again called by an unanimous suffrage to your present station, find an occasion which they embrace with no less sincerity than promptitude for expressing to you their congratulations on so distinguished a testimony of public approbation, and their entire confidence in the purity and patriotism of the motives which have produced this obedience to the voice of your country. It is to virtues which have commanded long and universal reverence and services from which have flowed great and lasting benefits that the tribute of praise may be paid without the reproach of flattery, and it is from the same sources that the fairest anticipations may be derived in favor of the public happiness.

The United States having taken no part in the war which had embraced in Europe the powers with whom they have the most extensive relations, the maintenance of peace was justly to be regarded as one of the most important duties of the Magistrate charged with the faithful execution of the laws. We accordingly witness with approbation and pleasure the vigilance with which you have guarded against an interruption of that blessing by your proclamation admonishing our citizens of the consequences of illicit or hostile acts toward the belligerent parties, and promoting by a declaration of the existing legal state of things an easier admission of our right to the immunities belonging to our situation.

The connection of the United States with Europe has evidently become extremely interesting. The communications which remain to be exhibited to us will no doubt assist in giving us a fuller view of the subject and in guiding our deliberations to such results as may comport with the rights and true interests of our country.

We learn with deep regret that the measures, dictated by love of peace, for obtaining an amicable termination of the afflicting war on our frontiers have been frustrated, and that a resort to offensive measures should have again become necessary. As the latter, however, must be rendered more satisfactory in proportion to the solicitude for peace manifested by the former, it is to be hoped they will be pursued under the better auspices on that account, and be finally crowned with more happy success.

In relation to the particular tribes of Indians against whom offensive measures have been prohibited, as well as on all the other important subjects which you have presented to our view, we shall bestow the attention which they claim. We can not, however, refrain at this time from particularly expressing our concurrence in your anxiety for the regular discharge of the public debts as fast as circumstances and events will permit and in the policy of removing any impediments that may be formal in the way of a faithful representation of public proceedings throughout the United States, being persuaded with you that on no subject more than the former can delay be more injurious or an economy of time more valuable, and that with respect to the latter no resource is so firm for the Government of the United States as the affections of the people, guided by an enlightened policy.

Throughout our deliberations we shall endeavor to cherish every sentiment which may contribute to render them conducive to the dignity as well as to the welfare of the United States; and we join with you in imploring that Being on whose will the fate of nations depends to crown with success our mutual endeavors.

DECEMBER 6, 1793.

Reply of the President:

GENTLEMEN: I shall not affect to conceal the cordial satisfaction which I derive from the address of the House of Representatives. Whatsoever those services may be which you have sanctioned by your favor, it is a sufficient reward that they have been accepted as they were meant. For the fulfillment of your anticipations of the future I can give no other assurance than that the motives which you approve shall continue unchanged.

It is truly gratifying to me to learn that the proclamation has been considered as a seasonable guard against the interruption of the public peace. Nor can I doubt that the subjects which I have recommended to your attention as depending on legislative provisions will receive a discussion suited to their importance. With every reason, then, it may be expected that your deliberations, under the divine blessing, will be matured to the honor and happiness of the United States.


DECEMBER 7, 1793.

George Washington, Message in Reply to the House of Representatives Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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