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Message in Reply to the House of Representatives

November 22, 1792

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

SIR: The House of Representatives, who always feel a satisfaction in meeting you, are much concerned that the occasion for mutual felicitation afforded by the circumstances favorable to the national prosperity should be abated by a continuance of the hostile spirit of many of the Indian tribes, and particularly that the reiterated efforts for effecting a general pacification with them should have issued in new proofs of their persevering enmity and the barbarous sacrifice of citizens who, as the messengers of peace, were distinguishing themselves by their zeal for the public service. In our deliberations on this important department of our affairs we shall be disposed to pursue every measure that may be dictated by the sincerest desire, on one hand, of cultivating peace and manifesting by every practicable regulation our benevolent regard for the welfare of those misguided people, and by the duty we feel, on the other, to provide effectually for the safety and protection of our fellow-citizens.

While with regret we learn that symptoms of opposition to the law imposing duties on spirits distilled within the United States have manifested themselves, we reflect with consolation that they are confined to a small portion of our fellow-citizens. It is not more essential to the preservation of true liberty that a government should be always ready to listen to the representations of its constituents and to accommodate its measures to the sentiments and wishes of every part of them, as far as will consist with the good of the whole, than it is that the just authority of the laws should be steadfastly maintained. Under this impression every department of the Government and all good citizens must approve the measures you have taken and the purpose you have formed to execute this part of your trust with firmness and energy; and be assured, sir, of every constitutional aid and cooperation which may become requisite on our part. And we hope that, while the progress of contentment under the law in question is as obvious as it is rational, no particular part of the community may be permitted to withdraw from the general burthens of the country by a conduct as irreconcilable to national justice as it is inconsistent with public decency.

The productive state of the public revenue and the confirmation of the credit of the United States abroad, evinced by the loans at Antwerp and Amsterdam, are communications the more gratifying as they enforce the obligation to enter on systematic and effectual arrangements for discharging the public debt as fast as the conditions of it will permit, and we take pleasure in the opportunity to assure you of our entire concurrence in the opinion that no measure can be more desirable, whether viewed with an eye to the urgent wish of the community or the intrinsic importance of promoting so happy a change in our situation.

The adoption of a constitution for the State of Kentucky is an event on which we join in all the satisfaction you have expressed. It may be considered as particularly interesting since, besides the immediate benefits resulting from it, it is another auspicious demonstration of the facility and success with which an enlightened people is capable of providing, by free and deliberate plans of government, for their own safety and happiness.

The operation of the law establishing the post-office, as it relates to the transmission of newspapers, will merit our particular inquiry and attention, the circulation of political intelligence through these vehicles being justly reckoned among the surest means of preventing the degeneracy of a free government, as well as of recommending every salutary public measure to the confidence and cooperation of all virtuous citizens.

The several other matters which you have communicated and recommended will in their order receive the attention due to them, and our discussions will in all cases, we trust, be guided by a proper respect for harmony and stability in the public councils and a desire to conciliate more and more the attachment of our constituents to the Constitution, by measures accommodated to the true ends for which it was established.

NOVEMBER 10, 1792.

Reply of the President:

GENTLEMEN: It gives me pleasure to express to you the satisfaction which your address affords me. I feel, as I ought, the approbation you manifest of the measures I have taken and the purpose I have formed to maintain, pursuant to the trust reposed in me by the Constitution, the respect which is due to the laws, and the assurance which you at the same time give me of every constitutional aid and cooperation that may become requisite on your part.

This is a new proof of that enlightened solicitude for the establishment and confirmation of public order which, embracing a zealous regard for the principles of true liberty, has guided the deliberations of the House of Representatives, a perseverance in which can alone secure, under the divine blessing, the real and permanent felicity of our common country.


NOVEMBER 12, 1792.

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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