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Message in Reply to the Senate

November 22, 1794

Address of the Senate to George Washington, President of the United States

SIR: We receive with pleasure your speech to the two Houses of Congress. In it we perceive renewed proofs of that vigilant and paternal concern for the prosperity, honor, and happiness of our country which has uniformly distinguished your past Administration.

Our anxiety arising from the licentious and open resistance to the laws in the western counties of Pennsylvania has been increased by the proceedings of certain self-created societies relative to the laws and administration of the Government; proceedings, in our apprehension, founded in political error, calculated, if not intended, to disorganize our Government, and which, by inspiring delusive hopes of support, have been influential in misleading our fellow-citizens in the scene of insurrection.

In a situation so delicate and important the lenient and persuasive measures which you adopted merit and receive our affectionate approbation. These failing to procure their proper effect, and coercion having become inevitable, we have derived the highest satisfaction from the enlightened patriotism and animating zeal with which the citizens of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia have rallied around the standard of Government in opposition to anarchy and insurrection.

Our warm and cordial acknowledgments are due to you, sir, for the wisdom and decision with which you strayed the militia to execute the public will, and to them for the disinterestedness and alacrity with which they obeyed your summons.

The example is precious to the theory of our Government, and confers the brightest honor upon the patriots who have given it.

We shall readily concur in such further provisions for the security of internal peace and a due obedience to the laws as the occasion manifestly requires.

The effectual organization of the militia and a prudent attention to the fortifications of our ports and harbors are subjects of great national importance, and, together with the other measures you have been pleased to recommend, will receive our deliberate consideration.

The success of the troops under the command of General Wayne can not fail to produce essential advantages. The pleasure with which we acknowledge the merits of that gallant general and army is enhanced by the hope that their victories will lay the foundation of a just and durable peace with the Indian tribes.

At a period so momentous in the affairs of nations the temperate, just, and firm policy that you have pursued in respect to foreign powers has been eminently calculated to promote the great and essential interest of our country, and has created the fairest title to the public gratitude and thanks.


Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate.

November 21, 1794.

Reply of the President:

Gentlemen: Among the occasions which have been afforded for expressing my sense of the zealous and steadfast cooperation of the Senate in the maintenance of Government, none has yet occurred more forcibly demanding my unqualified acknowledgments than the present.

Next to the consciousness of upright intentions, it is the highest pleasure to be approved by the enlightened representatives of a free nation. With the satisfaction, therefore, which arises from an unalterable attachment to public order do I learn that the Senate discountenance those proceedings which would arrogate the direction of our affairs without any degree of authority derived from the people.

It has been more than once the lot of our Government to be thrown into new and delicate situations, and of these the insurrection has not been the least important. Having been compelled at length to lay aside my repugnance to resort to arms, I derive much happiness from being confirmed by your judgment in the necessity of decisive measures, and from the support of my fellow-citizens of the militia, who were the patriotic instruments of that necessity.

With such demonstrations of affection for our Constitution; with an adequate organization of the militia; with the establishment of necessary fortifications; with a continuance of those judicious and spirited exertions which have brought victory to our Western army; with a due attention to public credit, and an unsullied honor toward all nations, we may meet, under every assurance of success, our enemies from within and from without.


NOVEMBER 22, 1794.

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

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