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A letter composed by George Washington at his home at Mount Vernon on April 3, 1797. The letter was transmitted to the Rhode Island General Assembly by Rhode Island Governor Arthur Fenner at the request of George Washington. The letter announces Washington's intention to retire from public affairs.
To the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island & etc.
Gentlemen Supported by the patriotic exertions and pleasing approbation of my fellow Citizens, for a long series of years, in important, critical, and highly interesting situations, I have discharged my duties with that satisfaction to myself which could only result from those circumstances. And when, in the decline of life, I gratify the fond wish of my heart I retiring from public labours, and find the language of approbation and fervent prayers for future happiness following that event, my heart expands with gratitude, and my feelings become unutterable. But, in full confidence that, under the wise, firm and patriotic conduct of those who administer our public affairs, the prosperity, happiness and respectability of our country will be no less an object than they have heretofore been, I feel a peculiar satisfaction. If the sentiments which I expressed on the eve of my retirement from Public life, meet the approbation of my Country men, I must feel highly gratified, for they were the pure sentiments of my heart, founded on the experience which I had in life, and matured by the best reflection I could give them. Although guided by our excellent Constitution in the discharge of official duties and actuated, through the whole course of my public life, solely by a wish to promote the best interests of our country; Yet, with out the beneficient interposition of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprece dented rapidity. To Him, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavour to merit a continuance of his special favors. Deeply and gratefully impressed by your affectionate address & benevolent wishes, I shall not fail to supplicate the throne of Grace that the best of Heavens blessings may rest upon your State and upon your selves individually. G Washington