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Letter from John Williams to Thomas Benbury
Williams, John, 1731-1799
February 01, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 258-259

RESIGNATION OF JOHN WILLIAMS, ESQR., DELEGATE.
[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]

Halifax, Feb'y 1st, 1779.

Honorable Sir:

Permit me through you to signify to the Honorable the House of Commons my Resignation of the office of delegate for this State in the Continental Congress. When I was called to the Important trust by the Suffrages of my fellow Citizens, I was truly Sensible how unequal I was to the Execution of it. My private feelings, however, gave way to the public sense. And I did not think myself at Liberty to decline that share in the public Counsels which the Legislature of my Country had thought proper to assign me. To have Refused might have been imputed to a Reluctance to have Stepped forth into a Distinguished point of View, least distinction should mark me for the Resentment of our Enemies, or that I wished to reap the fruits of the Active Counsels and Endeavors of Others in peace and Retirement without making any Sacrifice of my own personal Ease or Interest to obtain them. I had been happy if my Execution had been in any

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proportion to the weight of duty Imposed upon me. I can only say that what Ever defects have marked my publick Conduct, they are not to be attributed to Indolence or inattention. My heart has Ever Glowed with the most enlarged wishes for the full Completion of the Object of the American Contest and my best powers Extended to have a share in effecting it. It is with Reluctance that I now ask leave to Retire, Not to a State of inactive inattention to publick affairs, but to a more Confined sphere of them, when I may have an opportunity to Exercise my talents upon subjects not so inadequate to them as my late Imployment, and when, from their Requiring less Enlarged abilities, I may have a Greater probability of being useful.

This my own private affairs, the particular situation of my family & the Duty I owe my Connections in Domestic life urge too importunately for me to resist. The Expence to which I was necessarily Exposed while in Pennsylvania to support myself becoming the Character of a Delegate of this Respectable State, and the injury the property I hold in this Country necessarily suffered in my absence from the want of a personal attention, If private motives would avail, plead strongly for this measure.

But what you, Sir, & the Members of the House will anticipate, the Ease with which my place may be supplied by a Character more Equal to the Office & who will do Greater honor to the appointment, renders a further apology unnecessary. I Cannot quit my Seat, however, without bearing the fullest testimony to the Abilities and Integrity of my Colleagues & Congratulate the Assembly upon the Happy Choice they have made.

I have the honor to be, with great Esteem, Sir,
Your most obed. & very Humble Serv't,
JOHN WILLIAMS.
To the Hon. Thos. Benbury.