Gentlemen of the General Assembly:
The honors of Government, which you have been pleased to confer on me this day, demand my grateful acknowledgements, as I esteem them the highest testimonial of public confidence and regard this free Country can show a Citizen, for which I beg to return you my humble and hearty thanks.
At the same time, Mr. Speaker of the Senate, I thank you for the polite and handsome manner in which you have conveyed to me the sense of the General Assembly. Though called in the happier hour of our prosperity to this important station, happy should I be if I considered myself fully equal to this great task and the expectations of my Country at a time the duties of the Executive are truly arduous, under the deranged situation of our public affairs, a circumstance ever attendant and unavoidable in a cause like ours.
A seven year’s War, prosecuted with unremitted rigor by one of the first Powers in Europe against us and our Sister States, together with our own intestine commotions in her favour, have been causes sufficient to plunge us into many unforseen difficulties and embarrassments, which, by the wisdom and prudence of your Councils at
Though great was the task for these States in Union to contend with a power, to whom we were allied by the strongest ties of blood and policy, and divest ourselves from her interest and our own prejudicies; yet smarting under the rod of Tryanny from an unrelenting parent, in the anguish of our struggles, we have torn her from our hearts, and our ardor has not been damped in supporting the rights of mankind; but more and more under every adversity we have been stimulated in the pursuit of freedom, and for this glorious prize have dared to encounter a Nation who, heretofore, gave Law to Europe and to the Ocean. Over whom at length, by the assistance of our Magnanimous Ally, we have greatly triumphed and under the auspices of Almighty God, have raised our heads among the sovereign powers of the World.
In the achievements of the late great events by which the face of our affairs are changed, I am greatly sensible the Military skill of General Washington and Major General Greene shine conspicuous, together with that of the celebrated Counts De Rochambeau and De Grasse, whose gallant conduct, with the bravery of the officers and men, both of the American and French Armies will be held in grateful remembrance by these United States to the latest ages.
Notwithstanding the Machinations of Britain have been so often defeated, her Generals, with whole Armies, compelled to surrender prisoners of War to the arms of America and France, reduced to the humiliating necessity of supplicating succors from almost every Court in Europe, which, to her confusion have been fruitless, yet still she hath the madness to persist in a War, that by proper exertions against her, may at last bring her haughty Power to the ground. British pride, long supported by riches and power, late drunk with the idea of conquest of these States, with reluctance at last must bend to Superior Councils and force.
However flattering the events of war have been, it is necessary to be armed and prepared for the utmost efforts of this restless Enemy in subjugating this Country to his domination. Our Army must be compleated, our revenue new modelled and raised on systematical principles, which have been well recommended to you by the Honorable the Congress, and the Superintendent of Finance, and further
After those great objects that interested the Federal body, I beg leave to draw your attention to the more immediate concerns of the State.
Gentlemen of the General Assembly:
Your public credit calls for your immediate support at this favorable crisis.
The widow and orphan deprived of the real value of their property, under the colour of our tender Laws, by mercenary Guardians and Executors, with tears look up to you for Justice and redress.
Many of our late revolted Citizens having surrendered themselves to the Justice of the State, supplicate for mercy, and offer to return to their allegiance; your interposition is necessary to discriminate the classes of those deluded people who may be the proper objects of clemency.
Let not rapine and licentiousness, under the garb of Liberty, stalk around and triumph amongst us with impunity, revive your dormant Laws to chastise the offenders and stamp them with infamy.
Your Navigation and Commerce are objects of great concern to the risen State. No longer permit your Ports to be entered and your Maritime Towns plundered by a banditti of villians without opposition, but give them protection and the means of defence.
Blessed with a temporate and happy climate, the various productions of our soil are cultivated with ease; hence streams of wealth, under your direct care, might flow upon us from a thousand Springs.
This may be the epoch in which, by wise regulations, you may lay the foundations of a future commercial greatness; when Nations shall be crowding their sails into your harbours, counting your trade and vieing with each other in the happy acquisition thereof.
The education of your youth demands your serious attention: savage manners are ever attendant on ignorance, which, without correction in time, will sap the foundation of Civil Government.
This will never be our fate while those Seminaries of learning now established be further supported by your authority, and others created when they are wanting.
These, with many important objects, require your deliberations, which the urgency of your Domestic affairs, perhaps, at present, will not permit you to discuss: happy shall I be if I suggest hints that at any time may be improved for the public good.
To be supported by Legislative aid in the general defence, affords me a great consolation, and I make not the least doubt, Gentlemen, under this high assurance, my administration will be easy, happy and honorable.