|Sir,||Providence February 25th 1797.|
In looking forward to the period which is intended to terminate the career of your public life, our feelings will not permit us to suspend the deep acknowledgments of that debt of gratitude, which is your due from a Country to whose Independance and Happiness you have so essentially contributed. The interesting scene of your intended retirement revives in the minds of our fellow Citizens in general the many proofs of eminent wisdom and unshaken patriotism displayed in the field, the glory of which can be eclipsed only by the innumerable evidences of your firm, enlightened and uniform attachment to republican and constitutional principles displayed in your political transactions.
While testimonies of respectful affection and grateful attachment are arising to you from every part of the union, a similar attention from a Society of Citizens who “have laid down in peace Arms assumed for public defence," cannot be unacceptable on this occasion.
By this address we do not think of adding any thing to the lustre of a Character composed of an assemblage of the most eminent public and private virtues, A Character which like bodies highly polished, may attract, but as readily eludes the envenomed shafts of envy; and which the virtuous can only admire.
We do but attempt to express the honest feelings of every member of the Society, in whose behalf we address you, when we say that we extremely regret the occasion of a retirement dictated by reasons which must silence every objection to the measure. In that retirement may you meet all that tranquility and happiness you so ardently desire, and enjoy all the blessings of private and domestic life; There may you still live to receive the rich harvest of your labors and services in the peace and prosperity of your Country, in the fervent affection of your fellow Citizens, the applauses of an admiring World, and the higher Pleasures of an approving conscience. May your lengthening days still extend your usefulness and your setting Sun shine with undiminished lustre till a reward more than Man can give shall be yours.
Impressed with these sentiments, and actuated by the pleasing sensibility of personal affection and gratitude, Respected Sir, we bid you Adieu.
Jno. S. Dexter
Ephraim Bowen Junr
Danl S. Dexter
DLC: Papers of George Washington.