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circumstances, nothing but a conviction of duty could have induced me to depart from my resolution of remaining in retirement, yet I greatly apprehend, that my countrymen will expect too much from me.
I fear, if the issue of public measures should not correspond with their sanguine expectations, they will turn the extravagant, and I might almost say undue praises, which they are heaping upon me at this moment, into equally extravagant, though I will fondly hope unmerited censures.
* Similar sentiments were expressed in a letter to General Wayne. “My greatest apprehension at present is, that more will be expected from me, than I shall be able to perform. All that an honest zeal can dictate for the advancement of the interests of our country will, however, be cheerfully and perseveringly attempted." - May 4th. And to General Schuyler; “ It is only from the assurances of support, which I have received from the respectable and worthy characters in every part of the Union, that I am enabled to overcome the diffidence, which I have in my own abilities to execute my great and important trust to the best interest of our country. An honest zeal, and an unremitting attention to the interests of the United States, are all that I dare promise." May 9th. And again to Mr. Jones; “The numerous and friendly congratulations, which I have received from respectable characters in every part of the Union, are truly pleasing to me; not only on account of their discovering a warm attachment to my person, but because they convey the most flattering idea of the good dispositions of the people in the several States, and the strongest assurances of support to the gove ernment. It affords me likewise no small satisfaction to find, that my friends have done justice to the motives, which again brought me into public life. Under all these circumstances I shall feel a degree of confidence in discharging the duties of my administration, with which a consciousness alone of the purity of my intentions could not have in. spired me.” — May 14th, To Robert R. Livingston, after stating the principles which he had adopted for regulating his conduct in regard to appointments, he wrote ; “The delicacy with which your letter was written, and your wishes insinuated, did not require me to be thus explicit on this head with you; but the desire which I have, that those persons whose good opinion I value, should know the principles on which I mean to act in this business, has led me to this full declaration ; and I trust, that the truly worthy and respectable characters in this country will do justice to the motives by which I am actuated in all my public transactions.” — May 31st.
So much is expected, so many untoward circumstances may intervene, in such a new and critical situation, that I feel an insuperable diffidence in my own abilities. I feel in the execution of the duties of my arduous office how much I shall stand in need of the countenance and aid of every friend to myself
, of every friend to the revolution, and of every lover of good government. I thank you, my dear Sir, for your affectionate expressions on this point.
I anticipate, that one of the most difficult and delicate parts of the duty of my office will be that, which relates to nominations for appointments. I receive with the more satisfaction the strong testimonials in behalf of Mr. Hall, because I hope they will tend to supersede the difficulty in this instance. Though, from a system, which I have prescribed to myself, I can say nothing decisive on particular appointments, yet I may be allowed to observe in general, that nothing could be more agreeable to me, than to have one candidate brought forward for every office with such clear pretensions, as to secure him against competition.
Mrs. Washington is not here, but is shortly expected. On her arrival I will offer the compliments of Mrs. Rutledge and yourself to her. In the mean time I pray you to believe, that I am, with sentiments of the highest regard and esteem, &c.
TO JOHN JAY.
New York, 11 May, 1789. DEAR SIR, A few days ago I was conversing with you on the points contained in the enclosed queries, when a gentleman coming in put an end to the conversation. As it is my earnest wish to adopt such a line of conduct, as shall be judged most likely to secure essentials, without being exposed more than is unavoidable to the charge of too much reserve on the one hand, or too much familiarity on the other, I would be much obliged to you for considering and returning the enclosed with your sentiments thereon, as
sentiments thereon, as soon as you can make it convenient for yourself
. With great and sincere regard, I am, &c.*
TO JAMES MADISON.
New York, 11 May, 1789. MY DEAR SIR, The enclosed were communicated to me, as you will perceive, to be used confidentially. Upon receipt of the first letter, I expressed a desire to be informed, if there was nothing improper in it, through what channel the report came, and what reliance could be placed in the authenticity of it. This gave rise to the second letter. As you are upon business, which requires every information of the state of the Union, and knowledge of our relative situation with Great Britain, I give you the perusal of them. can do at your leisure, as I am in no immediate want of them. I am always your affectionate, &c.
* See APPENDIX, No. II.
TO JAMES MADISON.
New York, 12 May, 1789. MY DEAR SIR, To draw such a line for the conduct of the President as will please everybody, I know is impossible, but to mark out and follow one, which, by being consonant with reason, will meet general approbation, may be as practicable as it is desirable. The true medium I conceive must lie in pursuing such a course, as will allow him time for all the official duties of his station. This should be the primary object. The next, to avoid as much as may be the charge of superciliousness, and seclusion from information, by too much reserve and too great a withdrawal of himself from company on the one hand, and the inconveniences, as well as a diminution of respectability, from too free an intercourse and too much familiarity on the other.
Under these impressions I have submitted the enclosed queries * to your consideration, and would thank you for your sentiments thereon, with the return of
For the remarks which it contains, it is necessary that some plan should be adopted by the President for his mode of living, that the pecuniary estimates for the department may have an eye thereto; and, though secondary, it is a motive for my bringing the matter before you at this time. your affectionate friend, &c.
* The same as those, that were sent to Mr. Jay. See APPENDIX, No. II.
TO MARY WOOSTER.*
New York, 21 May, 1789. MADAM, I have duly received your affecting letter, dated the 8th day of this month. Sympathizing with you as I do in the great misfortunes, which have befallen your family in consequence of the war, my feelings as an individual would forcibly prompt me to do every thing in my power to repair those misfortunes. But as a public man, acting only with reference to the public good, I must be allowed to decide upon all points of my duty, without consulting my private inclinations and wishes. I must be permitted, with the best lights I can obtain, and upon a general view of characters and circumstances, to nominate such persons alone to offices, as in my judgment shall be the best qualified to discharge the functions of the departments to which they shall be appointed.
Hitherto I have given no decisive answers to the applications of any candidates whatsoever. Nor would it be proper for me, before offices shall be created, and before I can have a general knowledge of the competitors for them, to say any thing that might be construed as intended to encourage or discourage the hopes, which individuals may have formed of success. I only wish, so far as my agency in this business is concerned, that candidates for offices would save themselves the trouble and consequent expense of personal attendance. All that I require is the name and such testimonials with respect to abilities, integrity, and fitness, as it may be in the power of the several ap
* The widow of General Wooster, who died of the wounds he received in an action with the enemy when the British made an incursion to Danbury in April, 1777. See Vol. IV. p. 405.