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Newspaper. United States Chronicle, Providence, R.I., December 26, 1799. 4 pp., 11½ x 18 in.
John Adams’s message of December 19, 1799:
“it has pleased Divine Providence to remove from this life, our excellent Fellow Citizen, George Washington, by the purity of his character, and a long series of services to his country, rendered illustrious through the world. It remains for an affectionate and grateful people, in whose hearts he can never die, to pay suitable honor to his memory.”
Adams forwards the announcement from Tobias Lear, Washington’s private secretary:
“Mount-Vernon, Dec. 15, ’99. / Sir, It is with inexpressible grief that I have to announce to you the death of the great and good General Washington. He died last Evening between 10 and 11 o’clock, after a short illness of about 24 hours. His disorder was an inflammatory sore-throat, which proceeded from a cold, of which he made but little complaint on Friday. On Saturday morning about 3 o’clock he became ill. Dr. Craik attended him in the morning, and Dr. Dick, of Alexandria, and Dr. Brown of Port-Tobacco were soon after called in. Every medical Assistance was offered, but without the desired effect. His last scene corresponded with the whole tenor of his life. Not a groan nor a complaint escaped him, in extreme distress. With perfect resignation and a full possession of his reason, he closed his well spent life.”
Resolutions of Congress printed in the same issue discuss how to honor the man who was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his fellow-citizens” That famous phrase was apparently coined by the author of the resolutions, Colonel Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, although it is often mistakenly attributed to John Marshall who was assigned to present them to the House in place of the absent Lee.
The end of Lee’s immortal phrase appears to be misquoted here (“his fellow-citizens” instead of “his countrymen”) but even contemporary sources do not agree on the exact wording; some end the quotation with “his country.” Whatever the case, Lee delivered his famous Eulogy on Washington, which reiterated the lines, in Philadelphia on the same day that this newspaper was published.
News that “The Chesapeak [sic], of 44 guns, was safely launched at Gosport, Virg. on the 28 h of Nov.” Masonic news from Massachusetts.
John Adams’s replies to the Senate and the House for their Addresses to him praising his State of the Union Message of December 3. With the full Address of the House to Adams:
Adams to Senate (Dec. 10): “The praise of the Senate, so judiciously conferred on the promptitude and zeal of the troops called to suppress the insurrection [Fries’s Rebellion], as it falls from so high authority, must make a deep impression, both as a terror to the disobedient and an encouragement to such as do well.”
House to Adams (Dec. 9): “That any portion of the people of America should permit themselves, amidst such numerous blessings, to be seduced by the arts and misrepresentations of designing men into an open resistance of a law of the United States, cannot be heard without deep and serious regret. Under a constitution where the public burthens can only be imposed by the people themselves, for their own benefit, and to promote their own objects, a hope might well have been indulged, that the general interest would have been too well understood, and the general welfare too highly prized, to have produced in any of our citizens a disposition to hazard so much felicity, by the criminal effort of a part, to oppose with lawless violence the will of the whole. While we lament that depravity which would produce a defiance of the civil authority, and render indispensable the aid of the military force of the nation, real consolation is to be derived from the promptness and fidelity with which that aid was afforded.” Also on relations with France, Great Britain, and other nations: “The spirit of war which is prevalent in almost every nation with whose affairs the interests of the United States have any connexion, demonstrate how unsafe and precarious would be our situation should we neglect the means of maintaining our just rights. Respecting, as we have ever done, the rights of others, America estimates too correctly the value of her own, and has received evidence too complete that they are only to be preserved by her own vigilance, ever to permit herself to be seduced by a love of ease, or by other considerations, into that deadly disregard of the means of self defence, which could only result from a carelessness, as criminal as it would be fatal, concerning the future destinies of our growing republic.”
We locate only five other examples of this issue, all in institutions (though online listings are notoriously incomplete). Rare.