“The Farewell Address” by George Washington (1796)

“The Farewell Address” by George Washington (1796)

  • A new election for the President is coming up & you’ll who that new guy will be since I’ve taken myself out of the running
    • I’m withdrawing from public life in spite of pleas for me not to
    • I was going after the first term but I had a lot of unfinished work to do
  • I’ve always tried to do my best in spite of my shortcomings
  • I wish to express my gratitude to my country, the honors it’s given me, the confidence placed on me & constructive criticism I’ve received
    • I’ve devoted my entire life to this country & since the Constitution was written, to its maintenance for the freedom of the American people
  • I’d stop there if i didn’t have nagging concerns I wash to warn you of…
  • Unity of government is what independence rests on
    • Peace at home, abroad, liberty & prosperity
    • It’s easy to see how these things can be taken from us but they won’t go away if the union is kept
    • Being American must give us the collective responsibility to maintain it & the collective benefit of what it brings
      • The higher benefits out weight any focus on differences between regions
  • The North has a highly commercial focus on manufacturing & maritime trade of Southern goods
    • The South benefits from the North to expand its agricultural focus
    • The East had the benefits of civilization & all it provides us
    • The West gives us room to grow physically but also in influence & stability
  • When one region sees a benefit to a union, all regions will benefit through greater strength, wealth, security & freedom from foreign interruption
    • If the states weren’t united, each would face all of these threats alone, or worse, at the hands of each other
    • This union will allow us not to have to depend too heavily on a large military or government that might encroach on our freedom
    • A properly established government will allow strength yet allow citizens to be free & proud of their nation
  • One major concern is geographical distinctions influencing or eroding our national unity
    • Regional party politics have led many to believe differences can’t be overcome or that a national unity is impossible or even undesirable
    • But evidence of the Senate’s treaty with Spain being done unanimously shows that’s just not right
    • A government for the whole of the nation is indispensable
      • Respect for what it represents, its authority & compliance with its laws will lead to its success
      • Its power represents the sovereignty of the people & requires individuals to obey it
      • To disobey, obstruct, etc. all serves to create factions will put the will of a political party ahead of the government of the whole
      • Public administration will become the place to enact party concern to the detriment of public concern
      • Cunning, unprincipled men will subvert the power of the people & take government reins for themselves to tyrannize the public
  • To preserve the government & happiness, you must show your disapproval for such behavior & to resist this behavior
    • One way this is done is to impair the energy of the system via the Constitution without overthrowing the government. If this occurs, the government no longer function properly or represent the people
      • A government unable to resist a faction’s takeover isn’t really much of a government & won’t be able to preserve freedoms it guarantees
  • Factional spirit is only natural & exists under many forms of government
    • Worst in popular form turn into a system of mob rule which causes a cycle of revenge & eventually a form of despotism
    • Factions always look to enfeeble public councils & public administration & agitates jealousies & passions lead to riots
  • There’s a view that parties act as a check on government & keep the spirit of liberty alive
    • Maybe in some cases, but not in the case of Democracy because there is no monarch to check against – only the other side
    • Those in public administration should be warned not to play along too closely with one side over another because power can change hands
    • The best check in the exercise of power is to distribute it so it can’t be taken over so easily & can’t be harmful if captured
  • Religion & morality are the 2 habits & dispositions that lead to political prosperity
    • Teaches respect for the law & forbids any breaking of any oaths to execute a positions
  • Public credit is important source of strength & security
    • Avoid occasions of expense by cultivating peace but remember that timely disbursements of power help repel danger
    • Avoid accumulating debt by not taking it on, not going into unavoidable wars & throw our prosperity away
    • To pay debts, you need revenue -> taxes & they are very unpleasant
  • Observe good faith & justice to all nations
    • Religion & morality come from this & will avoid entanglements when possible
    • Perhaps God has connected peace to the virtues of our behavior
    • Don’t hold grudges against nations because it will cause hatred & eventually one side will either be enslaved or destroyed by the other
      • Government should mitigate these passions & allow us to pursue a policy of peace
    • Sympathy to favorite nations may cause us to overlook flaws or grant them unwarranted privileges
    • To preserve independence we shouldn’t be aggressive or too attached to other nations
    • Be constantly awake because foreign influence can destroy a republic
    • Real patriots who resist “favorites” or adopt a civil tone to an “enemy” will be suspected & hated
  • Tom maintain our independence we should maintain strong commercial relations but as little political connection as possible
    • Europe is far too embroiled in wars & intrigues going back centuries that any foreign relations are not principled at all
    • We shouldn’t do anything to sacrifice our neutrality or sacrifice the advantages in security neutrality provides for us
    • Steer clear of permanent alliances with any foreign nation because it can jeopardize or government & our freedoms
    • We should take a defensive posture & only enter temporary alliances in emergencies
    • We should be harmonious with liberal intercourse with the rest of the world
      • Neither seek nor grant exclusive favors or preferences
      • Force nothing, only defend if attacked
      • Define the rights of our merchants, for stable trade & allow the government to allow for such circumstances
  • This is my advise to my American friends
    • I hope that can keep suffering the fate of many other nations
    • We ought to stay out of the war that started in 1793 – no good can come from it
    • We should maintain neutrality
    • This will allow the nation I love & have devoted my life to to keep its freedoms going on for generations

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