George Washington’s Farewell Address

Since 1862, there has been a tradition in the U.S. Senate that George Washington’s Farewell Address be read on his birthday, February 22.

Though it’s considered to be his best and most famous speech, it was never actually delivered orally by President Washington but was published in the newspaper.

George Washington’s Farewell Address:

  • Extolls the benefits of the federal government. “The unity of government…is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence…of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize.”
  • Warns against the party system. “It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration….agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one….against another….it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption…thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”
  • Stresses the importance of religion and morality. “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?”
  • Stresses the importance of stable public credit. “…cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible…avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt….it is essential that you…bear in mind, that towards the payments of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not…inconvenient and unpleasant…”
  • Warns against permanent foreign alliances. “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…”
  • Warns against an over-powerful military establishment. “…avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.”
  • Points out the need for patriotism. “…the name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism…”

Read the speech: http://www.homeschoolpatriot.com/documents-farewell.html

See also: The Rhetoric of George Washington’s Farewell Address (PDF)

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