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George Washington's Farewell Address

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George Washington’s “Farewell Address”

George Washington wrote a farewell speech in 1796, marking the retirement of his leadership of the United States of America. He published his goodbye, titled his “Farewell Address,” in many papers. The long, revised copy of his speech, originally intended to be read at the end of his first term, tells of how he wanted to retire four years previous, but how he had been begged to stay on. He states that he never considered himself to be worthy of leading the country, and then goes on to give his thoughts and opinions of many matters in the government. Looking at the way he had led the country for the previous eight years, and the 45 he had given to serving it, should only make this country want to heed his warnings and advice. George Washington was a great man, with the country’s best interest at heart and mind, and only gave his honest opinion regarding many subjects such as the importance of national union and the constitution. He also spoke of the evils and dangers of political parties and debt, and stressed the importance of religion and morality in our government. In all honesty, no man ever left a more dignified farewell. Many people fought and died to make this country a nation; a whole. George Washington was right in the middle of that, and he presses the importance of unity in the nation and warns against anybody dividing it. This country is one country, not the east and the west, the north and the south. Everybody needs each other, and if it is all divided it cannot accomplish and be what it could as a whole nation. Separation and division would only bring arguments, which

2 would lead to fights, and eventually to wars. Washington writes that the country is supposed to be together, and how it’s stronger as one. Washington talks about the significance of the constitution in his farewell. It wasn’t an agreement that was quickly written up and signed, but a covenant that was gone over carefully and analyzed. It’s something that we can trust; that has the whole nation’s best interest in mind. He warns about people wanting to break it. If you disagree with something in it, change it; don’t disobey it. Mentioned in Washington’s farewell is the danger of political parties. He says, “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with the particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations.”(“George Washington’s ‘Farewell Address’.” 1796. George Washington.), and then goes on to give reasons such as control. Splitting into parties gives people control for a period of time, and then takes it away. People get upset; they get behind one person and give him the power. It’s a threat to the country because division distracts us. He recommends that politicians be kept in their place, and to not give one all the power. Debt is something that can destroy any nation, and Washington talks about that in his address. He warns about running up credit in peaceful times, stating that then in time of need the country would be out of luck. He urged the country to save borrowing money for when they absolutely needed it, predicting they would at some point. He also stressed the importance of paying the loaner back as soon as possible. 3 Religion and morality are incredibly important. Washington recognizes that the country would not be able to function properly without them. They are completely vital. It is silly to say that patriotism could ever be more important than religion and ethics. Leaders need to be respectful and ethical, and it is impossible to keep our morals as a country without religion. Without religion, you could never trust anyone who swears on an oath. Virtue is the core of the government. To not take George Washington’s advice and incorporate them into our actions would be foolish. The man served and fought for this country for years, and always had the best purpose in mind. He confessed that he probably made mistakes and decisions that weren’t the greatest, but swore that he always tried and had the best intentions. He gave a lot of heartfelt advice in his farewell address, and clearly gave his views on a unified nation and constitution. He also warned the country about political parties and debt, and talked about religion being the root of our government. George Washington was a respected, outstanding man, and was devoted to the upbringing of this nation. His farewell address is exceptional, and really gives some smart advice that should still be used in the government today.

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