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An inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. online

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zealous solicitude. palladium of your poli- palladium of your political

tical safety and prosperity, safety and prosperity * *

{^HamiUon^s Amended adapting constantly your * * * *

Draught of WasMngton.'] words and actions to that ♦ * * ♦

momentous idea ; that you watching for its preserva-

that you should habituate should watch for its pre- tion with jealous anxie^,

yourselves to think and servation with zealous discountenancing what*

speak of it as the palladium anxiety, discountenance ever may suggest even a

of your prosperity, and whatever may suggest or suspicion that it can in any

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should frown apon what- suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and

ever may lead to suspicion event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon

that it can in any event be frown upon the first dawn- the first daiming of every

abandoned. ingofany attempt to alien- attempt to alienate any

ate any portion of our portion ofour country from

country from the rest, or the rest, or to enfeeble the

to enfeeble the sacred ties sacred ties which now link

which now link together together the several parts.

the several parts.

Of course such an alteration as this does not affect the
question of authorship, but it affects the secondary question
of the time and manner of Washington's alteration. If the
right hand paragraph is written in the autograph after the
middle or cancelled paragraph, and not by interlineation^ then
if no blank space had been left for it, it must have been
done when the autograph was in the course of being written,
and not after it had been completely copied in the order of
the reinsicm. If there had been a blank space left, or the
new paragraph was interlined^ then the opposite consequence
follows. The Preface says there are many interlineations,
but does not indicate them distributively, and does not say
whether this was or was not one of them. It is a point of
little importance, except in the history of the autograph.

The last of the two clauses I distinguished from the ten,
is at page 366 ; and it is quite an interesting alteration, and
must have received much consideration on the part of Wash-
ington. We shall insert here, in parallel columns, three
clauses : one from Hamilton's original draught as it stands ;
another, as we infer, from Hamilton's amended copy, or
revision ; and in a third column, from Washington's auto-
graph, the passage in the paragraph which Washington
inserted after striking out a part of the paragraph contained
within brackets in the middle column : —


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And remember rIbo, thRt
for the efficRcioos mRiiRge-
ment of your common in-
terests, in R country so ex-
tensive RS onrsi R govern-
ment of RS mnch force Rnd
streDgth RS is consistent
with the perfect security
of liberty, is indispensRble.
Liberty itself will find in
such R government, with
powers properly distribu-
ted Rnd Rrrangedyits surest
guRrdiRn and protector. —
[In my opinion, the real
dRuger in our system is,
thRt the generRl govern-
ment, orgRuized rs Rt pre-
sent, will prove too wcRk
rRther than too powerful.]
— Hamilton's WorkSf vol.
vii, p. 584.



And remember especiRl-
ly, thRt for the efficient mR-
nRgement of your common
interests, in r country so
extensive rs ours, r gov-
ernment of RS much vigor
RS is consistent with the
perfect security of liberty,
is indispeusRble. Liberty
itself will find in such r
government, with powers
properly distributed Rnd
Rdjusted, its surest guRr-
diRn. [Owing to you rs I
do R frRuk Rnd free disclo-
sure of my heRrt, I shall
not conceal from you the
belief I entertRin, thRt your
government, RS Rt present
constituted, is fRr more
likely to prove too feeble
thRU too powerful.] — 5 Ir^
ting's Washington^ 366.



And remember especiRl-
ly, thRt for the efficient mR-
DRgement of your common
interests, in r country so
extensive rs ours, r gov-
ernment of RS much vigor
RS is consistent with the
perfect security of liberty,
is indispensRble. Liberty
itself will find in such r go-
vernment, with powers pro-
perly distributed Rnd Rd-
justed, its surest guRrdian.
[It is indeed little less than
R uRme, where the govern-
ment is too feeble to with-
stRud the enterprises of
faction, to confiue CRch
member of the society
within the limits prescrib-
ed by the Irws, and to
mRintRin rU in the secure
Rnd trRnquil enjoyment of
the rights of person Rnd
property.] — Ihid.

Washington's own clause within brackets in the right
hand column, has perhaps some advantages in point of ex-
pression over both the others. It implies the same truth
which the others strongly express; and in its terms, as a
conclusion from the premises just before stated, it is an
equally explicit truth ; while it keeps back the declaration
of an abstract opinion, which might have been misunderstood
by reason of its generality, and extensively perverted by

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misapplication. It gives out, at the same time, a definite
opinion m favor of a government of more strength, by illus-
trations which few would refuse to receive as evidences of
constitutional weakness, and which was felt in some of the
trying periods of Washington's administration.

This is the clause in which, I suppose, Washington meant
to express, or at least to include, his dissent from what is
now the principle of State rights, — that the only constitu-
tional powers of the United States are such as are expressly
given in the Constitution, or are necessarily implied from
those which are expressly given ; a principle which, in re-
gard to the Constitution of a Nation, the Supreme power of
the Union, one of the co-equal powers of the world, would
seem to be more reasonably applied to the restraints which
are expressed in it, than to the powers themselves. In
regard to three great examples under the treaty-making
power, the acquisitions of Louisiana and of parts of Mexico,
and the boundary treaty with England, the principle of
express power, or necessary implication, seems to have had
but little play in abridging the fairly implied powers of the
Constitution. The main effect of that principle upon mternal
legislation, seems hitherto to have been felt, and, probably,
will always be most sensibly felt, in the generation of par-
ties, which will make a feeble government, whatever the
Constitution may have intended. If it succeeds finally and
completely, it will look very much like what, in early times,
would have been called an anti-Federal triumph after a
Federal victory, which the adoption of the Constitution by
the States was acknowledged by all parties to have been.

The remaining instances of interposed new paragraphs by
Washington call for little remark. The three paragraphs

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upon the right, the duty, and the inducements of interest, to
issue and maintain the proclamation of neutrality, are, one
of them probably, an alteration of Hamilton's revision ; and
the other two, perhaps, are Washington's, though this is not
clear. Neither of the three was in Hamilton's original
draught, though a blank space was left in that part, which
Hamilton possibly filled up in his amended copy, or in his
revision; but, in the autograph, Washington wrote out
the first paragraph, and, from a certain point, cancelled
it, and interlined several lines. He then wrote, on a
separate piece of paper, a paragraph in substitution of the
whole, — having, nevertheless, the same substance, and
wafered it over both the original and the interlined
words, — making a note on the mai^in in these words:
" This is the first draught, and it is questionable which of
" the two is to be preferred." Of course, this wafering must
have occurred after the entire address had been copied. If
this is written on the margin of the wafered paper, the first
draught was probably Hamilton's ; but, if it was written on
the margin of the copy-book, I am at fiiult. The other two,
which have not been altered in any respect, may have been
written by either ; but the good old Doric phrase, "humanly
speaking," in the last of the three, is more like Washington
than Hamilton.

The penultimate clause of the draught before him, which
Washington has cancelled, he has excluded as having " the
*' appearance of self-distrust and mere vanity ;" as, for a like
reason, he had obliterated a preceding one, " to avoid the
" imputation of afiected modesty." Such alterations might
be thought to prove that Washington was revising what
another had indited, and not what he had composed himself

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But the concluding pages of Washington's own draught,
which may be seen in the Appendix, have satisfied me that
this is not decisive.

This penultimate clause of the draught, as it has been
restored and placed at the foot of the page in Mr. Irving's
Appendix, has not been altered in a single word ; but a por-
tion of it has been carried into the last paragraph of Wash-
ington's Farewell Address, which was probably written by
himself, and is a substitute for the last paragraph in Hamil-
ton's original draught. Hamilton himself, perhaps, threw
the two last paragraphs of the original draught into one, of
which Washington has taken a part and rejected a part, and,
adopting one thought from the rejected part, has made a
final paragraph for himself. The concluding part of Wash-
ington's own draught supplied a portion of these thoughts.
In these minute particulars, the criticisms must be received
as conjectural, especially as the original autograph is not
now before me.

The alterations in the body of the printed copy of the
autograph, not noticed in the preceding remarks, are gene-
rally verbal, striking out a word or two, and putting in one
or two others. In the twenty-one pages of Mr. Irving's
reprint, there are five several pages, in three of which there
is no such alteration ; in another of them, three words, and,
in the other, two are struck out, and different, but equiva-
lent, words substituted. On the other pages there are more
of them, as the for a, against for from^ customary for usual,
sparingly for little, shunning for avoiding, permanent, invete-
rate for rooted, an for a, to lessen the aspirate in habitual,
and others of like kind, not always to the improvement
of the language ; and, at least, in one instance, to the

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effect of making public opinion cooperate in the discharge
of public debts, instead of coinciding with it, which was
Hamilton's word and meaning. The pages untouched by
Washington's pen in this manner, I presimie to be Hamil-
ton's original draught, corrected, amended, and revised by
Hamilton himself. The remaining pages I suppose to be
the same reviaioriy altered verbally, just as Washington
appears to have altered them in his autograph copy, and no

If this has not been demonstrated in an absolute sense,
the proof fells short of it only by the absence of Hamilton's
revision, — the original draught, however, so fer supplying
its place, that no living man, nor all the men upon earth
combined, could have written such a paper as Washington's
Farewell Address, without the guidance of that original
draught, or of a draught made from it, with just such verbal
corrections of the original as we know came into Washing-
ton's hands before the autograph copy was made. If this is
not the highest degree of argumental evidence, it is the next
door to it, and is the highest practical proof.

Mr. Sparks's view of these alterations has, no doubt, been
affected by his not being aware, at that time, of the exist-
ence of Hamilton's original draught, and, in some degree
also, by Mr. Jay's opinion of the extent of Hamilton's work
in the Farewell Address. But Mr. Jay was under a denser
cloud than Mr. Sparks; and the imperfect light that Mr.
Jay followed was moreover a deceptive light. So it appears
to me ; and Mr. Jay has contributed, unintentionally, much
more than Mr. Sparks, to turn the eyes of impartial men
from the consideration of the evidence, as it has from time
to time, subsequently, appeared ; though the death of Mr.

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Jay, in 1829, before the publication of Hamilton's draught,
and Washington's letters to Hamilton, probably prevented
its having appeared to him.

It is very singular, that so harmless an inquiry as the
question of the authorship of the Farewell Address, which
Mr. Jay's letter first noticed in a formal examination in
1811, and which Mr. Sparks considered, upon other grounds,
in 1837, the year in which his edition of Washington's
Writings was completed, should have been mseparably
blended, from the first of these dates, — the purport of Mr.
Jay's letter having been known, though not published
by his son until 1833, — ^with considerations that affected
the honor of Hamilton on the one side, and the delicacy of
Washington on the other ; — Hamilton, as having preserved
a draught which he ought to have destroyed, and Wash-
ington, as having retained the reputation of a higher finish
in this work than in his letters (this is Mr. Jay's language),
although it was not his own. These considerations resulted,
directly or reflectively, from Mr. Jay's very strongly ex-
pressed opinion that the Farewell Address was a personal
act, and that Washington only could with propriety write it.
He might, Mr. Jay admits, have naturally submitted his
composition to the judgment of friends, before he put the
last hand to it. They might have advised certain transpo-
sitions ; " if the connection between any of the relative
" parts was obscure, they would make it more apparent ; if
"a conclusion had better be left to implication than ex-
" pressed, they would strike it out, and so vice versa ; if an
" additional remark or allusion would give force or light to
" a sentiment or proposition, they would propose it ; where
" a sentence was too long, they would divide it ; they would

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*' correct redundancies ; change words less apt, for words
" more apt, &c. &c. &c. To correct a composition in this
*' way, is to do a friendly office ; but to prepare a new one,
"and offer it to the author as a substitute for his own,
" would deserve a different appellation/^ Ja'tfa Life, vol. n,
page 343.

This distinction, in itself a rather shadowy one, was not
in Washington's mind at all. He submitted thoughts and
principles as heads or points in the Farewell Address to Mr.
Madison, and asked him to write it out from b^;inning to end ;
and Mr. Madison did so. He asked Hamilton to correct
and amend the preparatory draught, which constituted the
preserved paper, made partly of Madison's draught and
partly of his own composition, but gave Hamilton plain
authority, if he did not by implication invite him, to put the
sentiments of the preserved paper into a new plan and in a
different form. Washington's opinion was demonstrably
different on this head, from Mr. Jay's. He asked assistance
in what Mr. Jay regarded the exceptionable form, from Mr.
Madison, and he opened the door to it widely for Hamilton.
He made no secret to one of the two eminent men, that he
had asked and obtained it from the other ; and he meant by
the preserved paper, his preparatory draught, to bring to the
knowledge of the world the privity of Madison with a por-
tion of that draught, being quite indifferent to the opinion
they might form of the degree to which that privity had

Mr. Jay moreover distinguished betweeen an official paper

\ and the Farewell Address ; but Washington made no such

distinction. Mr. Jay distinguished between cases in which

a secretary of the proper department might prepare a paper.

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and the President sign it, from cases in which Washington
alone should prepare the paper and sign ; hut Washington
did not observe this distinction in regard to executive
speeches or messages to Congress, — the most striking of his
public papers. He made no secret of asking assistance in
his speeches to Congress, and asked it of Madison, who was
never in the cabinet until after Washington had retired from
office, and of Hamilton, after he had left Washington's
cabinet to return to the profession of the law. Mr. Jay's ,
distinction was the formal but perfectly unlimited one, be-
tween writing an address, and correcting or amending it
after it was written. Washington's better distinction was
the substantial one, between contributing the ftmdamental
or leading thoughts of a public paper, which it was essential
to him should be his own, and the almost arbitrary forms of
expressing them, which he had no hesitation in committing
to the skill of a trusted friend. I do not speak of his ge-
neral practice or habits, but of the distinctions in his mind.
In fine, though Mr. Jay was very able to measure Washing-
ton in some of his largest dimensions, he does not seem in
his letter to Judge Peters to have measured him accurately
in the largest of them all, — the dimensions of that extraor-
dinary judgment, which suppressed all personal vanity in
himself, if he ever had any, estimated with perfect good sense
and wisdom all the real values that were in him or around
him, neither being misled nor misleading anybody by pre-
tensions of any kind, and seeking truth and the best forms of
communicating it, from the friend who could best impart them
to him, for the benefit of the country. He was undoubtedly
modest ; but it is certain that he never fell short of his duty
or the expectations of the country by his modesty ; and it is

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alflo certain, that if erery Hne of his pen in his communica-
tions to Congress or to the peofde was traced to some other
person, it wonld not abate his glory, or the honor and love
of this peo^, a single iota. If his great modesty has con-
tributed to the lustre of lus immense elevation, as it un-
doubtedly has, it win be difficult to prove that he had too
much of it.

All the prejudices which have existed in regard to the
authorship of the Farewell Address, seem to have proceeded
from jealousy of Hamilton, or from this hypothesis of Mr.
Jay ; but how entirely Mr. Jay's imperfect information led
him into the adoption and statement of it, may easily be
made obvious.

Judge Peters's letter had conveyed to Mr. Jay " the first
and only information" he had received, " that a copy of Pre-
sident Washington's Address had been found among the
papers of General Bamilton, and in his handwriting, and
that a certain gentleman had also a copy of it in the same
handwriting." Of course it would be assumed by some per-
\ sons, that Hamilton had made two copies of the Farewell
, Address, and had kept one, and given away another, to fur-
; nish the fiiture proof of his authorship. It was upon this
hint, and possibly, though not certainly, with something like
this interpretation of it, that Mr. Jay wrote his reply to
Judge Peters, of the 29th March, 1811, which appears in
the work of Mr. Jay's son.

Every man of experience must be aware of this truth —
and the writer of this Inquiry hopes, that wherever his in-
ferences from evidence may call for its application, he will
be regarded as having a full consciousness of it — that if an
observer of half a truth proceeds incautiously to infer the

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whole truth from it, the half truth is just as likely to lead
him wrong as right, and that half a feet is eTen more so.

We now know that General Hamilton left no copy of the
Farewell Address in his handwriting, but only his original
rough draught of such an address, which was found among
his papers, and is now in the Department of State; that
there was a corrected copy and revision of that original
draught, also in his handwriting, which he sent to Wash-
ington, and which did not come back. In all probability,
therefore, it remained among Washington's papers, on the
same subject, imtil his death ; and therefore, if any person
had in his hands another paper which purported to be a
copy of the Farewell Address, and was in Hamilton's hand-
writing, it was this corrected and revised copy of the origi-
nal draught.

It must have been obtained consequently from Washing-
ton's papers, and from this source only ; and those only, who
had the custody of Washington's papers at and after the
time of his death, can be called upon to explain the circum-
stance, if it be true.

It is not surprising that the name of the certain person
who possessed another copy was not disclosed, possibly not
by Judge Peters, certainly not by Mr. Jay in his reply ; and
this gave an air of mystery to the circumstance ; and the
odium of that mystery, whatever it was, was reflected upon
General Hamilton, as is made obvious by Mr. Jay's letter.
And it thus happened that, in complete ignorance of every
fact in the case, except one, and that a misleading fact, that
Hamilton had read to Jay Washington's draught, " written
" over with such amendments, alterations, and corrections," as
Hamilton thought advisable, Mr. Jay proceeded to make

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156 MB. jat's impebfbct knowlbdge of facts.

out what may be called a record^ for posterity. Unfortu-
nately, it was worse than labor lost, for it was labor unin-
tentionally productive of eviL No man would regret it more
than Mr. Jay himself, if he were living.

Mr. Jay, at that time, and, doubtless, to the end of his
life, was wholly ignorant of the following most material
fiwts, which have been already exhibited to the reader: 1.
That Washington had written a long and explicit letter to
Mr. Madison, on the 20th May, 1792, requesting him, at
that time, to write a Farewell Address, if he approved the
measure, and making large suggestions to him on the sub-
ject. 2. That Madison had replied to that letter, on the
20th June, 1792, and sent to Washington a draught, con-
taining those expressions in regard to Washington's " very
" &llible judgment," and " the inferiority of his qualifica-
" tions," which strike everybody who reads the Farewell
Address, and irresistibly impressed Mr. Jay with the
belief, that no man could have written an address which
contained those words, except Washington himself. 3. That
Washington had applied to Hamilton personally, in the
spring of 1796, to " redress" the draught which Washington
himself had prepared; and that, on the 15th May of that
year, he wrote to Hamilton, sending him the paper, and
requesting to correct it, and giving him also authority to
write it over anew upon the plan he thought best, founding
it upon the sentiments contained in Washington's paper ;
and that Hamilton had executed the last power referred to,
before his interview with Jay, — the execution of that power
being a matter which concerned Hamilton alone until Wash-
ington should approve it, and which Hamilton thought
proper to submit to Washington only. 4. That Hamilton,

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before his interview with Jay, had alreadyj on the 30th July,
sent to Washington that new form of a Farewell Address ;
and, in the letter which inclosed it, promised to send him,
in a fortnight, Washington's own draught, corrected upon
the general plan qf it. 5. That the matter upon which he,
Mr. Jay, was consulted, on behalf of Washington by Hamil-
ton, was only one of the objects of Washington's letter of the
15th May, this correction of Washington's draught, and
did not comprehend the other — the writing it over anew —
upon the plan Hamilton should think best.

If Mr. Jay had known these several matters, he would
have had an outUne of all the heads of material facts up to
the time of his mterview with Hamilton. But he was not
aware of any one of them ; nor was it necessary that he
should be, to enable him to assist in the correction or amend-
ment of Washington's draught, which was an entirely sepa^
rate and independent matter. Nevertheless, in this imper-
fect state of his knowledge or information, — ^perfect enough
for the performance of the office Mr. Jay was asked to per-

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 12 of 20)