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

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for an intimate onion, and more adeqoate yoor former for an intimate union, and
to the doration of your common concerns, for the efficacious management of yoor
This government, the offspring of yoor common concerns. This government, the
own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced
completely free in its principles, in the and onawed, adopted opon full investi-
distribotion of its powers, uniting energy gation and mature deliberation, com-
with safety, and containing in itself a pletely free in its principles, in the dis-
provision for its own amendment, is well tribution of its powers, uniting security
entitled to your confidence and support, with energy, and containing within itself
Respect for its authority, compliance a provision for its own amendment, has
with its laws, acquiescence in its mea- a just claim to your confidence and your
sures, are duties dictated by the funda- support Respect for its authority, corn-
mental maxims of true liberty. The pliance with its laws, acquiescence in its
basis of our political systems is the right measures, are duties enjoined by the fun-
of the people to make and to alter their damental maxims of true liberty. The
constitutions of government But the basis of our political system is the right
Constitution for the time, and until of the people to make and to alter their
changed by an explicit and authentic constitutions of government But the
act of the whole people, is sacredly bind- Constitution which at any time exists,
ing upon all. The very idea of the right till changed by an explicit and authentic
and power of the people to establish go- act of the whole people, is sacredly obli-
vernment, presupposes the duty of every gatory upon all. The very idea of the
individual to obey the established govern- power and the right of the people to esta-
ment — Hamilton's Works j vol. vi, p. 582. blish government, presupposes the duty of

every individual to obey the established
government. — Washington's Writings^
vol. xii, p. 222.

It is not speaking too strongly to say that the third cha-
racteristic I have mentioned, is decisive. It is decisive of
the origin of the Farewell Address, whatever may have been
the verbal alterations of Hamilton's original draught, or of
Hamilton's revision of that draught, or by Washington's

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autograph copy — even attributing all the changes to Wash-
ington, and none of them to Hamilton's correction and
revision. If a paper of fifty paragraphs is found thus to
conform to a paper that preceded it, and especially to one
that was written to be the exemplar of it, in corresponding
paragraphs, identical subjects and thoughts, and closely in
language, though with an occasional difference in words,
every reasonable person must say that the first paper was
the source of the second.

Mr. Babbidge, in the ninth Bridgewater Treatise, has ex-
pressed mathematically, the proportional value of all human
experience against a miracle, — Mr. Hume's theory, — as being
two hundred thousand millions against one ; and at the same
time has shown by the same method, that the improbabiUties
of error in the agreement of six independent witnesses of
good character, unknown to, or without collusion with, each
other, and not deceived respectively more than once in a
hundred times, and testifying to the restoration to life of a
dead man, are fivefold as great, that is to say, a milUon
miUions against one. We have at least the benefit of the
Humean proportional improbability against the preparation
by one man of such a paper as the Farewell Address, with-
out following the preceding paper written by another man ;
for certainly all human experience is against it. But, far
beyond that, we have nearly fifty paragraphs as witnesses,
testifying exactly in the same direction; and, considering
the perhaps infinite variety of .thoughts, language, taste, and
arrangement in the written compositions of different men
from the same theme, we may be entitled to say, that no
finite succession of numbers can express the true extent of
the improbability of such a correspondence as exists be-

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tween the Farewell Address and Hamilton's original
draught, without the copying of the one, either mediately
or immediately, from the other.

The Farewell Address, if thus compared with Hamilton's
original draught, will be found to be a transcript of the
draught, with verbal corrections, and the omission of certain
clauses, adding three or four short clauses at the most —
alterations by Hamilton, or by Washington, or partly by
one, and partly by the other,

This review of the two structures, throws us back to the
source or sources of Hamilton's original draught. If Ham-
ilton was the author of his original draught, that is to say,
the composer and writer of it, and the Farewell Address
was a transcript of that draught with verbal corrections, and
a clause or two struck out or added, then Hamilton was in
the same sense the composer and writer of the Farewell

But was Hamilton the composer and writer of his original
draught ? This is a perfectly proper question, and a sensible
one, also ; for a writer may have copied and not composed
the paper, which another has followed, or he may have taken
frequent and large sentences from the works of other men,
and mechanically followed their plan and arrangement in all
points. He may have formed his own paper to a great
extent from antecedent materials, giving it very little of his
own, so that he is only the compiler of the paper.

There exist authentic materials for answering this question
with very considerable certainty, and which answer wiU do
Washington full justice, and Madison also all the justice that
can be claimed for him. That justice is to be derived through
AVashington's preparatory draught — the preserved paper.

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Hamilton, with the just view of making the paper he was
about to write, conform to the sentiments of Washington,
either expressed or imderstood, and meaning also to produce
a paper that should by its topics, and the order of their de-
velopment, engage and impress the minds of patriotic and
wise men throughout the country, prepared an " abstract of
" points to form an Address,*' which is printed in the seventh
volume of his published Works, page 570 ; and this paper
has such a clear and important bearing upon the question of
authorship, and has received so little attention from any one
heretofore in this relation, that it must have the more of it
at this time.

The points or divisions of matter are twenty-three in
number, distinguished by Roman numerals.

The first ten of these divisions, without any subdivisions
among them, embrace the expression of Washington's sen-
timents and feelings in regard to the announcement of his
intention to retire ; his previous hope, that long ere this it
would have been in his power to do so ; and that he had
nearly come to a final resolution in the year 1792 to do it,
but had been dissuaded from it by the peculiar situation of
affairs, and the advice of confidential friends; his acqui-
escence at that time in a further election, in hopes that a
year or two longer would have enabled him to withdraw ;
but that a continuance of causes had delayed it till now,
when the position of our country, abroad and at home, jus-
tified him in pursuing his inclination ; and that in doing it,
he had not been immindfrd of his relation as a dutifiil citizen
to his country, nor was he now influenced by the slightest di-
minution of zeal for its interest, or gratitude for its past kind-
ness, but by a belief that the step was compatible with both.


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These tentunents occupj the iis^/our divisioDs, hy whidi
it may be seen how caiefblly Hanultaii prepared himself to
carry the spirit of Washington, eren in minute personal par-
ticnlars, mto the Address.

Still continuing the writer's preparation of heads to intro-
duce like particulars, ihejifih head adverts to the &ct that
the impressions under which Washington first accepted the
ofllce were explained on the proper occasion : the sixth, ' that
^ in the execution of it, he had contributed the best exertions

* of a very £i]lible judgment, anticipated his insufficiency,
^ experienced his disqualifications for the difficult trust, and

* every day a stronger sentiment fix)m that cause to yield the

* place. Advance into the decline of life, every day more sen-

* sible of weight of years, of the necessity of repose, of the
' duty to seek retirement,' &c. " Add, aeve^ith. It will be
" among the purest enjoyments which can sweeten the rem-
" nant of his days, to partake, in a private station, in the
" midst of his fellow-citizens, the laws of a free government,
" the ultimate object of his cares and wishes."

The eigJUh division records the single word " Rotation ;"
a subject introduced into Madison's draught at Washington's
suggestion. The ninth, that " in contemplating the moment
" of retreat, he cannot forbear to express his deep acknow-
" ledgments and debt of gratitude for the many honors con-
" ferred on him — the steady confidence which, even amidst
" discouraging scenes and efforts to poison its source, has
" adhered to support him, and enabled him to be usefiil —
" marking, if well placed, the virtue and wisdom of his
** countrymen. All the return he can now make must be in
" the vows he will carry with him in his retirement : 1st. For
" a continuance of the Divine beneficence to the country.

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" 2d. For the perpetuity of their union and brotherly affec-
" tion — ^for a good administration insured by a happy union
" of watchftdness and confidence. 3d. That happiness of
" people under auspices of liberty may be complete. 4th.
" That by a prudent use of the blessing, they may recom-
" mend it to the affection, the praise, and the adoption of
" every nation yet a stranger to it.'*

The tenth is as follows : " Perhaps here we ought to end.
" But an unconquerable solicitude for the happiness of his
" country will not permit him to leave the scene, without
" availing himself of whatever confidence may remain in
" him to strengthen some sentiments which he believes to be
" essential to their happiness, and to recommend some rules
" of conduct, the importance of which his own experience
" has more than ever impressed on him."

Thus far these sentiments in the abstract are gleaned from
the draught of Madison, who in part took them from the
letter of Washington, and in part originated them under his
instructions ; but they are much more Madison's than they
are Washington's in point of origin ; and having been adopted
by Washington in his draught, Hamilton has followed them,
and except in one point, hereafter to be noted, a point sug-
gested by Washington in his letter to Madison, has exhausted
Madison's draught, modified some of his expressions, and
placed them in the abstract in an order in some respects
Hamilton's own. They are subsequently introduced at the
commencement of Hamilton's draught, in language some-
thing more easy and fluent, though equally plain, omitting
one head altogether, the head of rotation in ofiice, and
changing one phrase of some sharpness responsive to Wash-
ington's sensibility to invective, " amidst discouraging scenes

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100 Hamilton's abstbact of points.

" and efforts to poison its source," into " situations in which
" not unfirequently want of success has seconded the criti-
" cisms of malevolence ;" and thus abating the pungency of
the phrase in the abstract.

The effort to keep from the Address every pointed refe-
rence to the political party maltreatment which Washington
thought he had received, is conspicuous on the part of Ham-
ilton throughout, his noble design being to make it speak a
language that was both generous and cathoUc, and which
would meet with acceptance at all fixture time by wise and
good men. Rotation — Hamilton leaves out altogether from
his draught, thinking, no doubt, though Madison introduced
it upon Washington's qualified suggestion, or perhaps un-
qualified, if the original letter to Madison is a t^er reading
than that of Mr. Sparks,* that mere rotation, without regard
to circumstances, was unreasonable and restrictive of the
Constitution ; and that to attempt to state the circumstances,
would lead to suppositions and discriminations which would
not obtain general assent. In such matters the subsequent
surrender by Washington of personal feelings and personal

I predilection, shows both the soundness of his judgment and

I the nobleness of his spirit. Even the word " malevolent" has

been struck from the Address, either by Hamilton in his

corrected copy, or in his revision, or by Washington himself.

After these heads of the abstract, come the great heads of

the work, with the subdivisions of some of them ; and it is

1 here that the pubKc principles of the Address begin to

I assume their order, and to receive their analysis.

' The central thought and sentiment of the piece is the

* See p. 19, supra.

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Union, which is the eleventh head ; and from this all subse-
quent thoughts radiate, and it may be said, with equal truth,
that they all converge to it, illustrate its value, and tend to
corroborate it. " It is the rock of their salvation ; presenting
*' summarily these ideas: 1. Strength and greater security
*' from external danger. 2. Internal peace, and avoiding
*' the necessity of establishments dangerous to Uberty. 3.
" Avoids the effect of foreign intrigue, 4. Breaks the force of
'' fections, by rendering combinations more difficult.*' The
great natural bond of Union, — ^what may ahnost be called
the religion of its nature, is selected by the abstract as the
first matter to be developed — " the fitness of the parts for
" each other by their very discriminations. 1. The North,
" by its capacity for maritime strength and manufetcture.
" 2. The agricultural South fiimishing materials, and re-
" quiring those protections. The Atlantic board to the
" western country by the strong interests of peace, and the
" western by the necessity of Atlantic maritime protection.
" Cannot be sure of their great outlet otherwise— cannot
" trust a foreign connection. Solid interests invite to Union.
" Speculations of difficulty of government ought not to be
" indulged, nor momentary jealousies — lead to impatience.
" Faction and individual ambition are the only advisers of
"disunion:" and then, noting for remembrance the jea-
lousies existing at that time in the West, in regard to the
Mississippi and its outlet, and the late treaty with Spain,
which tended to allay them, it repeats, " Let confidence be
"cherished; let the recent experience of the West be a
" lesson against impatience and distrust."

The twelfth is the " actual government," the government
which the Constitution provides for the Union. " Cherish

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102 Hamilton's abstract op points.

" the actual government. It is the government of our own
" choice — ^free in its principles, the guardian of our common
" rights, the patron of our common interests, and containing
" within itself a provision for its own amendment. But let
" that provision be cautiously used — not abused ; changing
" only, in any material points, as experience shall direct ;
" neither indulging speculations of too much or too little
" force in the system, and remembering always the extent of
" our country. Time and habit of great consequence to every
" government, of whatever structure. Discourage the spirit
" of faction, the bane of free government ; and particularly
" avoid founding it on geographical discriminations. Discoun-
'* tenance slander of public men. Let the departments of
" government avoid interfering and mutual encroachments."

These being the guiding notes for a comprehensive state-
ment of the particular advantages of the government which
the Constitution had provided, of the means of amending
cautiously its defects, when ascertained, and of the dangers
which might threaten it, founded on geographical discri-
minations, or promoted by encroachments of the depart-
ments on each other, the abstract proceeds with heads, to
introduce such admonitions as concern the people in their
personal relations, private and public : '' Thirteenth. Morals,
" religion, industry, commerce, economy — Cherish public
" credit — Source of strength and security — Adherence to
" systematic views."

" Also their relations to foreign nations : Fourteenth.
" Cherish good faith, justice, and peace with other nations,
" 1. Because religion and morality dictate it. 2. Because
" policy dictates it. If there could exist a nation inva-
" riably honest and faithful, the benefits would be immense.

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Hamilton's abstract of points. lOS

*' But avoid national antipathies or national attachments :"
and then follows, in emphatic italics, " Display the evils :
" fertile source of wars, instrument of ambitious rulers.^^

As distinct heads, then follow four others, which branch

out naturally from the preceding: '-''Fifteenth. Republics

" peculiarly exposed to foreign intrigue ; those sentiments

" lay them open to it. Sixteefiith. The great rule of our

" foreign policy ought to be to have as little political con-

'^ nection as possible with foreign nations ; cultivating com-

" merce with all by general and natural means, diffusing and

" diversifying it, hvA, forcing nothing ; and cherish the senti-

" ment of independence^ taking pride in the appellation of

" American ;" and against this last note the margin adds,

" establishing temporary and convenient rules, that com-

" merce may be placed on a stable footing ; merchants know

" their commerce ; how to support them, not seeking /iwr^."

" Seventeenth. Our separation from Europe renders standing

" alliances inexpedient, subjecting our peace and interest to

" the primary and complicated relations of European inte*

" rests. Keeping constantly in view to place ourselves upon

" a respectable defe^idve^ and, if forced into controversy,

" trusting to connections of the occasion. Eighteenth. Our

" attitude imposing, and rendering this poUcy safe. But

" this must be with the exception of existing engagements,

" to be preserved, but not extended.*'

The remaining heads of division may be noticed summa^
rily. The nineteenth is a hint to remark, that it is not ex-
pected that these admonitions can control the course of
human passions; but if it moderates them in some in-
stances, Washington's endeavor is rewarded. The twentieth^
that the public records must witness how far his administra-

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104 Hamilton's abstract of points.

tiou has conformed to these principles. His conscience
assures him that he beUeved himself to be guided by them.
Tvoenty^firat "Particularly in relation to the present war,
" the proclamation of 22d April, 1793, is the key to my
" plan. Approved by your voice, and that of your represen-
" tatives in Congress, the spirit of that measure has con-
" tinually guided me, uninfluenced by, and regardless of^ the
" complaints and attempts of any of the powers at war, or
" their partisans, to change them." " I thought our country
"had a right, under all the circumstances, to take this
" ground, and I was resolved, as fiur as it depended on me,
" to maintain it firmly." There is a memorandum in the
margin of the second clause of this division, to " touch sen-
" timents with regard to conduct of belligerent powers. A
" wish that France may establish good government." Against
the last clause of it are these words : " lime everything."
The tweniy'second is a clause which is introduced into the
original draught of Hamilton, in substantially the same
words, and almost verbatim from that draught into the
Farewell Address of Washington, of which it is the penul-
timate clause. It frankly declares, that however, in reyiew-
ing the course of his administration, he may be imconscious
of intentional error, he is too sensible of his own deficiencies
not to believe that he may have •fallen into many — depre-
cates the evils to which they may tend, and prays Heaven
to avert, or mitigate or abridge them ; — that he carries with
him, nevertheless, the hope that his motives will continue
to be viewed with indulgence ; that after forty-five years of
his life devoted to pubUc service, with a good zeal and
upright views, the faults of deficient abilities will be con-
signed to obUvion, as himself must soon be to the mansions

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Hamilton's abstract op points. 105

of rest. — We cannot help envying the noble emotion with
which Hamilton repeated this clause, which was Washing-
ton's own thought, out of the full consciousness of what was
stirring in Washington's great heart !

The twenty-third^ and last clause of the abstract, is sub-
stantially the same with the corresponding clause in the
draught, but is completely altered in the concluding clause
of the Farewell Address. Both the clause in the abstract,
and the clause in the draught, are taken from the conclusion
to Washington's original or preparatory draught. The
alteration in the Farewell Address is by Washington.

It i3 a declaration that neither interest nor ambition had
been Washington's impelling motive — that he had never
abused the power confided to him — that he had not bettered
his fortune, retiring with it no otherwise improved, than by
the influence on property of the common blessings of his
country. " I retire," it says, " with undefiled hands and an
" uncorrupt heart, and with ardent vows for the welfare of
" that country which has been the native soil of my ancestors
" for four generations." The sentiments were all just, and
were all suggested, in nearly the same words, by Washington,
in the concluding section of Washington's own draught to
which I have referred ; and therefore his friend and minister
would be naturally desirous that he should close his valedic-
tion with the expression of them ; but they bordered upon
what the world might mistake for vain-gloriousness, in re-
gard to his motives, his purity, his fortune, and his family ;
and we may take pleasure in supposing, that this final clause
Washington himself preferred to put aside, as he did, except-
ing only the reference to his American ancestors, the bond of
his affection for his country, the view of whose coming

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happiness and greatness, seemed to gild the last words of
his FarewelL

After having thus placed before the reader this clear and
orderly abstract, with but little more elucidation than a copy
of it would give to every one in reading it, we feel some con-
fidence in remarking, that it would be written as a syllabus
of Hamilton's original draught, without recurring to Ham-
^ ilton's ahstract The syllabus might be considerably fuller
in some parts, and less full in others. It might omit, in one
or two places, what the abstract notices, and it might notice
in more what the abstract does not contain. But they would
substantially concur; and no person of intelligence, who
peruses the draught with the abstract before him, can fail
to perceive that the draught is the regular and orderly ex-
pansion of the abstract, and a symmetrical structure, of
_J^ which the abstract is the frame, — ^in some parts the fiill
frame, in other parts the more open frame. This structure
and frame, then, are Hamilton's incontestably.
^ The first portions of the frame^ where it is fullest, were
taken in separate parts from portions of Washington's pre-
paratory draught, as Mr. Madison had sketched it, and also
as Washington had completed it ; but by Hamilton they are
placed in a new order. They are what may be called the
personal parts of that draught, having reference to his own
relations with the government, his previous wish to retire,
his present intention to do so, and his motives and feelings
in regard to the retirement. In these particulars the lan-
guage of Washington's draught is adopted as fer as it could
be. The structure is built upon, and with, and around
Washington's principles and sentiments as they appear
throughout his draught, but upon a plan altogether new.

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 8 of 20)