Horace Binney.

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

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complicated relations of European interests.

Keeping constantly in view to place ourselves upon a respect-
able defensive, and if forced into controversy, trusting to con-
nections of the occasion.

XVIII. Our attitude imposing and rendering this policy safe.
But this must be with the exception of existing engagements, to

be preserved but not extended.

XIX. It is not expected that these admonitions can control the
course of the human passions, but if they only moderate them in
some instances, and now and then excite the reflections of virtuous
men heated by party spirit, my endeaA'or is rewarded.

XX. Ilnw far, in the administration of my present office my con-
duct has conformed to these principles, the public records must
witncs.s. My conscience assures me that I believed myself to be
guided by them.

France may cs
tablish good gov


XXI. Particularly in relation to the present war, the proclama-
tion of the 22d of April, 1793, is the key to my plan.

Touch sentiments Approvccl by your voice and that of your represent-

with regard to . . •/ I

conduct of bei- atlvcs in Congress, the spirit of that measure has con-

ligerent powers. . •■■, • i i • n

A wish that tmually 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 cir-

Time everything, cumstances to take this ground, and I was resolved as
far as depended on me to maintain it firmly.

XXII. However, in reviewing the course of my administration,
I may be unconscious of intentional errors, I am too sensible of my
own deficiencies not to believe that I may have fallen into many.
I deprecate the evils to which they may tend, and pray Heaven to
avert or mitigate and abridge them, I carry with me, nevertheless,
the hope that my motives will continue to be viewed with indulgence,
that after forty-five years of my life devoted to public service, with
a good zeal and upright views, the faults of deficient abilities will
be consigned to oblivion, and myself must soon be to the mansions
of rest.

XXIII. Neither interest nor ambition has been my impelling
motive. I never abused the power confided to me — I have not bet-
tered my fortune, retiring with it, no otherwise improved than by
the influence on property of the common blessings of my country : —
I retire with undefiled hands and an uncorrupted heart, and with
ardent vows for the welfare of that country, which has been the
native soil of myself and my ancestors hr four generations.


No. III.

Hamilton's Works, Vol VH. p. 575.

[Mr.MORANDUM. — Thc clauses in this reprint wliich are inclosed by
brackets, with an exception of four words in the 26th paragraph,
tliat are bracketed in Hamilton's works, show the origin of the
cancelled passages in Washington's autograph copy of the Farewell
Address. Thc original of this draught is indorsed by Hamilton,
"Copy of the original draught considerably amended.'"^

August, 1796.

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the execu-
tive government of thc United States, being not very distant, and
the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in
designating the person who is to be clothed with that important
trust for another term, it appears to me proper, and especially as it
may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that
I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed to decline
being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice
is to be made.

I beg you, nevertheless,t to be assured that the resolution which
I announce, has not been taken without a strict regard to all the
considerations attached toj the relation which, as a dutiful citizen,
I bear§ to niy|| country, and that in withdrawing the tender of my
sen-ice, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced
by no diminution of zeal for its future interest, nor by any deficiency

* This is a copy of the original draught in Hamilton's autograph. The notes
cinbrncc the final alterations in this draught, but there are many previous erasures
which can only be piven in a fac-simile. — Ed.

t nt the same time. J connected with — inseparable from — incident to.

§ bearv y his.


of grateful respect for its past kindness, but by a full conviction
that such a step is compatible with botli.

The acceptance of, and the continuance hitherto in the office to
■which your suffrages have twice called me, has been a uniform sacri-
fice of private inclination to* the opinion of public duty coincitling
with what appeared to be your wishes. I had constantly hoped that
it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently wiili
motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to tliat
retirement from which those^ motives had reluctantly drawn me.

The strength of my desire to withdraw previous to the last elec-
tion, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to
you, but deliberate^ reflection on the very critical and perplexed
posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice
of men§ every way entitled to my confidence, obliged|| me to aban-
don the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your national concerns, external as well
as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of my inclination incom-
patible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and^f that whatever
partiality any portion of you may still retain for my services, they,
under the existing circumstances of our country, will not disapprove
the** resolutionft I have formed.

The impressions under which I first accepted the arduous trust of
Chief Magistrate of the United States, were explained on the proper
occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I can only say that I have,
with pure intentions, contributed towards the organization and ad-
ministration of the government the best exertions of which a very
fallible judgment was capable ; that conscious at|t the outset of the
inferiority of my qualifications for the station, experience in my
own eyes, and perhaps still more in those of others, has not dimi-

* combined with a deference for, f they. X 'nature.

§ persons.

** my.

II impelled. ^ whatever.

fl to retire. tt '"•


ni.shcd in mc the (liniJciK^c of myself— and every day the increasing
weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of
retirement is as necessary* as it -will be welcome to me. Satisfied
that if any circumstances have given a peculiar value to my services,
they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while
inclination and prudence urge me to recede from the political scene,
patriotism does not forbid it. [May I also have that of knowing in
myt retreat, that the involuntary errors which I have probably
committed, have been the causes of no serious or lasting mischief to
my country, and thus be spared the anguish of regrets which would
disturb the repose of my retreat and embitter the remnant of my
life I I may then expect to realize, without alloy, the pure enjoy-
ment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, of the benign
influence of gootl laws under a free government ; the ultimate object
of all my wishes, and to which I look as the happy rewardj of our
mutual labors and dangers.]

In looking forward to the moment which is to terminate the
career of my public life, my sensations do not permit me to sus-
pend the deep acknowledgments required by that debt of gratitude,
which I owe to my beloved country, for the many honors it has con-
ferred upon me, still more for the distinguished and steadfast confi-
dence it has reposed in me, and for the opportunities it has thus
afforded me§ of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services
faithful and persevering — however the inadequateness of my faculties
may have ill-seconded my|| zeal. If benefits have resulted to you,
my fellow-citizens, from these services, let it always be remembered
to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that the
constancy of your support amidst appearances*i[ dubious, vicissitudes
of fortune often discouraging, and in situations in which, not unfre-

♦ to me. t retirement. J I hope. § I have thence enjoyed.

I have rendered their efforts unequal to my— disproportional.

t under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable
to the greatest fluctuations.


quently, want of success has seconded the griticisms of malevolence,*
was the essential prop of the efforts and the guarantee of the mea-
sures by which they were achieved.

Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to
my retirement, and to my grave, as a lively incitement to unceasing
vows (the only returns I can henceforth make) that Heaven may
continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence, merited by
national piety and morality — that your union and brotherly affec-
tion may be perpetual — that the free Constitution, which is the
work of your own hands, may be sacredly maintained — that its ad-
ministration in every department may be stamped with Avisdom and
virtue — that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States,
under the auspices of liberty may be made complete, by so careful
a preservation, and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire
them the glorious satisfaction of recommending it to the affection —
the praise — and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger
to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop : but a solicitude for your welfare,
which cannot end but with my life, and the fear that there may
exist projects unfriendly to it, against which it may be necessary
you should be guarded, urge me in taking leave of you, to offer to
your solemn consideration and frequent review, some sentiments, the
result of mature reflection confirmed by observation and experience,
which appear to me essential to the permanency of your felicity as
a people. These will be offered with the more freedom, as you can
only see in them the disinterested advice of a parting friend, who
can have no personal motive to tincture or bias his counsel.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every fibre of your
hearts, no recommendation is necessary to fortify your attachment
TO IT. Next to this, that unity of government which constitutes
you one people, claims your vigilant care and guardianship— as a



mnin pillar ..f ynw real independence, of your peace, safety, free-
dom, and happiness.

[This hein;: the point in your political fortress, against which the
hatterics <>f internal and external enemies will be most constantly
and aetivoly, however covertly and insidiously levelled, it is of the
utmost importance that you should appreciate, in its full force, the
immense value of your political union to your national and individual
haj)|)iness — that vou should cherish towards it an affectionate and
immctvahle attachment, and that you should watch for its preserva-
ti«ni with jealous solicitude.]

Fur this, you have every motive of sympathy and interest.
Children for the most part of a common country, that country
claims and ouirht to concentrate your affections. The name of
American must always gratify and exalt the just pride of patriotism,
more than any denomination which can be derived from local discri-
minations. You have with slight shades of difference the same
religion, manners, habits, and political institutions and principles —
you have, in a common cause, fought and triumphed together. The
independence and liberty you enjoy are the woi'k of joint councils,
efforts, dangers, sufferings, and successes. By your union you
achieved them, by your union you will most effectually maintain

The considerations Avhicli address themselves to your sensibility,
are greatly* strengthenedf by those which apply to your interest.
Here, every portion of our country will find the most urgent and
commanding motives for guarding and preserving the union of the

The North in;|: intercourse with the South under the equal laws
of one government, will, in the productions of the latter, many of
them peculiar, find vast additional resources of maritime and com-
mercial enterprise. § The South, in the same intercourse, Avill share

* even. | outweighed. J free and unfettered.

§ and precious materials of their manufacturing industry.


in the benefits of the agency of the North, ^vill find its a<,M-iculture
promoted and its commerce extended by turning into its own chan-
nels those means of navigation Avhich the North more abundantly
affords; and while it contributes to extend the national navif^ation
will participate in the protection of a maritime strength to wliich
itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with
the "West,* finds a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings
from abroad or manufactures at home. The West derives through
this channel an essential supply of its wants ; and what is far more
important to it, it must owe the secure and permanent enjoyment of
the indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight,
influence, and maritime resources of the Atlantic States. f The
tenure by which it could hold this advantage either from its own
separate strength, or by an apostate and unnatural connection with
any foreign nation, must be intrinsically and necessarily precarious,
[at every moment liable to be disturbed by the| combinations of
those primary§ interests which constantly regulate the conduct of
every portion of Europe,] and where every part finds a particular
interest in the Union, All the parts of our country will find in
their Union|| strength, proportional security from external danger,
less frequent interruption of their peace with foreign nations ; and
what is far more valuable, an exemption from those broils and wars
between the parts if disunited, which, then, our rivalships, fomented
by foreign intrigue or the opposite alliances Avith foreign nations
engendered by their mutual jealousies, would inevitably produce.!
These considerations speak a conclusive language to every vir-

* and in the progressive improvement of internal navigation will more and more find .

t directed by an indissoluble community of interests.

J fluctuating. § European.

II greater independence, from the superior abundance and variety of production inci-
dent to the diversity of soil and climate. All the parts of it must fuid in the aggregate
assemblage and reaction of their mutual population — production.

IT consequent exemption from the necessity of those military establishments upon a
large scale, which bear in every country so menacing an aspect towards liberty.



tuous and onnsidcrato mind. They place the continuance of our
Union nmnnf the first objects of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt
whether a common government can long embrace so extensive a
sphor." ? TiOt time and experience decide the question. Speculation
in such a case ought not to be listened to. And 'tis rational to
hope tltat the auxiliary* governments of the subdivisions, with a
proper organization of the whole, "will secure a favorable issue to
the experiment. ['Tis allowable to believe that the spirit of party,
tlie intrif^ucs of foreijin nations, the corruption and the ambition of
individnals, are likely to prove more formidable adversaries to the
unitv of our empire, than any inherent difficulties in the scheme.
'Tis against these that the guardsf of national opinion, national
svmpathy, national prudence and virtue, are to be erected.] With
such obvious motives to union, there will be always cause from the
fact itself to distrust the patriotism of those who| may endeavor to
weaken its bands. And by all the love I bear you, my fellow-
citizens, I conjure§ you, as|| often as it appears, to frown upon the

[Besides the more serious causes which have been hinted at, as
endangering our Union, there is another less dangerous, but against
which it is necessary to be on our guard ; I mean the petulance of
party^ differences of opinion. It is not uncommon to hear the irri-
tations which these excite, vent themselves in declarations that the
different parts of the Union are ill-assorted and cannot remain
together — in menaces from the inhabitants of one part to those of
another, that it will be dissolved by this or that measure. Intima-
tions of the kind are as indiscreet as they are intemperate. Though
frequently made with levity and without being in earnest, they have
a tendency to produce the consequence which they indicate. They
teach the minds of men to consider the Union as precarious, as an

* agency of. j

X in any quarter. § exhort— {written frst.)

I " onen"— instead of " far.' IT collisions and disgusts.


object to which they are not to attach their hopes and fortunes, and
thus weaken the sentiment in its favor. By rousing the resentment
and alarming the pride of those to whom they are addressed, they
set ingenuity to work to depreciate the value of the object, and to
discover motives of indifference to it. This is not wise. Prudence
demands that we should habituate ourselves in all our words and
actions to reverence the Union as a sacred and inviolable palladium
of our happiness, and should discountenance whatever can lead to a
suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned.]

['Tis matter of serious concern that parties in this country, fur
some time past, have been too much characterized by geographical
discriminations — Northern and Southern States, Atlantic and
Western country. These discriminations,* which are the mere
artifice of the spirit of party, (always dexterous to avail itself of
every source of sympathy, of every handle by which the passions
can be taken hold of, and which has been careful to turn to account
the circumstance of territorial vicinity,^) have furnished an argu-
ment against the Union as evidence of a real difference of local
interests and views, and serve to hazard it, by organizing large
districts of country under the direction of § different factions, whose
passions and prejudices, rather than the true interests of the coun-
try, will be too apt to regulate the use of their influence. If it be
possible to correct this poison in the affairs of our country, it is
worthy the best endeavors of moderate and virtuous men to effect it.]

One of the expedients which the partisans of faction employ to-
wards strengthening their influence by local discriminations,]! is to
misrepresent the opinions and views of rival districts. The people
at large cannot be too much on their guard against the jealousies
which grow out of these misrepresentations. They tend to render
aliens to each other those who ought to be tied together by fraternal
affection. The western country have lately had a useful lesson on

* of party. t sympathy of. J neighborhood.

§ the leaders of. II within local spheres.


this subject. Thoy have seen in the negotiation by the Executive,
an<l ill tlio unanimous ratification of the treaty with Spain by the
Senate, ami in tlie universal satisfaction at that event in all parts of
the countrv, a decisive proof how unfounded have been the suspi-
cions instilled* in them of a policy in the Atlantic States, and in
tlie (lifftTent departments of the General Government, hostile to
thoir interests in relation to the Mississippi. They have seen two
treaties formed, which secure to them everything that they could
desire to confirm their prosperity. Will they not henceforth rely
for tlie preservation of these advantages on that Union by which
they were procured ? Will they not reject those counsellors who
would render them alien to their brethren and connect them with

To the duration and efficacy of your Union, a government ex-
tending over the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however
strict, between the parts could be an adequate substitute. These
could not fail to be liable to the infractions and interruptions which
all alliances in all times have suffered. Sensible of this important
trutb, you have lately established a Constitution of general govern-
ment, better calculated than the former for an intimate union, and
more adequate to the duration of your common concerns. This
government, the offspring of your own choice, uninfluenced and
unawed, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its
powers, uniting energy with safety, and containing in itself a provi-
sion for its own amendment, is well entitled to your confidence and
support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acqui-
escence in its measures,t are duties dictated by the fundamental
maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the
right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of
government. But the Constitution for the time, and until changed
by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly
binding upon all. The very idea of the right and power of the

propagated among. ■\ ordinary management of affairs to be left to represent.



people to establish government, presupposes the duty of every indi-
vidual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws — all comhinatiom
and associations, under ^vhatever plausible character, with the real
design to counteract,* control, f or awe the regular| action <<[' the
constituted authorities, are contrary to this fundamental principle,
and of the most fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, §
and to put in the stead of the delegated will of the whole nation the
will of a party, often a small || minority of the whole community ;
and according to the alternate triumph of different parties, to make
the public administration reflect the^f schemes and projects of fac-
tion rather than the wholesome plans of common councils and deli-
berations. However combinations or associations of this description
may occasionally promote popular ends and purposes, they are likely
to produce, in the course of time and things, the most effectual
engines by which artful, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be
enabled to subvert the power of the people and usurp the reins of

Towards the preservation of your government and the permanency
of your present happy state, it is not only requisite that you steadily
discountenance irregular oppositions to its authority, but that you
should be on your guard against the spirit of innovation upon its
principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault
may be, to effect alterations in the forms of the Constitution tend-
ing to impair the energy of the system, and so to undermine what
cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you
may be invited, remember that time and habit are as necessary to
fix the true character of governments as of any other human insti-
tutions ; that experience is the surest standard by which the real
tendency of existing constitutions of government can be tried ; that

* direct.

J deliberation or.

II but artful and enterprising.

■f influence.

§ to give it an artificial force.

TI ill-concerted.


clian;;rs upon* tlic credit of mere hypothesis and opinion exposes
vnti to perpetual cliange from the successive and endless variety of
hvpotliosis and opinion. And remember also,t that for the effica-
cious mana;i;ement of your common interests, in a country so exten-
sive as ours, a government of as much force and strength as is
consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable.
Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly
distributed and arranged, its surest guardian and protector. [In
my opinion, tlio real danger in our system is, that the General
Government, organized as at present, Avill prove too weak, rather
than too powerful.]

I have already observed the danger to be apprehended from
founding our parties on geographical discriminations. Let me now
enlarge the view of this point, and caution you in the most solemn
manner against the baneful effects of party spirit in general. This
spirit unfortunately is inseparable from human nature, and has its
root in the strongest passions of the human heart. It exists under
different shapes in all governments, butj in those of the popular

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 15 of 20)