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

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to have been retained ; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a dis-
position to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are
withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens.


(who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) focility to betray
or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, some-
times even with popuhirity ; gikling, with the appearances of a vir-
tuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public
opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish com-
pliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attach-
ments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and inde-
pendent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper
with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead
public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils ! Such an
attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation,
dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to
believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to
he constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign
influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.
But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial ; else it becomes
the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a de-
fence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and
excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see
danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts
of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the in-
trigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious;
while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the
people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is,
in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little
political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed
engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here
let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or
a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent
controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our


concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate
ourselves, by artificial tics, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her poli-
tics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships
or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pur-
sue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient
government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material
injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an atti-
tude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon,
to be scrupulously respected ; when belligerent nations, under the
impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard
the giving us provocation ; when we may choose peace or war, as
our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit
our own to stand upon foreign ground ? Why, by interweaving our
destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and
prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest,
humor, or caprice ?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with
any portion of the foreign world ; so far, I mean, as we are now at
liberty to do it ; for let me not be understood as capable of patron-
izing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less
applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always
the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be
observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unneces-
sary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments,
on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary
alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended
by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy
should hold an equal and impartial hand ; neither seeking nor grant-
ing exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course
of things ; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams


of commerce, but forcing nothing ; establishing, with powers so dis-
posed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of
our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, con-
ventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances
and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be
from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circum-
stances shall dictate ; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in
one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it
must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may
accept under that character ; that, by such acceptance, it may place
itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors,
and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more.
There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real
favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience
must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and
affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and
lasting impression I could wish ; that they will control the usual
current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the
course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if
I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some par-
tial benefit, some occasional good ; that they may now and then
recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mis-
chiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pre-
tended patriotism ; this hope will be a full recompense for the soli-
citude for your welfiire, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided
by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and
other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world.
To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at
least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation
of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my Plan. Sanctioned
by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in


both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually
governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert mo
from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lichts I
could obtain, I -was well satisfied that our country, under all the
circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in
duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I
determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with
moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations, which respect the right to hold this conduct,
it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe,
that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so
far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has been
virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without
any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity
impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to main-
tain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best
be referred to your own reflections and experience. "With me, a
predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our coun-
try to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress
without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency,
which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its
own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am
unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of
my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many
errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty
to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also
carry with me the hope, that my Country will never cease to view
them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of ray life
dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompc-



tent ahilitit'fl will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be
to the mansions of rest.

Helving on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated
by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who
views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several
generations ; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in
which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoy-
ment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow'-citizens, the benign
influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite
object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual
cares, labors, and dangers.

Geokge Washington.

Umted States, September 17th, 1796.



No. V.

(From Autograph Copy.)

[Memorandum.— With the cancelled passages restored, and
printed at the foot of the pages, under the direction cf James
Lenox, Esq., the proprietor of the autograph. The marginal
pages are those of the fifth volume of Mr. Irving' s Life of Wash-
ington. The references at the end of the restored passages, at the
foot of the pages, to the pages of this Appendix.]

*rRiEXDS AND Felloay-Citizens : [*356]

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to administer the
Executive Government of the United States, being not far distant,
and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be cm-
ployed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that
important trust [ * ], it appears to me proper, 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, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured,
that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to
all the considerations appertaining to the relation, whidi binds a
dutiful citizen to his country — and that, in withdrawing the tender
of service which silence in my situation might imply, I am inllu-
enced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency
of grateful respect for your past kindness ; but [am supported byjf
a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

* for another term f act under


Tli(« acceptance of, and continuance liitlierto in, the office to
whiclj vour suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform
pncrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference
for what appeared to be your desire. — I constantly hoped, that it
would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with
motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to
that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. — The
strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election,
*had even led to the preparation of an address to declare
it to you ; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and
critical posture of our affairs with foreign Nations, and the unani-
mous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to
abandon the idea. —

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as in-
ternal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible
with the sentiment of duty, or propriety ; and [am persuaded]*
whatever partiality [may be retained]! for my services, [that]| in
the present circumstances of our country [you] will not disapprove
my determination to retire.

The impressions [witli]§ which, I first [undertook]]] the arduous
trust, were explained on the proper occasion. — In the discharge of
this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, con-
tributed [towards]^ the organization and administration of the
government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment
was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of
my fiualifications, experience in my own eyes, [perhaps] still more
in the eyes of others, has [strengthened]** the motives to diffidence
of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admo-
nishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as neces-
sary to me as it will be welcome.— Satisfied that if any circumstances
have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I

'*"' t any portion of you may yet retain J even they

S »<ndcr II accepted H to ** not lessened


have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence
invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism docs not forbid

*In lookincr forward to the moment, which is rintendedl
to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do
not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment [of]t tbat debt
of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country, — for the many
honors it has conferred upon me ; still more for the stedfast confi-
dence with which it has supported me ; and for the opportunities I
have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by
ser^'ices faithful and persevering, though [in usefulness unequal]^ to
my zeal. — If benefits have resulted to our country from these ser-
vices, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an in-
structive example in our annals, that, [§] under circumstances in
which the Passions agitated in every direction were liable to [mis-
lead], || amidst appearances sometimes dubious, — vicissitudes of for-
tune often discouraging, — in situations in whicli not unfrcqucntly
want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism [the con-
stancy of your support] was the essential prop of the efforts and
[a]^ guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Pro-
foundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to the
grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows [**] that Heaven
may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence — that

* May I also have that of knowing in my retreat, that the involuntary errors, I have
probably committed, have been the sources of no serious or lasting mischief to our
country. I may then expect to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking,
in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free
government; the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, I trust, of our
mutual cares, dangers, and labours. [Supra, p. 190.]

In the margin opposite this paragraph is the following note in Washington's Auto-
graph also erased, " obliterated to avoid the imputation of aflected mwlesty."
t demanded by t unequal in usefulness

§ the constancy of your support II wander and fluctuate

^ jjjg ** the only return I can henceforth make.


your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual— that the free
constitution, wliich is the work of your hands, may be sacredly
maintaini'd— that its administration in every department may be
stamped Avith wisdom 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 to them the glory [ * ] of recommending it
to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is
yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. — But a solicitude for your wel-
fare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehen-


'- ' sion *of danger, natural to that solicitude, [urge me, on an

occasion like the present, to offer]t to your solemn contemplation,
and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments; which
are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observa-
tion, [I] and which appear to me all important to the permanency
of your felicity as a people. — These will be offered to you with the
more freedom as you can only see in them, the disinterested warn-
ings of a departing friend, who can [possibly] have no personal
motive to bias his counsels. — [ISTor can I forget, as an encourage-
ment to it your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former
and not dissimilar occasion.]

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your
hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm
the attachment.

The Unity of Government which constitutes you one people, is
also now dear to you. — It is justly so ; — for it is a main Pillar in
the Edifice of your real independence ; [the support] of your tran-
quillity at home ; your peace abroad ; of your safety ; [ § ] of your

* or satisfaction

t encouraged by the remembrance of your indulgent reception of my sentiments on
nn occasion not dissimilar to the present, urge me to offer

X and experience § in every relation


prosperity [ * ] ; of that very Liberty ^vhich you so highly prize-
But as it is easy to foresee, that from [differcntjt causes, and from
different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices em-
ployed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;— as
this is the point in your [political] fortress against which the batte-
ries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and
actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of
infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense
value of your national Union to your collective and individual hap-
piness ; — that you should cherish| a cordial, habitual, and immove-
able attachment [to it, accustoming yourselves to think and speak
of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity ;

watching for *its preservation with jealous anxiety; dis-

, . . , [*360]

countenancmg whatever may suggest even a suspicion that

it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon
the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our
Country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link
together the various parts. ]§ —

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. —
Citizens [by birth or choice of a common country], || that country
has a right to concentrate your affections. — The name of American,
which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt
the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation [ ^] derived
from local discriminations. — With slight shades of difference, you
have the same Religion, Manners, Habits, and political Principles. —

* in every shape t various J towards it

§ that you should accustom yourselves to reverence it as the Palladium of your po-
litical safety and prosperity, adapting constantly your words and actions to that
momentous idea; that you should watch for its preservation witli jealous anxiety,
discountenance whatever may suggest a suspicion that it can in any event be aban-
doned ; and frown upon the first dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion of
our Country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the
several parts. — [Supra, p. 192.]

II of a common country by birth or choice ^ to be


You liave in a common cause fought and triumphed together. — The
In<h^pondencc and Liberty you possess are the work of joint councils,
and joint efforts — of common dangers, sufferings and successes. —

But these considerations, however powerfully they address them-
selves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which
apply more immediately to your Interest. — Here every portion of
our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guard-
ing and preserving the Union of the whole.

The North in an [unrestrained]* intercourse with the Souths pro-
tected by the equal Laws of a common government, finds in the
productions of the latter [ t ] great additional resources of maritime
and commercial enterprise — and precious materials of manufacturing
industry. — The South in the same intercourse, ^benefiting
by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and
its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the
seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated ; —
and while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase
the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the
protection of a maritime strength to which itself is unequally
adapted. — The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already
finds, and in tlic progressive improvement of interior communica-
tions, by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable vent
for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at
home. — The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its
growth and comfort, — and what is perhaps of still greater conse-
quence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispen-
sable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and
the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union,
directed by an indissoluble community of interest, as one Nation.
[Any other]! tenure by which the West can hold this essential ad-
vantage, [whether derived]§ from its own separate strength, or from

unfettered t many of the peculiar J The § either


an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign Power, must
be intrinsically precarious. [ * ]

[t] While [then] every part of our Country thus [feels]]: an im-
mediate and particular interest in Union, all tlie parts§ [combined
cannot fail to find] in the united mass of means and efforts [||]
greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security
from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by
foreign Nations ; and, [what is]T[ of inestimable value ! they must
derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between
themselves which [so frequently]** afflict neighbouring countries,

not tied together by *the same government ; Avhich their

. fa ' [*.3G2]

own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce ; but

which opposite foreign alliances, attachments and intrigues would
stimulate and embitter. — Hence likewise they will avoid the neces-
sity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any
form of Government are inauspicious to liberty, and which [are to
be regarded]! f as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty : In
this sense it is, that your Union ought to be considered as a main
prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear
to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to [every]^
reflecting and virtuous mind, — [and]§§ exhibit the continuance of
the Union as a primary object of Patriotic desire. — Is there a
doubt, whether a common government can embrace so large a
sphere ? — Let experience solve it. — To listen to mere speculation in
such a case were criminal. — [We are authorised]|||| to hope that a

* liable every moment to be disturbed by the fluctuating combinations of the primary
interests of Europe, which must be expected to regulate the conduct of the Nations of
which it is composed.— [Swpra, p. 193.]

t And t fi"^s § of it

II cannot fail to find H which is an advantage ** inevitably

f\ there is reason to regard JJ any §§ they

nil 'Tis natural


proper or^^anization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of
governments for tlie respective subdivisions, will afford a happy
issue to the experiment. 'Tis well worth a fair and full experi-
ment. [ * ] With such powerful and obvious motives to Union,
[affectin.cjt all parts of our country [t], while experience shall
not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be
[reason]§ to distrust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter
mav endeavour to weaken its bands. [||] —

*In contemplating the causes which may disturb our

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 18 of 20)